The Royal Cost of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Wedding

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry 3 - Getty - H 2018
Samir Hussein/Getty Images

What will be spent on reception, catering, decoration and more?

The big day for the latest British royal couple is almost upon us, but what are the upsides and downsides to the country’s economy – and just how much will it cost?

An average cost of a wedding will set you and your loved one back around $34,000. Compare this with the eye-watering $34 million spent on Kate Middleton and Prince William's 2011 royal wedding and celebrations.

Although it’s traditional that the bride’s family pays for a wedding, this year’s ceremony will be paid for by the royal family. 

According to U.K. wedding planning site Bride Book, here’s a budget breakdown for the royal nuptials.

The reception: $550,000
The reception takes place at George's Great Hall, which is free of charge for the couple, so they’re already saving some money there. Guests can breathe a sigh of relief too as, courtesy of the Queen's fleet of Rolls-Royces, Daimlers and Bentleys, transportation is also free. However, they’ll need a marquee for the guests, which will cost them a cool $500,000 and luxury portable toilets for their luxurious guests at an estimated $50,000.

Catering: $686,000
With Bollinger champagne at almost $115 a pop, you won’t be surprised to see this amount for the hundreds of guests invited to both the lunch and dinner receptions. Oh, and then there’s the wedding cake. Made by California-based pastry chef Claire Ptak, its price tag is rumored to be above $70,000.

Wedding Dress: $$$
Ralph & Russo? Erdem? Stella McCartney? We still don’t know who’s designing the dress, but given Markle’s sparkle in the world of fashion, we’ve narrowed it down to these three. Estimates for the outfit range from $150 to $500,000.

Entertainment: $510,000
With $129,000 worth of personalized, silver-plated trumpets (who wouldn’t want that on their special day?), wedding goers are going to have a blast. $430,000 may well be lavished on choirs, DJ and band (anyone hoping for Coldplay?), along with photo booth, children's entertainers and a regal fireworks display.

Decoration: $340,000
Although shrouded in secrecy, Windsor Castle is expected to be transformed into a spectacular setting to celebrate the day (perhaps being a classic castle isn’t good enough these days) with lighting, dance floors, bars and seating all to be factored in. And then there’s the flowers and floral displays, which alone are expected to hit the $150,000 mark.

And the rest: $350,000
The invitations alone, made by celebrated British printing company Barnard and Westwood, cost over $200,000 — that’ll be down to Prince Harry's father Prince Charles' Prince of Wales badge printed in gold ink. Add to that: photographers, videographers (no press allowed), wedding party wardrobe and a hair and makeup team.

Now, as a reminder, the tax-paying British public will not be footing the bill (though the royal family receives tens of millions of dollars from the government each year), but they will be paying for security for the event much to the chagrin of the more than 30,000 people who have signed a petition calling on the government to prevent taxpayers’ money being used on the day. “A royal wedding is a private, personal event, dressed up as a national occasion. That lets the Royals use the wedding as a PR exercise and to expect the taxpayer will pay a large part of the costs,” states the petition set up by Republic, a group of campaigners who want to see an end to the monarchy.

Regardless, the figure for security is expected to land in the region of $10 million. For the 2011 marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, an extra 5,000 police officers — at a cost of $8.6 million — were placed on duty.

But if this is the only cost for the U.K. taxpayer, then perhaps it’s a price worth paying as analysts estimate a healthy dividend on this outlay.

Although expected to be a less extravagant and lavish affair than William and Kate’s wedding, there’s no bank holiday, a public holiday, for the U.K. this time around. In 2011, this extra day off for the nation had a heavy impact on the country’s economic growth and was seen as resulting in a downturn as people took extended breaks. The Office for National Statistics stated that the 2011 royal wedding was responsible for a decline of 1.2 percent in output in services industries; 1.6 percent in the index of production; and a 1.4 percent drop in manufacturing production. All that culminated in a staggering $3.1 billion loss in economic output, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

As a side note, you might counter that the incoming tourists likely offset the financial impact, but, in this case, that seems not to have been true. An extra 350,000 visitors did come to the U.K. (compared to the previous year), resulting in 2.66 million overseas visitors during the month of the wedding whereas 4.81 million Britons traveled abroad.

There’s also a poorer pound to contend with this time around, which has already been enticing U.S. tourists back to Blighty (with an increase by 17 percent over the past year) and, with the interest of an “American Princess,” this is set to grow and become even more attractive for U.S. visitors.

With an estimated boom from the birth of the latest royal baby last month of £67 million, or $90 million, for the coming year, 2018 is shaping up to be a regal cash cow with an overall royal boost to the U.K. economy of more than $2 billion for the year, according to some estimates.

Based on the 2011 wedding, the British Retail Consortium has forecast that stores, restaurants and bars will benefit by almost $677 million from Meghan and Harry’s union (with London taking in $145 million from the extra trade). Sales of merchandise is expected to add a possible $35 million to the economy (if William and Kate are anything to go by).

However, due to some poor planning that looked like it was inspired by an episode of Seinfeld, the royal wedding is up against another English institution — the FA Cup. The soccer tournament comes to its conclusion with two of the biggest clubs in Britain and the world, Chelsea and Manchester United. Around the world, 88 million tuned in to watch last year’s final, and in the U.K. alone over 10 million fans will be tuning in at home or in bars across the country. However, there’s no direct clash as the service itself takes place some five hours before the game’s kickoff.

Of course, the real winners here are the newlyweds themselves, Meghan and Harry, who will have no financial concerns for the rest of their lives as they live in the cosseted and comfortable royal bubble.