The real cost of a royal wedding

< Back to all articles

Break out your fascinators—Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding is just around the corner. As the royal love birds tie the knot on May 19, the world will be paying attention. There's been no shortage of speculation around the guest list, the dress, and all of the glamorous details, but one thing’s for certain: It’s not going to be cheap.

It’s been estimated that the wedding price tag will be a cool £32 million (that’s around 57 million in Canadian dollars). No big deal for the British monarchy, but here at Honest Money, we can’t help but wonder what a wedding of that scale would look like here in Atlantic Canada. We called in an expert— wedding planner Katelyn Hipson from Elegant Productions—to help us break it down.

The Invitation

In preparation for their big day, Meghan and Harry had renowned British printing company, Barnard and Westwood create their invitations, featuring the Prince of Wales badge in gold ink, and each guest’s name hand printed.

“We looked at photos of their stationary suite and noticed that it was printed on exceptionally thick card stock”, said Katelyn. “Add in the hand-drawn calligraphy and the gold foil edging and you’re looking at an estimated cost of $60 per invitation.”

At 800 guests, that quickly brings us to a whopping $48,000 total.

The Ceremony

Meghan and Harry’s ceremony will take place at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. This is a low-key departure for the royals, if you can believe it. While St. George’s can accommodate 800 guests, Will and Kate’s wedding at Westminster Abbey in London held nearly 2,000 people. We asked Katelyn for a comparison here at home.

“Looking at the overall cost of a high-end wedding in Atlantic Canada, the budget could land anywhere between $60,000–100,000. This is dependent on the number of guests attending the wedding, the vendors selected and the meal service. An average high-end wedding budget typically costs about $500 per guest.”

The Flowers

What’s a royal wedding without an elegant floral display and a gorgeous bouquet? Meghan is working with a luxury florist in London and rumor tells us that peonies will be the starring flower.

“Floral is very subjective to scale”, explained Katelyn. “It all comes down to the type of blooms in each arrangement and how many elements are required. A wedding incorporating a large scale floral design in Atlantic Canada would likely have a starting price of around $10,000 and may grow depending on the size and complexity of the arrangement.” 

The Reception

We hear that one reception was simply not enough for the future Duke and Duchess. The couple will have two receptions after the ceremony—the first during the day, followed by a private bash later that evening for close friends and family (where it’s rumored the Spice Girls will perform).

According to Katelyn, a formal seated dinner reception with a gourmet meal could cost between $100,000 and $200,000, if your guest list includes 800 people.

“A large-scale reception is subjective to many factors like guest count and catering selection, but an elegant reception and meal, including top-shelf champagne, could be estimated at $150–250 per person. Great local entertainment can be hired between $1,000–10,000 depending on the style of entertainment and the artist the couple is going for.” 

The Dress

Finally, perhaps the most talked about wedding detail: the dress. While Kate Middleton’s iconic Alexander McQueen gown is estimated to have cost around $275,000, Meaghan’s dress plans have been kept tightly under wraps.

Katelyn tells us that a designer dress in Atlantic Canada comes with a slightly more affordable price tag.

“A local designer can be commissioned to create a beautiful custom wedding gown starting at $2,500. This of course, will vary based on the fabric, and the complexity of the gown design.”

Grand Total

While it’s nowhere near Meghan and Harry’s wedding budget, you can still drop a pretty penny while tying the knot in Atlantic Canada. A large-scale wedding fit for a king and queen can run between $170,000–370,000.

Looking to feel like a royal on your wedding day, without breaking the bank? Check out our advice on how to how to budget for a wedding.