A new documentary from Channel 4 looks inside some of the UK’s most decadent and expensive weddings, including Jordan and her husband Matt, who threw a wedding ceremony that included a Victorian carousel
Bridal couture queen Caroline, who lives in Surrey, has been creating breathtaking intricate gowns for 24 years, cashing in on the £10billion global bridal market.
But while the average UK bride is said to spend around £1,000 on her dress, Caroline revealed that one client, a Saudi Arabian bride-to-be is spending £40,000 on her dream gown – the same price as the Duchess of Cambridge’s Alexander McQueen dress.
Despite the eye-watering prices, the 55-year-old designer claims that for most women this is one of the most important things they will ever buy.
She said: ‘They buy into the overall power of the dress. I really truly believe that since they were very young they have dreamt of this day.’
Caroline’s clientele aren’t just drawn from the global elite, however. One of her clients, Jordan, 23, is a hotel heiress from Durham who has spent the past year travelling 300 miles with her family for fittings for her £9,000 dress.
Jordan’s gown is made from one of the most expensive silks in the world, which costs hundreds of pounds a metre.
Jordan said: ‘For a girl the dress is what everyone looks for. People would rather spend more money on the dress and look perfect on the day.’
Her mother Helen, who is helping to pick up the bill, added: ‘I think once you see your daughter in something so beautiful and she’s so happy you do stretch that extra mile.’
At around £9,000 Jordan’s dress is almost half the average budget for UK weddings, which now comes in at an astonishing £21,000, but the day itself will set her family back far more than that.
The no-expenses-spared bash is being held at one of her family’s hotels and costs include the £7,000 on importing 6,000 flowers from Holland, the hire of a 20-piece brass band and a Victorian carousel to entertain guests.
Gissa, 29, an Iranian socialite, who is planning a lavish ceremony in Turkey, journeyed to Caroline’s boutique just to try on veils to go with her bespoke gown, which is embroidered with 200,000 sequins and 50,000 beads – and was one of the most expensive dresses in the shop.
The bride-to-be explained that her fiance was very amenable when it came to splashing out on her dress.
‘He said “I know this is the most important dress that a woman is going to wear in their lifetime so if you really like it and you love it, we’ll get it.”‘
However, some brides look further afield for their dream wedding location and one of the boutique’s clients, Katie, 29, was planning her ceremony in Southern Spain.
Katie admitted that she had fine-tuned every element of her wedding right down to her proposal.
She said: ‘I’m a bit of a control freak, I think I emailed [my fiance] a picture of the ring after about three weeks of dating, so subtlety isn’t my finest point but he’s done really well.’
Katie visited Caroline for a bespoke wedding dress costing between five and six thousand pounds that has taken five seamstresses 200 hours of sewing and 250,000 beads to complete.
Another of Caroline’s client, Kashmir, revealed that she took two years off work to get married and her husband is now determined to prolong the wedding celebrations with lavish gifts.
She and her husband also paid £75,000 to commission a portrait of Kashmir sitting in a chair in her strapless lace Caroline Castigliano dress, which was then unveiled at a party in the designer’s boutique.
However, as any prospective bride will know a dress does not a wedding make and any ambitious bride-to-be will enlist the help of a wedding planner, with none more knowledgeable than luxury wedding planner Bruce Russell.
Bruce caters for the most ostentatious and demanding of weddings. He said: ‘If it’s physically possible, we’ll make it happen – it might come at a cost.
‘If you’ve got the money and you’ve got the budget to spend and you want to spend a million pounds why not spend it on a wedding it is the most magical day?’
Bruce’s finely tuned expertise and impeccable taste come at a cost and he revealed on the show that he takes around 20 per cent of the wedding budget as commission, which rewards him with a £30,000 pay checque for a £150,000 wedding.
The show followed him as he took one of Caroline’s clients, Erina, on a tour of London’s famous luxury five-star hotel, The Savoy, as a possible venue for her dream day.
Hosting 350 guests would set her back at least £70,000 and to stay in the Royal Suite, a further £10,000 a night – although it does come with its own butler.
But the documentary revealed that for women who want to up the ‘wow’ factor on their big day – and have the budget – couture jeweller Andrew Prince is the man to call.
But Andrew insisted that elegance is often confused with showiness: ‘Glamour has changed. It became, at one point, very shiny and that’s really not glamorous that’s flashy. I like opulence.’
Andrew’s creations may be an indulgence but for him there is no better way to spend your money.
He said: ‘It’s a celebration. We can be really sort of smug and factual about it, and say “oh no one should spend the money on something more practical”, but what’s more fun than just having a wonderful day?’
Many couples will argue that such extravagance is a waste of money and resources for just one day, however Caroline says that these are memories to last a lifetime.
She said: ‘The most important people in your life have come to attend this day. It all comes down to the same thing, it’s what you want to spend money on and what matters to you and how much money you have, it’s all relative.’
How the Rich Get Hitched will air on Channel 4 in September