Chelsea Clinton Wedding: The Extravagance and the Price Tag
Life + Money

Chelsea Clinton Wedding: The Extravagance and the Price Tag

With five months to go before the end of the year, Chelsea Clinton and her fiancé Marc Mezvinsky will make the deadline to have their nuptials dubbed  “wedding of the decade.” With the parents of the bride a former president and a current secretary of state, and a guest list that’s rumored to include Oprah, Steven Spielberg, Ted Turner, Barbra Streisand, and ex-British PM John Major, it’s hard to imagine a more high profile A-list at today's fete in Rhinebeck, N.Y.

But A-list weddings come with a hefty price tag. Estimates put the total between $2 million and $5 million, including $750,000 for catering, $250,000 for flowers, and another $250,000 for the rehearsal dinner, according to an ABC News report (see sidebar for a full breakdown of costs). “This wedding has all of the bells and whistles of a typical celebrity wedding – and more,” says Millie Bratten, editor in chief of Brides magazine. “It’s not uncommon for the costs to run into the millions, which is good news for the local business of Reinbeck,” she added.

Clinton Estimated Wedding Costs
Venue: Astor Courts$125,000-$200,000
Catering: Blue Ribbon, Olivier Cheng, St. Regis$750,000
Flowers: Winston Flowers$250,000
Rehearsal Dinner: Terappin Restaurant$250,000
Party Planner: Bryan Rafanelli$175,000
Music: Jimmy Vali$40,000
Wedding Dress: Vera Wang or Oscar de la Renta$15,000
Hair and Makeup$20,000
Wedding Cake$8,000-$10,000
Source: ABC News

Maybe, but most of the windfall will probably go to businesses located outside of the small Hudson River town. The six-figure rehearsal dinner is being catered by a local restaurant, but of the three caterers tapped for the event itself, Blue Ribbon and Olivier Cheng are based in New York City, and the St. Regis’ headquarters are in White Plains, N.Y. The flowers will come from a company based in Boston. The wedding planner, Bryan Rafanelli, who has worked with the Clinton’s on other events, is also based in Boston. Still, local hotels are booked solid, and many other businesses in Rhinebeck should see an uptick in their receipts. The media exposure could give the town a long-lasting boost in appeal to potential visitors. Both the state and local governments should see a minor tax windfall as a result of the event — both in sales tax from purchases made by the Clintons and their guests, and in income tax from the profits generated by businesses.

Not So Extravagant … For a First Child
Despite the interest its generated, as far as presidential family weddings go, Chelsea’s seems to fall somewhere in the middle in terms of pure spectacle. “The wedding of Jenna Bush, while not small with a guest list of 200, was much more laid back in style as it was held at the family ranch,” says Bratten. Onthe other end of the spectrum, “weddings that take place at the White House, like the wedding of Tricia Nixon, are, by nature, more public and guided by formality and protocol.” Tricia Nixon welcomed 600 guests to her wedding,cut a towering cake that would hit the ceilings of most homes, and the ceremony was broadcast on national television. The consistently private Chelsea Clinton, on the other hand, isn’t even letting guests know where to show up until the day before the wedding, and it’s safe to say that top money will be paid for security, and for a discreet photographer and videographer.

Limited access does not translate into a middling price tag, though. Even for a high profile affair, this one is pushing the upper limits. It’s been estimated that Jenna Bush’s 2008 wedding in Texas cost “only” $100,000, to put it in perspective. And the Clinton ceremony is expected to surpass even some of the most glamorous celebrity nuptials. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston’s 2000 wedding cost $1 million, as did Donald Trump’s and Melania Knauss’ 2005 vows. Madonna forked over $1.5 million for her big day with Guy Ritchie, as did Tiger Woods for his wedding to Elin Nordegren. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes reached the $2 million mark, and Paul McCartney spent $3 million on his union with Heather Mills. Chelsea Clinton could exceed all of them.

Lucky for the Clintons, Bill and Hillary made $109 million between 2000, when he left office, and 2007.

Additional reporting by Blaire Briody.