Amal Alamuddin and husband George Clooney the day after their big ceremony in Venice, Italy. Picture: EPA

Big celebrity weddings seem to be all the rage – a theatrical show of epic proportions sometimes lasting up to a week. And when it comes to costs, nothing says, “I do” like a multi-million dollar price tag.

Rumour has it that the 2014 nuptials between George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin cost between $4.7-million and $13m.

According to US tabloids, the couple booked out an entire Venetian hotel for their wedding guests – the cost for having exclusive use of the Hotel Cipriani is estimated to be about $60 000 (R781 830) a night. The festivities carried on for an entire weekend. Not one to be outdone by her peers, Kim Kardashian’s designer wedding gown cost $50 000, while she and hubby Kanye West shelled out in the region of $12m on their lavish celebration in Florence.

It’s not just Hollywood celebs pulling out all the stops. Local model and blogger Sarah Langa tied the knot with businessman Jehan Mackay towards the end of last year in not one, but two ceremonies.

The couple had their traditional Muslim (nikah) ceremony and then went on to have a white wedding attended by the who’s who of Joburg’s social scene. One of South Africa’s most exclusive wedding planners, Wedding Concepts, were said to be on hand to cater to the couple’s every whim.

Newly-wed marketing manager Zodwa Madayi also had the best of both worlds by having a white wedding and a traditional Xhosa ceremony.

“It was more about merging the two families together and having to introduce me to the other family,” she says.

She explains that the traditional celebrations lasted a full day, starting at 5am and involved lots of fanfare from huge tents, to the slaughtering of sheep.

When pressed on the cost, she estimated that it could have been as much as a white wedding – anything between R70000 and R100 000 – which her groom’s family paid for.

Destination weddings also seem to be finding favour with South African couples. Places like Mauritius and Thailand are still top of the list due to their locations and romantic island feel.

Club Med Southern Africa marketing manager Lesego Matabane says couples can’t go wrong with Phuket in Thailand because there’s so much to keep wedding guests entertained.

“Unleash your inner martial artist with Thai boxing lessons, whip up a yellow curry that’s worthy of a chef’s hat, or just enjoy every moment of your holiday relaxing by the pool.” She also says that while Mauritius can be more expensive than Thailand, its proximity to South Africa makes it more attractive. But let’s not forget there’s a reason why it’s called heaven on Earth.

“The pristine turquoise waters stretch out to the horizon, palm trees sway in the breeze, and there are so many fun ways to enjoy this idyllic scenery,” she adds.

Be warned though, destination weddings don’t come cheap. Lesego estimates that it can cost between R19000 to R22000 a person, including flights, hotel accommodation and drinks. Storm, the editor of Confetti Daydreams wedding blog, says the size of a wedding usually depends on a number of factors, mainly cultural and demographic.

When it comes to gift registries, she believes couples are not afraid to break the rules.

“Some couples do sign up for traditional registries at retailers like Yuppie Chef, @home, Woolworths or Boardmans etc. Others opt for a honeymoon registry to fund their newlywed travel.

“Many long-term couples, already cohabiting in a fully-equipped home, favour cash in lieu of gifts.

“Sometimes, in the case of well-established, financially comfortable couples, a charitable donation to a non-profit organisation in support of a cause close to the couple’s hearts is the preferred gift.”

A costly affair for all involved:

It seems that it’s not just the bride and groom that have to splash their cash. Guests also fork out large amounts.

Financial analyst Katelyn Daniels recently attended a close friend’s wedding not only as a guest but as bridesmaid as well.

While tradition dictates that the bride pays for her wedding party’s outfits, this may not always be the case.

“My shoes came up to R550, while special underwear was R280, and then my hair alone was R800.

Not to mention that we had to split the bill for the hair stylist’s transport”, she quips.

And that was just the wedding.

When it came to the bachelorette party, she then had to fork out an extra R750 for a specially-made cake.


Bridal shower gifts can cost anything between R200 and R500. A satin chemise from La Sensa is priced at R500 and up. Basic spa vouchers from Mangwanani start at R500.

To avoid confusion and unwanted gifts, couples sometimes have gift registries at department stores.

Lets look at some of the most common gifts and their costs:

Egyptian cotton sheets

  • Woolworths – R550
  • Boardmans – R600

Luxury bath sheets

  • Superbalist – R300
  • Yuppiechef – R450

Cutlery set

  • Mr Price Home – R240 (16pc)
  • Jamie Oliver Vintage – R950 (24pc)

Dinner set

  • @Home – R300 (12pc)
  • Loot Arzberg Form Cucina Dinner Set – R1600 (16pc)

Men’s two-piece suite

  • Mr Suite hire – R450
  • Eurosuite – R650 to R1000


  • Country Road wrap jumpsuit – R1800
  • Forever New embellished clutch – R500


If you're super wealthy by all means blow your cash on an over-the-top wedding. If not, rather than blow years’ worth of hard-earned savings on one day or one event, we thought we’d tempt you into doing something more, eh, meaningful with your money.

  •  Take your partner on a cruise around the world. Think of it as an extended honeymoon and a lifetime worth of stories and experiences to share with your grandchildren.
  •  Take a gap year off work. Most people get married on annual leave in South Africa and you’re lucky if you’ve accrued more than a month. However, after all the planning and acrobatics involved in a big wedding you’re sure to still be exhausted when it’s time to return to the office. Think of that first day. Now banish it.
  •  You could put down a deposit on a house, but if you’re having a big, fat wedding and haven’t planned where you’re going to live, all this advice is wasted on you. You probably haven’t thought of starting a savings fund for your children’s education, buying a car cash or investing in your dream business. Never mind
  •  Alternatively, blow the money on something else that’s frivolous – like a new wardrobe, complete with designer shoes and bags.
  •  Send your loved one flowers, every day, for a year.