Blowing huge amounts on your nuptials is the ultimate modern status symbol.
This has been the year of the lavish wedding. From Princess Eugenie trying to upstage her royal cousin to Gwyneth Paltrow “consciously coupling” for the second time, blowing huge amounts of money on your nuptials is now, it seems, the ultimate status symbol. However, even these celebrity ceremonies seemed modest compared with the latest extravagance.
Last week, Indian oil-and-telecoms tycoon Mukesh Ambani gave away his daughter Isha to fellow billionaire Ajay Piramal’s son, Anand, in “a spectacle that could even put the fictional nuptials in Crazy Rich Asians to shame”, says PR Sanjai and Anto Antony on Bloomberg. Family members have insisted the “do” cost “only” $15m, but “people familiar with the planning estimated the expense at about $100m”.
A star-studded bash
So, what does one get for $100m these days? Well, to start with, a week of pre-wedding entertainment lavish enough to attract “a star-studded, internationally acclaimed guest list”, which included former first couple Bill and Hillary Clinton, says Carrie Goldberg for Harper’s Bazaar. Guests were “treated to a private Beyoncé concert” as well as performances from Bollywood superstars, including Aishwarya Rai. There was so much going on that the happy couple built a bespoke app to answer any questions that guests had “regarding the week of events, their locations, or their dress code”.
The final bill also included “the five five-star hotels the family booked for their guests” and “more than 100 chartered flights” to make sure they arrived at the correct destination, says Holly Rhue in Elle. Naturally, all this required a lot of planning, so there was also “a rented ‘war room’ set up in Mumbai for staff”. The Ambani family even catered for the wider community, donating to the people of Udaipur (where the pre-wedding celebrations took place) enough food to feed 5,100, three meals a day for four days.
Despite the huge amount of money spent, it’s unlikely the father of the bride will begrudge the cost. Mukesh Ambani is the 19th richest man in the world, with a net worth of $43.4bn, says Katie Mettler in The Washington Post. The groom’s father isn’t short of a few bob either, since he has an estimated net worth of $4.2bn, making him the 24th-wealthiest person in India. Indeed, both sets of parents might view it as a good business investment, given that the alliance “will bring together the business empires of two of India’s wealthiest, most influential families”.
Not everyone is happy about such extravagance. The nuptials have “put the big fat Indian wedding back in the domain of scrutiny and debate”, say Nandita Singh and Mahua Ventakesh in The Print, with the Delhi government vowing to clamp down. Still, “while many scoff at the brazen displays of wealth at big-ticket weddings, behind the veneer of luxury lies a self-sustaining micro-economy that heralds a windfall for dozens, often hundreds, of people”.
From “florists, tent operators, beauticians, tailors, painters and sound technicians to tea vendors, luxury weddings that go on for days significantly boost the economy of places where they are held”.
Tabloid money… Sugar’s Apprentice decision not sweet for thirsty vegans
• Sian Gabbidon’s victory in the final of The Apprentice over Camilla Ainsworth and her “gourmet nut milk” was a blow for thirsty vegans, says Jim Shelley in the Daily Mail. By kicking Ainsworth in the proverbial gourmet nuts, the multi-millionaire mogul-turned-presenter Alan Sugar rejected a product that was perfectly suited to the booming market in non-dairy alternative milk drinks – a market already worth £300m. The figure is bound to rise given the way vegans appear to be taking over our supermarkets (and the world). As for Gabbidon’s “affordable luxury swimwear”, that’s the worst kind of “luxury” if Sugar is to make back his £250,000 investment. She had only sold 400 swimsuits in two years of trading.
• Say goodbye to men failing at household chores and women clearing up around them, says Tina Weaver in The Mail on Sunday. Advertising watchdogs have banned negative gender-stereotyping in television commercials. Anything that shows boys as daring and girls as caring is off the menu. But this defies common sense. Like most of their testosterone-fuelled friends, my two sons have always played rough-and -tumble games. When someone gave them a toy gun one Christmas, they wouldn’t put it down. Meanwhile, my nieces would rather play quietly with colourful beads. Much of our behaviour is down to the way we are wired by nature. Politically correct rules won’t change that.
• Why can’t people make decent bacon sandwiches any more? asks Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. I bought one the other day and it had lettuce in it. Lettuce, for God’s sake. The bread was brown, littered with seeds and kernels, and there were even traces of avocado, which I know is treated as a foodstuff by silly, thin women in London. But me? I’d rather eat Ed Miliband. Someone has got it into their heads that the bacon sandwich is some kind of health thing. It isn’t. It’s designed to cure the curse of vegetarianism, not ease us all into it. Things are no better at the other end of the spectrum. At a greasy spoon, they gave me a bacon sarnie — for £2.50 — filled with an inch of freezing margarine and two tiny specks of even colder bacon.