July 30, 2010 in Nation/World

Speculation rings Chelsea’s wedding plans

Experts guess Clinton nuptials could cost $3 million
Jim Fitzgerald Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Temporary parking regulation signs are posted in front of the Beekman Inn in Rhinebeck, N.Y., as town residents anticipate Chelsea Clinton’s wedding Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

RHINEBECK, N.Y. – Imagine spending $250,000 on flowers. Or $20,000 on a cake. How does $15,000 to $20,000 for toilets sound?

Sounds like the first Wedding of the Century.

Wedding industry experts say that when Chelsea Clinton gets married Saturday at a private estate in upstate New York, the tab could hit $2 million, $3 million or more – a canape or two above the average $24,000 that most American newlyweds will shell out this year.

Most weddings host about 150 guests; the Clinton-Mezvinsky nuptials are expected to have 400 to 500.

Details have been scarce, but Sally Kilbridge, deputy editor of Brides, said industry insiders have gathered enough intelligence to sketch out roughly what sort of shindig the daughter of President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will put on when she marries her longtime boyfriend, investment banker Marc Mezvinsky.

Some estimates put the cost at close to $5 million, but Kilbridge said Chelsea Clinton won’t let it get too extreme.

“I’m going to say 2 to 3 million,” Kilbridge said. “Just because I don’t know if they will go that over the top when it comes to every little item of the wedding, and possibly because it’s not really Chelsea Clinton’s style.”

Kilbridge estimated costs for some of the higher-profile items:

• Gown by Vera Wang, whose New York store Chelsea was photographed visiting: $20,000 – not off the rack, obviously.

• Cake, possibly by Sylvia Weinstock: $20,000. Expect intricate, fabulous designs.

• Flowers: $250,000. “It’s going to be glamorous with a capital G,” she said.

• Catering: $750,000. Add another $30,000 for beverages.

• Tents: $600,000. These, she joked, guarantee it will not rain.

• Portable toilets: $15,000-$20,000. These will not be construction-site facilities. Think air conditioning, attendants, flowers.

• Entertainment: $40,000.

“It’s obviously a large wedding,” said Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings. “But knowing what we do about Chelsea, she seems to be understated, someone who has tried to stay out of the crowds, someone who has tried to have her own life.”

Miller also brought up the logistics and realities to confront.

It’s a destination wedding where everything from guests to flowers to the wine will be shipped in from afar. So, they’ve got to keep the flowers cool, the guests and staff fed, quartered and cool. The stylist needs a room for the night. So does the makeup artist and photographer. For those worried about how the Clintons will finance the celebration, fear not: Chelsea’s parents are, conservatively, worth tens of millions of dollars. The former president raked in $40 million in six years just from speaking engagements – upwards of $10 million alone in 2006. Of course, this assumes they’ll pay for the party. Like every other detail, mum’s been the word.

And then there’s security. Some of it will be paid for by the couple. But when there’s a diplomat for a mother and a former president a father, the government picks up some of the tab, too.

Aerial photographs by the Associated Press show that large party tents have been erected at the palatial Astor Courts, a historic estate most widely reported to be the location. Locals told the AP that a caravan of black limousines snaked down a road to the south that’s sprinkled with similar properties.

Then there’s the airspace closure from 3 p.m. Saturday to 3:30 a.m. Sunday in a generic Federal Aviation Administration nod to “VIP (Very Important Person) Movement.”

The status is granted only to the highest of government officials – which would include Chelsea Clinton’s parents.

Despite all indications pointing to the Clinton wedding, State Police Maj. Michael A. Kopy refused to spill the beans.

“There’s a private event that’s planned for the Rhinebeck area,” he told reporters. “We expect a significant influx of people and vehicles in the Rhinebeck area, which is typical during any summer weekend.”

Kilbridge and Miller both said the high-profile nuptials could send a ripple through the wedding industry, inspiring other brides to reach a little higher. But unlike some of the gaudy celebrity weddings of the past, for which the hype leading up to it lasted longer than the marriage itself, there is something more concrete about this wedding, they said.

“When you look at someone like Chelsea – who seems like a very serious, sober-minded woman and very committed to her fiance – then you look at it, and say, ‘This is a really high profile family, they’ve waited for a while for her daughter to fall in love, they’re doing it right,”’ Kilbridge said.

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