We're so excited to have been quoted on NBC's Today Show today and CBS News, speaking about Chelsea Clinton's wedding -- check it out!
It all started with an interview for ABC where we were asked to speculate on the cost of putting on a wedding of this scale and magnitude. Time will tell if our estimates are correct!
Chelsea Clinton Wedding Price Tag: $2 Million
Chelsea Clinton, Marc Mezvinsky Wedding Is Unlike Anything Rhinebeck Has Ever Seen
By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
July 22, 2010—
It's turning out to be one of the hottest weddings of the season, and probably one of the most expensive.
When Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky tie the knot on July 31 they will be surrounded by friends, family and an A-list of celebrities that is likely to include more than one world leader. Hey, Dad's a former president and Mom's the current Secretary of State, after all.
Details of the wedding are slowly leaking out -- it's presumed to be in the small upstate New York village of Rhinebeck -- and it doesn't appear to disappoint. While nobody but the Clintons knows the exact price, it's shaping up to be a costly affair: the total price tag could easily reach $2 million.
When Jenna Bush got married two years ago at the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, planners estimated it only cost $100,000 for the "down-home" celebration.
To get a better sense of exactly how much it will cost, ABC News reached out to one of the nation's top wedding planners, Claudia Hanlin, founder and partner in The Wedding Library. Hanlin, whose firm is the largest in New York, is the person the CEOs of major companies and the heads of hedge funds call when they get married.
She also happens to know Bryan Rafanelli, the head of Rafanelli Events and Clinton's wedding planner -- though friendships only go so far and Hanlin swears not to have any inside information about this top-secret event.
"My assumption is that what they want is going to be a lovely, traditional wedding," Hanlin said. That will actually keep the cost down, a bit. Don't expect exotic animals flown in or fireworks here as a grand finale.
Vendors may discount their services because of all the free publicity they will get from this event, but that is doubtful given the extra stress and work involved in this complicated wedding.
"Having to do everything in secrecy is a lot harder," Hanlin said. "Not telling your staff what time to show up but having them on call, that adds a lot of stress and difficulty to the event."
Chelsea Clinton, Marc Mezvinsky Wedding
So without further delay, here is a breakdown of what it costs to put on a wedding for a former president's only child.
Reception Space: $125,000 to $200,000 -- Clinton and Mezvinsky are reported to be getting married at the Astor Courts, a sprawling mansion designed by Stanford White in 1902 for John Jacob Astor IV. It's a private home owned by Clinton donors Kathleen Hammer and Arthur Seelbinder. It also happens to be on the market for $12 million.
Hanlin said the owners will need to do post-wedding cleaning and repairs, and had to take the house off the market for at least three days but probably a week or more. That doesn't come cheap. Then again, having the Clinton wedding at your home might add a bit to the value. And since the owners are already big donors, why not let the family use the house for free?
Catering: $750,000 -- The wedding is said to being catered by Blue Ribbon Restaurants, St. Regis and Olivier Cheng Catering and Events. One might be doing the cocktail hour, one the main meal and another late night snacks. Hanlin said each would charge around $500 per person, given that they will have to share a kitchen and coordinate with two other caters. Plus, there is the remote nature of the location. With 500 rumored guests at $1,500 each, that's one expensive meal.
Flowers: $250,000 -- Hanlin knows one of the vendors who worked on the engagement party for the Clintons.
"My sort of insider information from her is that they're not extravagant as a family," she said. "They're not wanting a lavish, over-the-top floral design."
That's good news for the accountants. Jeff Leatham, artistic director of the Four Seasons George V hotel in Paris, is said to be doing the arrangements. Hanlin said $175,000 to $500,000 could easily be spent on flowers for a wedding like this. Her guess: closer to $250,000 given the family's tastes.
Planning a Presidential Wedding
Music: $40,000 -- Jimmy Vali is said to be handling the music. Hanlin works with him frequently and said Vali would normally charge $28,000 for a wedding like this. But he might be pulling out all the stops for the Clintons.
"Maybe Bill will get up there and play the sax," she said.
That's going to require extra rehearsals. The size of the affair will also call for more elaborate staging.
Wedding Dress: $15,000 -- The dress could be anywhere from $5,000 up to $25,000. Hamlin pegs Clinton in the $15,000 range.
Photography: $35,000 -- The Clintons need to hire somebody who "will be ironclad and discrete," Hanlin said. Nobody wants embarrassing shots sold to the tabloids.
"They need to feel that everything is going to be private," she said.
Such photographers cost $25,000 plus $10,000 for a second person, which becomes necessary when you have more than 200 guests.
Video: $25,000 -- For a woman who has grown up in the national spotlight, it's probably a given that her wedding will also be captured on video. This is not a family that has shied away from the cameras.
Lighting: $75,000 to $100,000 -- The perimeter of the estate needs to be illuminated along with each of the estimated 50 tables inside for the guests.
Hair and Makeup: $20,000 -- The members of the bridal party need to look their best.
Invitations: $40,000 to $50,000 --"I would guess that they would go with a very nice, classic invitation," Hanlin said. That means $40,000 to $50,000 for the invitation, menu card, details about security, calligraphy, programs and postage.
Clinton Wedding Takes Over Rhinebeck
Party Planner: $175,000 -- Hanlin said she didn't know how much Rafanelli would charge for this event. Hanlin would charge $75,000 to $125,000 for a normal, upscale wedding. For something like the Clinton wedding, with its massive issues of privacy and security she said the price would be between $125,000 and $225,000, probably right at the $175,000 mark.
"When you have an A-list guest list of people from around the world who all have different needs, as the planner you need to know what they want," Hanlin said. "A guest list where every single guest is a VIP in their own right is a challenge."
Rehearsal Dinner: $250,000 -- Owner Josh Kroner, owner of the local Terrapin Restaurant is said to be catering the rehearsal dinner at the Grasmere farm estate on the edge of town. Hanlin said it could cost $1,000 a head for each of the 200 guests to cater the meal, and probably another $50,000 for simple flowers and decor.
Security: $30,000 -- This is a tricky one. The Secret Service will be providing its normal protection for the Clintons and yes, you the taxpayers will be covering that but there might be additional private security needed for the A-list guests. (President Obama, if he comes, will presumably also be bringing his own taxpayer-covered security detail.) Hanlin said private security for a typical celebrity wedding runs about $30,000.
Miscellaneous: $50,000 Add another $10,000 for valet parking, $8,000 to $10,000 for the wedding cake, $5,000 for welcome gifts, another $17,500 for favors at the end of the night and a few extra thousand for those unexpected last-second items that you never thought about.
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