PARIS – As Romeo said: “My bounty is as boundless as the sea … the more I give to thee, the more I have.” His modern-day counterparts — the kind with deep pockets — are going all out to offer extravagant, star-studded weddings to their own Juliets.
Hip-hop star Kanye West may uphold glam-set tradition this week with a wedding to TV reality star Kim Kardashian. The office of the mayor of Florence and the Chateau of Versailles say the couple will celebrate in palatial, centuries-old venues in Italy and France. The potential bride and groom, however, are staying mum. It would be the first marriage for him, the third for her.
Despite the hype preceding celebrity wedding vows, the special moment and the after-parties are often locked in secrecy, with photographs going exclusively to the highest bidder.
And love itself is often less immortal than Shakespeare had in mind. Kardashian’s second marriage to basketball star Kris Humphries lasted 72 days.
A look at some of the more glamorous celebrity weddings of late:
THE TV MARRIAGE: Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries
There were few secrets about the Kardashian-Humphries marriage in August 2011: It was televised. Fans had to wait until October to see the two-part special on E!, but the Kardashians posted a stream of updates on their blogs and websites.
Humphries proposed on bended knee with a 20.5-carat ring by spelling out “Will you marry me?” in rose petals. Among the 440 guests at the California wedding were boxing champ Sugar Ray Leonard, Lindsay Lohan and Eva Longoria.
THE FANTASY: Eva Longoria-Tony Parker
Longoria, who found fame on the TV soap “Desperate Housewives,” and NBA star Tony Parker married in 2007 at a Paris church that was once frequented by royalty. It was stage two of a weekend extravaganza — all hidden from view, even by black umbrellas at the church. Stage one was a civil ceremony conducted by then-Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe. The Baroque 17th-century Vaux-le-Vicomte chateau near Paris opened its gates for the grand finale where guests swept across its marble-floored ballroom. The couple divorced in 2011.
THE FAIRYTALE: Liz Hurley-Arun Nayar
The wedding of actress-model Liz Hurley and businessman Arun Nayar began in Britain and moved through several cities in India over six days. The blessing and party in 2007 at Sudeley Castle west of London drew the likes of Elton John, arriving by helicopter, Kate Moss and actor Hugh Grant, Hurley’s ex. From there the wedding moved to Mumbai for celebrations that ended at the Maharaja of Jodphur’s palace for a traditional Hindu ceremony, some 60 guests in tow. Secrecy was so tight that guests’ cellphones were banned, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported. The couple divorced in 2011.
THE NEVER-ENDING KISS: Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise arrived for his 2006 wedding at a 15th-century Italian castle accompanied by flag bearers in medieval costumes as he walked down a stone ramp, drums rolling. Bride Katie Holmes wore Armani and the designer was among the guests in Bracciano outside Rome, along with Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Jim Carrey and Victoria Beckham. Italian singer Andrea Bocelli serenaded the couple, and fireworks lit the sky. Despite the lavish accoutrements, the couple exchanged vows in a former stable decorated with white flowers in a Scientology ceremony. Then came their “never-ending kiss” — so long that guests shouted for them to stop, Giorgio Armani recounted later. The couple divorced in 2012.
THE $60 MILLION BASH: Vanisha Mittal-Amit Bhatia
Bollywood stars were flown in from India along with chefs for the most opulent, secretive wedding blowout that France has seen in a long time. The Indian steel mogul Lakshmi Mittal paid 55 million euros ($60 million at the time) — then about the price of an Airbus A320 — to fete the 2004 marriage of his daughter Vanisha to investment banker Amit Bhatia, according to Paris-Match magazine. The six-day event began at the Tuileries Gardens, proceeded to the Chateau de Versailles then continued at the Vaux-le-Vicomte chateau. Some 1,500 guests from around the world received silver-encased, 20-page invitations, Indian newspapers reported.
THREE’S A CHARM: Kim Kardashian-Kanye West
After two divorces, that may be the logic for 33-year-old Kardashian, who has a daughter, named North, with the 36-year-old West. The couple, Kardashian family in tow, is in Paris this week, shopping at Givenchy.
Their expected wedding pre-party could be lavish enough for a Sun King. The Chateau de Versailles — former digs of King Louis XIV — says the couple are hosting guests there Friday evening on a private visit.
And Florence mayor’s office says they’ll marry Saturday at the imposing 16th-century Belvedere Fort, next to the city’s famed Boboli Gardens. A spokeswoman says they rented the fort for 300,000 euros ($410,000), and a Protestant minister will preside.
Kardashian’s spokeswoman Ina Treciokas continues to have no comment on either plan.
The couple’s silence has raised questions. Is this a calculated strategy to raise the all-important celebrity wedding buzz? Or are they just having so much fun in Paris that they’ve forgotten the worldwide publicity machine?
Time to wait and see.