Who pays for a royal wedding -- and how much does it cost?

Will the Biggest Wedding of the Decade be Low-key?

We know -- "low-key" isn't the word most people would use to describe a royal anything, especially a wedding. Prince William and Kate Middleton's "I dos" are going to be a huge event no matter what, but the future princess is trying to keep both the pomp and costs down.

Historically, the royal bride travels to the ceremony in a horse-drawn carriage. Well-wishers line the roads for the duration of the bride's journey, and it's extremely expensive to keep such an event organized and safe for both the British citizens and the bride. Kate, however, is forgoing the preliminary carriage ride and is instead arriving by car. It's a little touch, sure, but the savings really add up, as security, traffic detail and cleanup expenses can actually cost many times more than the wedding itself. More than 600,000 people lined the streets for William's parents' union in 1981, which cost the British government an estimated 30 million pounds. The royal couple will be taking a carriage after the ceremony, but Kate's decision to drive to the wedding will still likely save the British people tens of thousands of pounds, and that's only one of many ways the future Windsor is trying to keep costs down.

The couple must perform a balancing act of sorts, as like most of the rest of the world, England is currently in the middle of a recession. Most British citizens want to see a festive celebration commemorating the couple's union, but if the ceremony and festivities are too opulent, there could be a public backlash.

Despite the immense crowd-control, security and cleanup costs associated with the ceremony, Britons will actually end up making more money than they spend. Estimates for the net gains from Prince William and Kate's nuptials range from around 600 million to more than a billion pounds -- yes, billion! Souvenir trinkets, such as plates, pill boxes, T-shirts, tankards and virtually anything else you can think of will bring in millions in revenue, but the real money lies in the increased tourism and food and drink to celebrate the occasion. Countless bottles of champagne and wine will be purchased by British well-wishers to toast the newlyweds (in fact, pubs across the country will be allowed to remain open later than usual the night of the wedding and the following evening). But perhaps most importantly, the worldwide media blitz surrounding the couple and upcoming event is sure to keep England in vacationers' minds for quite some time.

Factor in the exchange rate, which has recently favored the pound (at the time of this writing, the British pound is worth nearly 40 percent more than the American dollar), and it's clear that this couple's "I dos" could generate more money than almost any entertainment event in history.

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