Nicky Hilton’s Surprisingly Formal Wedding: Ideas Brides Can Steal for Their Own

When you hear the name “Nicky Hilton,” you probably think of parties and paparazzi. Nicky, the younger of the notorious Hilton sisters, often lived in the shadow of big sister Paris, but made a few headlines of her own in 2004 when she spontaneously married a former flame in a quickie Las Vegas ceremony while wearing a short, sparkly mini-dress.

The only thing shorter than Nicky’s first wedding dress was the marriage itself, as it was annulled three months later. More than a decade has passed since that marriage made in tabloid heaven, though, and in mid-July, Nicky married a second time. Only this time, instead of a late-night, last-minute ceremony held on a whim (Nicky’s own description of the affair), her nuptials were the stuff of dreams – and surprisingly formal for a girl who was once best known for dancing the night away in clubs from coast to coast.

A Wedding Fit for Royalty

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In many ways, the Hilton family is the closest thing to American royalty. Nicky is the granddaughter of Conrad Hilton, the founder of the Hilton hotel chain. The family’s fortune is estimated at nearly $1 billion. Her new husband, James Rothschild, is part of the Rothschild banking family, which has an estimated net worth of $700 trillion, making them one of the wealthiest families in the world. It only makes sense, then, that the couple’s July 11 wedding was held at the Orangery at Kensington Palace – the London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (also known as Prince Harry and Duchess Katherine) themselves.

With a combined net worth higher than the GDP of some small nations, it’s no wonder that the Hilton-Rothschild wedding was a lavish affair. Some estimates having the entire cost of the wedding reaching well above $1 million. The custom Valentino couture gown alone had a price tag of $77,000, while the cost to rent the Orangery for the weekend is a cool $35,000. And the entertainment at the reception? None other than Lionel Ritchie, although one can’t help but wonder if Paris called in a favor, considering her friendship with Ritchie’s daughter Nicole.

The New Bridal Inspiration

The fact that the Hilton-Rothschild wedding was so lavish isn’t so surprising. However, what did surprise many wedding experts was the fact that the wedding was so formal – and that it’s now serving as wedding inspiration for so many brides-to-be. Of course, most of us can’t afford to jet off to London to get married in Will and Kate’s backyard, never mind a custom designer gown, but there are some aspects of Nicky’s wedding that brides can incorporate into their own big day.


Kensington Palace might be off the table, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the local Elks Lodge. Many public gardens, museums, and historic building offer wedding packages that provide a stunning backdrop for your vows.

Of course, a traditional ballroom is always a good choice, as well. In Los Angeles, for example, brides can have their ceremony and reception in a beautiful and historic ballroom that captures the elegance of a palace, without the price tag.

The Gown

You might not have Valentino on speed dial, but you can steal Nicky’s style for your own gown. Her high-neck, formal gown with long lace sleeves is reminiscent of Kate Middleton’s modest, yet stunning dress, and serves as yet another reminder that vintage elegance is still red hot when it comes to wedding trends.

Look for a gown with simple lines and sumptuous details to capture Nicky’s style – and of course, don’t forget the veil. Nicky chose to forgo the simple fingertip veils that have been in fashion for the last decade, and went all out with a cathedral length veil that extended well past the 3-meter train of her dress. And while custom Manolos might not be in the budget, you can steal this idea from Nicky. She had her wedding date and “Mrs. Rothschild” monogrammed on the back of her stilettos.

The Flowers

The bride showed that less is more when it comes to the bouquet, opting to carry a small, simple bouquet of ribbon-wrapped white flowers. That aesthetic carried into the bridesmaid bouquets, which were smaller versions of the bride’s, with ivory blooms. The simplicity carried over into the reception, where arrangements of roses in shades of white and pink adorned the tables.

The lesson?

Roses are always timeless and romantic – and you don’t need huge, elaborate arrangements to make a statement.

Nicky Hilton included a number of traditional elements in her wedding, from engraved stationery to matching pale blue bridesmaid dresses, to a simple and elegant updo and a live performer at her reception. Lest you think she let go of all her old habits, though, rest assured: She changed into a sparkly mini-dress after the ceremony, proving the most important part of planning any wedding: Be true to yourself.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.