Strictly over the top! A dress with a 15ft veil, Katy Perry flown in to sing, Elton and Cowell at daggers drawn. Oh, and a 3m bill. How Holly Valance bagged her billionaire
08:20 GMT, 2 October 2012
Happy ever afters come in all shapes and sizes, and when you have spent 2 million and rising on your big day, there is bound to be a sense that every last stop — however vulgar — has been pulled out.
And so it was at the wedding of ex-Neighbours sexpot Holly Valance to British property millionaire Nick Candy in Los Angeles this weekend.
It was, of course, outrageously over-the-top, starting with the bride’s Barbie-meets-Miss-Havisham frock: an ivory and grey J’Aton Couture gown with cascades of pigeon-coloured frou-frou about the hem.
Pulling out all the stops: Holly Valance with her new husband Nick Candy at their wedding ceremony in
Los Angeles this weekend. Guests were apparently overheard complaining
that the gown showed too much cleavage
Some guests could be heard tutting that the dress showed too much cleavage — after all, it is a decade since Holly was at her peak as a pin-up poppet.
Others remarked that it looked as if it had been dipped in a puddle — but it is said to have cost over 35,000, so one has to assume that the grubby-hem look was intentional. And lest anyone think that she was not really trying, she added a positively regal 15 ft veil in shimmering white lace.
Her groom, 39 years old, weak-chinned
and completely minted, made up for any deficiencies in his own exterior
by putting on a really big show. He hired Katy Perry as their wedding
singer, which is understood to have cost around 1.2 million for a
brief 45-minute set.
footed the 60,000 bill for the fresh blooms on the day, which stood in
great creamy columns, and included the bride’s decidedly modern bouquet
of ‘black magic’ calla lilies.
Intimate: An aerial shot of the ceremony
The big moment: Holly and Candy exchange vows in front of guests
But that was a drop in the ocean compared to the cost of the four days of festivities, which included the serving of thousands of canaps, mounds of sushi, two pre-parties and two barbecues to boot.
Candy even flew in the cast of Jersey Boys, as his bride loves the musical. The final bill is said to hover between 2.5 and 3 million.
However, things felt a little less top-drawer when it came to the guest list.
although Candy has a reputation for shameless networking, his guests
were a funny mix of the A-list and the I’ll-go-anywhere-for-free-Krug
crowd of London-based ‘socialites’.
Dell’Olio, artist Tracey Emin, Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno
Tonioli and milliner Philip Treacy were among the lucky 300 invited.
met Holly when they were on Strictly together last year, as did
Tonioli. How Nick and Holly know Tracey Emin is anyone’s guess.
Luxury: After-party guests relax in the hot tub at a grand LA manor called Fleur De Lys, one of Beverly Hills' most expensive homes
Their most A-list guest was Simon Cowell, who for reasons best known to himself, did not plead a prior engagement. Cowell, 52, turned up on Saturday afternoon and was among those who saw the couple plight their troth in a friend’s garden in Beverly Hills.
He was then free to mingle with their other most famous guest, Sir Elton John — and this was truly uncomfortable, as Sir Elton is vocal about how he hates Cowell and what his shows have done to the music business.
The last time the two saw each other was in St Tropez this summer, when Elton mooned at Cowell as they relaxed on their respective yachts.
I’m told Cowell spent much of the wedding day lurking behind floral arrangements with a cigarette, gossiping with Tonioli, who is an old friend.
He didn’t bring a date, despite being linked to model and actress Carmen Electra, although he was seen telling Nancy Dell’Olio that she looked ‘amazing’. Nancy, wearing an understated (for her) number — skin-tight, green and bronze, in a Roman style — was delighted to flirt right back.
Star guest: Pop svengali Simon Cowell was one of the A-listers in attendance
The other ‘big stars’ of the guest list were Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, with their mother Sarah Ferguson tagging along.
Fergie was spotted holding court by the pool of the Beverly Hills Hotel on Friday lunchtime. She talked about being able to sense the ‘inner pain’ of her fellow invitees, before announcing: ‘I always cry at weddings.’ She added, over a West Hollywood salad (17): ‘Perhaps I need to get married next.’
In fact, the price of the salad may have been what was making her feel emotional as, a little unusually, Holly and Nick’s guests were asked to cover some of the costs themselves.
Those lucky enough to receive an invitation (each costing 300 and coming in a pale grey box, etched with the couple’s intertwined initials) had to pay for their own flights to LA.
They were then all requested to stay in the renowned Beverly Hills Hotel — the ‘pink palace’ favoured by everyone from Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe to Howard Hughes and John Lennon.
Rather surprisingly, considering Candy’s global property empire is worth 9 billion, guests were asked to pick up the tab for their own accommodation, and any meals on site.
Given that rooms start at 380 a night, there was muttering among some less well-heeled members of the party. ‘Even a glass of water on room service is 50 quid,’ wailed one.
Well, she is Australian: The set up for the pool party and barbecue following the wedding at the Fleur De Lys mansion
The festivities started on Thursday, when Candy hosted a party at Soho House in LA. Guests ate in the terrace garden, where giant lanterns hang from olive trees. It’s an intensely romantic space.
The following day there was an immense official ‘welcome party’ at Paramount Studios. The Jersey Boys performed, then there was a surprise screening for Holly. Her close family and friends had been filmed recording a version of the song The Most Beautiful Girl In The World in her honour.
Her parents — Rachel, a Southampton-born former model, and Rajko, a Yugoslavian jazz guitarist and model — took starring roles, as did Nick’s brother Christian.
Holly’s closest friend, Stephanie McIntosh, a fellow Neighbours actress, was also featured. The bride broke down in tears upon seeing it.
For that event, Holly wore a tight, short, hot pink Versace dress. She told guests that she was ‘very nervous’ about the wedding day, not least in case she messed up her first dance and was heckled by Bruno Tonioli.
Travelling in style: Blacked-out people-carriers ferried guests to the scene of the nuptials. Simon Cowell, of course, declined, and arrived in his own Rolls-Royce (pictured)
On the big day, the corridors of the hotel thrummed with activity. Blacked-out people-carriers ferried guests to the scene of the nuptials. Simon Cowell, of course, declined, and arrived in his own Rolls-Royce.
The bride cried tears of joy during the ceremony, and the groom was seen wiping his eyes after it.
To follow there was, of course, Champagne, plus cooling mojito cocktails. Then as the evening fell, there was a barbecue and dancing, before Katy Perry sang her short set. And the next day, everyone was invited back to the venue for a pool party and another barbecue. (Well, Holly is Australian.)
Posed: Just one official photo was released of the wedding. Guests were asked to leave cameras at home but it did not appear that the pair had sold rights to the wedding to any celebrity publications
The great topic of conversation, apart from the cost of attending the wedding, was why it was taking place in LA at all, as the couple, who like to be known by the blended surname Valandy, live in London. The word is that Holly has designs on a Hollywood career and that Nick is trying to raise his profile ahead of some expansion in America.
Raised in Surrey by a Greek-Cypriot mother and a father who worked in advertising, Nick went into business with his younger brother in the Nineties. They turned a 6,000 loan from their grandmother into a multi-billion-pound property portfolio in little over a decade.
Holly's huge engagement ring: She and Candy became engaged last December while on holiday at a 2,000-a-night resort in the Maldives
He is said to be worth 155 million, give or take. He travels by private jet and lives with Holly in a huge apartment in the Candy brothers’ signature development, One Hyde Park.
Holly, 29, made her name as Felicity ‘Flick’ Scully in Neighbours, before launching a pop career. Competing in Strictly in 2011 was her biggest public exposure in years.
The pair became engaged last December while on holiday at the 2,000-a-night Reethi Rah resort in the Maldives. Nick had staff write ‘Will You Marry Me’ in fire on the sand and proposed to an ecstatic Holly with a ring sporting an enormous, pear-shaped diamond.
Wedding guests were told that instead of gifts, donations should be made to Disability Rights International or Alzheimer’s Research.
They were also told to leave their cameras at home, which usually means rights to the wedding photographs have been sold to a magazine.
However, one guest tells me: ‘There wasn’t anyone who seemed to be interviewing the guests, so we actually think that apart from releasing one official photograph they are keeping this to themselves.’
Time, and Valandy’s imminent publicity needs, will tell.