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The posh wedding Tuesday, 6 July, 1999, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
For richer not poorer
Exclusive rights of coverage: The growing trend for celebrity nuptials
By BBC News Online's Jonathan Duffy

While most couples scrimp and save towards their wedding day, Victoria Adams and David Beckham have had no such worries.

It's not just that the celebrity pair are worth an estimated £20m, they are also being paid up to £1m for exclusive coverage by a glossy magazine.

The posh wedding
They are among a growing number of stars - Paul Gascoigne, Gloria Hunniford and Spice Girl Mel G to name a few - to have sold their marriage to the media.

All of which goes to prove that while money can't buy love, for the lucky few, love is a bankable enterprise in its own right. (Predictably, sceptics will crow: "What's love got to do with it?)

Earl Spencer and bride
One of the first marketed weddings was Earl Spencer's
The marketable wedding was born a little over 10 years ago, with Hello! magazine - the weekly bible for anyone with a fondness for celebrities and soft furnishings.

Earl and Countess Spencer were among the first to benefit - pocketing an estimated £350,000 for exclusive picture rights to their nuptials in 1989.

In the same year, the magazine devoted 14 pages to the "fairytale" wedding of fifty-something Rolling Stone Bill Wyman and teenager Mandy Smith. They divorced in 1992.

Profits of rivalry

But the real big-money bidding only surfaced with the advent of OK! - a fierce competitor to Hello!'s.

Gossip rags they are not. With page upon page of gushing editorial and glossy photographs, each projects a distinctly chummy relationship with the famous faces inside.

Michael Jackson's baby
Exclusive pictures of Michael Jackson's baby cost OK! ¿1m
The real bitterness lies in the rivalry between Hello! and OK!. The lure of big money has bought OK! some notable exclusives and its circulation has been rising steadily.

OK! is said to have picked up rights to the weddings of Beckham-Adams and that of fellow Spice Girl Mel B (price: £350,000) after Hello! allegedly turned down the combined package for £1.5m.

The gamble looks to have paid off. Mel B's wedding to dancer Jimmy Gulzar netted the magazine its biggest sale, nearly 800,000 copies in September last year.

Other OK! scoops include Henry Dent-Brocklehurst tying the knot with Hawaiian model Lili Maltese (£500,000), Sylvester Stallone's lifetime commitment to Jennifer Flavin (£400,000) and England goalkeeper David Seaman's wedding (£80,000).

The legendary "fixer" at Hello!, the Uruguayan aristocrat Marquesa de Valera, has helped deliver her share of exclusives.

Gazza and ex-wife Sheryl
Gazza and ex-wife Sheryl went with Hello!
They include James Major's wedding to Emma Noble (£400,000), Gloria Hunniford's to hairdresser Stephen Way (£180,000) and Paul and Sheryl Gascoigne's big day (£150,000).

British tennis star Greg Rusedski has also thrown in his lot with Hello! for his October wedding to Lucy Conner. The magazine reportedly paid £250,000.

Loss of tradition

Inevitably, these mammoth fees detract from the traditional feel of a wedding, as the magazines go to great lengths to protect their story.

At Mel B's marriage in Buckinghamshire, a white canvas tunnel was erected between the church and reception area to shield guests from view. Security guards in dinner jackets patrolled the area.

A lack of security at Ms Hunniford's wedding meant she had an uninvited guest. OK! smuggled a photographer into the church and scooped its rival.

It could help explain why not everyone is pleased to auction their happiest day. Zoe Ball and her fiancé Norman Cook, aka DJ Fatboy Slim, turned down a lucrative offer from Hello! for their wedding in August.

Barbara Streisand
Barbara Streisand was said to be unhappy with her publicity
And former Take That frontman Gary Barlow may have burned a few bridges when he dismissed both magazines out of hand following his recent engagement to Dawn Andrews.

"There will be no Hello! or OK! pictures," he told a newspaper. "That's for EastEnders actresses on £30,000 a year who need the fee to pay for their weddings."

And even some of those who do take the money, live to regret it.

Barbara Streisand (yet to appear in Albert Square) reportedly considered suing Hello! after her wedding to James Brolin, because the pictures did not do her justice.

Ms Streisand, who was paid £150,000, was said to be deeply upset with the photographs, some of which made her look cross-eyed.

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