With an estimated fortune of £713m, Sir Paul McCartney can afford to let the odd million slip through his fingers. The former Beatle has turned down a £1.5m bid from Hello! magazine for exclusive rights to the pictures of his wedding to Heather Mills.
Record sums of money have been offered for the rights to a celebrity wedding, with Hello!'s bitter rival OK! bidding £1m to cover the ceremony in Ireland today. Instead the media is to be offered a single photograph of Sir Paul and Ms Mills for £1,000, which will go to a landmine clearing charity.
Sir Paul's spokesman Geoff Baker, said: "Any occasion like this is for everybody – not just for the person with the largest cheque book."
The picture will be taken by the American photographer Bill Bernstein, who has travelled with Sir Paul and taken photographs on this year's world tour.
The estate where the couple are marrying, at Castle Leslie in Glaslough, Co Monaghan, is ringed with private security staff to prevent other photographers from taking unauthorised pictures.
A large media group has gathered outside the main gates for the second biggest event of the day in Ireland, after the crucial World Cup group match with Saudi Arabia.
The rejected deal would have been the biggest for a single event, beating the estimated £1m paid by OK! for the wedding of Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas in 2000 and a similar sum for the lavish Beckham wedding two years earlier.
Even if a deal had been agreed, the sum might not have been enough to cover the cost of the ceremony and celebrations for 300 guests at the 17th-century estate. Estimates have ranged from £1m to £2.5m.
The cost includes £100,000 for white lilies and other flowers brought from the Netherlands and hundreds of bottles of Laurent Perrier champagne.
A 40ft yacht brought in from Europe, and lifted into a lake in the grounds of the luxury hotel, will reportedly provide the grand entrance for Sir Paul, 59, and Ms Mills, 34.
Although Glaslough and the surrounding area have been given a publicity fillip, some villagers said they had hoped that wedding organisers would have used more produce from an area famed for its mushrooms.
Aileen Scott, a local florist, complained that flowers had been shipped in. "They are sourcing nothing at all at local level. Even the castle staff have been sent away so that they can bring in outsiders," she said. Joe Heron, executive director of the Monaghan Chamber of Commerce, said: "We're a little bit disappointed that more local supplies are not being used, but we understand that a Hello! kind of wedding is planned from abroad, so they use the services from their own country."
The couple will be married by a local priest before a congregation expected to include Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Sting and John Eastman, the brother of Sir Paul's late wife, Linda.
Sir Paul's children, Stella, James and Mary, and his stepdaughter Heather, were also said to be attending, despite reports of a rift between them and Ms Mills.
The estate boasts about 1,000 acres of grounds and a helicopter landing pad, but the castle has no telephones, clocks or televisions in its 14 rooms. Wedding guests will stay at hotels in the neighbourhood.
Money from the photograph will go to the Adopt-A-Minefield charity, launched a year ago in Britain, which is supported by Heather Mills' charitable trust.
The trust's director, Alexandra Lagelee, said £1,000 would be enough to clear 1,000 square metres of minefield in Afghan-istan, Mozambique, Cambodia, Bosnia or Vietnam.
Ms Lagelee said she learnt of the donation yesterday. Last year the organisation raised £320,000 in Britain. "It's really nice that there will be a tangible benefit from this," Ms Lagelee said.
Details of the photograph deal emerged yesterday after family and friends of Ms Mills defended her against allegations that she was marrying Sir Paul for his money and claims from her stepfather that she was a "fantasist" who made up details of her youth.
Her sister Fiona Mills said: "For the record, my sister is a truly thoughtful, giving and loving person who has always devoted herself to others, whether that be via her charity work or simply helping her family and friends."
Philip Goodhand-Tait, who has known Ms Mills for 18 years, said: "She has courted publicity, it is true, but has she ever abused her power to generate it? I think not."
Mr Baker said he believed that no pre-nuptial agreement had been signed.Reuse content