It was, depending on your point of view, either the celebrity wedding of the century or the nadir of vacuous pop culture. When David Beckham and Victoria Adams got married in 1999, they sat on gold thrones, released a dove after exchanging their vows, cut the many-tiered cake with a sword and wore matching purple outfits for the reception. In a record-breaking £1 million deal, OK! Magazine covered the occasion and a national obsession with Golden Balls and Posh Spice’s relationship was cemented.
Now another Beckham wedding extravaganza is imminent. Brooklyn Beckham, who also wore head-to-toe purple as a baby on his parents’ big day, is marrying Nicola Peltz, an American trustafarian actress, and Vogue has secured exclusivity rights.
The main event is scheduled for Saturday, April 9 at the bride’s family’s oceanfront mansion in Palm Beach, Florida. Known as Montsorrel, this is the £76 million estate where Nicola’s father, a hedge fund titan named Nelson Peltz, hosted a £400,000-per-couple re-election fundraiser for Donald Trump in February 2020. Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s country club, is just up the beach but the 45th president is unlikely to be on the guest list — Nelson Peltz publicly stopped supporting him after the Capitol riot in January 2021. Montsorrel isn’t as spacious as Peltz’s property in rural New York, which is set over 130 acres with albino peacocks roaming the grounds, a helipad and a full-sized ice rink, but blue skies are more dependable in the Sunshine State. They will have to make do with a mere seven acres (and 185m of private beach).
It will be a Jewish ceremony with Brooklyn, model, photographer and latterly aspiring celebrity chef, wearing a yarmulke for the service. Sources have yet to confirm if it will be purple. The 23-year-old groom has banned square plates (too naff) and reportedly teed up his father to be master of ceremonies. His younger brothers, Romeo, 19, and Cruz, 17, will act as best men.
Crockery details aside, the marriage marks a transatlantic merging of two mega-dynasties. “This is the Hollywood version of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry,” says R Couri Hay, a New York society publicist who has crossed paths with the Peltz family. “You’ve got the son of sports and fashion royalty marrying an American billionaire’s daughter, who also happens to be a beautiful actress.”
While the family fortunes differ in scale — David and Victoria’s net worth is a mere £380 million, as calculated by The Sunday Times Rich List, while Forbes puts Nelson Peltz’s net worth at £1.3 billion — Brooklyn can relate to Nicola’s silver-spoon upbringing of private jets, security guards and non-disclosure agreements. “I think Nelson is happy Nicola didn’t marry a fortune hunter or a young playboy who counted on his parents to pay all his bills or who was some out-of-control nightclub kid,” Hay says.
Brooklyn has enjoyed a few paydays to cover at least some of his own bills; in 2016 he landed a £100,000 advertising deal with Huawei to plug a smartphone and later modelled for the clothing company Pull&Bear, with the profoundly meaningless campaign slogan “Jump barriers and be in the right place”. Last year he received £1 million to be the face of the fashion brand Superdry.
After a first encounter at the Coachella music festival in California, Nicola and Brooklyn met again at a party in October 2019 and began dating. The following summer he got down on bended knee with a £350,000 diamond ring. It’s not clear who stumped up for that one. Tactfully, Nicola, 27, wore a dress designed by Victoria Beckham for the engagement photos, although she is believed to have picked a Valentino gown for the wedding and has jetted to Rome for wardrobe fittings. Brooklyn has demonstrated his dedication by getting tattoos of — deep breath — Nicola’s name, Nicola’s granny’s name (Gina), Nicola’s eyes, Nicola’s mum’s rosary beads (she’s Catholic), a replicated love letter from Nicola (signed “your future wifey”) and so on. She has a small, cursive “Brooklyn” inked on her back.
The bride-to-be grew up in Westchester County, an affluent area outside New York City, with her thrice-married father, her mother — a former model called Claudia Heffner Peltz — and seven siblings (there are also two half-siblings from Nelson’s first marriage). Plus the peacocks.
Nicola, the youngest daughter, is close to her Jewish Brooklyn-born father, who was a self-described “ski bum” and university dropout before he turned his family’s frozen food distribution business into a $150 million public company in the 1970s. Today, the 79-year-old mogul still runs his investment fund, Trian Partners. He has worked with America’s best-known companies — Procter & Gamble, Tiffany & Co, Starbucks, Heinz — and recently bought up a chunk of Unilever, the struggling British consumer goods giant. Described by his future son-in-law as “the most loveliest man”, Peltz is as powerful as he is private. “He has always been a behind the privet hedge sort of man, who wants to keep his money private, his family private,” Hay says.
On the other side of the aisle, the Beckhams have taken a different approach — they haven’t been out of the papers for a quarter of a century; Brooklyn’s birth was front-page news. When Posh and Becks, then 25 and 24 respectively, wed at Luttrellstown Castle, near Dublin, they were already world famous as a pouting pop star in the Spice Girls and an England footballer with a golden right foot. On the eve of his own nuptials, Brooklyn’s career is less established.
“Financially, I suspect he will always be all right,” says the celebrity PR consultant Mark Borkowski, acknowledging Brooklyn’s 13 million Instagram followers and the lucrative influencer world of so-called brand ambassadors. “But fulfilment and actually having something that he owns, that he’s brilliant at, there’s no evidence he can achieve that.”
His childhood was spent variously living in Britain, Spain and Los Angeles, while his dad played for Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy, but Brooklyn ditched his own footballing dream after Arsenal’s youth academy released him aged 16. In a 2015 interview with ABC News, David reflected on how difficult his son found following in his footsteps: “He said, ‘Every time I step on to the field, I know people are saying, ‘This is David Beckham’s son,’ and if I am not as good as you, then it is not good enough.’ ”
Carving a different path has proved a struggle too. As a budding photographer he was hired by Burberry in 2016 to shoot a campaign, drawing criticism from professionals in the industry. A year later his £16.99 photography book, What I See, was roundly panned. One image of an elephant entirely in the shade was captioned: “So hard to photograph but incredible to see”. Next to a blurry restaurant scene he wrote: “I like this picture — it’s out of focus but you can tell there’s a lot going on.”
He enrolled in a photography course at New York’s Parsons School of Design but dropped out a year later, allegedly due to homesickness. The celebrity photographer Rankin then gave him an internship but colleagues remarked that he was “lacking basic skills”.
Today Brooklyn lives in a £7.5 million mansion in Beverly Hills with Nicola and has a new goal — to become a celebrity chef. Encouraged by his (lactose intolerant) fiancée, he recently launched a show, Cookin’ with Brooklyn, which streams on Facebook and Instagram. The culinary pretensions kicked in during lockdowns but unfortunately he appears a few sandwiches short of a picnic on the cooking front. “I love cheese,” he says during a pasta-making tutorial. “It’s like butter.”
Victoria Beckham, who runs a fashion and beauty empire with a financial track record to horrify Nelson Peltz (her business has made losses upwards of £50 million and not recorded a profit since 2016), has probably not enjoyed much of Brooklyn’s food as she has eaten the same meal for 25 years. “Since I met her she only eats grilled fish, steamed vegetables — she will very rarely deviate from that,” David Beckham revealed on the River Café’s Table 4 podcast last month.
Cue derision when it was reported that one eight-minute episode of Cookin’ with Brooklyn cost $100,000 to make and involved a 62-person team. As he oversees a chef making a fish sandwich on the show, Brooklyn proffers his own technique (“I eat half the fish and then I, like, mess it all up and put it in two loaves of bread with the fish, vinegar, salt, mushy peas”). “[Brooklyn] is to cooking what Posh was to singing,” a source close to the production told the New York Post, adding that he needed an illustrated “cheat sheet” for basic terminology such as “whisk” and “parboil”.
“The question is whether the Beckham name is ultimately going to be a curse,” Borkowski says. “You’re never allowed the freedom to fail because as soon as you fail, you’re clickbait. Most people need failure, you learn more lessons from failure than you ever do from success. For Brooklyn, that’s a poisoned chalice.”
Thayer Willis, a US-based wealth therapist who helps the super-rich find fulfilment, agrees that the fear of failure can be crippling. “Sometimes young family members feel very defensive about being recognised as their parents’ child, more so than anything else,” she says. “They see the differential treatment they get because of their parents and that’s kind of demeaning.”
Escaping the long shadow of successful, famous parents to find identity, self-worth and purpose in early adulthood is a fraught business, while sympathy is understandably limited. On TikTok, skewering the lifestyles of so-called “#nepobabies” (nepotism babies) — high-profile celebrity kids such as the model Iris Law, the daughter of Jude Law and Sadie Frost, and the model and actress Lily-Rose Depp, the daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis — is a flourishing trend.
Willis argues that it’s crucial for colossally rich parents not to give their children too much too soon: “It helps these young family members take charge of their lives and realise, ‘Oh, it’s on my shoulders. If I want to have all the things I like in life, then I need to generate income.’ ”
As the heirs to Britain’s biggest celebrity brand, the trio of Beckham boys — all impeccably polite, I’ve heard — have the industry connections and social media pulling power to earn enviable incomes. (Their younger sister, Harper, is ten, at a private day school in London and not yet on social media.)
Having left Millfield School, the Somerset public school where boarding fees are £13,785 a term, Romeo recently made his playing debut for Fort Lauderdale CF, the reserve team of Inter Miami, the Florida club that his father co-owns. (Phil Neville, Beckham’s old Manchester United team-mate, is the manager and his 19-year-old son, Harvey, is also on the squad.) While Kieran Gibbs, the former Arsenal defender who now plays alongside Romeo in Florida, describes him as “a great, humble kid”, it is also assumed that the teenager wouldn’t have made it in the Premier League and made the right decision to leave Arsenal’s academy in 2015.
Realistically, Romeo is more likely to find success as a model and influencer. At the age of 12 he began to appear in high-profile Burberry campaigns. Last year he modelled for Yves Saint Laurent and recently accompanied his mum to Paris Fashion Week. He and his girlfriend Mia Regan, a model from Chippenham, are Generation Z idols and he regularly posts loved-up selfies on Instagram for his three million followers. Earlier this month the couple were revealed as the new faces of Ami, a trendy French fashion company, for its gender-neutral collaboration with Puma.
Then there is Cruz, son number three, who is attempting to break into the music industry and has worked with Poo Bear, the songwriter and mastermind behind Justin Bieber. Unsurprisingly, his image has toughened up since he released a Christmas charity single aged 11; a recent cover shoot for i-D magazine saw him topless, with jeans round his ankles, a pink buzz cut and metal grills on his teeth. “I don’t think you ever stop learning, but I’m taking my time seeing what happens,” he said, as critics griped that the edgy photoshoot was overly sexualised.
Meanwhile, Nelson Peltz’s ten children have pursued careers in finance, figure skating, ice hockey and acting. Nicola’s latest projects include writing and co-directing an upcoming film, Lola James, in which she stars alongside her brother Will. She has also been cast for an American TV series as Dorothy Stratten, the real-life Playboy model who was murdered by her estranged husband, who will be played by the Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens.
With limitless opportunities and limitless funds, Nicola and Brooklyn will surely have a prenuptial agreement. “In cases like this it’s interesting how involved the family, particularly the parents, get in negotiating the prenuptial agreement,” says Laura Wasser, a Hollywood divorce lawyer who has worked with Kim Kardashian, Johnny Depp and Britney Spears. “How in bed are the family going to be, so to speak, with these parties as they negotiate what should be a pretty important part of what they’re going into in terms of their marriage?”
Wasser, who charges clients $950 (£690) an hour plus a retainer, advises to have the prenup ironed out well before the wedding itself. “Then it’s done and any kind of conflicted or hurt feelings go away and you put on your beautiful dress, your tuxedo and you’ve got the bouquet, cake, music and a magical day.” In Hollywood, romance isn’t dead. It’s just reading the contracts.
In a YouTube video in which Brooklyn makes his fiancée a heart-shaped pizza and chocolate lava cake for Valentine’s Day, Nicola confesses that they are fretting about something less thorny than ring-fencing trust funds: the separate girls’ and boys’ “slumber parties” the night before the wedding. “We’ve been panicking about it, this one night apart,” says the bride-to-be. Then she tries a tiny spoonful of dessert and says: “Oh my God, that is amazing.”