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BLOG: Sean Parker spent $5M on his wedding and all he got was a heap of Internet shaming

Robert X. Cringely | July 1, 2013
Can't a guy catch a break for his tacky, wasteful, Tolkien-tinged nuptials? The Facebook billionaire pleads his case

What do you do when you're in a marrying frame of mind and have more money than God? You design a lavish multi-million-dollar nuptials ceremony that would make the royal family green with envy.

Certainly that's what Sean Parker dreamed up when he retrofitted an old-growth redwood forest in the heart of Big Sur for a $5 milllion+ fantasy wedding to singer Alexandra Lenas earlier this month.

Parker, whose primary talent seems to be amazingly good timing, parlayed his early interest in Napster and Facebook into a fortune estimated in the billions, and by god he was determined to do more with it than merely snort cocaine off the torsos of Stanford coeds. (FYI, Parker says that scene in "The Social Network" was "complete fiction.")

Lavish weddings are not unique in the world of high-tech insta-billionaires. When Bill married Melinda, he famously rented every helicopter on the island of Kauai so that the media couldn't zoom in on the ceremony from above. Sergey Brin married Anne Wojcicki on a private island in the Bahamas. Larry Page did him one better by renting two private islands in the British Isles for his wedding.

A whole new level of excess
But Parker upped the ante. He set out to create an enchanted forest inside an actual forest, one that resembled "Lothlórien, the mythical home of Galadriel in Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings.'" He brought in tractors to clear land, built fake stone bridges with a fake pond underneath, and erected a fake ruined castle. He managed to get it done despite not obtaining a single permit from the apparently "mysterious" California Coastal Commission, whom he later paid $2.5 million in penalties.

For all of that, Parker got soundly spanked by the media. Gee, what a surprise.

Yesterday, Parker posted a nearly 10,000-word rebuttal on TechCrunch. If his purpose was to convince the world he wasn't just another spoiled self-obsessed technocrat with the prose style of a lovesick adolescent, he didn't quite make it. Parker wrote:

After the ceremony many of us felt as though we never wanted to leave that forest, and indeed many guests remained there until the sun came up the next morning. We lay on the flower-strewn pathway, looking up at the redwood canopy above. The fog rolling in from the ocean enveloped us, imbuing the moment with a feeling of supernatural bliss....

We awoke that morning to a media backlash of epic proportions, a firestorm of press attacking our wedding with the most vitriolic language we'd ever seen in print. At the same time, a mob of Internet trolls, eco-zealots, and other angry folk from every corner of the Internet unleashed a fury of vulgar insults, flooding our email and Facebook pages.


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