Here's a question to kick-start your next dinner party conversation: If you had a $4.5 million budget for your wedding (imagination is key here), how would you spend it?
Would you scrimp on the ceremony and splurge on the honeymoon? Split the costs evenly? Or perhaps you'd blow it all on an elaborate Lord of the Rings-esque ceremony in the middle of a forest.
That's what Facebook's founding president Sean Parker chose to do when he wed singer-songwriter Alexandra Lenas in California last month. And according to all reports, the wedding had attention to detail to rival any Baz Luhrmann film.
When you're a billionaire like Parker – who you may know as Justin Timberlake's character in The Social Network – spending $4.5 million on a custom-designed ceremony is probably not a huge stretch. No luxury was spared – the couple even hired LOTR costume designer Ngila Dickson to create "modern and whimsical" costumes for each of their 364 guests.
And there was this magnificent cake, which speaks for itself:
For most of us, this level of nuptial extravagence is miles out of the budget. The flowers, bonbonnieres, dinner, dress – weddings are expensive enough as it is, let alone adding Hollywood costume designers and cake architects to the bill. Even the most basic wedding costs can add up to several thousands of dollars.
But the Parker wedding is something else altogether – there's one detail many found particularly irksome about their high-budget affair. Sean came out in defence of his "big fat nerd wedding", following media reports describing the event as "tasteless", "obnoxious" and, most damning of all, "eco-trashing".
To create the perfect fairybook location, it was widely reported the couple had hired a landscaping company to construct fake ruins, cottages, ponds, waterfalls, bridges and staircases within a woodland in Big Sur, with plants and trees added to the location during the process. Parker explained he and Lenas "wanted the forest to speak for itself", but at the same time had to build "the basic minimum features."