Sean Parker: Mine was a green dream wedding, silly

In a rebuttal to harsh criticism offered about the alleged environmental damage done in building his wedding, the man who once was at Facebook says he did what was right.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read
Well, that doesn't look right, does it? California Coastal Commission

You may not have slept lately for worrying what Sean Parker has done for our environment.

Yes, in being one of the originals at Facebook, he helped create a world in which our noses permanently point downward, our friends are permanently virtual and our eyes must watch carefully over every word written by the company in small letters.

But I wasn't thinking about that.

I was thinking about the mounds of kerfuffle created after details were revealed about his wedding.

It was bad enough that he was said to be spending vast numbers on his nuptials. But then the Atlantic suggested that perhaps certain amounts of protected land had been chopped and hoed, without the requisite permissions.

Leaning heavily on documents from the California Coastal Commission, the Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal offered that proceedings at Big Sur's Ventana Inn ended up costing Parker $2.5 million in fines.

Parker, though, doesn't believe he ought to be knee deep in dirt. He has dispatched a missive back at Madrigal that has all the flavor of a medieval lament.

Parker explained that his restructuring of a redwood forest was, like the marriage itself, an act of love.

He disputed whether the CCC's images were before the work he had performed or after. He also reminded the world that one of his two great missions in life is "conservation buying." This does not mean hoarding tins of baked beans in case of an earthquake.

He explained that the wedding was held not on public land, but on private. He insisted that any permits that needed to be secured were the responsibility of the hotel, not the LLC that he'd created for the wedding organization. (He also mentions being told no permits were needed, because his construction, like so much in life, was temporary.)

He also says he had the help of the Save The Redwoods League from the very first moments. Perhaps it's a pity he didn't have the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, too.

And then there was the alleged fine. "You should also be aware that the $2.5 million was not, strictly speaking, a 'fine' for any particular violation," Parker wrote.

Americans are always keen to hear about money, so it will be of momentary relief to some that Parker contends he didn't spend anything like the $9 million that some mentioned.

He did, though, say: "We spent roughly $4.5 million on prepping the site." But then, you might gruff, there was the food and wine and other possible trinkets and baubles. They wouldn't have come from Safeway, would they?

Oh, but Parker insists he is merely a man of taste: "You mention that what we did was 'extravagant' yet none of the usual tasteless crap that rich people do at their weddings was present here -- no ice sculptures, no caviar, no pop stars hired to sing their hits songs, etc."

Rich people aren't like you and me. They think very carefully about whether to have Elton John or Rihanna sing at their wedding. We just get the $500 wedding band to play cover versions.

For myself, I am delighted that Parker has found a woman with whom he will enjoy eternal happiness. This is the hardest task of all.

I have a feeling, though, that he protesteth a touch too much when he writes that he had "a very specific aesthetic vision for this event that was subtle, tasteful, and carefully orchestrated."

$4.5 million of preparation rarely buys subtle.