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Sean Parker's Wedding Lacked Permit, Leads to $2.5M Penalty

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on June 10, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sean Parker's wedding managed to ring up a jaw-dropping $2.5 million penalty, reports The Atlantic.

In true apathetic billionaire fashion, when California regulators told Parker -- a co-founder of Napster and the first president of Facebook -- that he didn't have the permits to build a magical fantasy-land world in a Redwood forest, he ignored them and went ahead with it.

The end result? A "grotesque ceremonial mound" and "a redwood-damaging, erosion-spilling indulgence," reports ValleyWag.

California inspectors checked out the palatial Big Sur backdrop and took issue with it. Parker's attorneys apparently figured it'd be easier to settle than tear the marital monstrosity down, according to ValleyWag.

"The parties reached the agreement after officials were tipped that Parker had built a cottage, fake ruins, waterfalls, staircases and a huge dance floor near iconic redwoods and a stream with threatened steelhead trout," the California Coastal Commission's report stated.

In response to the criticism, Parker claimed in an email to The Atlantic that the $2.5 million he paid wasn't a fine, but that he "conceded" to pay the sum as it was consistent with conservation work he is already doing.

Considering the wedding bash itself cost $10 million, another $2.5 million is a drop in the budget bucket for Parker. But for the rest of us, the lesson learned is that you should always get the necessary permits for your wedding.

In Parker's case, he claims that because he was merely renting the campground from the Ventana Inn, it was the property owner's responsibility to obtain the necessary permits.

Don't be like Parker. Don't assume it's someone else's job to check for permit when it's your event.

When you have a wedding in a scenic location like a Hawaiian beach or a lush forest, keep in mind that you may have to shell out some serious dough for a license.

If there is any possibility that your wedding in a remote location could interfere with conservation efforts, making sure to check with the state's regulations about using the land. If you go rogue, you could find yourself in Parker's shoes and have to foot the bill -- and frankly, end up looking like a Disney villain who hates trees.

Now that the Facebook founder's fête is over, the Californa Coastal Commission is dealing with the sad aftermath.

A possible Parker response: Let them eat [leftover wedding] cake.

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