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One afternoon in August 2013, Brian Duck and Chad Olsen arrived at the Los Angeles County clerk’s office to get their marriage license. “We didn’t do a romantic proposal or anything,” says Brian, who owns an artist management firm. “We’d been together almost 10 years, living a ‘married’ life, and after Proposition 8 was overturned, it was a no-brainer.” Following an hourlong wait, the pair got to the window, and the clerk asked for their wedding date. “We didn’t know the license was only valid for 90 days!” Brian recalls with a laugh. “We got out our phones right there at the counter and looked at the calendar,” says Chad, a vice president at Disney. They threw around a few dates before picking October 5, Brian’s birthday, a date they knew they’d both be free.
With their wedding day now two months away, they had no venue, no caterer, and no game plan. “We hired a planner who was pretty much like, ‘You’re insane,’” Brian remembers. The only available location they could find was under construction—and at T-minus two weeks, the building wasn’t on track to be ready in time. Luckily, a friend who manages a photo studio in Hollywood offered it up, and the couple and their planner quickly devised a modern and sleek décor scheme to match the space.
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At four o’clock on October 5, 2013, 150 guests gathered for cocktails (the tequila-based Odie and the rye-based Chip, both named after their dogs); then Brian and Chad entered from opposite sides of the studio and met in the middle for a nondenominational ceremony officiated by a close friend. Their vows were a riff on Stevie Wonder: “We will forever be each other’s love guarantee.”
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Both grooms wore Tom Ford tuxedos: Chad in black and Brian in blue with a succulent boutonniere.
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An installation of Lucite escort cards did double duty as décor.
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Please Be Seated
The Lucite escort cards were minimal and asymmetrical in design—like much of the event.
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Salmon tartare served on a custom wooden “tray” made the rounds during the cocktail hour. This creative display of tasty bites was just one item on offer from caterer Room Forty.
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Another cocktail-hour treat: liquid-center meatballs topped with grated Parmesan.
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The Reception Tables
Succulents, dahlias, ranunculus, black scabiosa, and ninebark foliage dotted tables.
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Floral arrangements included an array of dried pods, leaves, and buds in rust, aubergine, and burgundy.
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For a modern feel, menus were printed on Lucite rather than paper. After a sit-down dinner of sweet-corn ravioli, short ribs, and chicken confit, the dance party started as revelers took to the floor for “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross. “It was one of those days when you have this feeling that the sun is shining from within you,” Brian says.
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A White Wedding Moment
“We didn’t want anything superfluous, just us,” Chad says of the solid-white photo backdrop.
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An Interactive Dessert
For dessert, guests devoured s’mores parfaits. Each pot contained graham-cracker soil, chocolate coffee ganache, and a still-smoking bruléed homemade marshmallow.
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A Sweet Ending
The asymmetrical two-tier vanilla cake with buttercream frosting was adorned with dahlias and mums.
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A Colorful Homage
The grooms revealed a fun—and meaningful—surprise when they cut the cake: The all-white vanilla buttercream exterior gave way to rainbow stripes, for a nod to gay pride.
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Event Design, Planning, Production, and Stationery: Beth Helmstetter Events
Catering: Room Forty
Photography: Steve Steinhardt
Cake: Charm City Cakes West
Grooming: Jeffrey Baum of Atelier Management
Manicurist: Cyndi Daniels
Bar Service and Specialty Cocktails: Pharmacie LA
Dance Floor, Lighting, and Additional Rentals: Barker Décor Service