Famous Movie Homes: Father of the Bride

What's it like to call a Hollywood film house your own? Sarah and Darrell Spence told HGTV Magazine it's full of surprises.
By: Elizabeth Jenkins
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Homeowners in Front of White Colonial House

Homeowners in Front of White Colonial House

©Copyright: Larsen&Talbert 2011

Copyright: Larsen&Talbert 2011

What's it like to call a Hollywood film house your own? Sarah and Darrell Spence, owners of the home featured in the 1991 movie Father of the Bride, told HGTV Magazine the experience is full of surprises.

Some house hunters have all the luck. When Sarah Bradley and Darrell Spence were shopping for a home in Pasadena, CA, in 1999, they told their broker they wanted to find one just like the classic Colonial in Father of the Bride, the 1991 movie starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton. Within a few months the famous house went on sale. The engaged couple looked at it the first morning it was listed, checking out all 4,339 square feet, four bedrooms, and four bathrooms. They offered less than the asking price because the real estate agent thought the house’s fame had inflated it. One week later it was theirs. There’s a line in the movie where Steve Martin says, ‘This house is warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and looks spectacular with Christmas lights.’ That pretty much sums up how we feel about our home,” says Sarah.

Life Imitated Art

Just like in the movie, the two decided to host their wedding reception at home, with cocktails in the front yard, and dinner and dancing in the back. They hired a local event planner to help with the 200-person bash in August 2000, only 10 months after they’d moved in. “When I gave her our address, she said, ‘Oh, you’re near the Father of the Bride house,’ ” recalls Sarah. “I said, ‘No, we are the Father of the Bride house.’ ” She was so thrilled she shouted, “I’m going to be Franck [the movie’s over-the-top wedding planner]!” Although there were no swans or surprise snow at the Spences’ reception, Darrell did have a cheapskate George Banks [Steve Martin’s character] moment: “While planning I remember thinking, Why not put two floodlights out and be done with the lighting?” says Darrell. “But I realized I had to be quiet and keep writing checks.”

Fans Drop by Daily

On a summer day they might get seven groups of camera-toting Father of the Bride enthusiasts—so Sarah tries to keep the exterior picture-perfect. “I feel guilty on trash day,” she says.

People Pop the Question Out Front

The house has been the setting for real-life proposals, too. The family nearly ruined one when, on the way back from a walk with their young daughters, one was crying loudly. Sarah says, “I saw the guy on one knee and told Darrell, ‘We can’t go over there with a screaming child.’ They’ll be like, ‘Forget it!’ ”

They Stay True to the Movie’s Props

When the Spences took down the white picket fence, they had to assure passersby they were replacing it with a similar one. And during a remodel just before their second daughter was born, “neighbors would see the construction and panic. We had to convince them they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference once we were done,” says Sarah. “It’s sweet that people feel so protective.”

You Won’t See Movers in Their Driveway

When the Spences’ contractor put a sign in the front yard to advertise his business, folks called asking the sale price, mistakenly thinking the house was on the market—which the Spences say won’t happen anytime soon. “Remodeling was our commitment to being here a long, long time,” says Darrell. Adds Sarah, “My husband jokes that he’ll be buried in the backyard.”

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