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Originally published in Inside Weddings

Pete Diederich was visiting Las Vegas for a bowling tournament in 2008 when he first saw Sara Vausbinder, who was also competing at the tournament. Although he felt drained after a night of partying, he says he instantly knew that he needed to talk to this woman. “She just had the brightest smile I’d ever seen in my life,” he remembers. They hit it off immediately, and since they both lived in southern California, continued seeing each other after returning home from the tournament. In fact, the couple began working together in 2011 – Sara is currently the Hollywood and Ventura County director of RAW: natural born artists, an international organization that aims to give artists resources and exposure in the first 10 years of their career, and Pete is a RAW videographer.

On the five-year anniversary of the day they met, during a vacation in Costa Rica, Pete decided it was time to pop the question. After spending all day on a boat, the two returned to their hotel badly sunburned and exhausted. But Pete was resolved to propose anyway. “We were about to fall asleep and I said, ‘No, I need to do this today, today is the romantic day to do it.’ I pulled out the ring and let it fly,” he says.

At a happy hour with RAW colleagues a few months later, the two began discussing their wedding plans and joked that perhaps they should just tie the knot during RAW’s upcoming artist showcase at the historic Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The event was set to include displays of local artists’ work, a film screening, live music, and a fashion show. “We already loved the Belasco Theater because we had the RAW Awards there last year and it’s a beautiful place,” Pete says. “At first we kind of laughed [at the idea], and then we were like, well, that actually might work.”

They knew there would be a stage and catwalk set up for the event’s live performances, so they opted to hold the ceremony onstage, in front of about 200 invited guests plus anyone who showed up to the event. Though a few of their guests, including Sara’s grandmother, seemed shocked by the nontraditional wedding, others were excited about their quirky plan. “[My dad] was really happy we were going to get the whole extended family a chance to not only see what I do for a job, but see a lot of things we care about. We forced family from near and far to be a part of [it]. That was really cool,” Sara says.

On the big day, the Belasco doors opened at 6 p.m., and at 6:45, Black Party Politics (an indie band Sara manages) took the stage and began playing Muse’s “Invincible” as spectators gathered around. Six bridesmaids, dressed in mismatched teal and black dresses and carrying paper flower bouquets made of “Invincible” sheet music, proceeded up the stage on the arms of six groomsmen. Sara’s father escorted his daughter, who wore a stunning Maggie Sottero gown, onstage to join Pete and officiant Talal Saade, Pete’s childhood friend.

After a brief ceremony, which included vows Sara and Pete wrote themselves (Pete promised to keep the temperature in their house at a perfect 77 degrees, while Sara proposed that they “get really, really old together”) Talal pronounced the couple husband and wife. The audience of approximately 400 people cheered while the couple shared a passionate kiss. As the showcase continued around them, the newlyweds joined their guests in a private room at the Belasco for a post-ceremony reception that included a taco bar and drinks. Instead of feeding each other cake, Sara and Pete shared pieces of heart-shaped sushi.

The newlyweds say they couldn’t be happier with how their onstage wedding turned out, and Pete boasts that two people told him it was the best wedding they’d ever been to. “After the ceremony we had strangers come up to us and say the nicest things about our wedding inspiring them,” Sara says. “I wasn’t sure if they’d feel awkward or weird being at a stranger’s ceremony, but it seemed like people really liked it, and that really made me happy.”

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