When talent manager Crystal Leigh Lauderdale met Michael Clifford – Australian singer-songwriter and lead guitarist of the band 5 Seconds of Summer – she confirms that they started out as just friends. However, a group vacation to Bali “changed everything,” she smiles. “We fell in love and have been inseparable ever since,” affirms Michael. 

Three years later, the couple planned another trip to Bali to celebrate the New Year and their anniversary. In the very spot where they shared their first kiss, Michael asked Crystal to marry him with a custom engagement ring. “I had one of our favorite sayings –‘love loving you’ – engraved on the inside of the band to make it even more personal and unique,” he notes. Crystal muses, “It is truly one of a kind and so very special to me.” 

Though they had planned to return to Bali to get married on January 11, 2021, Covid forced the betrothed to get creative and divide their wedding into two parts. While an extravagant destination wedding is being planned on their anniversary next year in Bali, Michael and Crystal chose to host an intimate soirée in Los Angeles to sign their marriage license in front of their wedding party on the original date. 

“We didn’t want any more time to slip by without being married to each other, but we also wanted to save all the traditional moments for our parents. We are both only children, so this is the only wedding they get,” Michael says. “I just couldn’t wait to officially make her my wife!” 

Since many family members could not attend the pair’s backyard wedding at their newly renovated home due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, Michael is grateful they have their larger celebration on the horizon. “I still have all of the traditional special moments to look forward to, such as saying our vows, watching Crystal walk down the aisle, and having our first dance,” the groom illustrates. “However, it was really special that we were able to keep our original wedding date and become husband and wife.” 

“Since this intimate gathering was in our backyard, we wanted it to feel like home for everyone.”

As attendees arrived, they were greeted with his-and-hers signature cocktails and mocktails before making their way to the outer deck to congratulate the bride and groom. At sunset, loved ones made their way to the lower lawn for the signing of the marriage license and an impressive dinner with a view, which took place beneath a canopy of twinkle lights overlooking the canyon. 

Guests sat atop cane-back upholstered chairs around a single wood table decorated with unique floral centerpieces featuring ebony and burgundy accents. The striking flower arrangements incorporated Playa Blanca and Quicksand roses, orchids, greenery inspired by Australia to honor Michael’s home country, and magnolias to represent Crystal’s home state of Georgia. 

“Since this intimate gathering was in our backyard, we wanted it to feel like home for everyone,” describes Michael. Even the music involved attendees. A playlist was curated by the bride, groom, and loved ones, who selected tunes that reminded them of the happy couple. “The perfect soundtrack for the night,” he confirms. Next to the bold floral arrangements, two-tone flatware, and smoky glassware, place settings were topped with custom modern menus, which detailed the Australian-meets-Southern vegan cuisine by Chef Jerumel Laygo. 

The entirely plant-based dinner menu included fried mac-and-cheese bites with a shot of roasted tomato bisque, mini Australian Impossible meat pies, and chick’n-and-waffles to start, followed by salad adorned with edible flowers and an entrée choice of sous-vide faux-steak filet or spicy rigatoni with vodka sauce. In lieu of wedding cake, which the couple is saving for their Bali wedding, guests enjoyed a tableside s’mores-inspired lava cake dessert experience. 

After dinner, everyone gathered around a small stage decorated with lush florals as the pair’s talented guests took turns performing acoustic songs. Illuminated with a curtain of lights and a neon sign that read “love loving you” – the same saying engraved on the inside of the bride’s engagement ring – the stage welcomed an array of performances, including a duet of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” performed by 5SOS lead singer Luke Hemmings and his fiancée Sierra Deaton, as well as an original song written for the couple by Brian Dales, lead singer of The Summer Set. “It was one of the most thoughtful gifts anyone has ever gotten us!” shares the groom. 

Though they didn’t initially plan to have two weddings on opposite sides of the world, Crystal and Michael wouldn’t change a thing about their unique nuptials. “The magic of being able to celebrate our love within such a small group was so special to us,” says the groom. “We did the best we could with the circumstances of the times, but it turned out perfect.”

This real wedding was originally published in the Spring 2022 issue of Inside Weddings magazine. 

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