Wedding Crashers Shot in 7 Different Locations and Even Used a Writer’s House: ‘It Was a Lego Set’

When it premiered back in 2005, the romantic comedy film Wedding Crashers was a bit of an anomaly: Unlike today, R-rated comedies weren’t very common in the early 2000s. But the film quickly became a box office success, easily exceeding its low production budget and helping to boost the careers of celebrities like Rachel McAdams and Bradley Cooper (who were, at the time, still relatively minor actors). Wedding Crashers‘ unexpected blockbuster achievements aren’t the only surprise. As Hollywood gears up for an upcoming Wedding Crashers sequel, fans recently learned something unusual about the original movie’s production and famous sets.

(L-R) Owen Wilson, Isla Fisher, and Vince Vaughn smiling in front of a crowd
(L-R) Owen Wilson, Isla Fisher, and Vince Vaughn | Goffredo di Crollalanza/Getty Images

‘Wedding Crashers’ had a star-studded cast and raunchy, over-the-top storyline

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John Beckwith (played by Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) are divorce mediators who infamously like to show up to weddings uninvited in the hopes of meeting single women.

The film opens with Grey inviting Beckwith to the home of William Cleary (Christopher Walken), the wealthy U.S. Secretary of the Treasury whose daughter Christina Cleary (Jenny Alden) is about to get married. There, the two men meet Cleary’s other two daughters, Claire (Rachel McAdams) and Gloria (Isla Fisher), and it quickly becomes a rapid-shot plot of pranks and visual gags as the would-be suitors try to woo Claire and Gloria. 

As the two couples fell in love on screen, critics and audiences fell in love with the characters, too. The New York Times called it “crude … but also funny.” According to Box Office Mojo, the movie — which had a meager $40 million production budget — went on to earn more than $285 million around the globe.

Meanwhile, GQ‘s film critic Scott Meslow revisited the movie more than a decade after it aired. Meslow notes that while much of its humor doesn’t meet today’s standards, Wedding Crashers was one of the early 2000s’ most popular movies, beat out competing Hollywood rivals like Batman Begins and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and helped propel the cast to become household names.

No one could have predicted at the time how massive Wedding Crashers would be in the box office, which may explain some surprising behind-the-scenes production choices.

The main home in ‘Wedding Crashers’ was assembled like ‘a Lego set’

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Almost the entire movie takes place in and around U.S. Secretary Cleary’s house on the Chesapeake Bay. However, director David Dobkin recently revealed that much of the house wasn’t real. The movie leaned heavily on a sprinkling of movie magic.

According to an interview with Variety, that single house in the Wedding Crashers was actually a combination of seven different filming locations. For example, the home’s dock is one film location, and the home’s hallway wasn’t anywhere even remotely close to the east coast: That hallway was actually filmed in Pasadena, California.

“There were no two houses that would work,” Dobkin tells Variety. “It was a monster to put it together but I just needed it to work in a certain way.” 

In the end, he says that most of the exterior shots of the home and landscaping took place in Maryland, while most of the scenes filmed indoors were actually shot in California.”It was kind of crazy,” he adds, saying that assembling all the set pieces was like building with “a Lego set.”

The real Cleary house still exists

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While the final film used a combination of seven film locations to assemble the final fictional Cleary home, the actual home used to portray the exterior of the Cleary estate actually exists.

It’s officially known as the Ellenborough Estate, explains the Washington Examiner. The publication points out that the property, located in Easton, Maryland, is a “three-story, 10,000-square-foot Colonial Revival home on 54 acres” and that the home was built in the early 1900s. It’s currently owned by media publisher David Bradley and his wife Katherine, with WBOC reporting that the couple bought it in 2007 for just under $14 million.

Fun fact: While the movie’s set is fictional, the political slant in the Wedding Crashers isn’t too far off. The Examiner notes that President Eisenhower used to vacation at the Ellenborough Estate, long before the fictitious U.S. Secretary Cleary moved in.