When Craig Hill went looking for his future wife, he made a detailed list.
She had to be shorter than him. She had to share his appreciation for Asian culture and “deeply held belief” in Santa Maria-style barbecue. And she had to live within five miles of his Los Osos home.
“I literally used every ounce of luck I had to get her,” Hill, 43, said, gesturing to his 33-year-old bride, Mia. “She is literally the most perfect (person) for me on the planet.”
The Hills, who wed a year ago, each have children from previous relationships. The couple still hasn’t taken a honeymoon, but they’re eyeing a trip to New York in the spring.
“Little Weddings” centers on Pasadena event planner Kelly McInturff, owner and designer of Sassy Bash by Kelly Mc Events. Co-produced by Critical Content, the three-episode docuseries is part of a fleet of Lifetime programming that focuses on little people, including “Little Women: Dallas.”
On the pilot episode of “Little Weddings,” McInturff and her family work with the Hills to plan and carry out a dream wedding inspired by classic cars and bowling.
“I always look at (any experience) as a fun story” in the making, said Craig Hill, the producer and on-air sidekick of KVEC 920 AM radio host Dave Congalton. His wife is studying at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo to become a drug and alcohol counselor.
The first time Craig met Mia, he was 14. She was 4, a recent arrival from South Korea just settling into her adoptive home on the Central Coast.
“I remember her staring at me, scared,” recalled Craig Hill, who was friends with Mia’s adoptive brother.
That little girl made an impression on Hill, one that stuck with him for years after their initial meeting in 1987.
“Every once and a while, I would think, ‘I wonder what she’s doing now?’ ” said Hill, who has worked as a producer, engineer, DJ and host for American General Media since 1999. (He also spent five years as a floor supervisor in The Tribune’s production department.)
Roughly a quarter-century later, they bumped into each other at a local store. Emails and phone calls were exchanged, and a quick coffee date was scheduled.
“I’m the kind of person that looks forever for something. But when I find it, I know,” he said. “It was on our first date that I knew I wanted to marry her, and the second date was a confirmation.”
He spent the next two years saving up for a diamond engagement ring worthy of his bride-to-be.
“I wanted to get a ring that would make her friends and family mad at me,” Hill said with a chuckle.
When it came to tying the knot, the Hills knew they wanted something equally special. But they couldn’t afford a fancy church ceremony.
“It was like, ‘We could pay for a honeymoon or we could pay for a wedding.’ What are we going to do?” Craig Hill recalled.
Then, in August 2015, Mia Hill got two calls — one from her ex, telling her about “Little Weddings,” and the other from a producer looking for couples to feature on the show.
The “Little Weddings” producers originally planned to simply film the Hills’ wedding. But Craig Hill had a better idea.
“I said, ‘No, no, no … If you want to film us getting married, you guys are going to have to pay for it,’ ” he recalled. In return, he said, the producers could pick the date, the location and other details.
A deal was struck, and a “Little Weddings” film crew came to the Central Coast that September to film the couple for a day.
In addition to a bowling theme, a reference to their first date, the couple wanted a wedding that would reflect their love of cars and rockabilly culture. Mia Hill has a 1962 Mercury Comet, while her husband has a 1965 Ford Thunderbird.
They wanted to channel the 1950s, “but not sock hop, ‘Happy Days’ ’50s — more (like) greaser ’50s, but without the singing from John Travolta,” Craig Hill explained, prompting laughter from his wife. “I always say ‘Marilyn Monroe with tattoos.’ ”
The “Little Weddings” producers shot down the Hills’ suggestion of filming in a bowling alley, eventually settling on a place with more pizazz — the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo. The Hills officially tied the knot Oct. 11, 2015, as part of an exhausting three-day shooting schedule.
“They moved the date on us and the location on us four or five times,” Craig Hill said, announcing the final date just six days before shooting. “It was literally, ‘Next weekend we’re getting married in L.A. on a Sunday.’ ”
Unfortunately, that meant many of the Hills’ relatives weren’t able to attend the wedding. Several extras filled the empty seats, Mia Hill said.
As frustrating as the experience was at times, the Hills said it was also fun.
“It’s so unique,” Craig Hill said. “How many people get married on a TV show?”
“Little Weddings” premieres at 9 p.m. Wednesday on Lifetime and runs Wednesdays through Dec. 7.