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Laura Hunt

Pan-Pacific Wedding Planning - High-Tech Style
Sake & Sourdough

Jean Marks
Meg &Michael Price

To: Jean Marks, Wedding Consultant
From: Jan Goodsell
Subject: Help needed in planning pan-Pacific reception, July 15
Date: April 21, 2005

Dear Jean, I am an American, living in Japan, and plan to be married at the Park Hyatt, Tokyo, in early July. As former residents of the Bay Area, we would like to hold a wedding reception somewhere on the Peninsula. We will be spending little, if any time in the Bay Area prior to 7/15 and have no experience planning wedding receptions, so we are wondering how we can engage you planning services and begin working with you across the Pacific Ocean.

As I opened my email that spring day, I had no idea how my life would change as a result of responding to Jan Goodsell’s inquiry. The following 2½ months of planning by email produced not only an incredibly beautiful reception at Ralston Hall, but also a priceless friendship with two wonderful people I would otherwise never have met.

To: Jan Goodsell
Subject: Venues, Caterers, Invitations
Date: May 1, 2005

Dear Jan, Thank you for your faxed contract. I am happy to be working with you and Mayumi to plan your reception and want to get us moving quickly on making key decisions. Below you will find the Web sites of my preferred venues, caterers, and stationers. These are the most critical first decisions, as once we have secured the location and caterer, we can begin the process of printing and mailing invitations to your international guests.

Within one week, Ralston Hall, in Belmont, had been reserved for a Sunday luncheon reception on July17th; Le Papillon had been hired as caterer; and Elli Bernacchi, of In Print, was contracted to handle the invitations.

While the invitations were being printed, Jan and Mayumi emailed Word documents containing the 95 guests’ names and addresses to Elli. As soon as the stationery returned from her printer, Elli passed it on to a local calligrapher. Then the invitations and response cards were carefully weighed, stamped, and mailed to addresses in Japan, California, and across the United States.

Now that the invitations were out, we began discussing the selection of other vendors, which required many more late night/early morning email conversations. By now we could distinguish the email sender by text color: black for me, blue for Jan, and red for Mayumi. We joked about the rapid-fire speed of our communications, unhindered by the thousands of miles between us. A friendship formed as we worked together to create a celebration that blended two cultures and connected two continents.

To: Jan and Mayumi
Subject: Florist, photographer, music, cake, transportation, and guest rooms
Date: May 15th, 2005

Dear Jan and Mayumi, Here are the Web sites of vendors I recommend to meet the other needs for your reception. Each vendor will email you a proposal and contract. If you decide to hire them, I will move forward with suggestions of reception design and scheduling.

Contracts were soon signed with Susan Groves, of In Full Bloom, photographers Meg and Michael Price, Peter Rudolfi for a jazz quartet, Marcus Coy of Draeger’s for the wedding cake, Rollz Royce Limousine Service, and the Garden Court Hotel for guest accommodations.

Because I knew that the flowers were of prime importance to Mayumi, I had Susan put together a detailed floral design, incorporating Asian décor in the Ralston parlor for the cocktail hour, and a western English garden look for the ballroom where the luncheon would take place. Knowing Mayumi’s color selections of peach, cream, and lavender, we took digital photos of Susan’s mock-up arrangements and emailed them to Mayumi for approval.

We also suggested renting specialty table linens, and chair covers with organza bows for the ballroom to combine the color scheme with the richness of the room. Mayumi selected these items from the Classic Party Rental Web site, and Jondel, of Le Papillon, placed the order.

To: Jean Marks,wedding Consultant
Subject: Japanese hair, makeup, and kimono artist
Date: May 25, 2005

Dear Jean, I need your help to find an appropriate hair and makeup stylist for my reception day. I would like to wear a lavender cocktail dress for the cocktail hour, then change into my American-style wedding dress for the reception meal and cake cutting, and finally, at the end of the reception, change into the traditional Japanese kimono to greet our guests in Japanese style with my new husband. Can you locate a Japanese hair and makeup artist who is familiar with the art of kimono wrapping and associated hair and makeup styles?

This was my most challenging assignment and gave me the opportunity to research and explore the Japanese-American community in San Francisco and on the Peninsula. Toshie, a native of Japan, who owns a hair and makeup salon in San Francisco and is an expert in kimono dressing, was the perfect match. He agreed to be at the hotel for Mayumi’s initial hairstyle and makeup that would be appropriate for her cocktail dress. A Japanese assistant would modify Mayumi’s hair and help her change into her wedding dress for the formal entrance of bride and groom into the ballroom. After the cake cutting, Mayumi would meet again with Toshie for help with the kimono and a new hairstyle and makeup, coordinating with the colors of kimono.

Author Jean Marks and the bride

By mid-June we had finalized all the plans, including the procurement of excellent sake for the traditional toast, wooden sake cups for each guest, and a Japanese translator for the toast Mayumi’s father would make. All that remained were the Tokyo wedding on July 1st and the pan-Pacific flight about a week later that would bring the couple to their elegant American reception.

Nine days before the reception, I was finally able to meet the bride and groom. As I enjoyed dinner with them, I realized what a unique experience it had been not to have met the couple for whom I was planning a reception until now when everything was in place. Equally unique was the deep friendship and trust that had been developed over months of intense communications. This man and woman had become friends I enjoyed and respected. I was grateful for the opportunity to help plan their joyous celebration and for the excitement of seeing it all come together.


The long awaited day began at 8 a.m., with the delivery of hair flowers to Jan and Mayumi’s suite. Almost simultaneously, Toshie and an assistant arrived to begin hair and makeup work for Mayumi and kimono wrapping for Mayumi’s mother. Meg and Michael Price arrived soon after to capture the “getting ready” activities and to shoot photos of Jan and Mayumi leaving the hotel for the reception in a white, vintage Bentley.

From the moment they arrived at Ralston Hall to the final goodbyes at the front door, the day was filled with international family love, incredibly delicious flavors, and elegant Asian/American beauty. The food (“East meets West” with Asian-inspired hors d’oeuvres and a main course of more Western flavors); the flowers (again, “East meets West” decor); the upbeat music (mostly jazz; Jan used to play the saxophone); the sake toast, with many bows; and the gourmet, 3-tiered, mango/sponge wedding cake were all as we three had envisioned. The smiles of the guests as they were bid farewell by Jan and Mayumi, now in her kimono, crossed all language barriers. A great celebration is understood in every culture!

My friendship with Jan and Mayumi has continued via email since their return to Japan. Just this week I received a very special message.

To: Jean Marks
Subject: Baby
Date: February 20, 2006

Dear Jean, How are you doing today? Our first baby is on the way, due to be born on July 2, the day before our first anniversary. We wanted to pass this happy information on to you - you helped play such a vital role for us. Take care, Jan

When I opened the file attached to the email, I found myself looking at an ultrasound photo of baby Goodsell! A big smile spread across my face as I realized I was something of a pan-Pacific Auntie! What a wonderful bonus to being a wedding planner!



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