June 22, 1998 12:00 PM

Marina Shields & Thomas Purcell Jr.

Palm Beach, Fla., November 29, 1997

For the groom, the planning began at another wedding, the April 1997 nuptials of Marina’s half sister, actress Brooke Shields, to tennis star Andre Agassi in Carmel Valley, Calif. Hoping to speak privately with Marina’s father, real estate developer Frank (“I wanted to ask him before I asked her; that’s the proper way”), Purcell knocked on the door of a guesthouse where his future in-laws were staying and found the entire family seated around the breakfast table. “I said I’d been out running and needed to rest—a total fabrication,” recalls Tom, 27, who began dating Marina, 27, at the start of their freshman year at Georgetown University in 1989. “When Mr. Shields went out on the porch to smoke a pipe, I went with him and asked permission to marry Marina. He said, ‘That’s great.’ ”

Marina and her mom, Didi, took it from there, planning everything from the trumpet solos played at the candlelit ceremony to the antique silver flower basket topping the chocolate cake. The wedding “went by so fast,” says Marina—an account manager at Harvard Business School, where Tom is studying for his MBA—that the newlyweds didn’t find time to eat. “When it was over,” she says, “we went back to the hotel and ordered pizza from room service.”

Ginny Bond & Michael Donahue

Los Angeles, February 14, 1998

The couple would be honeymooning in the Caribbean, but New York City actress Ginny Bond, 26, thought she’d give her 140 guests a holiday as well. “I wanted people to feel they were getting away,” says the daughter of Roland Bond, a retired oil executive, and Ginny Sr., a fashion consultant. So although the bride and 35-year-old Michael Donahue, cofounder of Inter World Corporation, a software company, were both Manhattan-based, they took their vows at her favorite childhood vacation site: the Hotel Bel-Air, where the fairy-tale gardens include swans, towering trees and even a moat. Inspired by the tiny blossoms on Ginny’s gown, wedding planner Colin Cowie created pink rose centerpieces and had the five-tier white cake trimmed in pink-and-green icing.

The couple, who met at a Manhattan nightclub in 1994 (“I saw her across the room and was mesmerized,” recalls Michael), celebrated their nuptials dancing to ’70s disco music before retiring to a hotel suite strewn with rose petals and lit by 140 votive candles, one for each of their guests. Says Ginny: “It was like out of the movies.”

Summer Tompkins & Brooks Walker III

Treasure Island, Calif., October 18, 1997

As spectacle, it was stunning. “Even if it hadn’t been my wedding, I would have been totally blown away,” says accessories designer Summer Tompkins, 30. “The whole place was magical. It was bigger than life.”

For the event (which has been estimated as costing between $1 and $3 million), the bride’s mother, Esprit cofounder Susie Tompkins Buell, and party designer Stanlee Gatti turned the tiny island in San Francisco Bay into a verdant wonderland. Removing the concrete bolsters from a 40,000-square-foot parking lot, they covered it with grass, then installed dozens of palm, cypress and oak trees, 22,000 linear feet of hedging and a patch of 3,000 white pumpkins.

After the sunset ceremony, three barges’ worth of fireworks lit up the sky, and a series of Roman candles heralded the opening of the reception tent, where velvet-and-silk-covered tables flowed beneath 10,000 more candles. “Originally I thought the fireworks would be over the top, but it was spectacular,” says Summer. “Very theatrical.”

Yet the grand scale didn’t keep the couple from adding personal touches. Summer designed the autumnal colored satin bridesmaid dresses herself, along with their handbags and matching wraps. And after saying “I do” before psychic-New Age minister Carol Simone, Summer and Brooks, 39, an architect, danced back down the aisle to the James Brown anthem “I Feel Good.” “I’d like to have my wedding every year,” says Summer, whose sleeveless satin gown was designed by Vera Wang. “I got to be a princess and I enjoyed every single minute of it.”

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