February 22, 1998



For a fairy-tale romantic wedding, there is almost no better setting than the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, whose pink bungalows, set on lawns covered in flower petals, are hidden among overgrown magnolias and bushes as poufy as ballgowns. There is even a moat to cross, as if to remind guests they've left the real world behind. On Valentine's Day, 130 guests, mostly New Yorkers, took over the Bel-Air for the wedding of Ginny Lynn Bond and Michael John Donahue.

The bride is a Manhattan-based actress in her 20's, with hair the color of Grace Kelly's, skin as pale as baby powder and a personality friends describe as steady, serene, spiritual. She does yoga and drinks tea, and her conversation is sprinkled with words like karma, optimism and love.

She is part of a group of young socialites in Manhattan that includes Alexandra Von Furstenberg, Samantha Kluge Cahan, Serena Altschul, Lulu de Kwiatkowski and Alexa Hampton. These friends, some of whom attended the Spence School with Miss Bond, describe her as the group's quiet ringleader.

"She gives the best advice," said Ms. Altschul, a correspondent for MTV News. "She's always been unique and different and strong. Ginny Bond was never a weak girl. She encourages her friends to believe in themselves, trust themselves and not to look elsewhere for their life cues."

Miss Bond met Mr. Donahue at Cafe Tabac in Manhattan nearly four years ago. Mr. Donahue, who is in his mid-30's, is a co-founder of Interworld, an Internet software company. Tall and darkly handsome, he grew up in Vermont, talks often about karma and kindness and can usually be found either in front of a computer or on the ski slopes.

"They fell in love instantaneously," said Liz Cohen, a mutual friend who introduced them at the cafe.

"I ran into them later, at about 4 in the morning, and they were entranced, gazing into each other's eyes and holding hands. They were laughing and smiling, and I was tired and grumpy and exhausted. I thought, 'I did my work, they're in love, I'm out of here.' "

Mr. Donahue, who says he has always been "stunned by Ginny's beauty," first proposed a few weeks after they met and then dozens of times afterward -- once in a canoe in Colorado, and over and over again in Manhattan. She invariably said yes. They chose to marry on Feb. 14, the most optimistic day of the year.

Like the gardens at the Bel-Air, their wedding had a colorful, overgrown, unmanicured beauty. "It was very much a mint-green and baby-pink wedding," said Colin Cowie, a bicoastal wedding designer who organized the event. The ceremony took place in a tent set among sycamore trees and beside a creek full of swans. Inside, it was decorated with billowy avocado-colored material and a hanging centerpiece that looked like a tire swing made of pink roses.

While the men wore black tie, the women arrived in lavender, turquoise and papaya-colored dresses, the slinky kind that could fit into a manila envelope.

The bride appeared in a Bob Evans dress with a huge bouncy skirt embroidered with pink and green flowers that looked as if they'd fallen from a nearby tree. She was accompanied by her mother, Ginny Bond-Pollack, a woman with a huge smile and a laugh that sounds like a crashing wave.

Standing on a small stage, the couple were encircled by Ms. Von Furstenberg, Ms. Kluge Cahan, Ms. Cohen, Ms. de Kwiatkowski, Ms. Hampton and 10 other attendants, each wearing geranium-pink bustled gowns.

"It's an extraordinary group of girls," said Merrill Holtzman, an actor who appeared with the bride last fall in a two-person Off Off Broadway play. "They're powerful, smart, beautiful, but they also know how to have fun. The only problem with them is that they outshine their men."

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