A design-minded wedding merges Far Eastern aesthetics with artistic edge

Most brides are happy to step into the role of master planner. But when attorneys Tamami Yamaguchi, 34, and John Lisenbery, 44, decided to tie the knot after a nine-year courtship, they approached the project as a team. They'd worked together to fill their Spanish Revival home with the modernist furniture and eclectic art that they adore, so it was no surprise that their September wedding would reflect that same design aesthetic. The weekend began on cue as 100 guests—some of whom flew in from Japan—gathered at Meadowood, a resort in the Napa Valley where the couple had enjoyed their first wine-tasting trip.

What Tamami didn't plan for, however, was her emotional response to their poignant Asian-American ceremony, in which the pair shared a sake ritual that symbolized a formal bond between them. "In all our years together, 'marriage' just seemed like paperwork," says Tamami. "But when we exchanged vows, there was a closeness that I can't explain. It wasn't just 'administrative.'" John felt the same wash of emotions, explaining that "the highlight of the ceremony was seeing my bride walk down the aisle we'd created together." As the sun set that balmy evening, strings of Asian-style lights sparkled over the contemporary green-and-brown table settings, where guests savored sea bass, filet mignon and artichoke salad. "We didn't have any formalities, like a head table, because we wanted to be among everyone," says Tamami. John summed up the excitement in his toast to his new bride: "To tell you the truth, I can't wait to see what comes next!"—Hillary Quinn

Our Favorite Things

The Notebook: While hunting for invitations, the pair stumbled upon a beautifully designed notepad splashed with a green-and-brown pussy-willow design—and a contemporary wedding theme was born. "We always have pussy willows in vases around the house, and loved the modernist palette," explains John, who then hired the stationer to custom-design the wedding papers, from invites to place cards.

Sake to Me: In honor of Tamami's Japanese ancestry, each guest was given a sake set to take home. "We gave two different types so couples didn't end up with exact doubles."

First-dance Drama: Thanks to private lessons ("We crammed them in a few weeks before the wedding!" admits the bride) and a routine choreographed by their instructor, thepair showed off ballroom skills to their favorite bossa nova song, Corcovado, by Brazilian artist Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Photo Finish: Tamami and John hung a series of photos of themselves as kids in the reception space, which guests perused during the cocktail hour. Afterward, the framed photos were given to close family members to take home.

The seated dinner reception glowed under twinkling string lights.

Get personalized planning advice, exclusive offers and must-read wedding news.

Thank You
for Signing Up!

Check your e-mail inbox for the latest updates from brides.com