On stardate 41294.5, the USS Enterprise arrives at the planet Haven, a world renowned for its beauty and mystical healing powers - although there is no solid scientific evidence for the latter. Upon arrival, Counselor Deanna Troi is summoned to the transporter room to receive a curious package; a silver box with a strange face on one side is beamed aboard. It animates to life and announces the arrival of Deanna's mother, Lwaxana Troi, and the honorable Miller Family. Deanna gasps as the box pops open spilling a wealth of jewels. Commander Riker asks her what this is all about and she replies that they are "bonding gifts", similar to what he would call wedding presents. Riker is confused and asks who is getting married. Deanna quietly replies, "I am".
In a meeting with Captain Picard, Deanna explains that Betazoids have planned marriages, with mates chosen at birth. Even though the Millers and Deanna's father are human, they adopted the planet's traditions when they settled there. Picard asks her if she and her new husband will be staying aboard the Enterprise. She says no, and Picard simply offers congratulations, leaving Deanna and Riker to stare uncomfortably at each other. Deanna knows how deeply Riker loves her, but she wants to honor her father with the bonding.
Later, Picard and Troi greet the Millers: Steven Miller, his wife Victoria, and their son Wyatt, Deanna's husband to be. Wyatt and Deanna embrace and Wyatt offers her a chameleon rose that changes color, reflecting the wearer's mood. As the Millers quickly leave, Lwaxana beams in, accompanied by her tall, gaunt servant Mr. Homn and a large pile of ornate luggage. Lwaxana greets her daughter with telepathy and orders Captain Picard to carry her luggage. Deanna admonishes her mother's rudeness, but Picard accommodates her and fetches the heavy bags. Once alone with Deanna, Lwaxana apologizes for having brought the bonding issue back into her daughter's life, but says Steven Miller tracked her down and reminded her of their family's vows.
Later, on the bridge, Picard speaks with the First Electorine Valeda of Haven who indicates an unidentified vessel is approaching and is not responding to hails. Picard assures her he will check it out. Meanwhile, Deanna and Wyatt get to know one another. Wyatt says he's a doctor, but Deanna thought he was an artist, referring to a series of renderings of a beautiful woman, her face portrayed from childhood to adulthood. Wyatt says she is just a woman from his dreams and he was hoping Deanna would be her. Knowing Deanna was a Betazed, he assumed it was her projecting herself into his mind. Deanna states she is sorry she isn't what he expected, but he tells her that he is still honored to marry her.
Moments later, the Enterprise gets a visual of the approaching ship, whose slender, elegant design doesn't appear threatening. Data reports the ship is moving at sublight speed, and will take several hours to reach them. Picard squints at the vessel, then becomes alarmed when he realizes it's a Tarellian ship.
Picard assembles his staff in the lounge. Data leads the briefing, focusing attention on a schematic of planets. He explains that decades ago, the Tarellians consisted of two distinct cultures who were at war and that they engineered a deadly virus to annihilate each other. Some Tarellians supposedly escaped their world during the conflict, but they still carried the biological contamination and were thought to have died out. Picard believes the ship may have been drifting in space for years, and may still hold contaminated survivors. Bound by a Federation treaty to protect Haven, he cannot allow the ship to reach the planet. However, he is also bound to render aid to lifeforms in need. Data reports that the ship is still 13 hours away and Picard hopes to find the answers by then. In the meantime, Picard has a dinner party to attend.
The bridge crew gathers with the wedding guests, where Victoria and Lwaxana argue relentlessly about the formalities of the wedding. It is learned that Betazeds conduct weddings in the nude, which honors the act of love, but Victoria finds this demeaning. Picard breaks the ice with a toast, wishing Wyatt and Deanna a happy and productive marriage. Wyatt asks Picard about the Tarellian ship, saying his knowledge in viral analysis may benefit Dr. Crusher. All notice that when Lwaxana takes a bite of food, Mr. Homn chimes a gong behind her. Lwaxana claims it's the Betazoid way of offering thanks. Riker becomes uncomfortable and excuses himself, saying he'd like to get back to the Tarellian situation.
Later, Deanna finds Riker on a holodeck sitting alone on a boulder and staring out over a desolate backdrop. She tries to comfort him, saying he is still her "Imzadi" (my beloved), which he claims is inappropriate now that she is marrying Wyatt. Wyatt invites himself into the holodeck, where the awkward situation is discussed frankly, much to Riker's chagrin, and he leaves. Wyatt says their parents have finally reached a compromise and they will have a ceremony where both Terran and Betazoid customs will be observed. He realizes Deanna is troubled with this bonding and asks if she really wants to go through with it. Deanna expresses that she truly does and they share a kiss.
Meanwhile, the Tarellian ship draws closer and Electorine Valeda calls, demanding Picard take action. Picard assures her he is doing everything he can save for destroying the vessel outright. When the ship is in range, Picard orders it captured by tractor beam. Suddenly, a transmission comes through and Deanna is shocked when the face of the woman in Wyatt's drawings appears on the viewscreen. An older man appears identifying himself as Wrenn and asks for Wyatt by name. Wyatt comes to the bridge and is stunned to see the woman from his dreams, clad in a revealing gown with a cropped midriff, exposing her bellybutton. The excited woman says her name is Ariana, telling Wyatt he has come to her just as he promised. Wyatt is confused by her comment, indicating he has never met her outside of his dreams. Picard interrupts, asking Wrenn if they have come to Haven believing the planet would cure their sickness, but the man assures him they have given up on such a notion; he simply requests a peaceful resting place for the last of his people. Picard explains that the decision rests with the government of Haven.
Wyatt returns to sickbay and tells Beverly that he will take the medical supplies to the transporter room. He sneaks a hypospray into his pocket and then heads to his parents' quarters. There, he stares at them as if trying to memorize the scene. Deanna stops by, sensing the turmoil building inside him. Wyatt tells her again how beautiful she is and gives her a deep kiss. He then takes the supplies to the transporter room where he knocks the technician out with the hypospray. On the bridge, Geordi discovers that someone is beaming over to the Tarellian ship.
Wyatt materializes in a small alcove aboard the Tarellian vessel. He walks into a gallery where the walls are adorned by portraits of his face. He turns to discover a group of Tarellians behind him. Wrenn welcomes him as Ariana approaches; her beauty is just as Wyatt imagined. She takes his hand and states she knew that he'd beam over.
Back on the Enterprise, Wyatt's parents storm onto the bridge. They demand Wyatt beam back, but Deanna explains he cannot return without risking infection of everyone on the ship. Wrenn calls to explain that they can release the tractor beam, as his people will not be going to Haven. Wyatt steps from the background and apologizes to Deanna and his parents, saying that he wants to help these people; he knew he was coming to Haven to meet his destiny and he has now found it. Deanna tells Wyatt she is happy for him and wishes him the best. The Enterprise lets the Tarellian ship go and it heads away from Haven.
Later, Deanna bids goodbye to her mother. Lwaxana is sorry to see her wedding dress go to waste; she mentions perhaps it's her time to seek a mate. After mentioning Picard, she suggests Riker looks mighty handsome, but Deanna tells her he has other obligations.