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Napa Valley Archives - New Orleans Weddings - Reception, Venue & Planning

BRIDES Northern California: 6 Beautiful Spots to Elope in Wine Country

 California, Local, Napa Valley, Planning Tips, Wedding Venues  Comments Off on BRIDES Northern California: 6 Beautiful Spots to Elope in Wine Country
Oct 172016
Harvest Inn Elopement

Photo: Courtesy of Harvest Inn

The Napa and Sonoma wine regions are all about romance. Hot-air balloons float above the valleys in the early mornings, luxurious spas and candle-lit restaurants indulge every sense, and around every corner there are idyllic vineyard views. It's no wonder then that both areas are popular spots for weddings and elopements. If you're planning an intimate destination wedding for two, look no farther than these beautiful and romantic spots for a wine country elopement.

Harvest Inn (Above)
St. Helena's Harvest Inn, a lushly landscaped property with two on-site pools, a spa, and a bar and restaurant, is a popular place for weddings of all sizes, thanks to its central location and its setting adjacent to vineyards. For intimate elopements, services include an in-room ceremony with officiant, one hour of photography, a wedding welcome basket with a bottle of Domaine Chandon plus chocolates from local chocolatier and a cheese plate, a $100 credit to the Charlie Palmer restaurant, Harvest Table, and breakfast delivery to your room. Read real brides' reviews here!

Meadowood Elopement

Photo: Courtesy of Meadowood

Meadowood, Napa Valley
Meadowood, a full-service resort in the heart of Napa Valley, has romance and luxury down pat. The sprawling grounds include acres of secluded spots for a romantic rendezvous, and the three-Michelin-starred restaurant, multiple pools, and gorgeous spa ensure a memorable post-elopement honeymoon. The resort's elopement package includes a two-night stay in a private suite, ceremony officiant, floral arrangements plus bouquet and boutonniere, daily breakfast, couple's spa treatment and a small wedding reception that includes champagne, hors d'ouevres and a wedding cake. Prices vary by party size. Read real brides' reviews here!

Farmhouse Inn Elopement

Photo: Courtesy of Farmhouse Inn

Farmhouse Inn
Tucked away near the town of Forestville in Sonoma County, the Farmhouse Inn is a chic retreat in the heart of Russian River wine country. Onsite, there's a spa and Michelin-starred restaurant, and stays include three-course breakfast, welcome wine, and evening S'mores by the fire. The elopement or "Tiny Wedding" packages include a bridal bouquet, welcome wine and cheese, services of a local photographer and a disk with 100-150 images, the services of a non-denominational minister, a tiny wedding cake from a local bakery, four-course wine-paired dinner, and a sixty-minute couples massage. Prices start at $5,500 midweek and $7,500 for weekends. Room cost is extra and there is a max of 6 guests.

Inn at Occidental Elopement

Photo: Courtesy of Inn at Occidental

Inn at Occidental
Set in the small town of Occidental, among the redwoods of Sonoma County, the charming Inn at Occidental is a 17-room inn where every room is uniquely decorated and romantic touches include fireplaces, deep soaking tubs, antique furnishings, complimentary breakfast and evening wine hour. The inn's elopement package is one of the more affordable options, with prices starting at $2,600 for a package that includes: an artisanal cheese platter and bottle of Sonoma County Pinot Noir, gift basket, garden ceremony, services of a non-denominational minister, services of photographer for one hour, bouquet and boutonniere from a local florist, and wedding cake and bottle of champagne. The cost of a two-night stay in a courtyard room is included in the price.

See More: Who Says You Can't Elope in a Wedding Dress? Find Gorgeous Gowns at These Local Boutiques

The Carneros Inn Elopement

Photo: Courtesy of The Carneros Inn

The Carneros Inn
Located in the southern end of Napa Valley, The Carneros Inn offers deluxe cottages, grand suites, and opulent homes, all with private outdoor living space and access to the resort's three restaurants, two pools, spa, fitness center, bocce ball courts, outdoor lounge, and complimentary bicycles. The inn's elopement packages vary from private elopements in a guest cottage (with a witness and officiant supplied by the couple; cost is $500) to more extravagant events. An intimate ceremony includes use of the apple orchard for one hour. For the couple only, it's $1000 and goes up to $5,000 for up to 18 guests. For more bells and whistles, there's a package that includes an officiant, bouquet and boutonniere, solo guitarist, photographer for 90 minutes, sparkling wine toast, and tray of mini dessert bites or savory hors d'oeuvres. The fee ranges from $5,000 for a midweek event to $6,000 for Friday or Sunday. Read real brides' reviews here!

Milliken Creek Inn Elopement

Photo: Courtesy of Milliken Creek Inn & Spa

Milliken Creek Inn & Spa
Set on the banks of the Napa River, the Milliken Creek Inn & Spa, offers just 12 rooms, making it ideal for those who want a more intimate setting for their special day. Rooms feature king-sized beds, marble bathrooms, and beautiful river and woodland views. There's an onsite spa, complimentary breakfast, evening wine hour, and plenty of space for quiet interludes along the river. The inn's elopement package includes one night accommodation, evening turndown service with rose petals plus champagne and chocolate, and a wedding ceremony with officiant. The package is available Sunday through Thursday for $1,500. Read real brides' reviews

Find dozens of other places to say "I do" on our Local Venues page!

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This Formal Wine Country Wedding Is the Stuff of Dreams

 California, Napa Valley, Real Weddings  Comments Off on This Formal Wine Country Wedding Is the Stuff of Dreams
Sep 152016

When you get engaged in Hawaii, have guests coming in from all over the world, and called London, Florida, and Dallas home over the course of your wedding planning process, where in the world do you get married? In Napa Valley, of course! "We both love wine, and wanted to pick a destination that would be easy for our guests to visit," says Nicole. She and Chris dated for three years after meeting at a friend's dinner party before he popped the question — though it took him three tries before he pulled it off! "Chris surprised me with a trip to Hawaii, and told me I had 45 minutes to pack before we left. When we arrived, the room was covered in roses and there was a bottle of champagne, but I was so tired I fell asleep on the sofa before he had a chance to ask. The next day, he tried to propose on the beach at sunset after swimming with dolphins, but I was too cold," says Nicole. Thankfully, the third time was the charm. "We headed back up to our hotel room, and he finally proposed on our terrace at sunset."

After deciding to wed in wine country, the pair chose Beaulieu Gardens as the venue for their May 23, 2015, wedding with 120 guests. "We chose a holiday weekend so our guests could take a vacation and have time to travel," Nicole says. They opted for a classic, elegant affair with a garden vibe, marrying in a manicured garden and covering the dinner tables with lush flowers. This formal take on a vineyard wedding is the stuff of dreams — all photographed by Larissa Cleveland.

The invitation suite featured traditional calligraphy, subtle cutouts, and a modern white and gray color scheme. Nicole stuck with the contemporary trend when it came to her footwear, donning gold and rose gold Jimmy Choo sandals with geometric shapes and ankle straps.

The bride's Pronovias wedding dress was actually her third she purchased! "I think I tried on too many dresses," she says. "I thought I found the perfect Vera Wang gown, but my sister-in-law later picked the same one and her wedding was six months before ours. Then, I custom-ordered a second dress, but the extended train I'd ordered wasn't what we'd asked for, so we sent it back. That left me with two weeks to find dress number three, but it ended up being perfect!" The gown had a fitted bodice and a full skirt featuring swirls of softly pleated tulle.

Nicole's necklace was a gift from Chris. "It's a family antique, and all the women in his family have worn it on their wedding day," she says. Her classic bouquet combined blush and ivory roses, interspersed with dark green leaves.

Chris donned a classic tuxedo for the open-air celebration. Nicole's cathedral-length veil had lace detailing around the edges, a beautiful complement to her soft waves and ornate headpiece.

Instead of choosing bridesmaids' dresses, Nicole asked her bridal party to wear any black gown they loved. "I told them to pull out the dress they'd been saving for a special occasion, or to splurge on a fancy gown they knew they would wear again," she says.

The garden altar, in front of a traditional fountain, was flanked by two stone urns overflowing with hydrangeas and roses.

"We kept our ceremony traditional, short, and sweet," says Nicole.

Guests were greeted with champagne and white wine as they headed toward cocktail hour, where a block of ice was shaved-to-order at the bar for custom drinks.

Escort cards were displayed on a table decorated with mauve roses, blush peonies, white hydrangeas, and peach sweet peas.

At the reception, long tables were topped with low arrangements of the same blooms, all lit by hanging chandeliers and café lights. Places were set with gold-rimmed glasses, gold silverware, and ornate gold chargers. Dinner featured a wine pairing, with an amuse bouche served with sauvignon blanc, herb-crusted chevre salad with rosé, sautéed salmon with pinot noir, and boursin-stuffed filet with cabernet.

The five-tiered cake, covered in smooth fondant and topped with a cascade of fresh flowers, had tiers of milk & cookies cake, chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate ganache, and strawberry-basil cake.

Chris and Nicole's first dance was to "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran. "It was so special to have all of our friends and family members in one place. It was the first time they've all been together, and it was magical how well they got along," remembers the bride. She and Chris also treated guests to an expertly-poured champagne tower later in the evening.

Everyone blew bubbles as the newlyweds headed to their getaway car. "Don't overthink things," says Nicole. "Have fun with the process and enjoy!"

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Beaulieu Gardens || Wedding Planner: Persia Inc. || Bride's Wedding Dress: Pronovias || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Groom's Attire: Armani || Engagement Ring: Bachendorf's || Florist: Asiel Design || Invitations & Paper Goods: Creative Works Designs || Music: Mia Bella D'Augelli || Catering: Paula Le Duc || Cake: Sweet on Cake || Videographer: Justin Fone Productions || Photographer: Larissa Cleveland

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Did you love this wine country wedding? Then watch another couple say "I do" in Napa in the video below.

BRIDES Northern California: Napa Valley’s Best Hotels for a Bachelorette Weekend

 California, Local, Napa Valley, San Francisco, Showers & Parties, Showers and Parties  Comments Off on BRIDES Northern California: Napa Valley’s Best Hotels for a Bachelorette Weekend
Dec 042015
Napa Valley's Best Hotels for a Bachelorette Weekend

Photo: Courtesy of Westin Hotels

A bachelorette weekend in Napa Valley should have three things: good food, good wine, and a great hotel. Beyond that, whether you want to spend your time exploring the wineries of the valley, relaxing by the pool, working up a sweat in the gym, or being pampered in the spa, it's all up to you. These Napa Valley hotels are perfect for any bachelorette party, no matter what your plans.

Westin Verasa Napa
Located in the heart of downtown Napa, a short stroll from Oxbow Market and dozens of tasting rooms, the Westin Verasa Napa is one of the Valley's larger hotels and offers the best of both worlds: a hotel with a ton of amenities and a central location, making it easy to explore the local area. At the hotel, there is an onsite pool and Jacuzzi (complete with cabanas and a seasonal pool bar), a small fitness room, spa, and two dining options: the BANK bar and restaurant and the Michelin-starred La Toque restaurant. The rooms are perfect for bachelorette groups, containing small kitchenettes with mini-fridges, electric two-burner cook tops, microwaves, sinks, and dishwashers. Suites have living areas with sofa-beds; the Two Bedroom King Suites can sleep up to six people and come with a full kitchen.

Meritage Resort and Spa
The Meritage Resort and Spa is a bit of a Napa Valley wonderland for adults. In fact, the hotel offers just about everything the area is known for, all in one place. There are great food and drink options available at the onsite bar, restaurant, and wine-tasting rooms as well as a spa set in a wine cave (complete with a relaxation lounge of whirlpools and steam grottos). On the grounds, a trail leads from the hotel to nearby vineyards. There is also a pool and fitness room, a putting green, a chapel, and even a sports bar with a bowling alley. If you can tear yourself away from the hotel, a free shuttle will take you to downtown Napa. Read real brides' reviews here!

See More: Looking for Gifts for Your 'Maids? Find Gift and Favor Options Here!

Harvest Inn
For a more rustic and private Napa escape, Charlie Palmer's Harvest Inn is a wonderful option. The hotel boasts spacious rooms, private patios, and large stone fireplaces in each guest room surrounded by lush, beautiful landscaping. The hotel is set just off Napa's main artery a half mile south of downtown St. Helena, making it feel like it's much farther from civilization than it is. Its amenities include an onsite restaurant, two pools (one is adults-only), and a spa; guests also receive complimentary breakfast, evening wine on weekends, and a complimentary bottle of wine. Read real brides' reviews here!

Solage Calistoga
Solage Calistoga is a hotel and spa that sits on the edge of Napa Valley's most northern town – an easy walk to shops, restaurants, and tasting rooms. Rooms have pebble stone floors in the showers, semi-private patios, and vaulted ceilings. There's an onsite Michelin-starred restaurant and the Spa Solage, which offers the Mudslide treatment: a signature three-part experience that includes a custom mud body mask, a soak in geo-thermal mineral spring water, and then some relaxing time in a special sound and vibration chair. There's also a co-ed soaking pool and separate men's and women's clothing-optional areas. Other on-site diversions include a gym and yoga studio, two pools, a hot tub, and regulation size bocce ball courts. When it's time to head off-site, take a spin on one of the hotel's complimentary bikes. Read real brides' reviews here!

Silverado Resort and Spa
With nearly 400 rooms on 1,200 acres, the Silverado Resort and Spa is a sprawling resort paradise for those who'd like to spend more time golfing, swimming, playing tennis, or jogging rather than tasting wine all day. The resort also offers plenty of activities to explore, with two golf courses, ten pools, three restaurants, 13 tennis courts, three bocce courts, miles of trails, and a fitness center and spa onsite. Every condo at the resort is unique, but many suites have spacious living rooms, balconies or patios, dining areas as well as fully-equipped kitchens. Plus, if you do want to take a break from the resort activities and enjoy some wine country action, it's just a few minutes' drive to downtown Napa. Read real brides' reviews here!

Want to see more Napa Valley hotel options? Check out our California venues page to find the perfect hotel for a girls' weekend!

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BRIDES Northern Caifornia: The Best Napa Valley Hotels for Honeymooners

 California, Honeymoons, Honeymoons & Destination Weddings, Local, Napa Valley, San Francisco  Comments Off on BRIDES Northern Caifornia: The Best Napa Valley Hotels for Honeymooners
Nov 142015
napa valley honeymoon hotels wine country inn

Photo: Courtesy of Wine Country Inn

Northern California's Napa Valley is a dream honeymoon destination — and not just for wine lovers. In addition to hundreds of world-class wineries to visit, there are luxurious spas, romantic restaurants, idyllic country lanes for biking, quaint towns lined with boutique shops, and even room for a little outdoor adventure like hiking, hot-air ballooning, and stand-up paddleboarding. Where to stay? Here are some of the best honeymoon hotels in Napa Valley.

Wine Country Inn
Located just north of the town of St. Helena, the Wine Country Inn is set among the vines and offers several areas for relaxing with a vineyard view. Each room has a unique design and décor; many have Jacuzzi tubs, fireplaces, and patios or balconies. There's an on-site pool and spa and perks abound: complimentary breakfast buffet, afternoon wine and appetizers, evening restaurant shuttle, and passes food for complimentary tastings at many area wineries. And if you're a fan of upgrades (who isn't?) take note: if there's a higher grade room available when you check in, you can choose to upgrade at no additional cost.

Hotel Yountville
Sleek, sexy, and perfectly posh, Hotel Yountville offers 80 rooms with amenities such as four-poster pillow-top beds, two-person Jacuzzi tubs, and in-room fireplaces. Though the hotel is set just off the main road through the town of Yountville and close to dozens of excellent restaurants, it feels intimate and secluded; on site, there's a spa with Vichy showers and an indoor coed hot tub, a small restaurant with breakfast room service, and a chicly-designed pool area complete with cabanas, hot tub, and pool bar. As an added bonus, guests receive passes for complimentary tastings at some of the area's best wineries and there are free cruiser bikes to ride around the streets of Yountville.

Meadowood Napa Valley
One of the toniest resorts in Napa, Meadowood is set just off the Silverado Trail near St. Helena, but its lush landscaping and natural setting make it feel much more secluded. It's truly a full-service resort, with car service to St. Helena, a fitness center (staffed with personal trainers), two large pools, regulation croquet court (attire is whites only), tennis courts and a nine-hole golf course, a newly renovated spa, and nearly five miles of hiking trails. There are multiple dining options on site but the pièce de résistance is the three-Michelin-starred Restaurant helmed by Chef Christopher Kostow. Rooms have a Pottery-Barn-luxe aesthetic, with French linens and down bedding, fireplaces, HD TVs, and marble bathrooms. Read real brides' reviews here!

See More: Need to Figure Out the Best Way to Get to Napa Valley? These Napa Valley Travel Agents Can Help With That!

Brannan Cottage Inn
Calistoga's Brannan Cottage Inn comes with a side of history. It's set in one of the few remaining cottages from the 1860 Hot Springs Resort built by the town's founder, Sam Brannan. The six-room inn may be listed on the National Register of Historic Places but its design and amenities are thoroughly modern. Rooms have Simmons pillowtop beds with Frette linens, mini-fridges, and Illy espresso machines. Some have extra special Victorian touches like push-button light switches, while other details nod to a more modern area; there are USB charging outlets, and a headphone jack located at each bedside. While the inn doesn't offer as many services as a hotel, it's not without its perks. The Brannan Cottage Inn offers free WiFi, complimentary pastry and coffee for breakfast, a free shuttle throughout Calistoga, and access to a nearby spa.

Napa Vineyard House
If you've ever wanted to pretend to have your Napa Valley home, look no farther than the Napa Vineyard House. With five spacious rooms (plus a 2-bedroom cottage) literally surrounded by vines, the inn has a homey feeling with plenty of luxurious amenities. Rooms have king or queen beds, hardwood floors, gas fireplaces, patios or balconies, electric window shades and heated floors, and breakfast bars with dishware, toaster, microwave, coffee machine and mini-fridge. One of the biggest perks is for foodies: daily complimentary Bouchon Bakery breakfast is delivered to the room each morning (left outside the door at 8am). There's also a free evening shuttle and a 3,000-square-foot backyard with seating around two iron fire pits for the perfect place to relax at sunset.

Villagio Inn and Spa
A AAA-Four Diamond hotel set in the heart of Yountville, The Villagio Inn and Spa has a Mediterranean feel with 23 acres of lushly landscaped grounds dotted with fountains and gardens. There's also a full menu of services: guests receive a complimentary bottle of wine at check-in, there's afternoon tea service, wine and snacks on select evenings, and a lavish brunch buffet (complete with unlimited mimosas) every morning. There's a tennis court, 24-hour pool, and a spa; for the most romantic treatment, book one of the private spa suites that feature outdoor fireplaces.

Inn on Randolph
The Inn on Randolph is an intimate bed and breakfast in the heart of downtown Napa, walkable to restaurants, tasting rooms, and shops. Guests can choose from one of five historic rooms in the main house, or one of five more private cottages. Either choice ensures a fully renovated space with stylish décor and luxury amenities such as heated bathroom floors and pillowtop beds. Some rooms have spa tubs and all include free WiFi, a complimentary bottle of wine, and daily breakfast — which is completely gluten free, and 100% delicious.

Want to see more Napa Valley honeymoon hotels? Check out our Napa Valley venues page to find your honeymoon getaway!

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BRIDES Northern California: All You Need to Know for Your Napa Valley Bachelorette Party

 California, Local, Napa Valley, San Francisco, Showers & Parties, Showers and Parties  Comments Off on BRIDES Northern California: All You Need to Know for Your Napa Valley Bachelorette Party
Oct 032015
Napa Valley Bachelorette Party Ideas Coppola Winery

Photo: Courtesy of Coppola Winery

If you're heading to Napa Valley for your bachelorette party, check out our recommendations for the best places to wine, dine, and relax!

Where to Stay
The Sunburst Calistoga is a newly renovated boutique hotel offering contemporary rooms that are bright, spacious and most importantly, affordable. The hotel is within walking distance to downtown Calistoga where you can check out the quirky shops and art galleries.

Insider tip: Make sure you visit the on-site mineral water pools and jacuzzi.

Where to Spa
The Health Spa is the perfect place for a bachelorette party because they are super accommodating when it comes to large groups. Poolside cabana rentals go for $145 and allow up to 10 girls access to the spa's amenities and fitness center for the entire day. Additional spa treatments are amazing, affordable, and also optional — which takes pressure off of anyone who is on a budget.

Insider tip: Take advantage of the cabana's catering service, it comes from a nearby restaurant called Tra Vigne, which is our go-to spot in the Valley for delicious Italian food. Read real brides' reviews here!

See More: From Wedding Wine to Tantalizing Entrées, Check Out Northern California's Wedding Caterers Here!

Where to Wine
Acquired by director Francis Ford Coppola in 2006, Coppola Winery is a great go-to spot for a weekend with the girls. "It was important to Francis that the winery become a destination within itself, offering plenty of other activities in addition to wine tastings," says Winemaker, Tondi Bolkan. You can lounge by the pool, play bocce, visit the movie gallery, and enjoy music and dancing under the pavilion. Make sure to have lunch, dinner, or both (it's that good) at Rustic, which serves Francis's favorite meals from around the world in a beautiful indoor/outdoor setting.

Insider tip: The private tour and tasting is well worth the cost — the winery produces over 40 wines on site so there's a lot to see and to learn.

Where to Dine
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch offers a quintessential Napa Valley dining experience. The restaurant is housed in a modern barn with an open kitchen and options for outdoor seating. New American fare with a southern twist is served family style and is absolutely out of this world. Read real brides' reviews here!

Insider tip: Our favorite dishes were the caramelized beets with goat cheese crema, kale salad with lemon dressing and the cheddar biscuits!

Find even more venues for your wedding, bridal shower, and bachelorette party on our Napa Valley Venues page!

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Sep 172015
Napa California Bachelorette Party, Wedding, Honeymoon Ideas

Photo: Jen Philips

Known for its outstanding vineyards, Napa Valley has become the premier destination for rustic and romantic weddings — but this California wine country hot spot is also fantastic for hosting all your bridal events, from the bachelorette party, to the ceremony, to the honeymoon. Insane farm-to-table cuisine plus bucolic California vineyard landscapes equals a destination perfect for all of your parties. Here's where to stay, where to eat and what to do for your own Napa Valley nuptials.

The Bachelorette Party
Stay: Andaz Napa
A downtown location puts this hip hotel within walking distance of tasting rooms, the farm-grown and artisanal fare at Oxbow Public Market, and the buzzy rooftop bar at the Thomas. Plus, every night, you and your girl squad can hit the free wine tastings by the hotel's fire pits.

Eat: City Winery
In sleepy Napa, most restaurants close at 10 p.m., but this live-music venue on Main Street stays open until midnight on weekends. Nosh on duck tostitos, catch a show, and work your way through more than a few of the 30-plus vintages on the wine list.

Do: Mud Baths at Indian Springs
Detox from all those big cabernets with a volcanic-ash mud bath followed by a soak in geyser-fed mineral water. Then chill by the tranquil Buddha Pond, where you can sip cucumber-citrus water under umbrellas and palms and plan your next round of tastings.

See More: Take Care of All the Little Details with These Napa Valley Wedding and Party Planners

The Wedding
Stay: Solage Calistoga
Book a block of airy suites for your guests and a bungalow for yourself — ideal for bridal-party primping. Tip: Michelin-rated Solbar's outdoor patio is a sweet spot for a post-wedding brunch.

Eat: Culinary Institute of America at Greystone
Kick off your weekend with a rehearsal dinner at this historic manor, where many a top chef has trained. Guests will dig the wine-paired, farm-fresh menu, and the gorge vineyard views.

Do: Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch
Napa laws bar most wineries from hosting I do's, so go for the next best thing and get hitched at this winemaker-owned St. Helena eatery with an outdoor lawn surrounded by gardens and grapevines.

The Honeymoon
Stay: Calistoga Ranch
Nestled among oaks and pines, the 50 secluded "lodges" feel like luxe tree houses with sprawling outdoor living rooms and alfresco showers.

Eat: The Restaurant at Meadowood
Talk about personalized! The chef at this chic sanctuary creates a custom 10-course feast for every table showcasing valley-grown and -foraged ingredients — some from the resort's own gardens.

Do: Two Flights in One
Hop on a hot-air balloon at Hall St. Helena Winery for a crazy-beautiful ride, then return to sample current releases and graze on seasonal snacks — all before lunch.

Find your Napa Valley getaway and hundreds of other local vendors here!

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BRIDES Northern California: 10 Minutes With the Creators of The Poppy Group in San Francisco

 California, Local, Napa Valley, Planning Tips, San Francisco, Wedding Planning  Comments Off on BRIDES Northern California: 10 Minutes With the Creators of The Poppy Group in San Francisco
Aug 032015

When you hire a wedding planner, it's typically for the whole wedding she-bang. With that in mind, wedding planners Amy Nichols and Kate Whelan came up with a revolutionary idea last year when they created The Poppy Group, a boutique planning service in Northern California that specializes in month-of coordination only. We sat down with the duo to dig into why they think this service is needed and who should use it.

Great minds think alike.
Nichols was attending a wedding-planning summit when she heard other planners chatting up month-of-only services. "I thought to myself, 'California needs that!'" Nichols says. But the owner of Amy Nichols Special Events knew she couldn't launch a new business alone, so she contacted Whelan, owner of Kate Whelan Events, and was happy to hear she'd been kicking around the same idea. "Having a partner has been very rewarding and enables us to both really use our strengths," Nichols says.

The Poppy Group was made for hands-on brides.
Each with their own full-service planning companies, "of course we see the value of a planner who can help you from start to finish," says Nichols. "But many couples want to do the majority of the planning themselves — or at least attempt to!" So Nichols and Whelan created The Poppy Group for those couples, who are eager to select their venue, caterer, décor and more on their own, then turn over the reins to a pro in the month before their big day. "It allows for a buffer," Nichols explains, "so that they can be present and enjoy their wedding day."

It may be month-of planning, but they'll get to know you way before that.
The team begins talking over timeline creation, reviews floor plans, confirms vendor details and deadlines two months before the wedding date, so the bride and her beau can go totally hands-free at the 30-day mark. "We're able to execute a wedding day successfully by being involved at least a couple months out," Nichols explains. "No planner should simply just 'show up' on the day."

See More: Still Need to Nail Down Your Venue? Browse Northern California's Best Wedding Locations Here!

It's a learning process.
While Nichols and Whelan founded The Poppy Group and have a heavy-hand in orchestrating each event, they're not actually the planners who show up on the big day. They're using this new company to train junior planners in stellar wedding service. "One of the things I find most enjoyable is training and mentoring the junior planners," Nichols says.

This dynamic duo complements each other.
"We both bring different skill sets to the table," Whelan explains. "My technical background is an asset to our event consultants, offering them a suite of tools to make them more efficient, while Amy's insight and connections have proved invaluable to The Poppy Group's rapid growth this first year." The pair communicates with one another, their team and clients using Google Drive, DropBox, and more.

Want more San Francisco planners? Browse our San Francisco Wedding Planners page to find the best in your area.

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Jul 292015

The San Francisco area is home to some of the most talented stationery designers in the country. Here are some of our favorites:

Julie Song Ink (Above)
Brides love Julie Song's beautiful calligraphy and whimsical watercolor florals. Each custom invitation suite is first painted by hand and then printed on thick, textured cotton paper to preserve the authenticity and nuances of the watercolor artwork. Read real brides reviews here!

San Francisco Wedding Stationers Aerialist Press

Photo: Angie Silvy

Aerialist Press
If you love the look and tactile feel of letterpress but are worried that it's beyond your budget, check out this Emeryville-based studio that specializes in affordable letterpress. Choose from their collection of more than 50 invitation designs (there's truly a style for every couple), or commission them to create a custom, from-scratch suite. Read real brides reviews here!

See More: Looking For a Wedding Florist in San Francisco? Check Out Our San Francisco Florists Page to Find Your Perfect Bouquet!

San Francisco Wedding Stationers Yonder

Photo: Yonder Design

Yonder Design
Company cofounders (and real-life couple!) Chris Neubauer and Julie Forsberg create completely bespoke invitations, save-the-dates, wedding websites, and day-of signage, from laser-engraved wood cocktail-menu signs to luxe, letterpressed wedding invitations wrapped in a custom leather clutch.

San Francisco Wedding Stationers A Day In May

Photo: Courtesy of A Day in May

A Day in May
Graphic designers Lesley Hathaway and Eve Weinsheimer manage to find wedding stationery inspiration in the most interesting places. Case in point: One couple brought a favorite pillow to the studio for a consultation meeting and the designers ended up recreating the pattern on the pillow to use throughout the wedding stationery suite.

Western Editions
After meeting with a couple to get a sense of the overall look and feel of the wedding, letterpress stationers Erin Fong and Taylor Reid will make mockups of potential invitations. Then, once you've given them the green light, they will print the invites on an old-school 1960s Vandercook press.

Want to see more San Francisco stationers? Browse our San Francisco Wedding Invitations page to find your dream designer!

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One Venue, Six Ways: Durham Ranch in St. Helena, CA

 California, Local, Napa Valley, San Francisco, Wedding Style & Decor, Wedding Venues  Comments Off on One Venue, Six Ways: Durham Ranch in St. Helena, CA
Jul 212015

Durham Ranch in St. Helena, Calif., is a wonderfully versatile Napa Valley wedding venue. The crisp-white walls and vaulted ceilings serve as a blank canvas, so each couple marrying there can easily put their own unique stamp on the space. To illustrate just how versatile the venue is, we've found six very different ways to utilize the space for your wedding reception.

Reception #1: Suspended Greenery Chandeliers (above)
Create some major "wow" factor by hanging large chandeliers of fresh greenery above the reception tables.

Reception #2: Crisp Whites
When in doubt, go with classic white blooms with a touch of fresh greenery, like these square-shaped peony centerpieces accented with rosemary sprigs and olive branches.

Durham Ranch wedding

Photo: Got Light

Reception #3: Modern Geometric
Your guests will get a kick out of these unusual pendant lights suspended above the dinner tables.

Reception #4: Rustic
Beautiful wood dinner tables are too pretty to cover up with linens! Simply add wood slat chairs and string lights and you've got the perfect rustic-yet-elegant celebration.

Durham Ranch wedding

Photo: Jose Villa

Reception #5: Elegant & Unexpected
Suspended above the dinner tables were pendant lights made of repurposed galvanized beverage tubs.

Reception #6: Whimsical
This couple chose long wooden farm tables paired with two types of bentwood chairs; the custom-made table runners were screenprinted with different whimsical illustrations, which served as the table "numbers."

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BRIDES Northern California: Say “I Do!” at These Gorgeous Wine Country Venues

 California, Local, Napa Valley, Planning Tips, San Francisco, Wedding Venues  Comments Off on BRIDES Northern California: Say “I Do!” at These Gorgeous Wine Country Venues
Jul 192015

The Bay Area has no shortage of gorgeous places to exchange vows, but, seeing as it's mere minutes from Northern California wine country, why not get hitched with a beautiful vineyard in the background? Here are some of our favorite wine-centric places to get married in the Napa and Sonoma valleys.

Beaulieu Garden, Rutherford (above)
There's nothing more romantic than a garden wedding, and that's why Beaulieu Garden in Napa Valley made our list. Talk about a dramatic entrance, Beaulieu has a quarter mile drive lined with magnificent sycamore trees that create an elegant canopy all the way to the estate. Your guests will be blown away upon arrival! Read real brides' reviews here!

Outdoor Cocktail Tables at Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley, CA

Photo: Megan Clouse

Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford
For hopeless romantics, it doesn't get dreamier than Auberge du Soleil's newly-expanded wedding deck, with its sweeping valley views. Staying here is expensive — as befits such a celeb-splashed locale — but, for a wedding, the team will work with brides on budget constraints and concerns. Read real brides' reviews here!

Kunde Family Estate, Kenwood
Nestled in the heart of Sonoma Valley, Kunde Estate has several gorgeous wedding sites but our hands-down favorite is Dunfillan Ruins. Perfect for weddings up to 250, the interior of the distinctive stone ruins can be transformed into a dramatic dining experience, while the surrounding meadows make for a stunning space to dine al fresco for the reception. Read real brides' reviews here!

See More: Find the Perfect San Francisco Wedding Band So You Can Really Dance the Night Away!

Calistoga Ranch, Calistoga
Tucked into a private canyon in the Upper Napa Valley, Calistoga Ranch is a secluded 157-acre resort perfect for couples hoping for a serene wine country setting. Exchange vows on Lommel Lawn, which overlooks the property's tranquil lake, before dining alfresco and then dancing the night away in the wine cave. Read real brides' reviews here!

Durham Ranch wedding ceremony

Photos: Jose Villa

Durham Ranch, St. Helena
If you love the idea of a barn wedding but are searching for something that's more modern than rustic, Durham Ranch is just the ticket. While most barns are, well, brown, this airy, light-filled barn created by interior designer Ken Fulk is a crisp, bright white on both the outside and inside. The barn's glass doors open up to an inviting pool—perfect for an alfresco cocktail hour.

Want to see more Northern California wedding venues? Check out our Northern California Venues page to find the perfect spot for your Bay Area nuptials!

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