Photography Credit: Mike Larson
Planning a destination wedding is a matter of logistics. As Napa wedding planners (who live and work in the region) for over a decade, we are able to make it a little bit easier for you to navigate all of your options. In this post, we’re going to share a few things you need to know when planning a destination wedding weekend here in Napa or Sonoma. It’s our opinion that wedding planning is an enjoyable time to get creative and have some fun. If you’re looking for a destination wedding planner to make your experience unique and the planning smooth, reach out to us. We are pleased to acquaint you with all that awaits you here.
Photography Credit: Mike Larson
Planning Destination Wedding Accommodations & Transportation for your Guests
First, let’s talk about destination wedding accommodation. It’s likely at the top of your mind, even if because you’ve already fielded calls and texts from family + friends who are asking you about where to stay. In many cases, hotels in the region will have food and beverage requirements (and a certain amount of commitment to fill those rooms). If you are getting married at one of the incredible hotel wedding venues here in Napa or Sonoma Valley, a rehearsal dinner, welcome reception, afterglow or brunch, will usually satisfy that food and beverage requirement for a block of rooms. You may also wish to consider offering your guests a list of hotels nearby instead of on your wedding website. Certainly, there are no guarantees of availability when it comes time for your friends or family to book (pssst, Napa & Sonoma are major wedding and travel destinations nearly year-round). However, if your guests book hotel rooms directly and do it quickly, they can book at their leisure and you aren’t on the financial hook for unfilled rooms.
Additionally, when you’re planning a destination wedding, you should expect to arrange transportation for out-of-town guests to get to and from the wedding (and likely other pre-arranged events surrounding the wedding day). This is a necessity in our opinion, as guest safety is always our top priority.
A Couple Destination Wedding Etiquette Tips
A frequent question we are posed: “Do I need to invite everyone to the rehearsal dinner?” Not necessarily. If you want to enjoy an intimate evening with your wedding party and immediate family, you can still choose to have a smaller rehearsal dinner. Gaining popularity is the welcome reception that follows the rehearsal dinner. This is an event where everyone can join and enjoy a libation, canape and mix/mingle for a few hours ahead of the wedding day.
Another pro tip: when to send your wedding invitations. Although save the dates can be sent out a year or so in advance, typically you’ll want to send out your wedding invitations 8-12 weeks in advance. With a destination wedding, you are going to want to give a little more notice.
Planning Additional Events for your Destination Wedding Weekend
As we mentioned before, planning one additional hosted event (like a welcome reception) is a nice touch when planning your destination wedding weekend. In lieu of a welcome reception (or in addition!), you might also want to consider a group activity (a wine tour, cooking class or cycling tour are great options). You likely chose Napa or Sonoma Valley as your wedding destination for a reason. Why not share your love for the destination with your guests?
Photography Credit: Adriana Klas Photography
If planning a group activity isn’t in the cards, you can always give your guests a list of things to do/experience in the area so they can plan their own itinerary. Activity recommendations make a great addition to your wedding website, or as a separate card in your welcome bags. Your guests will appreciate the help in making the most out of their trip! You can find a few of our favorite things to do in this post about why Napa and Sonoma Valleys are such an incredible destinations for weddings.
Include Local Touches in Your Welcome Bags
We absolutely love to guide our couples to incredible artisan local goods and crafts for their welcome bags. A few favorites to include: a map of the region and recommended favorite wineries, dining, and experiences. When a welcome bag sets the tone of the wedding weekend (and matches your wedding style), your guests really benefit.
Photography Credit: Janine Licare Photography
Planning a Destination Wedding Weekend in Napa Valley (+ beyond)
Connect with us here for more pro tips and experiences that Napa & Sonoma Valleys have to offer.