With over 600 tasting rooms in Napa and Sonoma, this is the perfect destination for wine connoisseurs and vineyard lovers alike. Reminiscent of the Italian countryside, a wedding in Wine Country means basking in the sun and sippin’ the good stuff.
The glamorous Napa Valley offers a taste of the high life while Sonoma retains the peaceful pace of bucolic countryside—and both stand as the premier wine and food destinations in North America. Be lavished by life's most epicurean luxuries one minute and romanced by the quiet charm of this fertile valley the next. It's a true offering of the best of both worlds.
Home to the Culinary Institute of America, robust farmers’ markets, and dozens of food tours and classes, the sum of Napa and Sonoma's Michelin stars makes this area the most prominent culinary haven in the country. Discover why this place made farm-to-table dining a national obsession.
Hiking, biking, and kayaking abound in this scenic area of Northern California, making it the perfect destination for outdoorsy brides and grooms. For those who prefer a gentler pace, golf and hot air balloon rides are equally popular activities for breathing in some fresh air.
Napa and Sonoma's average temperatures range from the 60s to the 80s (in degrees Fahrenheit) year-round, which means ladies won’t stress about freezing in strapless dresses, and guys won’t freak out about sweating in their suits. A win-win!
It’s time to turn your eye toward what you and yours will wear on your wedding day. The search for the dress is, of course, the first piece of this puzzle. This isn’t any old frock: you’re looking for the most flattering, fabulous gown of your life. So how do you know what will work? Will there be a magical, “yes, of course!” moment, or more of a gradual understanding of what you want to don before walking down the aisle? Perhaps now is the time to introduce an important player: your local bridal shop. Napa and Sonoma’s sartorial experts are primed and ready to help you find what’s right. Get your bridesmaid game in order while you’re there so you can begin to see your vision come together (cue your happy dance). If the shop of your choice can help with a great suit, so much the better—the men in your wedding deserve something striking, too. Next, it’s time to get down to the bling. You and your partner are both going to need wedding bands, so head to a wedding ring and jewelry shop to choose adornments that suit you both. This might be a good time to pick up fun little extras, like thematic cufflinks or that pair of diamond studs you’ve had your eye on (that “something new” is a great excuse). Now that you know you won’t be showing up naked to your own wedding, you can let the rest of your worries fall by the wayside.
You’ve already hired a fabulous local photographer to put your wedding day on the books, so now concern yourself with how to look super-smokin’ in those precious photos. Feeling great about your appearance will boost your confidence in front of the camera and show off your I’m-so-in-love glow. But for the love of Adonis, don’t take on more tasks in the run-up to your wedding: Napa and Sonoma hair and makeup experts will help highlight your gorgeous self and take the pressure off your blow-drying skills on your wedding day. Visit your salon several weeks before the wedding to decide whether you’ll go coiffed or au natural when it comes to your tresses. Similarly, your makeup pro can help select a shade of lipstick that will go the distance and give you a Angelina-esque pout. (Note: we suggest a waterproof mascara in case that first look tugs hard on your heartstrings.) To smooth out any last rough edges, take a little time off the week before your wedding and slip into a local spa for a facial and a killer manicure. Now that you’re slaying your wedding look, all those last-minute details will seem so much less consuming—and your reflection much more so.
The options for Napa and Sonoma wedding ceremonies run the gamut, especially since both places offer such unique personalities. In a place made for soaking up expansive natural beauty at open air celebrations, romantic al fresco vows in Sonoma are all the rage. Not an outdoors person? Enter Napa's luxurious spread of elegant indoor venues, even better for saying “I do.” It all comes down to your personal style—the best thing you can do is devise a ceremony that caters to your unique relationship and reflects your own love language. Luckily Napa and Sonoma wedding officiants are equally ready to lend a helping hand. And when it comes to the music? Local ceremony musicians will help set the mood with a memorable and meaningful soundtrack to your walk down the aisle. The time for planning your ultimate ceremony is now; Napa and Sonoma “I do” experts are just a click away.
Post-recessional planning is the time to put all those Pinterest-worthy details to the test. To help sort out the good from the bad from the ugly, hire a local wedding planner who will assure that every last wine glass finds its place. They’ll become your go-to human for seamlessly integrating the best of local flavor: everything from romantic soirées amongst the vines to intimate candlelit meals surrounded by oak barrels and infinite bottles. Once you have your ideal style pinned down (browsing through our collection of Napa weddings can help with that), hand off all the dirty work to your all-star team of Napa or Sonoma wedding caterers, florists, and band or DJ—all that’s left is to sit back and watch the wedding reception magic happen.
In the land where wine flows freely and Michelin-rated plates run rampant, rehearsal dinners are essentially taken care of (there’s no bad restaurant choice in Napa or Sonoma). The only question is flavor: the rustic, soul-warming Southern fare at the Fremont Diner, the garden fresh, farm-to-table experience you’ll get at ivy-covered John Ash & Co, or the unapollegetically Italian plates that Oenotri is famous for? Either way, it’s easy here. Take your pick, clink glasses often enough to wash away those pre-wedding jitters, and savor this time spent with friends and family on the eve before your big day.
We’re partial to goodbyes that include a fresh stack of pancakes and a spicy Bloody Mary in hand—which means your Napa or Sonoma wedding isn’t complete without a brunch sendoff for your closest guests. Trust us, you won’t want to pass up the opportunity to indulge in local early-morning eateries: pancakes come stuffed with bacon, eggs, and cheese at Kitchen Door, organic sauces and homemade jams top the toast at Pacific Blues Cafe, and the elegant plates at Auberge du Soleil are best enjoyed on their wrap-around balcony with an exceptional view. Plus, a day-after brunch doubles as the perfect place to rehash all the wedding details from the night before with your wedding party, family, and dearest friends. Check out our recommendations below for local spots with scrumptious spreads that can help you plan brunch for a crowd.
It’s easy to think of your invitation as a few pieces of paper informing folks that you’re getting hitched, but here’s an insider tip: your invite sets the stage for your whole wedding, and it’s worth the extra effort to do it right. Connect with a local invitation and paper goods boutique to get started with your design. Whether you go printed or calligraphy, highly ornate or minimalist, it’s ideal to have a Napa or Sonoma professional on your side to take you through this process. Make it a gift for your guests by including all sorts of helpful gems, like a stamped RSVP card, a loose idea of the day’s schedule, and some hints about how to dress and what kind of food and beverages they’ll expect. When your friends open their mailboxes and pull out your invitation, they’ll be wowed by your effort and attention to detail (and if they’re not, well, there’s no accounting for poor taste).
The hills of Wine Country echo with the mantra of makers, crafters, and artisans: if it’s homegrown, locally sourced, and passionately cultivated, then it naturally rises above anything factory-made or mass-produced. Embrace this ethos and welcome your wedding guests with a bag of local keepsakes that offers much of the same. Think a bottle of Round Pond Estate’s Rutherford-grown olive oil (or one of the dipping oils from The Olive Press), a lip scrub from Lydia Mondavi’s grape seed-based 29 skincare line (it’s like wine for your skin), or a box of artfully-crafted red wine truffles from Kollar Chocolates. When you add these thoughtful touches to the necessary mainstays—a map of the area, a wedding itinerary, a day pass for the VINE, and a handwritten thank you note—you get a Napa or Sonoma wedding welcome bag for the ages.
The winning touchdown at the end of a fabulous wedding reception? A small token of gratitude, from you to your guests. In Napa and Sonoma, locally inspired wedding favors can take many forms: the expected—a half bottle of local wine or personalized wine key—or the unexpected—a unique avocado slicer from the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone marketplace or the organic IPA from Napa Valley’s only production craft brewery. Try one of our wedding favor ideas on for size and you’ll be sending your guests home with an authentic score from Wine Country.
More than 600 wineries in Napa and Sonoma doesn’t leave much time for sitting around and twiddling your thumbs. Your guests will be overwhelmed by the compelling experiences that await them here, so help narrow their focus by suggesting a few realistic adventures they can embark on in between wedding festivities. Taking a wine tour in Sonoma might be the obvious choice, but Wine Country's gorgeous climate makes it perfect for any outdoor recreation: take in the expansive beauty of Sonoma while hiking Overlook Trail, bike between the vines with Napa Bike Rentals (even better if you indulge in a few glasses of vino along the way), or take in the sights from a sky-high vantage point on a hot air balloon ride. Guests can alternatively dip their toes into Napa’s rich art community or get them massaged at one of the area’s famous spas. For more great ideas on what guests can do in town, check out what Fodor’s Travel or the Huffington Post has to say.
Home to the some of the best restaurants in the world, Napa and Sonoma’s culinary roots involve fresh ingredients, innovative flavor combinations, and—of course—superb wines to complement every bite. Long story short? Great meals are anything but few and far between in Wine Country. From Michelin star plates at The French Laundry to al fresco dining at Solage Calistoga's Solbar, Napa and Sonoma have epicurean adventure written all over them. Make some suggestions to your guests with the help of Wine Spectator's list of best restaurants in the area or take our word for it and check out some of our tried-and-true favorites below.
Think convenience as well as price point and amenities when it comes to hotel recommendations for your guests. Napa and Sonoma accommodations make it easy; from retreats and lodges to quaint inns and large hotels, Wine Country has a wealth of places for you and your guests to crash over the wedding weekend. Put up your guests in style at one of the area’s boutique luxury hotels, like the French-inspired Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford or the upscale, Tuscan-style Meritage Resort and Spa. Or think money-wise with the affordable El Pueblo Inn in the heart of Sonoma Valley. Either way, doing the legwork for your guests and reserving blocks of rooms will land you some serious hosting points—all they’ll have to do is check in. To help you get started, have a look through our suggestions for a sweet spot to stay in Napa and Sonoma below.
Lush green hills, immaculate rows of sprawling vines, the Mayacamas rising majestically in the distance—the backdrops of Wine Country are unparalleled, which of course bodes well for your engagement session. Create an Old World fairy tale with the ivy-covered Chateau Montelena holding court in the background. Or capitalize on the artistic aesthetic of the sculptures at HALL St. Helena. Or incorporate the natural beauty of Alston Park’s meandering hills and grapevine glimpses into your romantic shots. Or...we know, the options are endless. To help narrow your focus, we’ve reached out to a few of our favorite local wedding photographers for their know-how when it comes to snagging that perfect shot. Next steps? Study up, don your finest, and strike a pose.
Think about all the girls’ nights you’ve had. How many have included wine? (Oh, um, every darn one? Yeah, that’s what we thought.) We don’t think your bachelorette party should be any different, so you’ve definitely come to the right place—Wine Country is the obvious choice for an unforgettable weekend shindig. Napa and Sonoma’s world-famous culinary scene (hello, The French Laundry), zen-enhancing getaways like Spa Solage, and countless vineyards to explore mean that you certainly won’t be at a loss for things to do. And for a dash of the unexpected? Take to the skies with a hot air balloon ride to get a whole new perspective. To really take advantage of all the thrills that Napa and Sonoma have to offer, check out our guide for planning an absoultely glorious ladies’ weekend. It’s just the thing to reward yourself after those months of party planning.
Round up the boys and get ready for the part of the wedding planning grooms can really get excited about: yep, we’re talking bachelor party. Our Napa and Sonoma bachelor party ideas are much more than vineyard hopping (although that’s a great idea, too). We’re into channeling your need for speed at Sonoma Raceway, becoming one with nature while fly fishing on Putah Creek, or hiking your heart out through Napa’s scenic mountains. And for the (bourbon-soaked) cherry on top? Head to Napa’s premiere cigar lounge or visit the area’s only production craft brewery. Whatever your style, it’s time to pick your poison and get ready to cut loose—it’s about to be one hell of a weekend.
Where would we be without the immensely talented pool of Napa and Sonoma wedding vendors? Their passion for planning, commitment to their couples, and incredible ingenuity is what makes the local wedding scene as remarkable as it is, and it's the unique team behind every wedding working together that makes each event an affair to remember. Their combined experience and expertise is second to none, and we want you to benefit from it while assembling your dream team of vendors. Check out our Spotlight Series for in-depth Q&As with the best of the best in the industry, and make sure to read the articles they've contributed to Borrowed & Blue for the most reliable wedding tips and tricks, straight from the source.
The good? You’re heading to one of the most coveted, awesomeness-filled places on earth. The bad? You’re not alone in realizing that Napa and Sonoma are fantastic destinations. The ugly? Massive crowd-drawing events that bring thousands of food, wine, and beauty lovers to the area to jam up traffic, fill up hotels, and put a serious cramp in your party’s style. To help you avoid any logistical nightmares, we’ve put together a list of events that might keep your big day from running smoothly. Check out these noteworthy annual events and keep them in mind when choosing your wedding weekend—and play it even safer by doing your own research for any date.
When planning something as complex and significant as your wedding day, sometimes you just want friendly experts to step in and share some pearls of wisdom. Lucky for you, we know people (we’re sitting right here—wink wink). And we’ve got your back: insider tips, exhaustive research, and inspiring takes on all aspects of the planning process, compiled here specifically with your wedding location in mind. You’re just a few clicks away from wedding planning peace of mind…You’re welcome! (No thank-you note required.)
Check out some other useful local online resources to get you acquainted with all-things Napa and Sonoma, from travel guides to the local restaurant scene to great local wedding blogs run by our friends in the industry: