Miles of rolling hills strung with lush green grapevines that are ripe with plump, sweet grapes. It's no wonder that so many brides and grooms head to wine country to tie the knot. A vineyard is a gorgeous setting to say 'I do.'
Whether you are looking for an outdoor ceremony amidst the vines, or an intimate wine themed reception indoors overlooking the vineyard, wineries are ideal small wedding venues for couples wanting to add the splendor of nature to their nuptials.
Wineries not only provide a picturesque setting, many are equipped to meet a couple's wedding day needs from start to finish.
From coast to coast, there are thousands of wineries across North America – with California being the most abundant source.
Misty and Michael got married at Castoro Cellars, a winery on California's Central Coast.
A small stone circle, amidst trees and grass in the vineyard served as the altar for the 60-guest vineyard wedding.
"Our ceremony began at 6:30 pm, an hour or so before sunset," says Misty. "Seeing the hills beyond the winery at dusk amazed us."
Instead of having the guests separated in rows, the wedding guests formed a circle around the couple.
Just after the ceremony, guests gathered in a grassy area in the vineyard where hors d'oeuvres were passed around butler-style. The bar and tasting room were also open at this time.
Finally, guests were separated for a "winemaker's dinner."
"We served a Mediterranean menu, family-style. Each course was brought to the table and passed around with everyone serving them themselves. course, "says Misty. "The whole family-style service really sparked conversation."
Misty says the wedding was even more beautiful than she imagined.
"Everyone was totally in tune with love, romance and friendship … I've never seen that achieved with a wedding of 300 – or even half that amount," she says. "We planned the darn thing, and WE were impressed."
Tips for winery weddings
If you are having a weekend vineyard wedding, arrange for a wine tasting for your guests a day before the wedding.
If guests are coming in from out of town and staying at a hotel, consider having a bus chartered to escort guests to and from the winery. That way drinking and driving will not be an issue. (Misty and Michael offered this service to their guests.)
If the wedding is outdoors, find out if there is a sheltered area in case of inclement weather.
Find out if the winery supplies linens, tables, chairs, tableware and glassware.
If you want entertainment, find out if the vineyard allows music or live entertainment. Is there a dance floor?
Make sure there is ample parking for your guests.
Consider a wine-themed wedding, but do not feel compelled to have a theme.
Consider a wine pairing feast like Misty and Michael had.
Offer mini-bottles of wine from the vineyard as favors.
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