If you are considering a vineyard as a wedding venue, but don’t know where to start or what questions to ask, this is the perfect guide to help you begin your planning. Below are my top 5 tips that every wedding planner or couple should know about to organize the vineyard wedding of your dreams.
Timing is an important factor to consider when planning any wedding, but especially at a vineyard because the vines change in appearance with each season. A vineyard is going to have the most vibrant, full green vines and luscious grapes during the summer to early fall. This is often how clients imagine a vineyard wedding to look like, making summer the most popular season for weddings. Something to keep in mind though is that it will be hot. But if you can bear the heat, summer is a beautiful time for a vineyard wedding that makes for amazing wedding photos.
The fall is when the grapes are harvested, which is usually whenever the winemaker decides is the best time based on the sugar levels of the grapes, and it is never the same exact date each year. Different grapes are harvested at different times, so depending on how many varietals are grown on the property, the harvest could take place on multiple days. The harvest season for us at Wilson Family Vineyard usually occurs sometime between late-September and mid-October. Some vineyards may not be able to book weddings around that time because the exact date of the harvest cannot be predicted, and the winemakers don’t want it to interfere with someone’s wedding. However, this may not be an issue for many vineyards, especially if the ceremony location is separate from the rest of the vineyard. Just make sure to ask the property’s event coordinator about the harvest and they will be able to give you a definitive answer about dates.
After the harvest takes place, the vines start to dry out and turn a burnt red and orange color to indicate that fall is in full swing. The leaves on the vines are not as full at this time of year and there are no grapes on them either since they have just been picked during the harvest. However, fall is my personal favorite time at a vineyard because the warm colors of the vines just feel calming and homey. The temperature is also a bit milder, so you don’t have to worry much about the heat.
During the winter the vines are dormant and the temperature is quite chilly. Because of this, winter is not a very popular season for vineyard weddings. But every couple has a unique vision for their wedding, so if a winter wedding is your dream, then go for it!
Spring is really when the vines start to regenerate and is a crucial time for winemakers to ensure everything is on track for the upcoming harvest. Tiny leaves start to grow in March and the vines really begin filling out in May with little clusters of vulnerable grapes. May tends to be a popular month for vineyard weddings since the leaves on the vines are growing fuller.
A vineyard is a beautiful place for a wedding at any time, so picking the right season really just depends on the couples’ preferences and vision for their wedding.
It may seem obvious, but at a vineyard wedding you’ll probably be walking on soil or dirt and should be cautious about the type of shoes you wear. I would definitely recommend flats or wedges over heels, because you don’t want your heel to sink into the soil and get dirty or potentially even break. To avoid any wardrobe disasters, make sure to wear comfortable shoes that can withstand a little dirt. It doesn’t hurt to gently remind guests of this, so no one ends up tripping or ruining their favorite pair of shoes.
A wine license and a liquor license are two different permits, and not all vineyards may have a liquor license. At Wilson Family Vineyard we have a wine, but not a liquor license so we are only able to serve beer, wine, and sparkling wine at our venue and hard alcohol is strictly prohibited. If having a full bar is important to you or your client, I highly recommend looking into what type of permits your potential venue has because not all vineyard venues will be able to serve hard liquor.
Most vineyards or wineries are in rural counties that have strict sound-ordinance rules. Wilson Family Vineyard is in San Luis Obispo county, which has a strict outdoor noise curfew starting at 10PM. So all of our events must end at 10pm and guests who are not staying on the property must vacate the premise by 10:30pm. Along those lines, we stop serving alcohol at 9:30pm. So that is something to consider when booking a vineyard wedding, because ceremonies usually need to take place mid-day to ensure the reception wraps up by the time the noise curfew is enforced.
Having a wedding at a vineyard, it’s likely a lot of your guests will have to stay at a nearby hotel or may be flying in from other locations and not have a car. The best way to ensure that everyone makes it to the wedding on time and safely is to arrange for transportation between your guests’ hotel and the venue. Since vineyards tend to be in rural areas, there is a chance guests may lose cell-phone service and have a hard time finding their way if driving on their own, especially being unfamiliar with the area. And you wouldn’t want anyone showing up late to your wedding because they got lost! Arranging a shuttle service is a safe way to avoid all those annoying transportation issues. You might even be able to find a type of transportation that fits your wedding theme, which just adds to the fun of the experience.
I hope this starter guide to booking a vineyard wedding gets you on the right track to planning the wedding you have always imagined. Oh, and one more extra tip: if you do choose to have your wedding at a vineyard, you can probably get a discount to serve the venue’s wine at your wedding. And who doesn’t love amazing wine at a good value!
For more information about booking a wedding at Wilson Family Vineyard, click here.
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