A California Destination WeddingWords by Kyra Goodman
Photos courtesy of Heather Scharf Photography
Nick and Fawn knew a California destination wedding was right for them because the majority of Nick’s family lives in Northern California and Fawn’s in Portland, while the couple resides in Scottsdale, Arizona. “We figured if flying is going to be involved, it might as well be us who travels so we can pick the ideal location and venue,” says the newlyweds.
Fawn dreamed of getting married at a winery or vineyard, so they decided on Santa Rosa, California. “We figured the Napa Sonoma Valley area would be perfect as it is the dream location for a wine country wedding and it was driving distance for Nick’s family and a short flight for Fawn’s,” says the couple.
Once the destination was set, Nick remembered that he had done business with the owners of the Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery and quickly contacted them. Although they don’t host weddings at Ferrari-Carano, they do own Vintners Inn in Santa Rosa, which is situated in one of their vineyards and specializes in weddings. “When we pulled up their website, we instantly fell in love. The property was romantic, intimate, lush and had a fairy tale-like setting to it. We booked it site un-seen, knowing this was it,” says Fawn.
After falling in love with the venue, the venue's coordinator, Denette, pointed them in the right direction for a wedding planner and vendors. With input from Denette, the couple found their wedding planner, Lauren, who took care of the rest. “Once we chose the venue, the rest fell into place. The vineyard setting sparked my imagination for a whimsical, soft, romantic, shabby chic wedding," says Fawn.
With the help of Denette, the couple put together a planning dream team, but a scheduling error nearly put a damper on their big day. Fawn explained that, “Everyone and everything was booked fast and efficiently, we had nearly crossed everything off our list. Then Nick found out a scheduling error had been made.” Fortunately, the couple was able to move every vendor, person and the venue to a different weekend and the fairy tale wedding was back on track.
The only hesitations their guests had about a destination wedding were how to get there and where to stay, especially during peak season in wine country. The couple gave helpful tips on which airport to fly into and included suggestions for hotels to stay in along with their “save the date” magnets. They also stressed the importance of booking rooms early on their wedding website to ensure that their guests had the best selection of accommodations. Once guests arrived at their hotels, the couple set up limo busses to shuttle guests to and from the venue. “Guests loved this as they didn’t have to worry about finding the venue and no one had to worry about drinking and driving. It’s wine country!” Fawn says.
The couple left most of the planning up to their coordinator, but wanted to add some DIY touches. Tables were labeled with wines instead of numbers, which were stamped on cardstock by Fawn’s friend Kimberly. Fawn selected the shabby chic accessories and had a custom wine box made with their wedding date that served as their “guest book.” A very special touch for the couple was the wine box. “Our guests could write us a message and place it in the wine box for us to open on our one-year wedding anniversary," says the couple. But, besides those very small details, we left the rest to the professionals since we were so far away. You don’t want to be traveling to your wedding with DIY crafts. We basically showed up with our suit and dress in-hand and the dream team took care of the rest,” says Fawn.
We asked for Fawn’s biggest advice to other couples planning a destination wedding. “Investing in your photographer and videographer, that was very important to us. Those are the two memories you can turn to at any moment and be brought right back to that day. Also, find people who share your vision to help create the most magical day of your life and turn over the responsibility to them. That is their job. Don’t stress over the small stuff. I didn’t and it was the best day of my life. Planning a destination wedding can really be seamless. I suggest researching your vendors, look at their previous wedding work and let everything fall into place,” say the newlyweds.
Vendors: Photographer: Heather Scharf; Wedding Destination: Santa Rosa, California; Ceremony/Reception Site: Vintners Inn; Florist: Leah Bertoli; Stationery: Lithotech; Cake: Nothing Bundt Cakes; Gown Designer: Ian Stuart; Groom’s Clothing Designer: Nick Cardinale; Hair: Powder Room; Makeup: MAC; Bridesmaids Dresses: Morilee; Groomsmen’s Clothing Designer: Nick Cardinale; Videographer: Jordan Niswender; DJ and Photobooth: AMS Entertainment; Rentals: Bright Event Rentals; Transportation: Cali Party Bus
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