The advantage of having an outdoor wedding is that you can leverage your surrounding gardens. In the Bay Area, the best time of year to have a wedding is September-October, when the temperature is in the 70s and 80s. It’s also right before harvest so the leaves on the vines are still aplenty and starting to turn yellow, and flowers are still out everywhere – in essence, spring and fall are happening at the same time!
For our wedding, we had the ceremony & cocktail hour outdoors, followed by the reception indoors. Vintners Inn had their gardens beautifully kept, so we honestly didn’t need much to decorate the ceremony area. However, we learned a few things that will hopefully help you as you plan your wedding!
1. Less is More
Particularly if you already have pretty grounds, choose flower arrangements and decor that help accentuate its natural beauty, not out stage it. Flower arrangements can be expensive so taking advantage of what’s already there will be to your benefit. Plus, you chose that venue for a few reasons, one of them being for its beauty, right? Along the aisle, we had small bright arrangements on every other row to give pops of color. We spread white petals along the aisle floor, had white drapes on either side of the alter tied with large flower arrangements, and a single large chandelier hanging from the top. It wasn’t too much but just enough to give it a regal and whimsical fairytale feel to an already beautiful vineyard backdrop.
2. Choose look-alike flowers instead
I would have loved to have peonies at our wedding, but once I learned the cost of them and the risk that they may not be fresh due to being out of season, I realized that the type of flower was less important compared to the colors and arrangements themselves. Our florist Leah Bertoli, from Bertoli Bridal, had a Rolodex of cards with every type of flower and color to view and pair together – this was great because this helped expand my flower vocabulary too! We ended up picking garden roses that were much cheaper but had the same look of peonies and guaranteed freshness.
3. Use ceremony flowers for the reception as well
If you have arrangements that work with both the ceremony and reception, transfer from the ceremony to the reception during the cocktail hour! This will significantly reduce the amount of flowers you have to purchase. At the very least, you can use your bouquets as centerpieces at your tables.
4. Focus on the essentials for your reception room
Often times, the room itself will speak to what you really need to decorate it. Ours had simple yet bold chandeliers and floor to ceiling windows on one side. We decided to have blush colored uplighting to set the tone; it looked so pretty when the lights were dimmed for dancing! We went back and forth between chivalry chairs and covered seats and decided the chivari chairs just weren’t worth the price. Leah had just received a pretty blush organza ribbon that we tied around the backs of the chairs and provided matching blush table runners topped with a beautiful lace runner. She also added little clusters of tealights around the flower centerpieces which really lit up the romance (pun intended). Vintners Inn provided the table cloths, china, and flatware, which was a huge plus. We decided to forego having chargers, though they are nice for more formal weddings. Instead, we placed our wedding favors on top of the plates, leaving something personal and fun for our guests to find as they sat down.
Ultimately, your guests will mainly remember your dress, the music, and the food. Your decor and flowers will live in your photos and it’s amazing what photographers can do to make sure that beauty is captured without actually having to go overboard in real life.
Location: Vintners Inn, Santa Rosa, CA | Photography: Emily Jean Images | Floral Design: Bertoli Bridal
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