By Barrie Cleveland

 Destination weddings at a vineyard or winery are becoming extremely popular in the US and locally. Many people decide to celebrate their special day with the lush backdrop of a idyllic vineyard scene.  There are over 250 wineries in San Luis Obispo County and over two-dozen who host weddings in the area. Here are some tips to make sure your big day is a success.

Things to consider in choosing your wedding venue include the estimated size of your wedding, onsite venue facilities, catering options, inclement weather plans and cost.  Some destinations are set up very well for weddings and even offer their own wedding planner. Other locations may offer the space but little else in terms of planning your event. Be aware that a vineyard ceremony can be a beautiful experience, but generally requires more preparation and attention to be the perfect wedding.

First off you need to find potential wedding locations in your area. There are online resources for this, including the local vintners association websites that often will show wineries and vineyards that are available for weddings. Also ask caterers or florists whom they would recommend.

Once you find a few suitable venues that meet your criteria, be sure to visit in person with a list of questions from both the groom and the bride (and the future mother-in-law’s).  Ask what happens if it rains. Are there indoor or tent options?  How late can music be played? Are there enough bathrooms or will you have to rent porta-potties? Is the parking suitable and are there enough spaces for your guests. Are there non-paved pathways that will challenge those in high heels? How are table and chair rentals handled?

When visiting be sure to check on all the facilities including bathrooms, bride’s dressing areas and the kitchen. Check on accessibility issues for your older guests, and how they handle parking. Also, you need to know if they only work with a select group of caterers. Some wineries have a very short list of who can offer their services. And remember, you will most likely be limited to the winery’s wine to serve, so make sure you like it.

As with all outdoor weddings, be aware of where the sun will be shinning at the time of year of your big event, and how hot or cold it can be. Another consideration is how sound will travel if un-amplified. A beautiful service that few can hear can be a disappointment for your guests.<

It’s not too soon to start planning for your vineyard wedding. Many venues book up early. Enjoy the process and take care to make sure your big day is a success.