Luxury for Less
* You don’t have to have a 300 people in order to have a smashing wedding. Trim down the guest list to only the most important friends and family.
* Pick a venue that owns nice quality chairs, linens and tabletop items such as glassware, china and flatware. You’ll save on renting these pieces, which can really add up.
* Consider having live music only for your ceremony, cocktails and dinner. For dancing, you can switch to a well-respected DJ. You’ll save on the costs of having a 5+ piece band and also most likely reduce overtime fees if your guests want to keep the party going. If you do hire a DJ, make sure they understand it is a wedding, not a concert that requires emceeing.
* If your printed materials budget is tight, consider getting your save the date or menu cards printed by an offset printer/graphic designer. I love going to Jill Poole at PS Paper when I want something beautiful for a reasonable price. Jill can make sure all of your printed materials complement each other and your theme. Another bonus? There is usually a shorter turnaround time on offset pieces than traditional letterpress or engraving. I would splurge a little bit on the wedding invite itself and print that in letterpress or engraving.
* Book an all digital photographer. Their prices are typically lower in cost because they don't have to pay for the costly film and developing. While I still love the look of film, digital photography is a beautiful option. One talented photographer going all digital is Anna Kuperberg.
* If guests’ travel budget is a concern, hold your wedding in a big city. Cities like San Francisco, Chicago, and New York offer great hotel rates for weekend guests and rarely require minimum stays, as is often the case in the Napa Valley. Big cities are also easy to reach with multiple airlines flying to and from the location. Plus, guests won’t need to rent their own transportation.
My Favorite Ideas
* Up to 80 Guests- Have your ceremony at the Carneros Inn Apple Orchard. (See Juliet and Gregor’s wedding below). The picture perfect Hilltop Room would be a perfect place for a reception. You can do dancing inside and have dinner under the stars. If your guest list is small enough, you could have both dinner and dancing in the Hilltop room. Perks include: simple elegant china, glassware, chairs and linens included; beautiful lighting; roaring outdoor fireplaces; unbeatable vineyard views; a built in bar; delicious food; parking is a breeze with the hotel valet.
* Up to 80 Guests – Have your wedding ceremony and reception at the Calistoga Ranch. They have the beautiful lawn area for the ceremony so you don't have to do much. Dine and dance with your friends in their amazing wine cave. You can dance until 1AM because it is sound proof to the rest of the property. Perks include: a five star staff and guest experience; quality chairs, linens, and tabletop items; a rustic, yet elegant wine country experience.
* +/-100 Guests – Host your wedding reception at Spruce restaurant in San Francisco. You’ll need to rent out the restaurant for the evening and have your ceremony at a local church or location nearby. Spruce is a foodie couple’s dream –the food and wine are phenomenal. If you want to include room for dancing your guest count will need to be under 70. Perks include: beautiful chic environment including mohair padded walls, excellent service; built in lighting; great glassware, china, and flatware; wonderful food and built in bar area.
Winter wedding at Spruce. Photography by Thayer Allyson Gowdy.