Sunday, January 17, 2010

I have learned A LOT about weddings...

Getting married is great. Uh-huh. Yep. That is what I have to constantly tell me myself after dealing so many things that a wedding entails! Location, place-settings, time limits, food, outside, inside, hotel rooms, money, money, money... Bill and I really do not know how people do it, but it seems that so many people out there drop $1,000s on weddings! $10,000s! I wish we could too! But we can't, and that is what makes it so hard. I love the idea of marrying Bill and having a great day, weekend or week to celebrate with our families and closest friends. However, it is a long and stressful process finding the "perfect" place that works with what we want and what we can spend. Well, what is it that we want? Well, here is the vision:
  • A pretty place that is a little more un-conventional (ranches over hotels; local restaurant over chains)
  • A June 2011 wedding
  • A place that stays open past the 9 or 10 o'clock noise ordinance (preferably till 12am or 1am-ish?)
  • A place where EVERYONE can just walk back to bed, so we can all party without worrying about getting home
  • Good food (preferably organic and local) and beverages
  • Warm-ish (I say this cause the Nor-Cal coast can be cold and foggy during the summer months)
  • Possibly a place where we can chill over a few days, not just get bussed in and out for the wedding and reception
It is tough, especially since we live in some of the most popular and in-demand wedding areas of the world - Napa, Carmel, San Fran, Mendocino... There are MANY places to get married, but MANY places that are just out of our price range. For example, I want to get married at the MacCullam House in Mendocino. Look at it!:

This place is perfect - at a hotel, the party moves indoors after the music outside shuts down, beautiful area, everything is included in the cost of the place, comes with a wedding coordinator, they even shuttle the guests to and from the ceremony site! However, this place is about $5,000 out of the price range. Plus, people will be expected to drop a few for hotels and it gets cold and foggy in Mendocino during the summer. Dang.

However, there are some other options that I'll show below. Bill and I visited places last weekend and yesterday. It is looking more promising, especially as we are finding it easier to give up a few things to make our vision work. So, here is what we have so far:

Randonich Ranch in Los Gatos, Ca:

  • Love the look of it - open ranch, pretty area, tables will be set up outside, the house with the big door will hold the DJ and dancing, great location near the beach and cute towns
  • The lady who we would work with is AWESOME! So sweet and caring. I feel like she would be very mothering, helping us solve problems with a great smile and pat on the back. Love that!
  • The food will be local, grilled on site, fresh...
  • We will provide alcohol, which sounds nice and kinda fun (I think) since we will choose.
  • Ceremony will happen onsite
  • Ok cost - $3,000+/- site rental, $80+/- per person for food (not alcohol)...
  • CONS: Ends at 9:30pm, is 20 minutes down a windy road back to a hotel site
  • We are thinking of this place, and thinking that if we do this, we will DEFINITELY have to rent a shuttle.
El Dorado Kitchen in Sonoma, Ca:


  • Love the location - downtown Sonoma, across the city square (where the Bear Flag Revolt happen, the fight for California Independence. Gotta love history!). Sonoma is also close to Napa, San Fran, Sac, pretty places, great shops and restaurants...
  • Has a hotel on site - the El Dorado Hotel
  • We can move the party at 10:30 to the Meritage which is described below
  • May stay open a little later if we rent the whole place, otherwise shut-down is 10:30
  • May work with our budget, but still need to get the details
  • CONS: May be out of budget? May need to rent all 27 rooms? The people were nice, but not helpful. First time we were more confused after viewing than before. Will need to figure out a ceremony site elsewhere.
Ramekins in Sonoma, Ca:

  • Same as above
  • Obviously under construction - $30,000 renovation to the outside
  • Again, like the location. However, it is NOT in the town square but about 1/2 mile away.
  • It is in a building that would be very much like a hotel reception room. It is nice, but newer, more conference-room like
  • The lady we talked to was AMAZING! She asked tons of personal questions to get an idea of who we are, I loved that!
  • Ceremony can happen there, outside in renovated outside
  • Can go late (I think maybe 12?)
  • 6 rooms will be available there
  • Can work with our budget - site fee is $4,000 on weekends, $2,500 on non-weekend and probably about $80 for each person for food AND alcohol
  • CONS: Not liking the ambiance
Meritage in Sonoma, Ca:

  • Same as above

  • This would be the "after-hours" place in Sonoma, if needed
  • $2,000 to rent this place from 10pm to 1:30 am, DJ included. The bar will be open and we could do light appetizers
  • Nice option to party late, if needed

So, this is where we are at. We are going to "chew" on these options a bit, try to make it work in our heads. Who knows, maybe we'll find something else? Maybe something perfect and beautiful will fall in our laps? Who knows... We have got time!