Rolling fields, saturated colors, and plenty of natural light are just a few of the perks of hosting your wedding at a vineyard. If you and your soon-to-be spouse are thinking of tying the knot in wine country, make sure you consider some of the non-negotiables that are often accompanied by vineyard venues. A restricted bar list, noise obligations, and other regulations are things to consider before booking your wine-adorned site (but don’t let these discourage you from a day of romanticism, delicious food, and total serenity!).
To guarantee a seamless day of wine and food pairings, stunning barrel-adorned decor, and other elegant elements fit for a vineyard wedding, we tapped the minds of industry experts who are experienced in pulling off a wedding at a vineyard.
Do your research
Lindsey Nickel, Founder of Lovely Day Events, wants couples to be considerate of obeying local noise ordinances. “Often in rural towns amplified music can’t be played after 10 pm, so make sure you do plenty of research for your specific venue,” Nickel says. This may mean you want to start your ceremony earlier so that you can still maximize your time during the reception.
Make the most of the landscape
“You won't need a ton of floral decor if you're getting married in front of growing grapes,” says Amy Nichols, Founder of Amy Nichols Special Events. With a venue that’s already filled with an abundance of natural beauty, let the site speak for itself and opt for a minimal display of decor.
Think about the bar
“Keep in mind many wineries may limit your bar options,” advises Jacin Fitzgerald, Owner of Jacin Fitzgerald Events. Some wineries only give you the option to serve their wines, eliminating the option of serving other types of alcohol. “Make sure you check on that before signing the dotted line if margaritas or liquor were on your must-have list!” Fitzgerald says.
Incorporate wine barrels
One subtle way to bring in the feeling of a winery into your decor is to incorporate wine barrels into your ceremony space or cocktail hour. “They can be used as tables or to elevate arrangements!” says Elisa Bricker, who captured the stunning contrast between a delicate, blush floral arrangement and this rustic barrel.
Use local vendors
“Anyone thinking of a vineyard wedding may have immediately thought of Napa, but truth be told, Virginia is for lovers, wine lovers!” advises Brianna Sumey, Director of Sales at Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards. Depending on your location, finding local vineyards can make it easier for your guests in terms of travel and creates a local feel for your wedding.
Use a wine-inspired color scheme
Draw inspiration from the burgundies, mauves, and deep reds seen throughout the features of your vineyard venue (and let’s not forget the wine itself!) for your florals and overall color palette. “I love the contrast between the elegant florals and the rustic use of a barrel,” says Jennifer Haf, Owner and Designer at BLOOM Floral Design.
Embrace the backdrop for your photos
One of the greatest perks to marrying at a vineyard is utilizing the scenic backdrop that your venue provides. Rolling hills, lush greenery, and an abundance of natural light make for a stunning collection of wedding photos. Trent Bailey, Owner of Trent Bailey Studio, made sure to embrace these elements when capturing the images for this couple’s alfresco nuptials.
Design a custom crest
“We designed a crest that looked like a wine label that we carried throughout,” says Leslie Mastin, President of Leslie Mastin Events. The letterpress wedding invitation was tied together with a thin piece of leather with a copper leather crest in the center, stamped with the crest in navy ink. “This crest was carried throughout on the programs, cocktail napkins, menus and baseball caps that were distributed later in the evening,” Mastin says.
Go bold with florals
“Incorporate lots of color into your florals, so they really pop,” says Cassy Anderson, Owner of Cassy Rose Events. For this bride’s vineyard-inspired bouquet, bright reds and purples were used to complement the venue’s surrounding vines, details that kept her bundle of blooms from blending in with the site’s natural color scheme.
Plan ahead for the terrain
“Bring an extra pair of shoes to wear if you want pictures among the grapevines,” advises Miki & Sonja, Owners and Photographers at Miki & Sonja Photography. With an abundance of soft and dusty dirt permeating the landscape of a traditional vineyard, caution your guests—and wedding party—to bring an extra set of shoes post-ceremony.
Stay on-theme with small details
“Using the wine corks to hold the place cards for this winery wedding added a playful element to the table as well as the final photos,” says Charlotte Jenks Lewis, Owner of Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography. Incorporate details that give a nod back to the venue will leave a lasting impression.
Be prepared for sun
In general, outdoor weddings tend to be super sunny. “When throwing a wedding at a winery, like all other al fresco venues, it is important to remember guest comfort,” says Heidi Hughett, Co-owner and Lead Designer at Coastside Couture, who recommends sunscreen wipes and paper parasols for the ceremony, as well as lots of shady seating during cocktail hour.
Spotlight wine country scenery
Guests will be engrossed in wine country scenery for the entirety of their stay so stay true to finding the perfect site—with or without vineyards. “Caves, barrel rooms, vineyards, and vista views are all iconic images of wine country,” says Stephanie Cole, Principal Planner and Founder of Cole Drake Events. “If your wedding site doesn’t check all the boxes for you, consider hosting your auxiliary event(s) at sites with these as options."
Pair the food with the wine
Work with your caterers and bar team to determine what wines you will serve based on your menu. “On your menu cards or signs, include a note about wine pairings,” suggests Diana Chouinard, Senior Event Planner and Designer, at Jubilee Events. “If guests have preselected their entree, you can include the name and the selection of the wine next to each meal description, but, if you are hosting a family-style meal, list the suggestions that pair best with what the caterers are providing."
Light up the space
Don’t let the beauty of your surroundings fade with the natural light. Sarah Duke, Co-founder of Duke + Van Deusen Events, suggests adding light to the vineyards to create a stunning spectacle at night. "Lighting the vines is worth the extra cost and something we always recommend prioritizing,” she says.