Expert advice on tying the knot, Wine Country style, from one of the Bay Area’s best in the business.
MEG SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY
Who do local celebrities, tech tycoons, and Bay Area billionaires entrust with the details of their big day? Laurie Arons, of course. We asked the San Francisco–based wedding coordinator how to achieve nuptial Nirvana in Wine Country, whether you’re the blissful bride or gregarious groom.
“In my 19 years as a wedding planner, I’ve planned celebrations in Wine Country for couples as close as San Francisco, and as far away as New York, Europe, the Middle East, Singapore, and beyond,” Arons says. “The reasons why aren’t hard to guess. Brides know when they choose Wine Country, they’ll be spoiled with beautiful scenery, incredible food and wine, and that late afternoon light that casts a golden glow over the valley and makes for oh-so-flattering photos.”
The area is also rich with outstanding vendors, Arons says. Here is her cheat sheet on who to call for craveable cakes to lovely locations.
Interior designer Ken Fulk’s rustic Pope Valley ponderosa is urban loft–meets–elegant estate. Paula LeDuc Fine Catering has the exclusive on the property, so guests will be impressed from first look to last bite. St. Helena, (707) 968-9010, paulaleduc.com/durham_ranch.
The Carneros Inn
Clean white lines, rolling hills, posh rooms, and breathtaking views make this PlumpJack resort a choice destination for large groups seeking an all-in-one locale. 4048 Sonoma Hwy., Napa, (888) 400-9000, thecarnerosinn.com.
Sonoma Golf Club
Skip the hotel ballrooms in favor of a more secluded venue accessible through the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, for beautiful seated dinners under its vine-covered patio, and dancing in the romantic vintage room. 100 Boyes Blvd., Sonoma, (707) 938-9000, fairmont.com/sonoma.
Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery
Tucked into the Mayacamas Mountains that separate Napa and Sonoma counties, this gem in the Russian River valley boasts sweeping views and stunning architecture. 10300 Chalk Hill Rd., Healdsburg, (707) 657-4837, chalkhill.com.
Paula LeDuc Fine Catering
Known affectionately as the grande dame of Bay Area catering, LeDuc’s inventive and always outstanding service keeps it in a league of its own. Don’t miss the new mixology program: Shaved ice cocktails, anyone? 1350 Park Ave., Emeryville, (510) 547-7825, paulaleduc.com.
Elaine Bell Catering
Wine Country’s go-to favorite embraces seasonality and locality to the fullest, from family-style delivery to five-course pairings. 776 Technology Way, Napa, (707) 603-1400, elainebellcatering.com.
The East Coast–style lobster feeds are brilliant for rehearsal dinners, and the signature pig roasts with sides of corn bread and roasted veggies will impress without breaking the bank. 677 St. Helena Hwy., St. Helena, (707) 967-9022, sorensencatering.com.
With spectacular cakes worthy of Oprah’s personal celebrations, Sam Godfrey’s highly guarded family recipes, coupled with lifelike designs, have garnered national acclaim. 912 Enterprise Way, Ste. C, Napa, (707) 259-0500, perfectendings.com.
Mia & Kendrick
The couple: Mia Sebastiani and Kendrick Coakley.
The coordinates: Guests gathered at the Sebastiani family’s private Sonoma estate.
The camaraderie: Bonding activities ranged from cooking classes at Ramekins to drag races at Sonoma Raceway.
The coup: The couple enlisted Marin County toque Tyler Florence to customize a menu reflecting their favorite family recipes and Sebastiani’s Italian heritage.
Meg Smith Photography
Smith’s editorial style captures every moment for framing perfection. 2127 W. Lincoln Ave., Napa, (707) 259-1539, megsmith.com.
Briana Marie Photography
A master of light, Briana Marie’s images look like they’ve all been kissed with sunshine. 40 Sky Oaks Dr., Angwin, (707) 965-2294, brianamariephotography.com.
Glassworld Films & Photography
Emmy Award–winning executive producer and director Celia Carey encapsulates each event with a brilliantly edited video montage set to music, including historic photos and interviews with family and friends. (707) 341-6858, celiacarey.com.
Paper & Presents
Save-the-dates, invitations, thank-you notes, menus, and more bring the text to life with posh paper and whimsical fonts. 3820 Cypress Dr., Petaluma, (707) 776-0790, dauphinepress.com.
Need a groomsmen gift? Place an order for exquisite and delicious chocolate golf balls. 6525 Washington St., Yountville, (707) 738-6750, kollarchocolates.com.
The Model Bakery
Bridesmaids will gush when they unwrap the Model Bakery Cookbook, filled with recipes from St. Helena’s beloved bakeshop. 1357 Main St., St. Helena, (707) 963-8192; 644 First St., Bldg. B, Napa, (707) 259-1128, themodelbakery.com.
Fun & Games
Host a welcome BBQ at the secluded club’s throwback swimming hole, or gather for golf before the big day. 1600 Aetna Springs Rd., Pope Valley, (707) 967-6287, aetnasprings.com.
Foodies flock to this world-class cooking school, and a private class is the perfect ingredient for bridesmaid bonding. 450 West Spain St., Sonoma, (707) 933-0450, ramekins.com.
Napa Valley Bike Tours
Cycle, sip, and stretch your legs with the in-laws on guided bike tours punctuated by winery stops. 6500 Washington St., Yountville, (707) 944-2953, napavalleybiketours.com.
Brunch and croquet at a breathtaking resort? Everyone looks smashing in white, and the pictures will prove it. 900 Meadowood Ln., St. Helena, (877) 963-3646, meadowood.com.
Pretty & Pampered
The makeup artist has lent her talented hand to many stars, and makes every bride look Vogue magazine glam. (415) 218-8786,wallettweddings.com.
David Magna Workshop
From French twists to casual curls, this hair-styling hipster’s team comes locked and loaded with on-site services, in the privacy of your home or suite. 575 Coombsville Rd., Napa, (707) 254-9945, davidmagnaworkshop.com.
The Painted Lady Tanning & Spa
Bronzing goddess Allison Parks delivers a copper glow with airbrushing on the go. Or, visit her darling new Napa boutique for a quick mist. 1643 Jefferson St., Napa, (707) 251-5633, thepaintedladynapavalley.com.
Lavender Nail Salon
Polish your bridesmaids with a mani-pedi party at this adorable Yountville nail boutique. 6540 Washington St., Yountville, (707) 944-8654.
Stephanie & Phil
The duo: Stephanie Whitacre and Phil Woods.
The destination: The New York couple corralled 60 of their closest friends and family at a private residence in Calistoga, where they said “I do” among willow trees.
The dinner: Ram’s Gate Winery in Carneros set the stage for the rehearsal fete.
The decadence: Following the ceremony, Paula LeDuc Fine Catering dazzled guests with corn soup, fresh peach salad, and steak frites.
Nothing says acoustic ambience at a seated dinner like guitar al fresco paired with a Jack Johnson–esque voice. (209) 743-9972, groveranderson.wordpress.com.
From old-school Madonna to twerking Miley, he’ll spin your guests right round and will keep dance floors packed till the wee hours. (415) 308-4849, dj-dro.com.
Naked Soul (formerly Alma Desnuda)
This San Francisco foursome jams global grooves—a blend of funk, soul, Dixie, and rock—and keeps fans returning religiously to local gigs. (406) 396-7138, 4nakedsouls.com.
This highly anticipated modern marvel is finally ready to host events on its stunning deck overlooking the vineyard—an ideal locale for a rehearsal dinner or family lunch. 401 St. Helena Hwy., St. Helena, (707) 286-7184, hallwines.com.
This cozy, romantic French bistro is as fetching on the inside as it is on its charming patio overlooking the Napa River. 540 Main St., Napa, (707) 252-8115, angelerestaurant.com.
Mayacama Country Club
Nestled atop the mountain range for which it’s named, this exclusive destination boasts spectacular views for outdoor gatherings. 1240 Mayacama Club Dr., Santa Rosa, (707) 387-0449, mayacama.com.
Kathleen Deery Design
Elegance and grace embody each arrangement assembled by this veteran San Francisco–based floral designer. 45 Lusk St., San Francisco, (415) 442-5010, kathleendeerydesign.com.
With Wine Country in his blood, it’s no surprise Sonoma-based florist Paul Stokey has been a favorite for more than 20 years. 23566 Arnold Dr., Sonoma, (707) 963-6931, tesoroflowers.com.
Polly Harrington's team can bundle Martha Stewart peony perfection for those on a budget. 912 Enterprise Way, Napa, (707) 252-3053,valleyflora.net.
Laurie Arons Special Events
Nineteen years of experience, combined with a penchant for perfection, make this team a top-notch choice for wedding celebrations. 1850 Union St., San Francisco, (415) 332-0600, lauriearons.com.
Suzy Berberian Weddings
Berberian is an Auberge du Soleil alum who now assists brides in orchestrating their dream day, from Santa Rosa to St. Helena. (707) 773-0166, suzyberberianweddings.com.
A Savvy Event
With many weddings published in top bridal publications, Kelly McLeskey-Dolata brings event experience from The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, to the wedding-planning table. 706 Broadway, Sonoma, (707) 996-3340, asavvyevent.com.