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  • Napa Wedding Planning 101: A Quick Start Guide

    a bride and groom embracing in a garden

    There’s nothing more romantic than a Napa Valley wedding – where nature, food, wine, culture, friends and family come together in the most beautiful way. But if you’re looking to plan a Napa wedding, where should you start? We know it can be overwhelming, and we’re here to help!

    At V. Sattui, we’re blessed to be one of only five wineries in Napa Valley allowed to host weddings. Over the last several decades, we’ve built a name for ourselves as the preeminent expert on Napa Valley weddings – not only providing our beautiful estate for the event, but assisting couples with planning, flow, seating plans, menu, wine pairings, music, florists, and so much more.

    With that experience in-hand, our wedding planning team put their heads together to develop this quick start guide giving you everything you need to know to make your Napa wedding dream a reality.

    What Makes Napa Valley Great For Weddings

    It’s no surprise that so many couples choose to host their weddings in Napa – it’s one of the most stunning wedding sites in the world. It’s known for its breathtaking vineyards, world-famous food and wine, and gorgeous weather.

    a bride and groom holding hands in front of a vintage car

    The Magic of Seasons

    Napa has a Mediterranean climate, which means there is rarely any rain from April – October, making it much easier to plan the day. Summer days can get warm during the afternoon hours, which is why some couples hosting weddings at V. Sattui choose our lower stone courtyard, which stays about 10 degrees cooler, or the Barrel Room, which is consistently in the low to mid 60s. One of the beauties of Napa weather is that the evening and morning temperatures are up to 30 degrees cooler than daytime, perfect for morning walks and evening bonfires!  In fact, this weather is why Napa Valley is such a prime place for growing grapes – the longer days of summer ripening are counterbalanced by the nighttime cooling effects of the Pacific Ocean, which is about 50 miles away. For night weddings, we recommend reminding guests to bring a light jacket or sweater, and can provide color-coordinated lap blankets if requested.

    an outdoor dining area with tables and chairs

    An Abundance of Wedding Partners in the Napa Valley

    a group of people in blue shirts posing for a picture

    Beyond Napa Valley’s sheer natural beauty and wonderful weather, there’s a great infrastructure in place for weddings – some of the top wedding experts and vendors in the world choose to reside in Napa Valley, which means you have amazing partners to choose from among our community of caterers, florists, musicians, event coordinators, etc. Plus, its location within a 1–2-hour drive of multiple international airports means it’s easy for even the most faraway guests to get to.

    All of this combines to make for the absolute best wedding photography – not to mention social posts. (many of our wedding guests post multiple times from V. Sattui weddings, creating a social event in and of itself!)

    How to Choose The Perfect Venue

    a group of people sitting around a dinner table

    Part of the reason Vittorio Sattui established our winery in 1885 is because he believed wine was a critical part of life, and especially life’s celebrations. This is a value we hold dear to this day. We believe any Napa Valley wedding should embrace wine, winemaking, and the wine country life. At V. Sattui weddings, guests are invited to taste, experience, and enjoy wine at the celebration – made even more special by the fact that it’s in a vineyard setting, where the grapes that made the wine are grown. All the wine served at our events is grown, harvested, and vinted by V. Sattui – a true “grape-to-glass” experience.

    A Magical Property

    The whole of Napa Valley is extremely picturesque. Our property is especially stunning, with many different types of spaces and vegetation – from olive trees to vineyards, to rose gardens, wisteria covered arbors, blooming jasmine and greenery dotted with hydrangeas – there are abundant spots for I-do’s. By day, V. Sattui’s beautiful gardens, vineyard surroundings and mountain views make it the ideal location for a beautiful ceremony. As the sun sets, twinkling lights and the rising moon above the mountains and vines make for a magical scene. In fact, there are so many photo-ops, it’s hard to choose! The guests take advantage of this too with their beautiful Instagram posts.

    Incredible Food

    a man in a wine cellar cutting food on a cutting board

    Our Michelin-starred chef Stefano Masanti and his team deliver an elevated and unparalleled culinary experience customized for every couple, paired with our award-winning wines.

    Unique Spaces

    We have courtyard, vineyard, garden and cellar spaces for dining, making it easy to scale up or scale down the size of an event as guest lists fluctuate. Our lower courtyard space is perfect for a more intimate vibe and adjoins the Barrel Room which some couples choose to transform into a “speakeasy” for a club type feel. Once the space is revealed, the guests move in for dancing and lounging as the lights turn down and the music turns up. (It’s always fun for the guests to experience new venues throughout the event.)

    How to Make Your Napa Wedding Unique

    a table topped with cookies and a book

    There are a lot of fun twists that can make your wedding unlike any other.

    Incorporating Family Traditions

    a bride and groom sitting on a stone wall in front of a fountain

    Family traditions are more than just customs; they’re threads that weave generations together. By including these in your ceremony or reception, not only do you honor those who came before but also start new chapters of these traditions.

    Your Own Signature Wine Cocktail

    a table topped with glasses filled with drinks and flowers

    Lately, bartenders have made a lasting impression on guests with wine cocktails – which can be tailored specifically to a couple’s preferences. Some couples come up with fun cocktail names that have something to do with their relationship or history, which adds an element of personalization and interest.

    Check out this recipe for a Paloma wine cocktail, as an example:

    • 3oz V. Sattui Sauvignon Blanc
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • squeeze of lime juice
    • 2 oz red grapefruit juice
    • splash club soda with a lime garnish

    Photo and recipe credit “Shalene Peters with Weddings by Darlene.”

    Bring the pets!

    a group of people and a dog posing for a picture

    Many couples choose to have their beloved animals be part of the ceremony. (Yes, we’re pet-friendly!)  We love including dogs in our weddings – they make for the cutest attendees (even ring bearers!) and the photos are absolutely adorable.

    Straight out of Tuscany

    a group of people sitting in chairs in front of a building

    Our facility has been described as a little slice of Italy. Some couples play this up and integrate some elements of their own Italian heritage, be it through the menu, music, or decor. Other couples just want to feel like they’re in Tuscany (who can blame them??) and we make that vision a reality.

    Must-Know Tips for Planning Your Wedding – Step By Step

    a jar filled with money sitting on top of a table

    Step 1: Set Your Budget

    Decide on a budget to help determine the venue and catering choices. This will help guide your decisions from venue selection to catering options.

    Step 2: Choose Your Venue

    This step emphasizes the importance of selecting the right venue, considering factors like capacity, availability, and aesthetics. Napa Valley, known for its beautiful winery venues like V Sattui Winery, offers a range of options. Choosing the venue first is practical because it dictates the available dates for your wedding.

    Step 3: Selecting The Date

    Once the venue is chosen, the next logical step is to set a date. This step is crucial as it affects all other planning aspects. The advice to book 1-1.5 years in advance, especially for popular times like Saturdays in high season (April – September), is very practical. It also offers reassurance for those who might be planning on a shorter timeline, noting that there’s more availability during off-peak times and on less demanded days like Fridays and Sundays.

    Step 4: Hiring Local Vendors

    a man and a woman standing next to each other

    After setting the date and booking the venue, booking the caterer and the wedding coordinator are your very next steps. (Once that is done, you can relax and slow down a bit!)

    Choosing Catering

    During the high season at V. Sattui, Chef Stefano/our caterer is included – which takes out the need to secure a caterer. Otherwise, we recommend booking a caterer about 8-12 months in advance. There are lots of great options for vendors (see our full list of recommended partners below).

    Picking A Photographer

    Photographers also tend to book far in advance, so it’s best to secure them as quickly as possible.

    Other Vendors

    For florals, DJ/band, etc., booking 8 months out is typical. You can find vendors in less time – but if a couple has a preference for someone in particular, and that vendor is working multiple wedding properties/venues throughout the valley and Bay Area, it’s important to secure them as early as possible to avoid them getting booked elsewhere.

    Hiring A Planner or Coordinator

    A planner can take off some stress if the budget allows. They have relationships with local vendors, which could even save them money in the long run.

    Accommodations and Logistics for Guests

    a bedroom with a fireplace and a bed

    There are a multitude of lodging options in Napa Valley, with a large range of amenities and pricing. There are several high-end resorts in Napa Valley, like the five-star Auberge du Soleil, Las Alcobas, Meadowood and Solage.

    On the flipside, we also have Motel 6 in Napa — although, like many local hotels, it requires a two-night minimum stay. Overall, more affordable, budget-friendly options are in Napa proper.

    Here are some of our recommended hotels:

    Check out our St. Helena hotel guide to see our full list of hotel recommendations. Napa Valley can get busy during the peak wedding season so it’s best to secure reservations well in advance.

    Transportation Logistics

    a black van parked in a parking lot

    Booking a shuttle for guests is always the preferred option, as Uber and Lyft are pretty unreliable, especially at 11 pm when weddings often end. We recommend making advance pickup reservations when using these options.

    Shuttles will typically make a couple of stops for pick-up and drop-off.  These vendors are veterans in the area and do a great job of keeping guests happy, safe, and on time!

    With all these details in place your guests will feel truly taken care of and be able to fully enjoy your special day along with you.

    Weather Considerations for a Napa Wedding

    a group of people standing in front of a house

    Napa Valley is known for its beautiful weather, but it’s essential to know what each season brings. This will help you pick the right date and prepare accordingly.

    Spring and Fall: Ideal Wine Country Seasons

    The charm of spring with blooming vineyards makes this an ideal time to tie the knot in Napa Valley. On the other hand, fall offers vibrant colors as grape leaves change from green to golden hues. But remember that these are also popular times for tourists due to wine harvesting events, so plan well ahead.

    Summer: Warm Days and Cool Nights

    If your dream wedding involves warm sunshine, summer could be perfect. Temperatures can reach up into the 90s during peak hours but cool down significantly in evenings – making them ideal for outdoor celebrations under twinkling lights.

    Winter: A Cozy Indoor Affair

    a wedding ceremony with candles and flowers

    Winters tend towards being wetter and cooler – perfect if you’re considering an intimate indoor ceremony at one of Napa’s stunning wineries or estates like V Sattui Winery. With fewer tourists around, winter weddings can feel more private too.

    Note:

    • No matter when you decide on your big day in Napa Valley, always have a backup plan ready just in case Mother Nature decides otherwise. Keep an eye on local forecasts leading up to your event as part of your preparations.

    Remember:

    1. Spring and fall bring charming scenes but coincide with tourist season.
    2. Summer offers warm days and cool nights – perfect for outdoor celebrations.
    3. Winter can be a cozy time for an intimate indoor wedding.

    By considering these weather patterns, you’ll make sure your Napa Valley wedding is as beautiful and memorable as you’ve dreamed it to be.

    Our Favorite Wedding Partners

    a bunch of chairs that are sitting on the ground

    We’ve worked with hundreds (maybe thousands) of vendors over the years, and we’ve cultivated a list of our favorite folks to work with – these are the cream of the crop.

    All of these folks are very familiar with V. Sattui and understand the ideal locations on the property, know our policies, and what to expect on the day of the wedding, which makes for a smoother experience for everyone. We always recommend hiring professionals who are insured.

    Coordinators

    A good wedding coordinator is worth their weight in gold! Here are some of our favorites:

     Photographers

    Our recommended photographers are not only wonderful artists, but they know all the hidden best picture spots, lighting at different areas on our property, access points, etc.

    Videographers

    This group of vendors does an amazing job of capturing every moment.

    Florists & Decorators

    At V. Sattui our lush locale and gorgeous gardens mean a huge flower budget is not a necessity. (Some couples on tight budgets let our on-site flowers and rose gardens do the heavy lifting!) That said, these florists do breathtaking flower designs that add to ambiance tremendously. They are highly familiar with our property, and know where to find barrels to utilize, spaces to decorate, the timeframes they are permitted on the property, etc.

    Event, Lighting, Rental & Tent Companies

    Entertainment Specialists

    These folks know how to get guests on the dance floor having the best time. They also know our hookup capability and locations, the best acoustics, and practical logistics like where to load equipment.

    Pastry Chefs

    This group is wonderful to work with and makes the most amazing goodies.

    Officiants

    All of our recommended officiants are seasoned professionals and provide an array of approaches to conducting the ceremony itself.

    Hair & Makeup Artists

    We’ve worked with these artists dozens of times and have seen the difference a calm, professional, talented hair and makeup team can make.

    Other Activities in Napa Valley

    a group of people in a hot air balloon

    Beyond the wedding itself, there are a broad spectrum of wonderful non-wedding activities in the area for guests, like hikes, bike rides, hot air balloon rides, shopping, spas, golf, the Napa Valley Wine Train, wine tasting, and of course, dining out.

    Pizzeria TraVigne and Farmstead are typically great options for rehearsal dinners. Brix Restaurant and Gardens is wonderful for a post-wedding brunch. These restaurants can accommodate larger groups, but there are many other restaurants ideal for more intimate settings and fine dining experiences. The world-famous French Laundry, The Charter Oak, Press, the beautiful RH Café in Yountville, and Ciccio are just a handful of options. For casual dining, no visit to St. Helena (our Napa Valley town) is complete without a stop at Gott’s Roadside. We also love sending guests to nearby Oxbow Public Market for a concentration of Bay Area restaurants and shops in one location.

    Getting Started With Planning

    a bouquet of flowers next to a wedding checklist

    We’ve barely scratched the surface on all the reasons Napa Valley weddings are so incredible (especially weddings at V. Sattui!). From the easily accessible location to the wonderful weather, to the picture-perfect settings, amazing vendors, and great activities,  the list is endless. Your wine country wedding can take advantage of all that Napa has to offer, and still be uniquely you. Start hunting for that perfect venue and remember to have fun in the process!

    Ready to learn more about planning your wedding at V. Sattui? Contact us to get started.

    We welcome groups ranging in size from 25 to 200 guests. We offer:

    • Exclusive use of the winery, with both indoor and outdoor spaces available
    • Comprehensive coordination services with our professional and friendly staff
    • Packages that make planning simple and straightforward

    View our wedding brochure.

    Schedule a tour

    Request a printed brochure.

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