Photo by A. Medley

Photo by A. Medley

Having a wine country wedding is the ultimate in sophisticated rustic elegance.   There is nothing like it.  Knowing in advance some of the “small print” can help you plan a more accurate budget and ensure your wine country wedding is enjoyed and maximized to the fullest extent possible.

The average rental cost for a single event winery venue is $6,000.  But don’t think that that’s it for the bill from the winery and once you sign their contract, pay your deposit, provide proof of liability insurance that you’re done.   Below are some of the most commonly over-looked items on many winery’s contracts for events.

    • Proof of Liability Insurance required is generally $2million, requiring a higher purchase price for the insurance as opposed to a $1million policy
    • Most wineries require that the florist, lighting designer (and in some cases rental company) “strike” (or break down/clean up) the actual night of the event.  This can result in larger overtime and labor fees which are passed along to the client from the caterer, lighting designer or florist.
    • Conversely, since a winery’s job is to sell wine first and foremost, events often may not be set up until a certain time (since events can generally not start until around 5pm or so) and this may cause a time crunch for your set up suppliers (caterer, rental company, florist, lighting designer) , causing them to have to hire extra staff to get an especially elaborate set up done in a shorter amount of time.  This extra labor will be passed on to you.
    • Some wineries require that you hire their valet for your event.  Cost will be dependent on how many guests you anticipate.
    • Most wineries will require you to hire an “on site” manager (from their staff) to ensure the venue is looked after in case of emergency and also to ensure the venue’s policies are upheld.  The venue manager is not the same as a professional event coordinator and it is not their job to do any labor such as set up, coordinate a wedding or bridal party, etc.  But you as the Client will pay for them to be on site during your event, and they are invaluable.  If there is a facility emergency, you want someone who knows the property to be there overseeing all the nuances and maintenance of the venue – something you or your vendors would not be able to do.
    • One winery in particular insists that you hire their pre-approved and licensed child-care provider if anyone – and I mean anyone – under the age of 12 is coming to the wedding.
    • Some wineries require that your guests may not park on site; you are required to hire shuttles to bring guests to your wedding and reception
    • Be very clear on your winery event contract what time your guests may start arriving.  One winery insists that guests may not even arrive until a certain time and if they arrive before then, they will charge you an additional $500/hour.  Do not, however, put a “fake” ceremony start time on your invitations to try and lure your guests there in an attempt to start your ceremony in order to accommodate the winery’s contract.  This is in very poor taste etiquette-wise.  It also ends up costing you more in the long run as the rest of your vendors will be off, the stage not set when first guest arrives (not acceptable), etc.  A good professional wedding planner can work with you to give you super easy ways to accommodate the contract with the winery as well as honor your guests, etiquette, event timeline as well as an accurate wedding invitation.

Most venues in general (not just wineries) now require the Client hire a Professional Event Coordinator.  While an added expense, this service is invaluable and most coordinators offer an array of services so you do not have to hire a Full Service Wedding Planner.  Most offer “day of” packages, which is the very minimum service your winery will require.  Your Professional Wedding Coordinator or Planner is , as one groom said, “wedding insurance” and a reputable one is priceless.

Photo by Amber Medley