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.
As a new bride considering a wedding in wine country, I can’t tell you how immensely helpful this information is. A friend told me about your site and with a limited budget to work with, I feel so much better informed about the questions I should be asking the wineries I am contacting. Thanks so much for all of the great advice!
Wow. This is a novel concept- a wedding planner who is reputable and offering a complimentary advice column her Website? Are there any wineries who are known for being more flexible overall in wine country? We’d like to start with those first. Are there other alternatives to vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley?
Hi Everyone! Thank you for the great comments. Laurie and Jeff, all of the wineries are lovely; however, I would encourage you to check out any winery under the Foley Wine Group (including Firestone) – they are set up and “dialed” for events and have a world-class staff representing their events. Another non-winery alternative for a more intimate celebration would be the Santa Ynez Inn, which is a decadent inn in the heart of wine country and they have some of the most flexible (and affordable) policies of all. You could also enjoy the wineries by providing a tour/tasting for your guests as part of a “mobile rehearsal dinner” at the wineries if hosting your wedding at the inn. Good luck and thanks for visiting our site!
-Kerry Lee, Owner
Wow, this advice just saved me a ton of money (probably more than the cost to hire a wedding planner!) and will prevent a lot of surprises. Kerry Lee, you’ll be hearing from me soon. Thanks for the info.
All of the above info is SOOO true. Im currently a client of Kerry Lee’s . Dont forget they add in tip as a percentage of the total service, site, and wine bill, so its a HEFTY charge. There are a lot of things we just didnt expect. When we got quotes from everyone initially it was always thousands lower than what our final cost ended up being. Make sure you are prepared to spend more than you plan since it seems impossible to avoid this.
Dont forget- most of your vendors will be from Santa Barbara and they will charge a delivery fee since the wine country is a little out of there way. When every vendor adds on $100 this does make a difference!
I can say that having a planner is a MUST MUST MUST for anyone who doesnt live close to their vineyard wedding location. Theres no way we would even know what to do with out KL’s help.
I hope this helps! Good luck, brides!
Great points and thank you for the kind words. As one groom said, “now I get it, you’re ‘wedding insurance’, making sure in advance there are no surprises!”
A 100 person, basic wedding – and I mean basic- in wine country and in Santa Barbara proper for the most part averages about $45,000.
Also, don’t forget that they will charge you for unopened bottles of wine if they were iced down for the event! We just learned this. It’s not that big of a deal, though, because we used a Full Service Caterer (because Kerry Lee requires it thank god) who knew what they were doing and only iced down the amount of bottles necessary for the event. There were very few unopened bottles we had to take hm. w/ us. Just stuff to think about as you’re planning a winery wedding.
Much of this also depends on the season and activity going on at the vineyard so as not to disrupt the operation. Once you get past harvest season, the tasting rooms slow down quite a bit and the vineyards are a little bit more accommodating, but you also have to deal with cooler weather.
Biggest point for any wine geek though is that the vineyard / winery usually insists all wine being served is theirs so they can profit multiple ways. This makes it tough if you want multiple labels being served.
Thanks so much for all of the great advice! A winery wedding always being my No.1 wedding theme choice. Very helpful article! Thanks for sharing this!