By Julie and Damion Hamilton
Being a tourist destination, planners in Northern California’s wine country experience the trends that the rest of the nation does, but they do so with a special twist on them. Here are three wine country wedding trends that we are seeing this year.
Wine country made less obvious.
Wine country culture has always played a strong role in design and décor at events in this area. In the past, there were more conventional and obvious nods to it through the use of barrels, bottles, corks and various wine accessories in a straightforward way in the décor. For instance, corks might be used for everything from escort cards to initials of the couple, and bottles used for table numbers. But today, more couples are thinking of clever ways to infuse wine culture in less predictable ways. We’ve noted some couples choosing to make their own unique blends for the guests to take home, complete with custom labels, in small bottles that guests can carry on the airplane.
Hosts are also looking for ways to continue the guests’ wine country experience when they return home such as having custom mementos created from local goodies. Whether it is delicious wine infused truffles from Annette’s Chocolate Factory or a gorgeous soy-wax candle made from the very bottles you drank in the tasting room earlier that day (from Napa Wine Candles), guests love to be able to take home a taste of wine country that goes beyond just the wine. It’s simply extending the wine country experience in an unexpected way.
A return to formality.
In lieu of the past few years of pastel colors and casual rustic chic weddings, the wine country is now experiencing a return to a more formal event, even in summer garden weddings.
Don’t be mistaken though; these formal events are not the stuffy affairs of the past. It’s more along the lines of “relaxed formality” – not adhering so strictly to the traditions of the past and still allowing for flexibility within the event and the expectations. Davis and Ally’s gorgeous destination wedding at Meadowood Resort is just one example of the more formal celebration that we are seeing here in wine country.
One of the areas that reflects this shifting tide most easily is in the area of fashion. In menswear, the pendulum is swinging back to the ever-classic black tuxedo with a traditional bow tie and away from the light colored, more casual summer wedding suits of the past. Where shorter pastel dresses were once in vogue, floor length gowns are making a comeback for the ladies and, of course, look smashing with the men’s tuxedos. Not only have the length and style of the dresses changed, but also the color palettes have become bolder, showing off more jewel-toned dresses than in previous years.
And in keeping with the formal feel of the tux, bridemaids are shifting away from the shorter, pastel, casual dresses of the past and towards longer gowns in bolder colors, mostly jewel tones.
One company that is instrumental in measuring the shifting tide of trends in Napa Valley is Favor, a business that specializes in creating favors and hospitality baskets for events, both corporate and wedding. I talked with Suzy Berberian, co-owner with Jessica Berry, to see what she had to say about what they are seeing this year in the world of host hospitality.
“While our clients want their hotel gifts, such as welcome bags, to be practical, delicious and fun, they also want them to be more beautiful,” Berberian says. “We help translate the look of the couple’s invitation into the design of the welcome gift, giving guests a beautiful treat to kick-off a special event. Recent favorites include small bouquets of flowers – or a potted succulent – foreshadowing the flowers the guests will see at the wedding, lush ribbons and fabrics as basket-filler (instead of tissue paper or shred), and welcome cards addressed in gorgeous calligraphy.”
In bountiful Northern California, going organic and emphasizing farm-to-table, while staying as “green” as possible, is still a popular concept in gifts and favors. Berberian works with local purveyors and artisans to reduce shipping and delivery needs as much as possible.
“One of our most well received gifts is a re-imagined farmer’s market basket with a local baguette, salami, honey, olive oil, sparkling wine and chocolate tucked inside, Berberian adds. “Sprigs of lavender as an accent, or natural wood excelsior as a basket-filler helps complete the farm-to-table experience. ”
Gifting your guests local specialty items helps keep the event more “green” by cutting down on shipping and packaging materials and helps support the local economy. It’s always a good idea.
We hope that with these three wine country wedding trends — freshly harvested for this wedding season — you will be able to incorporate some of the magic of Napa into the weddings you design, no matter where they take place.
All photos by Damion Hamilton