Empire Mine State Park
Couples have been known to spend days touring potential wedding reception venues and still, they never get that “gut feeling” that they’ve found The One. Then, for some inexplicable reason, they walk into a hotel, or a remodeled mansion, or even a state park and within an instant they get the vibe—This is it.
How does that inner knowing come about?
Wedding planners will say it’s equal parts prescreening, attention to detail and intuition. Brides and grooms might agree, but some will
add that it’s an inexplicable intuition that clinches the deal.
“When we walked on the property, we both just smiled and looked at each other. We knew it. We said ‘This is it,’” says Sara Solomon, 28, of Sacramento, who will wed at The Harvest Inn near Napa in May 2009.
Local bride Carrie Shellhammer, 30, said she and her fiancée knew they wanted to marry somewhere in Lake Tahoe, since it is where they met and where Carrie spent weekends as a child at her family’s cabin. But when they looked for a specific site, they were having trouble getting that just right feel. Then, they stepped on the grounds of The Lodge at Tahoe Donner and knew they had found “it”.
“We got out of the car and we knew immediately that we loved it,” says Shellhammer. “It felt like Tahoe, all the pine trees and Mariposa brush.”
Sometimes it’s the mood a venue invites, or it could be a slant of light in an entry way or even the color of a wall that clinches a deal. Still, wedding planners and brides and grooms alike know it’s more than just a feeling that makes a nuptials venue ideal. Price, size and accessibility also are key.
“When we did the site visit, The Firehouse jumped out,” says Beverly Patton, who held her wedding and reception at The Firehouse restaurant in September 2006. “I was looking for something intimate. And my colors were natural colors—natural greens, off-white and gold. And the Firehouse courtyard has greenery and trees and it was all very natural.”
Patton’s wedding planner, Mary Daffin of Nouvelle Roux, stresses that a lot of pre-screening and elimination of venues takes place
before a venue is ever tagged for a site visit. Only sites that can accommodate the size of the wedding and are within an agreeable driving distance will be considered. Of course, the venue also must be within a couple’s price range. It is difficult when a bride or groom falls in love with a place that doesn’t fit any of those criteria.
The Sacramento region has many options for nuptials. Brides wanting a vineyard look, a Tuscan feel or a southern plantation vibe can find it all.
Sharon Renzo of Weddings by Design says that the Grand Island Mansion along the Sacramento River in Walnut Grove is particularly elegant.
“When you pull up to it you see Italian Cypresses and a huge mansion with columns,” says Renzo, who adds that it emanates a “grand” feeling. Renzo warns that it’s important to remember that some venues, such as the Grand Island Mansion, run more than one wedding a day.
“While you are downstairs, they are upstairs resetting for another wedding,” she says.
Those looking for a garden setting might want to take a look at the Newcastle Wedding Gardens, off Taylor Road, or the rose garden in Capitol Park.
Wedding planner Cynthia Guilford of Platinum Weddings warns brides and grooms not to get too hooked on a certain aspect of a site if it doesn’t fit their style.
“Sometimes when she sees a beautiful crystal chandelier or the ornate details of the crown molding,” says Guilford, a bride might fall in love with a site.
“Make sure [you’re] comfortable in that setting,” says Guilford.
“If you’re not the type of person who likes it real formal, you like more relaxed settings—go for that.”
Wedding planner Lora Ward of A Day to Remember says that she’s recently planned some stunning nuptials at area sites that might not be on folks’ “most familiar” list. One such site is Wilson Vineyards in Clarksburg, 15 minutes from downtown Sacramento and its broad range of hotels for out of town guests. Wilson Vineyards offers an elegant vineyard feel with a touch of “barnyard chic,” says Ward. Nuptials are held in a 100-year-old restored barn with exposed wooden beams.
Morgan Creek Country Club in Roseville also offers a unique wedding venue, says Ward. A former horse ranch, the site offers a “white, elegant, equestrian arena-type feel,” says Ward. There are white split rail fences around a beautiful pond and fountain.
Ward also has planned weddings within Grass Valley’s Empire Mine State Park. She says brides and grooms who tour the grounds find many sites for potential nuptials.
Ward also cautions couples to not rely on a website to select or eliminate a potential wedding venue. “Don’t rely on websites to give you the end-all information,” says Ward. “You have to see the property.” She also cautions that couples should always give advance warning before visiting a property.
“Don’t drop in to see a property unannounced,” she says. “It could be set up for a computer conference. Make an appointment to see the room at a time when it best shows off.”
Many couples will select a site after already having visited it during another wedding or party. Local bride Bernice Hechtman, 42, selected Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel for the site of her nuptials after she and her husband planned a birthday party there. The party went so well they decided to marry at the site.
“Because we had had the birthday party there, it was kind of special for us,” says Hechtman.
Jackson Rancheria offers several wedding packages with varying prices and details, says Hechtman. They were married outside in a courtyard with a fountain with the rolling hills of Jackson in the background.
The Sacramento Association of Realtors (SAR) Mack Powell Auditorium also is a versatile and popular site for Sacramento weddings. “We think what makes our space appealing, especially in this economy, is it’s affordable, it’s versatile and it’s accessible,” says Janelle Fallan, director of public affairs for SAR.
The large space offers a catering kitchen and allows couples to bring in their own food, another cost-saving benefit. The large room also can be decorated in almost any imaginable way. “It’s a blank space on which to write,” says Fallan. “It’s easy to find and has lots of free parking,” she adds.
Yvette Woolston, owner of The Supper Club on Del Paso Heights Boulevard, says many people have selected her restaurant for wedding receptions because of its elegant food and intimate setting. “The food is our biggest draw, followed by the fact that it’s a small, intimate setting and has a professional staff,” says Woolston.
If you’re feeling undecided, tour some Sacramento wedding venue grounds and see what grabs you. Even if your head doesn’t know, that warm and fuzzy feeling will tell you when you’ve found the perfect place.
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