The following is a guest post by Wendy Harrop, owner of It’s Your Day! and Director of Wedding Planning Instruction for New Wedding Planet.
As a California event planner for 20 years, I’ve had the pleasure of planning wonderful weddings with creative clients at a variety of unconventional venues. Naturally, winery weddings are popular here. So are beach weddings, parties in the park, and receptions at ranches and farms. But for three reasons, bed & breakfasts have a special place in my heart.
1. For small weddings, B&Bs are intimate, economical, and distinctive.
For a wedding of fewer than 50 guests and a couple on a budget, an owner-operated B&B with the necessary permits makes planning easy and economical. Ambience and atmosphere are built in, saving significantly on décor expenses such as flowers. Small ceremony and celebration spaces at a single location reduce time and transportation costs. Beautifully restored Victorian B&Bs–and California has more than any other state–provide the kind of theme that’s easily carried out, from invitations to attire. In addition, I’ve found B&B venues to be quite flexible about the vendors I’m allowed to hire for the event. (I wish hotels were equally open-minded!)
2. B&Bs near wineries help larger weddings work especially well.
Although legendary Napa is strict about winery weddings, nearby Sonoma County–like several other California wine-growing areas–has an abundance of wineries with facilities for a ceremony in the vineyard followed by a party in the tasting room. Some can accommodate as many as 200 attendees. By definition, most are far from cities, so it’s really helpful when there are block-bookable B&Bs located nearby to accommodate overnight guests. It’s safer for partiers at a winery wedding held in Healdsburg to drive the short distance to any of a dozen attractive Russian River B&Bs than having to make their way back to a hotel in San Francisco, hours away, following a reception featuring a dozen local wines!
3. B&B owners are friendly, fun, and well-informed.
Because they’re passionate about their properties, the B&B owners I know are a joy to work with in planning a wedding on-site, or simply blocking guest rooms for overnight guests. Like me, they’re hands-on managers used to rolling up their sleeves to get the job done. Unlike hotel catering staff, they tend to stay put in one place. And they often know more about restaurants, attractions, and transportation options in their area than anybody else around. Most aren’t shy about sharing local lore, opinions, and advice. Like their properties, they have personality!
I wish even more B&Bs offered weddings. And I love helping B&B owners become wedding planners. That’s why we created a dedicated video course tutorial on B&B weddings for the online wedding planning course I helped develop.
First photo: Nunan Estate in Jacksonville, OR
Second photo: Inn on Crescent Lake in Excelsior Springs, MO