How to Pick a Site That’s Outta Sight: Northern California
Invaluable tips on how to select a wedding location in Northern California
Do you know what kind of event you want? Will it be a formal or informal affair, a traditional wedding or an innovative party? Will it be held at night or during the day, indoors or outdoors? You can set the ambiance or tone of your function by selecting the right location, but know what you want before you start looking at locations or the sheer number of options will be overwhelming.
Northern California, for all its (pardon the expression) faults, has got some great advantages weather-wise. Outdoor ceremonies and receptions can take place throughout most of the year and, from September to November, you can anticipate sunny skies and warm climes. However, when the mercury rises in inland areas, watch out. A canopy or tables with umbrellas are essential for screening the sun. Ask each facility manager about the sun’s direction and intensity with respect to the time of day and month your event will take place. Guests will be uncomfortable facing into the sun during a ceremony, and white walls and enclosed areas bounce light around and can hold in heat.
If your event is scheduled for midday in July, for example, include a note on your location map to bring sunglasses, hat and sunscreen. If you also mention words like “poolside,” “yacht deck” or “lawn seating” on the map, it will help guests know how to dress. In summer, you might want to consider an evening rather than a midday celebration. Not only is the air cooler, but you may also get an extra bonus—a glorious sunset.
If you’re arranging an outdoor party November through April, or in the foothills or mountain areas, expect cooler weather and prepare a contingency plan. Despite our region’s favorable Mediterranean climate, it has rained in May, June and July, so consider access to an inside space or a tent.
Sometimes, places have strict rules and regulations. If most of your guests smoke, then pick a location that doesn’t restrict smoking. If alcohol is going to be consumed, make sure it’s allowed and find out if bar service needs to be licensed. If dancing and a big band are critical, then limit yourself to those locations that can accommodate them and the accompanying decibels. Do you have children, seniors or disabled guests, vegetarians or folks who want kosher food on your list? If so, you need to plan for them, too. It’s essential that you identify the special factors that are important for your event before you sign a contract.