When Mr. Mink and I started talking about getting married, we thought we wanted a vineyard wedding. Our area of Virginia is home to many wonderful vineyards, some owned by some well known celebrities. We started visiting a different vineyard each Sunday for a tasting and a cheese plate as an informal way to assess the options. A few felt like possible matches, and when we went to a wedding at one of our favorites, we were almost certain it was the right place for us.
Once we were engaged, we revisited some of those vineyards, exploring a few other options and collecting fee schedules and menus in hopes of making a decision before those who got engaged over the holidays started their planning. Nothing like the prospect of a little competition to get you out of your newly engaged haze!
Here is, roughly, what we considered…
1. The Inn
Image via The Clifton Inn
The Inn was the closest venue to downtown Charlottesville, and it was beautiful. It had a very “old Virginia” feel to it, and our small-ish wedding wouldn’t be dwarfed by the spaces on the property. The inn is known for its fantastic food, so we knew our guests would be fed well. The rental fee was higher than any other venue we visited, but it included exclusive use of the grounds for the weekend. The catch: we also had to rent all 17 guest rooms for two nights. That was not included in the rental fee.
2. The Established Vineyard
Staff members at the established vineyard / Photo by Miss Mink
The established vineyard was one we had visited many times for tastings. The site was stunning, the food was fantastic, and the vineyard owned draping that would be used in the ballroom at no extra charge. Much of what was needed (tables, chairs, barware) was included in the rental fee. The drawbacks: it was the farthest venue from town on the list, staffing/labor was not included in any of the fees, and the rental fee increased each year, so while we were planning to book early, we’d pay more because our wedding is in 2012.
3. The Newcomers
There were a few new players in the vineyard wedding scene in the area. One had only had a couple events when we visited them, but it was a beautiful location. The rental fee was high, but it included a lot of extras (table, chairs, exclusive use). That venue did not have a kitchen on site, so a caterer would need us to rent a catering tent for their use. The owners at that venue were having some difficulties with a neighbor over noise issues, but they had made a substantial investment in an elaborate sound system that would keep the peace. Bonus: someone thought to tuck a swing set around the back of the facility for children to play on. Brilliant!
Another venue we considered was just in the planning stages. The renderings were beautiful. We had a connection to the site being used, and Mr. Mink knew the chef involved with the project through his work. The rental fee was discounted in light of where they were in their building process.
What would you do with the options above? Would you pick the inn, the established vineyard, or one of the new vineyards?