There are so many things to love about the growing (!) trend of hosting your wedding in a winery or vineyard. Australia boasts some of the most awarded and visually spectacular venues on earth; the views are grand and sweeping, the atmosphere is relaxed and I’m sure that wine tastes better in a vineyard.
I am a big fan of having both the ceremony and reception at the same location and when you throw in gorgeous scenery and some delectable food, it's an easy sell. In fact, my personal top 3 favourite wedding venues in South Australia are wineries, so don’t get me wrong, I’m totally on-board.
But in my job I hear both the glowing and the snide comments whispered by wedding guests. And although you don’t want your wedding day to be an anxious rollercoaster-ride-of-people-pleasing-pain, if you didn’t care about your family and friends, you would have had your ceremony at the registry office, yes?You know the saying 'happy wife, happy life'? Well, in wedding circles, it can easily be translated to 'happy guests, happy wedding' - although it's not as good because it doesn't rhyme..
There are 3 pesky details, the same annoying issues, that come up for my winery wedding couples time and time again. If you can plan ahead and follow the golden rules, it is much more likely that your guests will remember your wedding for all the right reasons.
You are not a grape, so get out of the sun.
In peak wedding season (in Australia, at least) you can pretty much bet your house that the weather will be scorching hot with plenty of sunshine for all. This is great for outdoor weddings, but can also bring up another point that is commonly overlooked; sunburn and its accompanying symptoms. I’ve seen brides, grooms, bridal party members and guests faint from heat stroke (it only takes 10 minutes), suffer from dehydration (the groom was swaying at the altar and barely remembered the ceremony at all) and get badly sunburnt during a even a short wedding ceremony in direct sunshine.
So please, please, please care take a little extra time to plan ahead and consider your guests’ physical health and ultimate enjoyment of your wedding.
I’m talking about;
- scoping out a completely shaded ceremony area (if possible),
- purchasing mini bottles/sachets of sunscreen, disposable sunglasses or fans etc. for your guests – anything that would make them feel more comfortable,
- providing chilled bottles of water or jugs of water and glasses - for before AND after the ceremony - at least the equivalent of 2 bottles of water per person,
- advising your celebrant/officiant that you would prefer for your guests to stay in the shade until the last moment before the processional (walking down the aisle) starts, so no one is left in the sun for longer than they need to be.
Some couples also aren't aware that standing in a partly shaded/partly sunny area for your ceremony can make it exceptionally difficult for your photographer to get a decent wide shot of you and your bridal party. The extremes of light and shade in the same photo can mean a very grainy and over/under exposed composition. Full shade is usually the best way to go.
Now I understand completely how the winery looks that much better when there aren’t massive brollies (marquee umbrellas) blocking the vista, but there is always the option of having your ceremony as the sun sets. It is not uncommon for a wedding celebration to kick off with pre-ceremony drinks and some canapés, then the short and sweet, modern and relevant nuptials at twilight, followed by the 'knees-up' reception.
The vineyard is designed for optimal viticulture and not convenient photo opportunities.
Soft soil, rocky pathways, snakes and sprinklers are common place in a vineyard. I've seen several pairs of Jimmy Choos meet their sad and early demise during a winery wedding. And although it might look awesome in your photos to run between the vines with your new husband or wife (if you are permitted by the venue to be anywhere near them, of course) the reality is very different.
Using stoppers on your gorgeous heels or arranging for single pavers for the bridesmaids and bride to stand on during the ceremony can be a smart investment. If there is a rocky path for the processional, please have the groomsmen (or someone not in heels) escort the bridesmaids, so there is a reduced chance of a twisted ankle or grazed knee.
Bugs. So many bugs.
Although you probably don’t think too much about it, vineyards are an excellent ecosystem for bees, flies and mosquitoes to thrive. Which is awesome for the grapes (and eventually for the wine and then for us!), but not so great for the bridal party trying to smile and not catch bugs in their mouths. There’s a pretty simple solution, but it’s something that almost everyone forgets: pack the Low Irritant Odourless Aeroguard and Avagoodweekend.
Tell me how you are preparing for your winery or outdoor wedding in the comments below.