Napa Valley Weddings:
Everything You Need to Know
Napa Valley weddings can be formal, intimate and anything in between—but it’s the breathtaking ambiance, warmth and beauty of the region that weave a common thread throughout all types of weddings in Napa. Not only does this region of Northern California produce some of the best wine in the world, its temperate weather, upscale resorts and hillside vineyards make it one of the most romantic destinations for Napa weddings too.
The Napa Valley is an American Viticultural Area just couple hours north of San Francisco. Nestled between mountain ranges, the Valley enjoys a Mediterranean climate. Several small towns and more than 400 wineries inhabit the region. Thanks to its weather, scenery and proximity to the San Francisco area, it’s become one of the most popular wedding destinations.
Dreaming of a Napa wedding? Get inspired by viewing our library of wedding photos, which can help you find wedding vendors in the area as well. For everything else you need to know, check out our complete Napa wedding guide:
What is the best time of year for a Napa wedding?
There’s really no bad time to have weddings in the Napa Valley. Napa weather is mild, with a temperature ranging from around 57 degrees fahrenheit in January to 83 degrees in July.
Fall is harvest season, a very busy time for residents, but also an exciting time for Napa Valley weddings. Winter is the quiet season in the Valley. You’ll find a wealth of stunning indoor Napa wedding venues, fewer crowds and temperatures hovering around 60 degrees fahrenheit. When you discuss your wedding date as a couple, don’t count out wintertime weddings in Napa.
Spring Napa Valley weddings feature new growth in the vineyards and an abundance of blossoms for a garden wedding ceremony. Summer heralds the tourist season, but if you are having a destination Napa wedding, this time may be the most convenient for your guests to take a short getaway.
How much do Napa weddings cost?
One thing to know upfront is that, yes, Napa Valley weddings can be quite expensive. Napa Valley weddings in locations like hotels and resorts cost an estimated $81,991. This figure covers the wedding and reception for 200-300 guests. In comparison, the average cost of weddings in California at large is just under $30,000.
Of course, you can save on some of your Napa wedding expenses, if need be. The above figure includes an estimated $5,130 for a wedding planner, for example, which you can minimize if your wedding venue provides in-house wedding planning services. And with the beauty of some Napa Valley wedding venues, you may not need to bring in too much additional wedding decor.
What people spend on a Napa Valley vineyard wedding depends significantly on the location. As a general rule, the most popular Napa wedding reception venues will always cost more. Here are some other things to keep in mind when estimating Napa Valley wedding cost:
- Venue, catering, and rentals: $55,135
- Photographer: $5,588
- Flowers and other decorations: $5,971
- DJ/band: $2,659
- Gifts/favors: $2,412
What are the different types of Napa wedding venues?
There’s one big caveat when planning a Napa wedding. When you first imagine the beauty of Napa Valley weddings, you probably envision a sun-kissed ceremony amid lush vineyards. While this Napa Valley wedding dream is certainly possible, you should be aware of the Winery Definition Ordinance, a 1989 law that may affect your Napa wedding plans.
The WDO is meant to protect the land on vineyards from residential development and activities—such as Napa Valley weddings—that interfere with the region's primary viticultural use. Therefore, only wineries established before 1974 are exempt from the ordinance and free to host vineyard weddings. There are five such wineries, all near St. Helena, that qualify and are able to host Napa weddings:
Because there are so few available, the five vineyards offering Napa Valley weddings charge a premium for hosting Napa vineyard weddings and Napa wedding receptions.
However, there are plenty of other amazing venues in the area. You have a choice of indoor or outdoor settings for Napa reception venues. Outdoor wedding ceremonies make the most of the beautiful scenery and the pleasant Napa weather. Indoor Napa reception venues don’t depend upon the weather. Some of the best Napa weddings take place at indoor venues.
The capacity of the best wedding venues in Napa is an important consideration. An intimate courtyard setting would be lovely for Napa wedding receptions, but won’t work if you are planning on lots of guests.
You’ll find dozens of breathtaking settings for weddings in Napa Valley at wine country wedding venues including:
Napa Hotel Weddings:
Multiple upscale hotels offer full-service weddings in the Napa Valley vicinity.
Napa Estate Weddings:
Grand estates offer scenic grounds with multiple event areas.
Napa Restaurant Weddings:
Napa is famous for its restaurants, including six that have earned Michelin stars. Restaurants can be a nice choice for smaller Napa Valley weddings, too.
Napa Vineyard Weddings:
Of course, if you have your heart set on a vineyard wedding, they can be done! Just be aware of the high demand, as well as the cost.
Napa Olive Grove Weddings:
Olive groves offer similar ambiance and vistas to a vineyard.
Napa Ranch Weddings:
Private ranches in Napa offer beautiful grounds, as well as lodging and other amenities.
Napa Country Club Weddings:
There are several clubs, including golf clubs, that host weddings in and around Napa Valley.
Napa Garden Weddings:
Botanical gardens and parks are a favorite in any wedding locale, but make an especially charming choice in Napa.
What are the different areas of the Napa Valley?
Napa is the area’s largest city, with a population of 72,000. Located in the southern section of the Valley, Napa is a trendy town with a contemporary vibe. A bustling nightlife and upscale restaurants attract a younger, stylish crowd that has made it a popular wedding destination.
Calistoga, with about 5,100 residents, is the northernmost Napa Valley town. Its mineral hot springs draw visitors looking for an exceptional spa experience. From quaint B&Bs to world-class hotels, Calistoga offers several options for wedding venues in Napa.
St. Helena, only slightly larger at 5,947 residents, is home to the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. The institute, along with area wineries not restricted by the WDO, offers great options in Napa Valley wedding venues.
Yountville, located in the center of the Valley, is a small town with a population of 2,973. The artsy area also boasts exceptional restaurants and offers a number of tasting rooms to try during a leisurely walk through downtown. Many of the best Napa weddings happen in the Yountville area.
And, don’t discount nearby Sonoma County, which lies to the west of Napa County and is a well-known wine region in its own right. This area does not have the same restrictions as wedding venues in Napa, so you have more options for a vineyard wedding ceremony in Sonoma.
If you are looking for additional venue or accommodation options, a Sonoma wedding is as close to a Napa wedding as you can get. It features similar scenery as well as the unique aura of wine country. Sonoma wedding venues include olive groves, resorts, wineries, vineyards and gardens.
The cost of a Sonoma wedding is likely to be on a par with the average Napa Valley wedding cost. However, a Sonoma wedding may be a better fit if you dream of grapevines as your backdrop, and the five Napa options are unavailable. Also, some Sonoma wedding venues offer a quieter atmosphere than the busier wine country wedding venues in Napa Valley.
How do you find Napa wedding vendors?
One of the best ways to find vendors for your Napa Valley wedding is to browse photos of the Napa weddings on our site, where you’ll find a list of all the Napa wedding vendors involved so you can get in touch directly. Or you can look through Napa wedding reception venues and see which vendors have worked at the location before.
By browsing our Napa real wedding photos, you’ll find inspiration for your Napa or Sonoma wedding, and find vendors that suit your style, budget and vision. Here are some of the curated vendors we can put you in touch with:
How do you get to Napa Weddings?
What airport do you fly into to get to Napa Valley? Take your pick. Although the Napa Airport does not accept commercial flights, Napa Valley is accessible via five other commercial airports.
- San Francisco International Airport, which many choose to fly into due to its size and convenience, is 70 miles away.
- Oakland International Airport is 63 miles from Napa Valley.
- Sacramento International Airport is 75 miles away.
- San Jose International Airport is 95 miles away.
- Sonoma County Airport is much smaller, but you can fly there directly from several large cities in the U.S. including Dallas and Los Angeles. It is 34 miles away from Napa Valley.
If you fly into San Francisco, you can get to Calistoga in the Napa Valley via public transportation. Also, the San Francisco Bay Ferry will take you from Fisherman’s Wharf to Vallejo. There, you’ll board a VINE bus to take you the rest of the way to the best wedding venues in Napa Valley.
If you want to save your guests some time in reaching your Napa wedding venue, choose a hotel offering shuttle service between the airport and the venue. Your guests could also take a rental car along the scenic Golden Gate bridge route.
However you choose to reach your Napa Valley wedding destination, it’s sure to be an occasion to remember. Get Napa real wedding inspiration and reach out to vendors directly via Carats & Cake, your go-to wedding resource.