After the wedding
OK, you're married. Now it's time to party.
Photographer, Rebecca Gosselin, captures the bride
While the ceremony comprises the most poignant part, the vast meat of your marriage day-literally-occurs at your reception. Braised pork shoulder, anyone?
The reception site is a complex and polymorphous creature. One part Kodak-worthy photo-op with breathtaking views or awesome architecture or formidable floral arrangements-or all of the above-and one part full-blown party scene.
Fortunately this verdant Valley has every imaginable option, including an assortment of Plaza-based restaurants that will surpass your expectations and sublimate your senses with the best of Wine Country cuisine.
Meritâge Oyster Bar & Grill can create both a culinary tour de force and a warm, sultry mood for evening receptions under an outdoor tent as big and luminous as a full moon.
Meanwhile, the historic Depot Hotel is like your Uncle Tony's high-class Italian restaurant but without the bravado and the New Jersey mob connnections. What we're trying to say here is that it feels like family. Aglow with tapestries and wood paneling on the inside, iced with topiaries and poolside seating outside, the Tuscan-inspired menu is fantastic and the setting is certainly where summer evenings go to heaven. Unless it's winter. Then it's where summer evenings pack up and move inside where it's as toasty as buttered rum.
You could also catch a matrimonial matinee at the Sebastiani Theatre. Who needs wedding cake when they've got Junior Mints and popcorn? If you hold your reception at the Sebastiani (hopefully not while My Dinner with André is playing in the background), and you can get creative with the details-how about invitations in the style of movie tickets?
If you're really going to throw a by-the-numbers Wine Country fête, you should probably book Ramekins Culinary School. Ramekins has it all-from exceptional catering to an elegant and sweeping "great hall" to beautifully manicured Mediterranean-style gardens, plus an available wedding coordinator, six gorgeous guest rooms and available ceremony sites.
Flickering with luminaries, laughter and a string musician or two, the historic Sonoma Barracks casts a festive spectacle for an evening reception and can accommodate up to 600 people in its simple but striking courtyard, framed by a wooden privacy fence and festooned with a variety of historic artifacts.
The infamous blue tree says it all. Cornerstone Gardens offers an unexpected mélange of mystery, imagination, romance and...OK, maybe a little inspired madness in the heart of Carneros. Unique designer gardens, an expansive poolside lawn, abundant statuary, scenic backdrops, and artful structures to withdraw to, Cornerstone provides a reception-or wedding-site all present will long remember.
Venture a bit further south and you'll find lavish luxury bubbling over at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, which Bernini apparently visited in the afterlife to whip up some fountains, arches and a marble doodad or two before parking himself at the wine bar with Masaccio's ghost (who must have been responsible for those murals in the romantic and cavernous barrel room).
Or if picnic-basket simplicity (and bocce ball) is your pleasure, go for the tried and true, my-granny-got-married-there locale-Sonoma's frolicsome relic of family recreation, Morton's Warm Springs Resort. Framed by Sonoma Creek and a canopy of shady oaks, this scenic 1938 landmark is nothing to sniff at; the site includes mineral spring pools, sports courts, barbecue pits, hiking trails and space for 400 guests-or 2,000 if you rent the whole resort