North Bay wedding businesses say couples are ready to say ‘I do’ again after putting it off in the pandemic

Sometimes companies will want to drop off or pick up their rental items days before or after the event, or at odd hours. This only works if the venue has the space.

“Rentals are close to the bottom of the food chain. We get people calling for the next day for events, ”said Paul Conway, event director for Bright Rentals in Sonoma. “Event planners know you need to get the rental order in fast.”

His company can provide everything but the flowers and food; even restrooms can be secured through Bright Rentals.

Venues doing brisk business

Weddings at Triple S Ranch Napa in Calistoga are definitely not ordinary. To start with, it’s usually a weekend-long gathering.

“Young people can afford it. They want to spend a good time together. Instead of a wedding for five hours they want multiple gatherings, ”owner Derek Webb told the Business Journal.

Only one event takes place at a time, so couples are not sharing the property with strangers. The venue has lodging for 60 people. “The whole idea is exclusivity.”

The last few years have not been easy for Webb. The dip in business started with the Tubbs Fire in 2017, followed by the Kincade Fire in 2019, then COVID, followed by the Glass Fire in 2020. Webb had to dramatically lower rates to put heads in beds.

“During COVID we could not operate our business. It was illegal. We did some Airbnb, but it’s not the same kind of money, “Webb said.

Today, though, the scenario is much different.

“Business is robust. We are completely sold-out for this year and we are starting to sell for next year, ”Webb said. For his property, the wedding season is March 1 through Thanksgiving.

The Carneros Resort in Napa hosted close to 30 weddings in 2018, 40 in 2019, 50 in 2020, 60 in 2021 and has 75 booked for this year and could add more, according to Alisa Sanger, director of sales. Micro-weddings, those with 12 or fewer guests, were popular during the pandemic.

Olema House in Marin County believes people want life to be back to normal, and therefore are planning weddings and other events.

“I think people are feeling confident that we have moved to a place where hopefully we can all gather and not have to worry about social distancing and all of that,” Caitlin Hunter, sales and events manager, at the Olema property said.

Like other venues, Olema House has also had to contend with fire as well as the pandemic. There was a blaze at the property in October 2019 and then the Woodward Fire in Marin County in August 2020.

Olema House didn’t disclose specific numbers, but said the approach this year is to go a little slow, though admitted inquiries for 2022 and 2023 are coming in regularly.

“We are sort of in a remote area, so sometimes getting outside vendors can be tricky. With the rental company we use they are definitely busy and sometimes can schedule pick up, but not a delivery because they have already utilized all their trucks. We may have to do will call and pick it up, ”Hunter explained.

Before the pandemic, the Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa in Sausalito did not focus a ton of resources on weddings, but that has since changed especially with the corporate events going away in the last couple of years.

“There has been a lot of demand for weddings. We will probably up to 20% more in weddings this year compared to last year, ”Alex Stolle, director of sales, said.

Phones ringing off the hook

“We are at the point we can’t field the amount of requests we’re getting,” said Elizabeth Ramirez, who with husband Martin owns Petal Town Flowers in Petaluma. “This year we could be booked every day, but we don’t want to exhaust all of our resources.”

Pre-pandemic the couple provided flowers for 40 to 50 weddings a year. In 2020, they did a handful. In 2021, they upped the game by nearly 25% over 2019. Many of those last year had been rescheduled from the previous year.

What the final number for 2022 will be remains to be seen.

“We literally did a wedding on a Wednesday a couple of weeks ago. Typically, now to have weddings Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week, ”Ramirez told the Business Journal.

In addition to an increase in business, Petal Town Flowers has requests for more elaborate floral creations.

“We are finding brides that had waited have accumulated more for their budget. They are going much bigger now. Whereas in the past it was more formulaic, ”Ramirez said.

Enhancements include floral walls, greenery on the string of lights, and ornate arrangements on chandeliers.

The biggest challenge for this duo has been getting the exact flowers a couple has requested. As much as possible they source from Sonoma County, with the San Francisco Flower Market being the next go-to because it carries flora from all over the world.

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