Blog
04.14.15

Everyone agrees that date night is important for the strength of relationships, but it’s so hard to remember to make time for the two of you. Whether you’ve been married for a week or 50 years, date night requires a plan. It can be especially challenging to remember with competing calls from work, friends and family.

To help make date night a little more interesting, we pulled together seven springtime date night ideas to strengthen your relationship.

first asparagus
Photo from Flickr user liz west

Go strawberry or asparagus picking.

In wine country, pick your own plants in season are asparagus and strawberries. You may have a seasonal pick-your-own farm close to your home. Pick your own.org http://www.pickyourown.org/ is a great way to find a pick your own farm near you. Go pick some fruits or veggies. It’s even better if you can put them up by canning, jarring or jamming your bounty.

See the Stars – Check Out a Local Observatory

Night Sky - Milky Way - Carl Zeiss DT1680ZA
Photo from Flickr user Scott Wylie 

A shared sense of awe can help create intimacy in any stranger. Think of what it can do for your relationship. Check out Stardate for some information to get the two of you started. Looking up can help to remind you how insignificant we are in the big scheme of things. Ignite your inner sense of wonder by learning about our cosmos and the incredibly tiny chance that we could be so in love, right here.

Continuing Education – Take a Wine Class!

 Leslie Sbrocco wine education at the Broad Summit

Most community colleges offer continuing education classes in a variety of topics. Find one that interests you. Cooking classes can be hands on fun that ends up being incredibly useful! After we took a sushi-making class together, my husband and I started making “DIY sushi night” it’s own special kind of date night.

Become a Hometown Tourist

Cowboy

Any local historical locations that you’ve heard about but never visited? Now’s the time to check out some local history. From lighthouses to grist mills , there’s a local historical site for everyone.

 

Attend a Book Reading, Improv Show or Performance

Pissaladerie

Help support local talent by attending local events from performers and artists getting their start. Book readings are a great way to learn together. Bonus points if you both read the book. Improv shows are a budget-friendly way to put the both of you in a better mood and local musicians might surprise you with their talent.

Vice-d Out

Vintage French playing cards
Photo from Flickr user William Cresswell  

Decide to explore a vice together. Whether it is for sexy times, drunken times, gambling times or gluttony times, pick a vice to learn more about. A shared sense of mischief can bring the both of you closer together. (I don’t think I need to go into more detail here, ahem.)

Plan for Serendipity

 

Okay valley floor, that's enough from you.

Sometimes the greatest date has no plan at all. Don’t be afraid to pick a general destination and wander around until you find something. The next town over is a great opportunity to discover something together, strengthening bonds in the process.

Any dates you’ve been on that have strengthened your relationship? Tell us in the comments!

Tumblr
04.06.15

  flickr-j-pellegrino    

As one of California’s more affordable getaway spots, Paso Robles is quickly becoming home to fine winemakers and restauranteurs priced out of more expensive locations. The quality of wine tasting and dining is high while the prices can be lower than in Napa and Sonoma. In short, it’s the ideal place to bring together your best friends for a day of wine tasting and great food.

Situated just an hour from the coast and 30 minutes from San Luis Obispo, it’s far enough away to feel like a real destination, but close enough to get there in a day. Beware, especially in summer, the weather is hot, hot, hot during the day – but it usually cools down at night.

From our love of this unique wine country, we’ve pulled together five must-sees for your Paso Robles weekend.

Bistro Laurent 

 bistro-laurent

For a special night out, nothing beats a classic French meal at Bistro Laurent. Their wine list is top notch, and their tasting menu is perfect for groups. Sommelier Ian Adamo makes sure all wines are the perfect match with the warmly served French cuisine.  

Firestone Walker Brewing Company 

firestone-walker

Looking for a down-home tasty brew pub? Firestone Walker knows what you want. This award-winning brewery offers popular tours and tastings to the public seven days a week. For only $3/person, it’s one of the best deals in town. Their restaurant is the ideal spot for a filling lunch before heading back into the sun.

Tooth and Nail Winery 

 toothandnail

This newly renovated winery has a hip, educated staff eager to share. With décor that’s modern yet medieval, the tasting room experience is unique to wine country. The patio is perfect for lingering groups as they have live music most weekends.

Hot Springs Soak

 franklin-hot-springs

Paso Robles’ unique topography means they’re home to hot springs. River Oaks Hot Springs Spa, Paso Robles Inn and Franklin Hot Springs  all host wonderfully stinky Sulphur natural hot springs – perfect for soaking any lingering stress away. Not as fancy as the wine tasting, these natural springs will still help you soak your way to peace.

Thomas Hill Organics 

 thomas-hill

Chef Chris Manning has created the perfect farm to table experience, with locally grown produce, meats and fish. The wine list is also brilliant, pairing just the right wines with the seasonal fare. They’ve been one of the first restaurants in California to pioneer this trend, and with our experience, they’ve had time to perfect it.

paso-truck

Do you have any favorite stops in Paso Robles wine country? Where do you love to go? Tell us in the comments!

 

Tumblr
04.01.15

Wedding décor trends have shifted significantly over the past 50 years. Trends have spanned from my parents’ simple wedding with floral arrangements in the church basement — to my own wedding’s candles and mirrors — to today’s totally uniquely thrifted DIY extravaganzas. The world of fresh wedding décor has changed significantly. Wine country style makes up a huge part of current wedding décor trends.

Architectural Digest  defines Wine Country Style as made up of “rustic bungalows, barns and outbuildings characterize a region known for the simplicity of good living.”  We agree. We’ve been thrilled to take a look at fresh wedding décor inspired by rustic elegance, French wine country  and good living – and bring the best to you!

Rustic Elegance

Rustic elegance defines most wine country wedding style. These Brides magazine photos with Big Sur Wedding Ideas from Allyson Magda Photography lean toward the elegant side of the equation.

Sometimes it’s the (really) little things that add up to make your event more memorable. Here the “cork-as-card-holder” idea gets an update with a dark wood stain.

12-Big-Sur-California-Katrina-and-Greg

Rustic elegance brings to mind wine country inspired props and décor – like wine bottles and barrels.

Using empty glass wine bottles as centerpieces looks warm and inviting – and yet the clear glass keeps it sparkling and just a little bit modern.

decadent-candle-arrangement

Using wine barrels, either as tables or props is a useful way to incorporate wine country wedding décor. Here, the wine barrels both anchor the entrance to the event and provide a useful surface for programs or refreshments.

View More: http://snapweddings.pass.us/guthrie-carmickle-wedding

 

French Style

There’s something about French style that’s effortlessly stylish, useful and enjoyable. That’s no short order!  The Wedding Chicks  show us a remarkable arrangement inspired by French wedding décor.  This wedding bouquet brings to mind a peaceful afternoon in a French meadow.

 blueandpinkcascadingbouquetbyflowermonkey

They also share the most French of displays – a gorgeous dessert display on rustic wooden tables. Real Simple shares how to build this shelf in your own home.

 woodenladderdessertdisplay

Here, Confessions of a Plate Addict  uses items from around her home to create a gorgeous DIY centerpiece – and shares the How-To behind it with us.

french-centerpiece

California Chic

Style Me Pretty’s  collection of California weddings highlight the best of California’s wine country style 

 View More: http://snapweddings.pass.us/guthrie-carmickle-wedding

The structural elements of a barrel aging room create the perfect backdrop to your reception – and the gently aging wine brings the scents of the California wine experience to your guests. 

barrel-background

Even if you California style is more country, décor can remain glamorous. This wedding at Greengate Ranch Vineyard [LINK:  ]  shares the visuals of down home values with wine country elegance

rustic-decor

Glowing and charming, this chic California wine country wedding has all the elements of wine country style. It beautifully works between utterly gorgeous and simply comfortable.

 rustic-wedding-venue

 Bring wine country décor to your big day – we can’t wait to see what you’ve done.

Tumblr
03.23.15

Despite our allergies, we at Monogamy Wines love spring wedding season. Mostly, it’s all that gorgeous décor. Today, we’ve taken inspiration from 2015’s trends in runway style, home décor, food and art for some spring floral arrangements.

 Thinking of doing a DIY flower approach? A Practical Wedding suggests you bring in the friends – you can save a little money by including your team of people to help with wedding flowers. The advice to do a dry run with the flowers makes perfect sense. 

Onto the eye candy!

Spring Flowers Inspired by Runway Style 

 fashion-inspiration  

Inspiration from the runway is some of our favorite inspiration. This time, we took a look at Thakoon’s bright, Matisse-inspired jacket from the 2015 Resort Collection for floral inspiration. The bright orange and teal shapes the starting point for this elegant orange and teal centerpiece.

Spring Flowers Inspired by Home Décor

 decor-inspiration

Apartment Therapy  released their picks for 2015’s top design trends. Industrial modern design made the list in a big way. These sculptural yellow wedding flowers take their cue from modern shapes and bold colors.

Spring Flowers Inspired by Food

 food-inspiration

Andrew Knowlton from Bon Appetit determined 2015 the year of the Gyro. We’re not suggesting you take your floral cues from meat sliced off a spit – but we are inspired by the fresh, brightly colored, wrapped sandwich.  Who knew that this beautiful grouping of peonies and Hypernicum berries  featured on Style Me Pretty would be just the right balance of freshness for your big day.

Spring Flowers Inspired by Art 

popart-inspiration

Pop Art is a trend in the art world for 2015. For example, this piece by artist Karan Singh puts pattern and repetition together for a moving effect.  These flowers from a bright shoot on Style Me Pretty are the right mix of novel and elegant.

Whatever your floral inspiration, you can find it in this year’s trends. Did you take any unusual inspiration? Share in the comments!

Tumblr
03.16.15

One of my most cherished possessions from my wedding shower is a stack of colored index cards. On their way in, the wedding shower guests wrote advice on a colored index card – these cards were read out loud later at the event. It was remarkable, how simple and powerful the act of women sharing advice felt to me. These women distilled their best advice for marital happiness down into a few short lines.

advice_being-right

Fast forward to the time of social media. Marital advice (and advice data!) is available from every corner of content. We have the opportunity to collect and share even more marital advice — so through social media, I’ve collected some of my favorite marital advice from some of my favorite people, my friends’ parents.

“Always try and out-do each other with kindness.” Stephanie Almeida’s father’s advice echoes current research into the vital ingredients in a successful marriage. That advice also has some good science behind it. Researchers have found that kindness is one of the vital ingredients in a successful marriage.

Alex Santantonio’s psychologist mother’s advice about communication is important for those of us prone to shutting down. “My psychologist mother told me, “It doesn’t matter if you yell and fight as long as you keep talking about what you’re yelling and fighting about. Communication is key to a successful marriage, and it’s equally as important to discuss how you’re feeling as it is to listen to how your partner is feeling.”

 advice_talk-talk-talk

“My dad told us it’s all about compromise.” Sarah Brown’s dad shares a very good piece of advice. My husband’s father echoed that sentiment, telling us that every decision we made together would be “60/40.”  And that’s okay. That expectation that someone will get the better deal has helped us through some challenging times.

 advice_play

Designer Laurie Smithwick received sweet advice from her Mom. “My mom told us never to buy a king size bed. She said that even if you go to bed angry (which happens sometimes), you shouldn’t be able to be “untouchably” far away from your partner in bed.”

Speaking of going to bed angry, some parents seem to think it’s not all that bad, my friend Sonyia Grabski said, “It’s okay to go to bed mad – sometimes you just need a good night’s sleep. The sales and marketing VP’s grandmother also had a keen eye for self-protection, sharing, “Always keep a financial egg aside just for yourself.”

 

The advice April Damron received made me laugh out loud, “Don’t do anything the first year of marriage that you don’t want to do for the rest of your marriage.”

advice_and-the-entire-family

But ultimately, Krista Pemberton’s advice from her mother-in-law warmed this storyteller’s heart, “The stories we tell over and over become our beliefs about ourselves, our spouse, and our lives. My mother in law told me to always emphasized the beautiful moments in my marriage and I would continue see my marriage as extraordinary.”

When you describe your marriage as extraordinary, you’ll see your marriage as extraordinary. The stories we tell are so much more important than we think they.

advice_mountain

Have you received any fantastic advice from your parents – or other people with more experience in wedding planning? Share in the comments!

 

Tumblr
03.09.15

5 tips to the perfect wine country bachelorette party

When it comes to bachelorette parties and wine country – ideas abound. It all comes down to the kind of event you want to host. Whether you are looking for a crazy day in the vines for your best friends from college or a more sedate affair (complete with tea sandwiches and a cellist) we collected five tips for you to host the perfect wine country bachelorette party.

Hire a driver
No matter what, if your party is imbibing wine, hire a driver. A driver with a hospitable sense of humor can be one of the best parts of your wine country bachelorette party. Drivers can also help recommend wineries that would offer your group the best service as well as take group photos (make sure you tip accordingly!). Split the cost of transportation before the event – so your party will stay safe through your visit to wine country.

Know your Photo Ops
In Napa Valley, you can find the iconic Welcome to Napa Valley signs both on Highway 29 – one between St. Helena and Calistoga on Route 29. Heading North, it will be on your right, between Larkmead Lane and Maple Lane. One is in Yountville. Make sure your driver or party planner knows you want to include time for group photos at local landmarkes before you begin. Don’t forget to take group photos early in the day when everyone’s looking their best.

 bachelorette-2

Call, Call Ahead
Many wineries and restaurants in wine country want to be able to provide you the best service. Make sure you call ahead of time to set up tastings at your favorite wineries. Wineries like Kunde and Viansa in Sonoma County, Clos Pegase in Napa Valley give small groups exceptional service. Working with you to plan the perfect lunch, they can handle everything from décor to music with sophisticated grace. Thebach.com contains a great Napa and Sonoma wine country planner with vendors and a handy scheduler to get the most out of your time.

Chow! Chow!
Speaking of sophisticated grace, many a bachelorette has found herself feeling miserable the next day because she forgot to eat during all the fun. Planning snacks ahead of time is good advice in wine country.  Stop on the way in at a local grocery store food in your rooms before you go out, stash food in the limo and schedule meals ahead of time for maximum stamina.

Except for the rare restaurant, it can tough to find more rural wine country restaurants open any time after nine. You don’t want to find yourself back in your hotel room without a stitch of food. When you plan ahead for meals and snacks, you can really maximize your wine country fun.

Spa Rules
Napa Valley is home to some of the country’s most luxurious spas. For an event your friends won’t forget, consider booking a day long spa visit. There are small group packages available for nearly any price point. From a basic group mani-pedi to a full day of scrubs and soaking, wine country’s spas are a peaceful way to spend the last days of singlehood.  

bachelorette-3

Surprise(!) the Bride
Even though brides have the final say in nearly all events leading up to the wedding, the bachelorette party is the perfect time to plan a sweet surprise for the bride. Wine country bachelorette party bridal surprises could include a detour to a spa for mani-pedis, a private meal cooked in the guest room you’re staying at, or live music. Don’t overlook the bride’s favorite wine, let the winery know that ahead of time so they can prepare. Consider hiring a photographer to tag along to surprise the bride with more gorgeous images.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Every decision agreed upon ahead of time means less possibility for misunderstanding during the party. Communicate with all party attendees well ahead of time so that there are no surprise expenses, clothing needs or forgotten food sensitivities. Make sure you have everyone’s cell phone numbers and that you know everyone’s first and last name before you depart on your wine country tour. Ensure the bride has an event to remember!

These seven tips will help make sure your group enjoys the warmest wine country welcoming. Whether your bachelorette party is a party with high-spirited attendees of both genders or an elegant affair with the mother of the bride in attendance, wine country can offer up a lovely solution for nearly any bachelorette party configuration.  

Tumblr
03.02.15

grapes

Buzzwords abound when it comes to seasonal eating. But what does that mean when you’re planning your wedding menu?  Quite simply, a seasonal menu is cheaper, it tastes better and it’s more nutritious.

When crops are in season, the price is less than the shipping required for crops out of season.

Foods lose flavor and moisture when they’re being stored. Fresh food still has its original flavors intact — think of the flavor burst you get with summer peaches and tomatoes, as well as the bite of winter greens.

Surprisingly, fall and winter have a wide variety of crops for harvest like apples, endive, garlic, squash, grapes, figs, and mushrooms. Even winter’s kale, radishes, turnip and leeks are delicious during the colder months.

Studies have proven that foods are more nutritious when harvested in season. Researchers in London found nutrients in milk were higher in summer vs. winter in a 1997 study – and researchers in Japan found spinach harvested in summer vs. winter had three times the vitamin C content.

Ask your caterer about what kinds of foods are seasonal at the time of your wedding – they’ll also have great ideas on how to work them into your menu.

Spring
In Spring, foods that are in season include – artichokes, asparagus, fava beans, grapefruit, avocados, and strawberries —  fresh, light and bright are the words to eat by.

 spring-menu

Hors d’oeuvres
Smoked salmon with fresh dill cream
Fresh herbed spring rolls with shrimp

First course
Chopped Farmers Market Vegetable Salad
Bread and sweet cream butter

Entrée
Herbed roasted organic chicken with new potatoes and wilted pea greens
Spring vegetable risotto

Summer
In summer, veggies are at their peak, so it’s a good time to let the simplicity of flavor carry you through. Arugula, watercress, green beans, peas, spinach, tomatoes and peppers are the vegetables to look out for. Blackberries, blueberries, apricots, nectarines, peaches and raspberries are fruits, delicious for eating.

 summer-menu

Hors d’oeuvres
Ahi tuna cucumber bites
Chilled individual summer squash soup

First course
Local heirloom tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, and summer salad leaves

Entrée
Grilled fish with radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, endive, and red pepper with vinaigrette roasted potatoes

Fall
Fall is the perfect season for squash, cheeses, and slightly heavier fare. Fruits in season include apples, dates, figs, rhubarb, plums and pomegranates, while veggies in season include artichokes, Brussel sprouts, kale, okra, peppers and sweet potatoes.

fall-menu

Hors d’oeuvres
Local and imported cheese served with grapes, dried fruit and nuts
Mini artichoke, mushroom and shallot pizzas

First course
Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger

Entrée
Braised Short Rib with Fresh Horseradish Mashed Potatoes and Bearnaise sauce
Wild Mushroom Risotto with Shallot and Mushroom Ragout

Winter
Surprisingly enough winter’s bounty holds quite a variety of foods. Arugula, cauliflower, kale and mustard greens, spinach and turnips. Winter’s citrus is at its peak with oranges,­ lemons, limes, grapefruit and even guava in season.

 winter-menu

Hors d’oeuvres
Grilled porcini mushrooms on shortbread
Spicy beef rolled with julienned carrot and daikon

First course
Seafood! Raw bar with lobster, shrimp, oysters and crab claws with lemon wedges and sauces.

Entrée
Beef filet with Yukon Gold Potato Puree, caramelized Brussels Sprouts
Rich winter pasta with mushrooms and roast vegetables

Print your menus however you want – get inspiration from these gorgeous wedding menus. Any wedding meal home runs? Let us know in the comments!

Tumblr
02.24.15

We’ve paired the three most romantic meals we can think of with wines that are as romantic as they come. Of course, Monogamy wine tops the list of romantic wines, but if you’re looking for more specific wines for a steak dinner, a picnic lunch or moving day pizza on the floor, we have some fine recommendations.

Before you look to our list of romantic wines, however, first consider wines that are special between you and your partner. Did you ever splurge on a tasty Barolo on that trip to Vegas together? Do you have a special wine that means, ahem, “business time?” Have you tasted wine at a winery together? Start with special moments between the two of you. Coming up short? Read on for more romantic bottles.

Manly Red Wines to Support that Expensive Steak

Generally, I loathe gender stereotypes as they come to wine, but when it comes to men, I find that a high percentage are quite happy with a red wine and a juicy steak. If you’re serving steak to your partner, consider these three wines:

Mitsuko's Merlot

Clos Pegase Mitsuko’s Merlot 
I think it’s so sweet that Mitsuko’s Vineyard was romantically named after Clos Pegase founder’s Jan Shrem’s wife. If that’s not enough, this Merlot’s balanced fruit makes a wide variety of palates happy.

Cosentino's The Poet

Cosentino The Poet 
I can’t get enough Meritage, a red wine blend of three Rhone grapes. This delicious wine is blended to taste – and the name is romantic enough for the writers and musicians in your life. This wine gets even better as the night goes on – so you can come back to it later.

Surprise romantic picnic lunch
Picnic lunches are one of the life’s most romantic culinary moments. For picnic lunches, screwcaps or tetrapacks are key (there are few things worse than missing your corkscrew in that romantic field of barley).  

wines-for-romance_rose

Adelaida Version Rose 
Rose is a picnic staple – rose’s acidity and the color gets you in the mood for blanket romance. I love We love Adelaida Version Rose – a bright, Provence-styled,  screwcap covered bottle of sunshiny deliciousness.

wines-for-romance_miner

Miner Viognier 
Floral, round, mellow, Miner Viognier is an easy-drinking varietal perfect for all kinds of picnic food. It’s sustainably farmed and delicious with cold fried chicken.

Moving day pizza on the floor

Whether you’re moving in together for the first time, or moving to a place that’s new to both of you together, moving day pizza is one of the most romantic meals you can think of.

wines-for-romance_schramsy

 Schramsberg Mirabelle 
Celebrate that all those boxes made it! Pop some bubbles! This value wine is perfect to hide in the empty refrigerator for the moment that last load gets delivered. Its light minerality is best to drink before the pizza arrives – because that celebration is worth it

wines-for-romance_monogamy

Monogamy Cabernet 
We’re just going to put it there, our Cabernet Sauvigon is the perfect wine for pizza with your beloved. The fruit is a great pairing for the spices and cheese on the pie and the name says it all – you’re the one!

Enjoying wine with a loved one is one of the best things in life – do you have a romantic wine you always go to? Tell us in the comments!

Tumblr
02.16.15

 20150216_vineyard

Whether you’re celebrating 2 weeks or twenty years, wine country is the perfect place to celebrate your commitment. 

Although setting goals for a vacation can seem like overkill, it’s good to get on the same page as what kind of trip this will be – are you two on a foodie’s quest to eat at all the best restaurants? Are you looking to rekindle a romance? Are you looking for lots of activity or hot afternoons by the pool? It’s important to plan the best anniversary trip for the two of you.

The most romantic vacations have made sure the practicalities are taken care of. This includes lodging, transportation, packing and knowing when to call ahead — we’ve listed our favorites below!

Lodging
If you’re doing your anniversary trip right, lodging should be of the utmost importantce. Get something centrally located, with just the right amount of posh.

Visit Auberge du Soliel for your Anniversary Trip

Auberge du Soliel
Speaking of posh, you can’t go wrong staying at Auberge du Soliel. From the views to the meals to the drinks – the patio is the place for romantic cocktails – and the spa treatments are divine. The price reflects that luxury, but what’s the cost of romance, right?

Wydown Inn 
The modern, comfortable Wydown hotel is as centrally located as you can get outside of downtown Napa – it’s located within walking distance of many of the valley’s most romantic restaurants and wineries.

The Inn On First  
A contemporary, friendly bed and breakfast, The Inn on First welcomes all guests. From the hot tubs to the décor, this pet-friendly stay is the right place for the bed and breakfast skeptic.

What to Pack
Napa Valley Casual  style is embraced by locals – with a slightly western-inspired twist. It’s a high-quality, casual look.  Avoid high heels – they make it tough to hike through vineyard and cellar tours.

In the summer months, daytime temperatures get into the hundreds, with temperatures dropping into the forties when the sun goes down. In the winter, if we’re lucky, we get lots of rain, so umbrellas are a must.

Hitch a ride
I’m shooting straight. If you’re going wine tasting, a hire driver. If you’re going out for dinner, hire a driver. If you’re going to be drinking wine and not within walking distance from your hotel, do all the locals a favor and hire a driver. Not only does it keep my kids safe, it lets you have a worry-free time.  Even Uber is now available in Napa – for easy pickups and relatively affordable rates.

Have your own vehicle? There are services that allow you to hire a driver to drive your own car like My Napa Valley Driver and  Designated Driver Napa Valley. One hundred percent worth it!

Wineries
Napa Valley is home to top-notch food and wine – when you visit this area, taking in romantic meals and wineries means you have lots of time to talk about what you like, where you’re at and why you love your partner.

Domaine Carneros
No visit is complete without some romantic sparkling wine. For that, you’ll want to head north from Carneros. Sparkling Wine from Domaine Carneros. They have a lush, beautifully served sparkling wines that are perfect to kick off your trip.

20150216_domaine-carneros

Girard Cellars
From a cozy tasting room in Yountville, you’ll taste some of Napa’s premier fruit – you can walk to many world class restaurants from the tasting room.

20150216_girard

Heitz Cellars 
Visit classic Napa luxury at Heitz Cellars – it’s tiny and romantic and if you visit on a rainy winter night, you might just never leave.

20150216_heitz-cellars

Larkmead 
Upvalley, you’ll find Larkmead winery, a charming farmhouse in a sunny, bright field of flowers. Winemaker Dan Petroski makes award-winning, beautifully balanced wines year after year.

Restaurants

20150216_bouchon

Bouchon Bakery
No trip to Napa Valley is complete without visiting a Thomas Keller restaurant. Thankfully Bouchon Bakery makes it easy. Sneak out early to get your sweetie coffee and fresh bread. If you’re headed out together, you can take your time with breakfast in the charming courtyard. 

Tra Vigne 
This Napa Valley staple has seen dozens of accomplished chefs spring from its kitchens. The restaurant is warm and cozy both inside and out. A candle lit outside meal with tableside mozzarella bruschetta paired with an inspired wine is just what your anniversary trip needs – am I right?

Terra
Maybe because of the candlelight, or the brilliantly executed attention to detail, but Terra Restaurant, also in St. Helena remains a romantic visit. Yet another innovative wine list and a menu that’s stayed fresh over many years, Terra is classic Napa Valley romance.

With a little communication and planning (wait a minute, that sounds like marriage!), Napa Valley is the perfect place to spend your anniversary. Any memorable Napa places I missed? Share them in the comments!

 

Tumblr
02.09.15

Sindy: Beautiful Bride 1977
Photo from Flickr user Speckled Owl

Back when I got married, I was certain I was a thoughtful bride because I let my bridesmaids choose their dresses from the pages of a catalog. I clung to that one act as proof of my thoughtfulness.

In the meantime, I had planned an expensive destination wedding for my guests, picked fights with my maid of honor and cheaped out on bridesmaid gifts. All the while, I asked our attendants to do tasks for me that I could do myself.

Looking back on my wedding, I realize I was kind of a horrible bride, regardless of the bridesmaid dress situation. Most egregiously, I didn’t consider the comfort and happiness of my guests first – my own vision of my day was the only consideration.

What I failed to be was generous – and if I had been, I would have asked questions like:
• How much will this wedding cost my guests and attendants?
• How many events can we feed our guests?
• What should we provide in a welcome bag to make sure everyone has what they need when they arrive?

To help save you from the same lingering regret, I’ve gathered some general recommendations that thoughtful couples would be wise to incorporate into their planning for the big day.

Love Our Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
These friends are investing significant time, resources and energy into making sure the party goes off without a hitch. They’re throwing showers, bachelorette parties and getaways, while gifting the whole time. At a bare minimum, you can give them a gift that reflects how important they are to you. If your budget allows, consider covering transportation, lodging or clothing to offset their contribution to the big day.

Gifts Considerations
Avoid engraving – as well as flasks. People can only use so many flasks and they have limited uses. Some other recommended gifts include a bottle of fancy scotch or bourbon (for the drinkers), a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant, or cool sneakers.

As well, consider jewelry that goes with other occasions than just the wedding. Paying for hair and makeup, or giving a gift certificate for a post-event mani pedi are also appreciated. A high end bathrobe is a great gift for any gender.

Depending on how well they get along, experiences are another gift appreciated by attendants, even more so if the food, transportation and lodging are covered.

Alcohol
Thoughtful couples don’t necessarily need to make sure they have a dry wedding in case one of 200 guests has an alcohol addiction, but thoughtful couples do make sure that there are plenty of non-alcoholic drinks at all events. Providing transportation back to the hotel, whether by a shuttle or a taxi service is a kind gesture that has the additional bonus of supporting their good life!

Include both parties
This should go without saying, but thoughtful couples should include both parties in their event planning. Just because one member of the couple cares more, doesn’t mean that they should be excluded from all the wedding planning. I speak from experience as I made some really dumb decisions by not allowing my fiancé a part in the planning process.

Vendor Thanks
Thoughtful couples make sure to follow up with positive reviews for the vendors that made their wedding a success. Whether it’s for the officiant you hired, the caterer who served all that salmon without a hitch or a bartender extrordinaire, thoughtful brides make sure they all leave richer for the experience.

It’s not that hard to be a thoughtful couple – it just takes reimagining of the event as something that only celebrates you, to an event that delights and celebrates your guests. This change in mindset is one I wish I’d had!

(Well, there’s always time to plan our 20th wedding anniversary party, right?)

Tumblr