New wedding business coaching program begins March 2017!

It’s been a year since I started the Consultancy for Creatives and started the wedding business coaching and mentoring program.  I have been working with two programs, either 12 months or 3 months depending on the need of my client but I’ve heard loud and clear that you guys want something more DIY, at your own pace, work at it when you can and maybe even a little more affordable.  That’s where the new program fills the gap!

This new program is only 8 weeks long, all online and costs $500!  No long-term contract needed!  You can read all about it at the link below but if you are concerned about hiring a wedding business coach and mentor, this is your starter to get you more involved in what’s going on in your creative business.  We will begin March 2017 and I can tell you right now, I wish this had been around when I was struggling through making business decisions and trying to figure things out on my own.  Tap into all that we have to share and while you’re on the Consultancy for Creatives site, check out the good things my clients have to say!   I’m in love with doing this and what started as a pet project has become one of my passions.

I can’t wait to share this with you!

masterplan coaching creative business

Sign up here

sonoma wedding locations

Considering a Napa or Sonoma wedding?

Geography of the Northern California wine country is pretty simple.  There are two valleys, they are parallel to one another and both have much larger corresponding counties. There are other similarities also, both grow grapes for winemaking, both have agriculture as their main source of income and both host weddings.   Sonoma weddings tend to have a more relaxed slant to them while Napa weddings tend to be just a smidgen more formal.  But is that where the differences end?  Nope.

What do Sonoma weddings offer a couple?

Sonoma is one of the largest counties in California, stretching from the ocean in Bodega bay back to the town of Sonoma and up to Healdsburg.   Venues in Sonoma range from wineries to estates that mostly have a more rustic charm.  The rules for Sonoma wineries doing weddings is nearly the same as Napa. No hard liquor and end times ranging from 10 – 11 p.m., but there are more venues to accommodate larger size weddings and events.

When choosing a venue in Sonoma County, you will want to consider your location as each offers something unique – I’ll focus on three areas:

Town of Sonoma:  Quaint downtown area, a large variety of lodging in many price points and a 15 minute drive to Sonoma Valley.  The town of Sonoma has wineries, estates and other unique venues for weddings as it is centrally located.

Sonoma Valley:  Flanked by Rolling hillsides, wineries and two lane roads, Sonoma Valley features many wineries with a few estates thrown in.  It has particularly beautiful sunsets from hilltop venues where you can see all the way to San Francisco.

Healdsburg:  A small enclave about 45 minutes north of the town of Sonoma, Healdsburg has a darling town square surrounded with world class lodging and restaurants.  Winery tasting rooms mix with cute shops and stores. Healdsburg offers many different venues from restaurants to wineries and estates for Sonoma weddings.

What do Napa weddings offer a couple?

Napa:  The town of Napa is undergoing a renaissance downtown with upgraded lodging, tons of new, chic restaurants and nightlife you can’t find in Sonoma or Upvalley.  Napa weddings tend to start their celebrations in town.  This is because of the variety of venues and lodging available at multiple price points and ability to shuttle guests to either Sonoma or up to St. Helena or Calistoga for the wedding.  You can find everything you would need in Napa while still having a small town feeling.

Mid Valley (Yountville to St. Helena):  Between Napa and Calistoga is Napa Valley and the towns of Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford and St.Helena. Yountville is where Napa Valley begins. Filled with Michelin starred restaurants, luxury lodging and a very walkable “downtown”

Calistoga:  North of St.Helena is Calistoga which sits at the base of Mt. St. Helena. Calistoga is quite literally three roads intersected and home to every type of spa treatment imaginable. It is very small, but mighty. It boasts amazing resorts on the outskirts of town and has more of a forested feeling with big redwoods along the roads and on the hills.  Calistoga is an awesome place for a rehearsal dinner, brunch or lodging.

Sonoma Wedding Designer’s Conclusion:

We love to plan weddings and events in both areas, so it’s really personal preference regarding style.  If you choose Napa or Sonoma for your wine country wedding you will not make a bad choice.  Planning weddings in the wine country allows us to have beautiful scenery, excellent weather during the summer and early fall and the best food and wine guest experience possible.

Visit our gallery to see some of our Wine Country weddings and get information for your wedding!

Napa wedding venues

Napa Wedding Planner FAQ: Can I have a Napa wedding?


The Truth About A Napa Wedding

We hear it all the time and with every phone call from a potential client looking to get married in Napa Valley – their concerns about how welcoming the Napa Valley actually is – how many weddings can happen, and a whole load of misinformation.  So, we’re here to set the record straight on all that stuff you’ve heard and tell you why you SHOULD consider Napa Valley as your destination of choice for your wine country wedding.  You can have a Napa wedding!

Myth #1:  

You can’t get married in Napa Valley.  They don’t allow weddings there.

This is not true, not in the least.  I, for one, got married in July in Napa Valley.  For nearly 20 years I’ve been planning and designing Napa weddings, and very successfully I might add!  Napa is a wonderful place to celebrate your wedding and while not every single winery can open up their site to you and your 150+/- guest count, several of them can and will be happy to host you at their amazing property.  We have many sites we refer to that offer everything from caves to barrel rooms, gardens to vast lawn spaces.  We not only have wineries but we also have a vast number of private estates, resorts and restaurants that can fit anywhere from 10 to 400 guests.  So, don’t let people tell you that you can’t get married here…

Myth #2:  

Your party will shut down too early.  When it’s just getting started.

This is exactly the same as any other property in the entire US.  Napa, along with all of California, has noise restrictions that protect the neighbors from nuisance.  It doesn’t matter where you get married, the general timeframe when noise can become a problem is 10 p.m.  Unless you’re at an estate where there are no neighbors, in a barrel room, a cave or tent, it’s not atypical for a party to end around 10 – 11 p.m.  Remember, your guests have been at your wedding for a full 6.5 hours from the time they arrived, they’re tired {maybe had some drinks earlier in the day} and are ready to move on to the next party.  Hosting an after party at a hotel or restaurant is the norm, not the exception.  But if we couldn’t host events later in the evening, how could we get all these amazing lighting pictures? Sonoma has the same noise ordinance, so does San Francisco.  We’ve learned to skillfully manage the noise in order to make sure the guest experience is optimum.  We’re not opening a club, we’re having a fun wedding.

 Myth #3:  

You can’t serve hard liquor at your wedding.

It depends on where your wedding is happening.  Wineries, regardless of where you get married, are restricted from serving hard alcohol at their bonded winery location.  This ensures that they are serving their wines and supporting the education of wine for their venue.  However, there are a few properties that have unbonded a portion of their venue for service of hard liquor and there are private estates and resorts that are  not bound by these same laws.  We serve hard liquor all the time at events.  Even moonshine, tequila, whiskey bars…signature cocktails, martini bars, etc.  So, pour away, just make sure you choose the right site.

Does this myth really need a photo gallery?  I think you can imagine your guests sipping on delightful cocktails, serving specialty drinks, toasting with a glass of Schramsberg sparkling wine, enjoying glorious wines with dinner while taking in breathtaking views of the Wine Country.  

Myth #4:  

Everybody is so stuffy and mean.

Napa Valley is known for its refinement.   That comes by way of silky, sultry cabernet,  gentile sparkling wine and buttery, oaky chardonnay.  It comes by way of amazing food, more amazing than almost any place else on earth,  thanks to our Michelin starred restaurants, Thomas Keller, farm to table ideal and the Napa Valley lifestyle of outdoor living and elevated country lifestyle.  We are also known for music festivals, summer concert series, world class resorts and endless beauty.  None of that sounds stuffy to me.  Or mean.  It sounds like heaven on earth.  In fact, we have some of the best sunsets in the world – on par with Hawaii.  The golden light is perfect for weddings, everybody and everything looks amazing in Napa Valley Golden Light.

Myth #5:  

 It’s so far away, what will people have to do?

This is huge! Napa is not far away, it’s only an hour from San Francisco and Sacramento.  The driving time from SFO is only 1.5 hours, there are four airports to choose from, all within a 1.5 hour drive.  Santa Rosa, Sacramento, Oakland and San Francisco.  This makes it so your guests can get the best possible fare when coming to your wedding.  There’s airport shuttles that go to several area hotels direct from the airport, also.  And there’s SO MUCH TO DO…everything from hiking, biking, wine tasting, touring, relaxing, spa, mud baths, fine dining, casual dining, hot air balloon rides… we even have a castle.

Top Concern:

What if I don’t find something I like?

In 19 years of business, 14 of which has been in the Napa Valley, I have never  had a client not find something that fit the style of wedding that they wanted to have.  It’s the way in any city you choose to get married in, you will look at sites that are a good fit and you will look at sites that are not a good fit.  You will find a location for your wedding, it will be an amazing day, your guests will tell you it’s the best wedding they’ve ever been to.  Especially if you surround them with amazing experiences.  Check our website by clicking the image below for amazing Napa Valley weddings and see for yourself

Biggest Mistake Made:

Not Hiring a Napa Wedding Planner and Hiring Somebody Who Is Not Intimately Familiar With The Valley.

It’s often that we hear from couples who chose to have their wedding here that they are looking for a new planner.  Their planner doesn’t know the ins & outs of getting business done in Napa Valley.  Maybe doesn’t know the hidden hideaways or has given them bad advice like:

  • “don’t tell them it’s a wedding, they’ll never know.”
  • “just have your guests carry flasks if you want hard booze.”
  • “sure you can invite 250 even though the property only hosts 80”

We also hear from property owners and managers that the planner isn’t welcome back at a property because they’ve lied to the client or made the property owner upset.

What you need to have a successful Napa Valley wedding is not a “yes” man, you need somebody who can help you navigate and get the most of what you want to have out of your wedding venue; all while making sure that your event is spectacular and everybody is happy until the end of the night.  That’s what we do.  We work as the liaison between you and the property or caterer to ensure that what you want can happen and if it can’t, we work to find a resolution that makes everybody happy.   To create a stress free experience for you and your family, request information from us, check us out, give us a ring – see if we’re the right fit for you.  I promise we’re not stuffy or mean.  707-253-8160


St. Helena Wedding Designer for Lauren & Marc

Fall in Napa Valley creates a gorgeous wedding backdrop!

Wine country weddings always have my heart.  Our wedding season came to a close this year with this stunner for Lauren & Marc!  Sad to see all our amazing couples married but we’re excited for 2017 weddings!  Getting married in the fall in Napa Valley is a special experience and I love that Lauren and Marc chose to celebrate their wedding at the gorgeous Charles Krug Carriage House in St. Helena with a very non-traditional wedding reception across the street at the Culinary Institute of America.

What we loved most was Lauren’s untraditional approach to her wedding.  Growing up in the south in Louisiana and now living in Dallas, she wanted the event to have some Southern charm but also wanted it to be a lot of fun for her and for her groom, Marc.  WE searched high and low for the perfect wedding sites that would give her the feeling she was asking for.  Guests weren’t assigned seats for dinner, instead we mixed lounge furniture and high and low tables to create a more relaxed atmosphere where guests could go to the stations, dance or mingle throughout the evening.  There was no formality or stuffiness allowed, it was all about having a lot of fun, drinking great wine, enjoying delicious food and being together.

The colors that Lauren chose as well were outside what would be considered “trendy” – she didn’t go for blush and cream with a hint of rose gold, which you’re seeing a lot in wine country weddings.  Instead, she wow’d the guests with deep, rich fall colors in tones of crimson, raspberry and deep pumpkin.  Few things were as highly important to her as hanging chandeliers and draping the barrel room ceiling, which made it feel much more intimate.

Are you planning a Napa or Sonoma wedding?  We’d love to have the opportunity to design for you!   Fill out our info request to get more information for your wedding.

Images are by Damion Hamilton

Wedding Industry Color Expert & Pantone Color of the Year

Wedding industry is all aflutter about color choice

What say you about the Pantone “color of the year”?  They call it greenery… it’s pretty much lime meets matcha green tea, at least in my eyes.  But on my Instagram, the comments range from “Love it” to “Already Over It” to a solid “No.”  – it’s definitely a divisive color but when you look at the history of this announcement, you’ll find that most of the colors blend well together in palettes.  In the grand scheme of the colors below, the green is a necessary bright.


pantone greenery wedding

But let’s take a minute to check out the last 16 years of colors.   2016 had 2 – it was schizophrenic like the entire year it represented. Do you notice anything missing? Maybe a bright green? I’m calling a purple or a yellow for next year…Or black/grey depending on how 2017 plays out.

16 pantone colors of the year

But what do you think?  Will you use the color of the year?  Have you been using it during the same year it was introduced or are you using it later?

Sasha Souza Events is an award winning event planning company considered one of the top event design & wedding coordination companies in the US. Sasha Souza Events has offices in Napa Valley, Sonoma, San Francisco & Los Angeles