North Bay wedding businesses say couples are ready to say ‘yes’ again after postponing it during the pandemic

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

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

His company can provide everything except flowers and food; even toilets can be secured with Bright Rentals.

Places that do good business

Weddings at Triple S Ranch Napa in Calistoga are certainly not ordinary. For starters, it’s usually a weekend gathering.

“Young people can afford it. They want to have 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 don’t share the property with strangers. The establishment has accommodation for 60 people. “The idea is exclusivity.”

The past 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 the COVID, followed by the Glass Fire in 2020. Webb had to drop prices dramatically to get its head in the beds.

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

Today, however, the scenario is quite different.

“Business is strong. We are completely sold out for this year and are starting to sell for next year,” Webb said. For her property, wedding season runs from March 1 through Thanksgiving.

The Carneros Resort in Napa hosted nearly 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 sales manager Alisa Sanger. Micro-weddings, those with 12 or fewer guests, were popular during the pandemic.

Olema House in Marin County thinks people want life back to normal, so they are planning weddings and other events.

“I think people are convinced that we’ve moved to a place where we hope we can all come together and not have to worry about social distancing and all that,” said Caitlin Hunter, head of sales and events, at the Olema property.

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

Olema House did not release specific numbers, but said the approach this year was to go a bit slowly, although admitted applications for 2022 and 2023 are coming in steadily.

“We are kind of in a remote area so sometimes it can be difficult to find outside suppliers. With the rental company we use they are definitely busy and sometimes can schedule a pick up but not a delivery as they have already used all of their trucks. We may have to call and pick up,” Hunter explained.

Before the pandemic, the Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa in Sausalito didn’t focus a ton of resources on weddings, but that has since changed, especially with the disappearance of corporate events over the past two years.

“There have been a lot of requests for weddings. We will probably do 20% more weddings this year compared to last year,” said Alex Stolle, sales manager.

The phones are ringing non-stop

“We’re at the point where we can’t keep up with the number of requests we’re getting,” said Elizabeth Ramirez, who, along with her husband Martin, owns Petal Town Flowers in Petaluma. “This year we might be booked every day, but we don’t want to exhaust all of our resources.”

Before the pandemic, the couple provided flowers for 40 to 50 weddings a year. In 2020, they made a handful. In 2021, they increased the game by almost 25% compared to 2019. Many of those from last year had been carried over from the previous year.

It remains to be seen what the final figure will be for 2022.

“We literally had a wedding on a Wednesday a few weeks ago. Typically now to have weddings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday every week,” Ramirez told the Business Journal.

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

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

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

The biggest challenge for this duo was getting the exact flowers one couple requested. As much as possible, they source their supplies from Sonoma County, with the San Francisco Flower Market being the next go as it carries flora from around the world.

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