Bride Looks to SCT for Free Wedding Planning

Share this story

Bride Looks to SCT for Free Wedding Planning

Getting married? Read along, for what unveiled when bride Mandy Heyse (now Mandy Begley) reached out to Sonoma County Tourism for assistance with putting together her dream wedding ceremony and celebration with husband-to-be Jim Begley.

And it was all as simple as an email.

'I wanted to have my dream wedding in Sonoma's Wine Country but we live in Texas, so I knew finding a wedding coordinator would be key to planning my event,' said Heyse. On the advice of a friend, she wrote to the Tourism office's wedding planning specialists.

'I am trying to plan a wedding in Sonoma, and will be visiting June 5-7 in order to do some site tours and hopefully decide upon a location for the ceremony, reception, excursions and accommodations,' she wrote. 'You mentioned that your office can offer assistance and so I guess first of all I would like to know what services you offer.'

Little did Heyse realize, but Sonoma County Tourism offers complimentary wedding coordination, taking charge of the countless details from venues to accommodations and ensuring everything comes together at the right place and the right time.

'My immediate need is to find a location for the ceremony – that way I can nail down a date (preferably May, early June of next year) and get the invitations prepared,' Heyse began.

She knew exactly what she wanted: the nuptials taking place on Saturday afternoon or Sunday mid-day, with about 30 guests.

As for the location, she was 'looking for 'that view,'' she wrote. 'I want to be married outside and walk through a beautifully manicured garden/landscape and see vineyards.'

Then, there was the lead-up. 'We need a location for the rehearsal dinner and I was thinking maybe in a wine cellar or cave. The venue needs to accommodate 30 people.'

She was very specific about the extras, too. 'For accommodations, I am looking for two or three properties with room blocks, so we can offer a range of rates for our guests. We will have some friends who need a hotel around $100 a night. Some relatives will want something a little more upscale, in the $150 a night range, and then a select group will want a luxurious hotel in the $175-$230/night range.'

(It should be pointed out here that Heyse was/is a professional meeting planner, so might have been better organized than some brides, but all the services she received from Tourism are the same, and complimentary, to all would-be wedding couples).

She wanted the event to be more than just a ceremony. 'Excursions are important. We know for sure we want to book transportation to take everyone on a wine tasting trip one day. Saturday or Sunday morning we want to organize a balloon ride, and then a spa day for females, and something in the afternoon for the men – maybe skeet shooting, or something else manly.'

Goodies were required, too. 'I am looking for visitor guides, coupons, and wine tasting maps to place in each of my welcome bags. I need 50 of each.'

As for the wedding event itself, she made it clear she would not have time for last-minute arrangements. 'I will have only one day for running errands before guests arrive.'

And then she asked the experts: 'Am I leaving anything out? When we visit, I would love to have a narrowed list of venues to visit – any recommendations you could provide would be greatly appreciated!'

The Tourism team leapt into action. Working closely with Heyse and Sonoma County businesses, they arranged lodging at the Dry Creek Inn, wine tasting at Geyser Peak, Silver Oak, Trentadue, and Coppola, and a rehearsal dinner at Bella Vineyards. The wedding was held at Landmark Vineyard in Kenwood, and the couple enjoyed their wedding night at Vintners Inn in Santa Rosa.

The event was a success, and stress-free for the husband and wife.

'With the help of the Sonoma County CVB I was able to connect with all the right vendors,' the new Mrs. Begley wrote upon return from her honeymoon. 'My family and guests had such an amazing time visiting Sonoma County, and many have planned trips to go back to wine country after attending our wedding.'

We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Sometimes, a letter from someone who has personally 'been there' shines light on the wedding planning process better than any other advice ever could. So for this article, a happy bride is telling her own tale.