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Jen & Ron at CIA Greystone

A picturesque Napa Valley Destination Wedding at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone

June 2016

Full Event Design / Planning / Vendor Negotiations / Event Management

Jen & Ron, my fun-loving Chicago couple, wanted to throw the “party of a lifetime” Napa Valley destination wedding. They had friends and family coming from all over the globe, so they wanted their destination wedding to be truly epic. And since they were in Chicago, they needed a planner in the Napa Valley with full planning experience – with access to a variety of venues, knowledge of caterers, and all supporting vendors (e.g.: wedding photographers, florists, linen rentals, lighting, etc.). Referred by one of Jennifer’s friends who attended another Sonja’s wedding, Sonja was the perfect leader to make their vision come to fruition.

The Ideal Destination Wedding

Their ideal destination wedding needed to fulfill all these criteria:

  1. Outdoor ceremony in the most picturesque corner of the world (Napa Valley). Check!
  2. Swank cocktail reception in a stunning environment. –Check!
  3. Elegant sit-down gourmet dinner for 200 in a castle-like setting with sweeping views of the Napa Valley. Check!
  4. Cap it all off with a long-night of dancing in our own private VIP Lounge – Chicago Speakeasy-style. – We’ve got it covered!

Sonja worked diligently with Jen & Ron via Skype calls, emails and Pinterest boards to write the storyboard to make this dream wedding happen.

Jen had found Greystone just north of St. Helena. And after Sonja reviewed her goals and wishes determined it was the perfect one-stop-shop for their destination wedding.

The CIA at Greystone – All-in-One Venue

Just north of the quaint town of St. Helena and the historic Beringer Vineyards we found the perfect place to handle all their wishes in one location: the historic Greystone Cellars. Built in 1889 as a cooperative wine cellar for William Bowers Bourn II (founder of Pacific Gas & Electric Co.) and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the property was most notably home to the Christian Brothers Winery from 1950 until 1989. In 1993 the Culinary Institute of America purchased the property at a steal of a price. Retrofit it to current seismic standards and opened their west coast branch campus with culinary training facilities, on-site fine-dining restaurant and 15,000 square foot barrel room that easily accommodates up to 350 guests.

Situated on the terraced west hillside overlooking prime Napa Valley vineyards, the towering 117,000 square foot Romanesque building provides a stunning setting for a wedding that harkens back to yesteryear. Jen and Ron chose Greystone for its idyllic setting, its functionality and, of course, the food! Their semi-traditional Jewish ceremony set on the grand terrace overlooking the Napa Valley was poised with a hand-made grapevine chuppa adorned with olive branches standing stately against the ivy covered walls in front of their 100 guests.

After the exchange of vows, the couple and their guests adjourned to Greystone’s atrium for a cocktail reception, while the terrace was reset for a four-course sunset dinner. Expertly prepared by the Culinary Institute’s restaurant staff, the menu included hors d’oeuvres of bacon-wrapped roasted dates; a grand saffron paella with mussels, crab, and linguisa prepared on-site; and a dessert bar packed with mini créme brûlée, chocolate mousse and assorted petit fours. All deftly prepared by CIA staff.

To give them that Chicago Speakeasy night club setting, pulling on resources from Classic Party Rentals & lighting from Five Star Productions, and tapestries by La Tavola Fine Linens, we built a night club in the barrel room, with multi-colored tapestries, chandeliers, striking lighting and perfectly placed mirrors. Floral touches by EV Floral Designbrought it all together. We set the stage for the their epic night with a cocktail lounge, dessert bar and dancing until the wee hours. Expert DJs from Wine Country Entertainment set the night on fire. We dare say, this one was for the record books!

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