Coastal Mendocino – California’s Secret Wedding Wonderland

If you like the dramatic cliffs of Half Moon Bay –  and the foodie charm of Napa – but don’t want your destination wedding to be a budget buster for your guests, you should check out the coast of Mendocino County. Just north of the rolling vineyards of Sonoma and a three and a half hour drive from San Francisco, Mendocino has award-winning wineries of their own, a generations’ old tradition of hyper-local cuisine, and most of all, miles and miles of pristine coastline with sweeping views of the Pacific. Uncrowded, with a friendly casual atmosphere, Mendocino has been a favorite secret destination for couples who love the outdoors for many years.

Activities abound. Hike through some of the oldest redwoods on earth, explore sea caves and gentle rivers on a kayak, wine taste without the fees, or just stroll the quaint Victorian village of Mendocino and browse art galleries and boutiques.

You won’t find big chain hotels on the Mendocino Coast but you will find inns with charm to spare and experienced wedding planning staff.

Here are two Mendocino inns that have particularly attractive packages for weddings of up to 200 or 99 people, respectively:

You can host up to 200 at The Little River Inn, the Mendocino Coast’s only full service resort. The original inn is a stunning wedding cake Victorian overlooking the Pacific that has been augmented with more modern buildings tucked around it. The property has 66 rooms at every price point – every single one with views of the ocean. Run by the same family for five generations, the Inn is extremely geared to families and kids – they even welcome the family dog. Amenities include an onsite spa and salon, an award-winning restaurant, and Ole’s Whale Watch Bar, where you can do just that over a locally brewed beer and a chat with a crusty local. Packages start at $6,000. Options include the fun Game Day package that takes advantage of the inn’s regulation tennis courts and golf course (for up to 80; starts at $11,500). Or select the elegant Mallory Cliff Top, (starts at $24,000 off-season for 200 people) with a romantic bluff-top ceremony, an additional catered event, and four nights use of a stand-alone seaside cottage complete with two private ocean-view hot tubs.

For a more intimate affair, the Inn at Newport Ranch is an elite playground on a 2,000-acre private preserve where you can have a wedding of up to 99. The recently built inn oozes rustic chic – from the Main Inn with a walk through fireplace to the Fireside Spa in a grove of redwood trees. The fascinating buildings were handcrafted with the object of bringing the stunning outdoor setting inside and the property is totally unique. It has the ambiance of a 5-star resort and much of their “ranch comfort” cuisine comes from their own organic gardens. There are 20 miles of trails, empty beaches, stands of ancient trees, and 50-mile panoramic views across the sea from their 7-person hot tub on a re-purposed water tower. You can explore on foot, horseback, or via an ATV-tour. Because the wild and wonderful experience is why you come to this wind-swept corner of the world, all of the packages require you to reserve all of the property, which sleeps 34. Kids are only permitted with a buyout of the property and pets must be left at home – the inn is adjacent to a working ranch. Weddings for 6-34 people start at $20,000. At the upper end, the Coastal Bluff wedding for up to 99 starts at $55,000 and includes three full days of events for your guests – from your rehearsal and welcome reception the night before overlooking the Pacific to the full ranch breakfasts the day after your ceremony.

**Contributed by Emily Polsby | Images used with permission.

A Real Life Fall Wedding Story…

A wedding is a time for family and friends to come together from near and far to celebrate the special day for the bride and the groom. This past weekend I got to witness the marriage of my cousin Meaghan and her husband Chris. Now I could tell from the beginning that they had something special; something worth holding tight and making last forever. This was only further reconfirmed on their wedding day. I noticed that despite the chaos that accompanies such an extravaganza, they both seemed at ease. Nothing could get in the way of their perfect day because their “perfection” was already achieved – they had each other.


The wedding ceremony and reception was beautifully done, with anything and everything thought of and executed at a ten. An attention to detail was evident and exuded an ornate environment that was yet comfortable. This was achieved through an elegant farmhouse rustic feel that was embellished through fall tones, candle light and greenery. Not to mention the expansive patio that opened off of the rehearsal dinner that overlooked the lushness of fall. The warmness of the décor was matched with a night of great food, drink and company.

In my eyes, my cousin nailed it. She showed me that it is possible to have the detail every bride craves to achieve without it getting into the way of the true meaning of the day.

It is easy to lose sight of what is truly important due to the demand and pressure of such an event. The venue and décor was perfected however it was the memories transpired that really surpassed all expectations. Genuine enjoyment marked each guest’s face but most importantly it shone on the new husband and wife. Truly nothing could get in their way of a good day because it represented something more than just a grand party, but the start of a new chapter.

Article by Kelly Rupinski.

Wedding Costs – How to Keep Them Under Control

In life, there are certain facts to face. When it comes to wedding costs, it’s simple! Weddings are expensive. In fact, they are VERY expensive. These days, you really have to be smart about your wedding costs. Whether you have a lot ($100,000) or a little ($1,000) to spend, all it takes is a little advice, some serious planning and a few money-saving tricks. The truth is –  you can have the wedding you always wanted.

And guess what? You can keep your wedding costs reasonable without anyone missing anything. recently reported that the average price of a wedding is over $35,000. That’s sometimes what a starting salary is for a young couple just out of college. Getting married might not be easy as it seems.

So, if you are looking for help with your wedding costs, our friends at Investment Zen have come up with this AWESOME infographic that helps break everything down for you. They look at the expenses, trends, and statistics of weddings from 2016 and provide a few tips to help you keep more of your money in your pocket.

And with more money in your pocket, you can think about making sure that the groom-to-be buys a precious metal ring instead of settling a cheap alternative metal ring that can’t be sized. But that’s another story for another day!

The State Of American Weddings In 2017: Costs, Trends, and How to Save Money


Wedding Planning Advice: 5 Fantastic Alternative Wedding Venues

Your wedding day is likely to be the happiest day of your life, and one you will never forget. Every bride and groom wants three things from their wedding day: wedding rings they can keep and treasure forever, a perfect day they will never forget, and a unique wedding venue that will delight their guests. It can be something of a challenge to find the right wedding venue to satisfy all of your requirements, and this is usually the aspect of a wedding that it takes the happy couple longest to choose. If you’re looking for something really unusual that no one would expect, here are five fantastic alternative wedding venue ideas:

A Private Island Wedding

If you love the beach and always dreamed of getting married in flip flops with the sand between your toes then why not consider a private island wedding? Many people dream of getting married on the beach but don’t like the idea of a stray surfer or dog walker stumbling into their wedding photos or spoiling the quiet intimacy of their special moment. Hiring your own private island means that you can be sure the only people on the beach to watch your intimate nuptials are your invited guests. It’s a wonderful way to have a low key outdoors wedding whilst still having something unusual you’ll remember forever. If money is no object then why not follow in the footsteps of the rich and famous and get married on Necker Island, Richard Branson’s personal private island in the British Virgin Islands. According to CNN, celebrities such as Kate Winslet, Eddie Murphy, Geena Davis, Kate Moss and Robert De Niro have all spent vacation time on the island.

A Music Festival Wedding

If you share a love of music with your fiancé and love attending music festivals then why not use that as your wedding inspiration? Did you know that you can now get married at several large music festivals? At Burning Man, for example, you can get married for just $60 and then spend the rest of your weekend enjoying the music you love with the people you love. This won’t be a dream wedding for everyone, but it could be the perfect choice for a low-key music loving couple.

Choose Your Favorite Museum

Why not share your passion with your guests by getting married at your favorite museum or gallery? If you and your beloved bonded over your mutual love of dinosaurs, for example, then where better to get married than in your local natural history museum? Most museums and galleries offer their spaces for weddings, and because of their large ceilings and open areas they make wonderful wedding locations too. Look for a space with unusual details such as stain glass windows or exposed brickwork to really make an impact.

Get Married at Sea

If you’d like to get married abroad but you’re struggling to decide which country you’d most like to get married in, why not get married at sea instead? As Iglu Cruise explain, having a wedding at sea is not only a romantic notion, but a reality. Your wedding could be along the most stunning coastlines of Chile’s fjords, sailing alongside the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean or Mediterranean or even while crossing the Atlantic, on the way to your honeymoon. Your friends and family will be delighted if you opt for a cruise ship wedding, as it will mean that not only do they get to be involved in your special day, they get a vacation as well! NBC news research has shown that choosing a wedding cruise could be an affordable marital option too. Finally, a cruise ship wedding also gives you the perfect wedding theme: why not have your bridesmaids and groomsmen wear navy blue and inject nautical touches into your wedding décor and favors?

Why Not Under the Sea?

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the most unusual type of wedding of all: an underwater scuba diving wedding! There are many wonderful tropical locations, such as Bali, that offer underwater weddings. Your underwater ceremony will last around 15 minutes, then you’re free to enjoy the rest of your day with your guests either on a diving boat out at sea or on the beach front. A scuba diving wedding is ideal for keen divers, but even novices looking for something a little unusual can be married underwater: just think, at least you won’t have to worry too much about what your hair and make up look like!