Couples create magical events in vineyards, gold mines
Move over Napa and Sonoma. There’s a new destination for weddings that has many Northern California couples heading for the hills.
The Sierra foothills that is, as Gold Country weddings are becoming as strong as the ore that made the area famous. Between the thriving wine country, the scenic hillsides and vistas and especially the relative inexpensive costs, more and more couples are choosing to tie the knot in Amador, Calaveras and El Dorado counties.
“We have so much history and beauty and nature in the area that many people from city areas find relaxing and those from rural areas feel like it is home and peaceful,” says Bryna Dacus of Gold Hill Vineyard & Brewery in Placerville. “Every couple is unique. We have more of a relaxed rustic feel, which many people find comforting. We consider our wedding couples family for years to come.”
SHIRLEY AND ROBERT SARAVIA
Venue: Kennedy Gold Mine in Amador County
That’s what Shirley Saravia found when she and fiancé, Robert, decided to get married at the Kennedy Gold Mine located above Jackson in Amador County. She calls the rustic venue “an untapped resource.”
“It’s just a really beautiful area,” said the newlywed, who was married in September. “I had my wedding plans all worked out, we just had to wait until the mine was open during the warmer months to make it happen.”
She said that the selling point for her was the unique location as well as the scenic views of the foothills, the Sierra Nevada mountain range and of the community of Jackson below.
“It was also a ‘DIY’ wedding,” she said. “Anything brides can dream up, they could do.”
The staff of the mine allows couples to bring in whatever decorations they want and they can suggest vendors for the wedding.
After the ceremony, the guests proceeded to a small gully adorned with tents and twinkling lights. Her husband, Robert, a crafty guy, even made doors people could walk through, to get the impression of walking into a wedding wonderland.
Guests were easy to accommodate, too, says the former San Mateo resident who now lives in Jackson. The popular Jackson Rancheria Casino & Resort and hotel is just down the hill. For entertainment, guests can even be treated to tours of the mines.
“It was magic,” she said. “We were treated like family. It’s a wonderful place to start your life together.”
DARREN AND JARED NOSSECK-STRAWDERMAN
Venue: Val du Vino in Calaveras County
For Darren Nosseck and his partner, Jared Strawderman, the two main things they wanted for their September nuptials were peace and a party. The Val du Vino winery in Murphys in Calaveras County offered both.
The couple knew of the winery from a visit to the Gold Country when they wanted to escape the noise, traffic and hectic pace of
their life in the South Bay.
“Everyone was really friendly, and it allowed us to disconnect from stress, even the day of the wedding,” Darren NosseckStrawderman said.
Besides the vineyards and a large patio, the winery offers an on-site villa, where the couple could stay and prepare for the wedding. It also offers a full array of wedding vendors, from florists to caterers to choose from, so the couple didn’t even need to worry about long-distance arrangements.
Murphy’s is also home to the historic Murphy’s Hotel, where they stayed and where they knew their family and friends could stay to make it a truly destination wedding.
“For a little town, there is so much to do, with all the wineries and the history of the place,” Darren Nosseck-Strawderman said. “We wanted to share with friends what we had found there.”
And share they did, with a unique ceremony that was more casual than a sit-down wedding. Despite the heat — it was 95 degrees the day they said their vows — it was comfortable on the patio and in the vineyards, where they set up wine and food pairing stations, thanks to a local vendor.
“It was so relaxing, we hardly had to do anything,” Darren Nosseck-Strawderman said, except party with their friends and
VANESSA AND JAMES BRITT
Venue: Wedgewood at the Sequoia Mansion in El Dorado County
Relaxation was also the aim of Vanessa Echeverri and husband, James Britt, who tied the knot at the Wedgewood at the Sequoia Mansion in Placerville in January.
“Not only was the location beautiful, but the staff made it all about me,” said the bride.
The couple wanted a vintage style wedding, and the staff made it happen, she said.
“It was laid back and perfect,” she said.
She had seen the venue at a friend’s wedding, and the Dixon couple decided that the cost and the natural beauty in the foothills made it the perfect location for their special day — despite the fact it poured.
The day was notably special for James, who hosted his parents and grandmother “Mama” all the way from North Carolina, so they could show off some of California’s historic beauty.
Sadly, James’ “Mama” recently passed away, but he will always remember that special day.
“I know she enjoyed it, and it’s a memory I will never forget,” James Britt said.
Family is important to the couple, and that’s what they were treated like at the historic home turned wedding venue.
“I felt more like family than a customer,” Vanessa Britt said.
Like many of the other Gold Country weddings, the mansion offered a list of tried-and-true vendors that Vanessa Britt took advantage of, and the result was a warm and intimate affair in the heart of winter.
“It was an experience I’ll never forget,” said the bride.
Darren and Jared Nosseck-Strawderman during their first dance at Val du Vino in Calaveras County. The couple stayed at the historic Murphy’s Hotel.
Above: Shirley and Robert Saravia were married at Kennedy Gold Mine, which is just north of Jackson. Below: Vanessa and James Britt held their wedding in Placerville at Wedgewood at the Sequoia Mansion.
Shirley and Robert Saravia pose with their wedding party on the balcony of the 1907 Mine Office at Kennedy Gold Mine located above Jackson in Amador County.
Vanessa and James Britt held their vintage style wedding at Wedgewood at the Sequoia Mansion in El Dorado County. The couple was drawn to the natural beauty in the foothills.
Left: The Kennedy Gold Mine has views of the city of Jackson and the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Right: Val du Vino holds weddings at their 4-acre vineyard. Darren and Jared Nosseck-Strawderman gave jars with succulents as wedding favors. Below: The...