Temecula Wedding Location: Pechanga Resort & Casino


Did you know that Southern California has a wine country?  And a beautiful one too!  Temecula is home to rolling hills, boutique wineries, and even a fabulous resort to call home for your destination wedding!  Set just outside of the wineries, a few minutes from the vines is Pechanga Resort & Casino, the perfect place to wed when heading south for an outdoors wedding in wine country.  I recently got to test drive what a wedding would be like here…and let’s just say, I’ll be back!

You may think you want to say “I do” among the grapes, but once you set foot on Pechanga’s private garden ceremony site, you may think again.  A beautifully manicured lawn and garden with a raised platform just for you, your ceremony point will be protected by trees yet overlook the beautiful golf course and valley beyond.


Then head to the patio nearby for a fire pit-clad cocktail hour (perfect for s’mores) and enjoy a jaw-dropping setting complete with old-fashioned bridge just beyond, where most brides and grooms can be found taking portraits in a place unlike any other.

For dinner, dine under the stars or indoors at Journey, a swanky restaurant the property shuts down just for you and 180 of your closest friends and family.  You’ll enter by a large, two-story stone fireplace and head into a space that’s already dressed up so you need not do much to make it picture-perfect.


Then it’s time to eat.  And eat you will!  The food at Pechanga Resort & Casino is something to write home about.  Wow, it’s better than good.  Your first meal as newlyweds will be one you remember.

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But a destination wedding to Southern California’s wine country isn’t all about the wedding day.  What I love about Pechanga is all there is do on property AND nearby.  You can take your guests to a comedy show in their comedy club instead of hosting a stuffy rehearsal dinner.  If there’s a concert in town, you can catch that too in their theater.  If you like to gamble, there’s a major casino on property.  And if you don’t, it’s housed a shuttle ride away from the wedding space so you’ll never even know it’s there.  But if you do like to play a little, might we suggest a family round of bingo or a poker tournament for your group?  Pechanga can set up gaming activities for your group too – even lessons for those needing a little help!

Then don’t forget to arrange a shuttle to the wineries for some tastings along the way and perhaps even a day after trash the dress session!


The rooms at Pechanga Resort & Casino are lovely, the staff knows their stuff, the activities are endless, and the wedding spaces and menus are surprisingly unique and delightful.  Home run if you’re looking for a domestic destination I do and a wine country that’s a little more relaxed with a lot more to do.  Oh, and did we mention Pechanga is undergoing a 285 million dollar expansion and renovation?  That means this time next year, you’ll find even more to do on property with even more luxury at your fingertips.  Booking now means getting in before it’s booked later.

{Photos: Image 1: Pechanga, Image 2, 3, 6: Hulse Photo, Image 4, 5: Jenna Joseph Photography}


An Intimate Destination Wedding at Kenwood Inn and Spa in Sonoma

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Mindy and Brian tied the knot at their destination wedding at the Kenwood Inn and Spa in Sonoma, CA.  With beautiful wine country as the backdrop to their nuptials, this darling couples and their nearest and dearest loved ones celebrated at an intimate event with lots of personal details and local touches.  Mindy shared with us a bit about their day.  “We knew we wanted our wedding to be small (close friends and family), fun, and stress-free. We kept saying that we wanted people to feel like they were on vacation. One night we sat down and started talking about places that we’d like to go to on vacation. We had always wanted to go to California’s wine country, but hadn’t been. We looked at each other and said “Napa?” We did some research and fell in love with Kenwood, CA. That’s how it started…”

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During the ceremony, the couple recited a few words of their own.  “The ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ books were our vow books. We each wrote our own vows and read them from the books during the ceremony.”

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My favorite moment of the day was the ceremony. We had written our own vows and hadn’t shared them with one another (or anyone for that matter). I think I was most excited to hear what Brian had written.  We had one of our good friends perform the ceremony. It was so special and so personal. It was perfect!”

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“For the guest book, we didn’t want something “typical” or something that we would put away and never look at again. I came across the idea of a dictionary guest book online. Brian (my husband) and I went to a small bookstore near campus (we both work at Clemson University) and found vintage dictionaries and thesauruses. I think we bought 4 (for a total of like $10). We put them out during the cocktail hour and asked guests to circle a word that reminded them of our day and to leave a note with their signature. We have the books out on a shelf in our living room and look at them from time to time.”  What a great idea!  Though that’s a lot of dictionary reading to find all your loved ones’ notes!

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For the décor, we wanted colors that were very simple and clean. We chose a neutral palette with light pink, blush, cream, and gold/silver metallic. Overall, we wanted to keep the feeling soft and romantic, which I think is reflected in the billowing peonies and the ruffled layered cake.”

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“The lavender details actually didn’t happen until we were in California. On Wednesday, two days before our wedding, we took a wine trolley tour with our friends and family. At the last vineyard, in one of the tasting rooms, there were piles of dried lavender. I made a comment about the lovely smell and the lady facilitating the tasting told me to take as much as I’d like. I took one bushel and thought about how to incorporate the lavender into our wedding. During our walk through at Kenwood Inn and Spa on Thursday, we decided that the lavender would be a nice addition to the place settings.”

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No matter how small this gathering may have been, clearly a party was created for all in attendance!

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Pink cotton candy and sparklers helped send the newlyweds and guests off with a bang!

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Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Destination Wedding Photographer:  Beautiful Day Photography

Wedding Vendors: Wedding Location: Kenwood Inn and Spa, Ceremony/Reception Music: Taylor Brown, Hair/Makeup: The Powder Room, Wedding Coordination: Honey Darling Events, Flowers: The Monkey Flower Group, Event Rentals: Wine Country Party & Events, Cake/Favors: Sweet on Cake, Cotton Candy Favors: Pinky’s, Invitations: Sophia Invitations and Prints


St. Helena Destination Wedding

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Emily and Ryan wed in the beautiful Napa Valley area of California, St. Helena to be exact.  They opted for a nearby destination wedding, one that didn’t require their guests board flights, but drive an hour outside of the city where they were transported into a food and wine oasis.  Emily shared with us how the selected this serene spot. “Ryan and I knew that Napa was the perfect destination for our wedding. With it only an hour away, we often drive up to wine country for the day, stopping at a few wineries and eating a fantastic meal. We always feel like we are on vacation as soon as we arrive in the valley. So, we thought that having our wedding in Napa was a perfect way to share this experience with our close friends and family. Besides, who doesn’t want to come to wine country for a weekend!?  The intimacy, beauty, and of course the wine of Napa Valley made for a truly special destination. Plus, now we have an even stronger connection with the area and we’ve already been back up since our wedding a month ago. We get to relive our perfect weekend often!”

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The couple chose the beautiful property of V. Sattui Winery, one with cobblestones, ivy, and a feeling that you’ve been transported to Italy (perfect for those who can’t travel there for a wedding).

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The cheerful yellow flowers made the decor pop but feel very natural at the same time.

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What a great first look shot by Annie Gerber!  She’s so excited :)

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The unique trio collaboration ushered guests in as the grey and yellow palette bridal party waited for the bride and groom to say “I do.”

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Napa Valley is such an incredible place to host a destination wedding!  Rolling hills, valleys of orchards, great hikes, spectacular views, and of course some of the best food and wine in the country.  Easy to get to by car (via the San Francisco or Sacramento airports, it’s an ideal setting for a domestic destination wedding.

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In keeping with the winery theme, the couple welcomed guests to their seats with wine cork place cards.

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True foodies at the wedding, this menu did not disappoint!  They served only local, organic, and seasonal fare that made each dish extra flavorful.

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Dinner was served in the barrel cellar which makes more an intimate feeling for a wedding reception.

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Then Emily and Ryan ended the evening on the sweet side with a trio of white and yellow wedding cakes.

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What a great idea!  A wedding quilt complete with recipes to start their family with!

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 Congratulations Emily and Ryan!

 Destination Wedding Photographer:  Annie Gerber Photography 

 Wedding Vendors: Caterer:  Alex’s Catering, Event Planner:  Weddings by Darlene, Floral, Designer:  Fleurs de France, Musicians:  Angela Takeishi, Reception Venue:  V. Sattui Winery, Videography:  Justin Fone Productions, Inc., Cake Designer:  Baker and Banker Bakery, DJ:  AMS, Makeup Artist:  Skyla Arts: Makeup | Hair | Skincare, Transportation:  St. Helena Wine Tours, Other:  Harvest Inn

 This wedding was submitted via TwoBrightLights.com


Destination Elopement in Santa Ynez, CA

I’d venture to say elopements were the original destination wedding: running off somewhere to say “I do” without the months of planning and lengthy guest list, with nobody in on the plans. For those of you thinking of an elopement, even if you do want just a few of those closest to you by your side, we have a beautiful one from Jeremy Gilliam today that may just make you say take the plunge! Amy and Chris met unexpectedly and four years, and two adorable children, later they decided it was time to tie the knot. They fell in love with Santa Ynez and knew it would be perfect for their intimate nuptials of just a few family members.santa-ynez-inn-destination-elopementdestination-elopement-santa-ynez-californiadestination-elopement-santa-ynezdestination-elopement-ceremony-santa-ynezDestination Elopement in Santa YnezDestination Elopement Santa Ynez CaliforniaFrom Amy, the bride: “We stumbled upon Santa Ynez during a work trip and fell in love with the charming area nestled in Santa Barbara County, and promised we would be back. The wineries and countryside were so picturesque. When we were deciding on a wedding venue for our small wedding of family only we wanted something elegant, simple,and romantic and immediately knew that Santa Ynez was the perfect place for us. Santa Ynez was intimate, small, and charming and exactly what we were looking for our wedding.”santa-ynez-california-destination-elopementSanta Ynez Destination Elopement The small party spent the weekend at Santa Ynez Inn, amongst the beauty of wine country, and celebrated post-nuptials with a delicious Italian meal for nine at nearby Trattoria Grappolo.santa-ynez-destination-elopementsanta-ynez-destination-elopement-receptionDestination Elopementsanta-ynez-destination-elopement-cake-cutting“We spent the entire weekend with our families and cherished those few days celebrating our wedding. For us, the tiny wedding really allowed us to spend time with those that matter the most,” says Amy. Santa Ynez Destination ElopementCongratulations Amy and Chris!

Destination Wedding Photographer: Jeremy Gilliam Photography

Wedding Vendors: Wedding Venue: Santa Ynez Inn, Reception: Trattoria Grappolo,  Bouquet: Renae’s Bouquet, Cake: Solvang Bakery, Hair and makeup artist: Tracy LeBard at Spa Élan, Dress: BCBG Max Azria, Shoes: Manolo Blahnik


Destination Wedding at Auberge Du Soleil

destination wedding photographerLynn and Mindaou wanted a destination wedding for their 55 traveling guests and they fell in love with the incredible view at one of the most well known and beautiful properties in Napa Valley, Auberge Du Soleil.  Located in hills of Rutherford, the property gave the family the privacy, intimacy and romance they were looking for with all the luxuries of a five star resort. napa valley destination photographyWe love a little groom style and these gentleman definitely pulled off their dapper looks perfectly!  And Lynn’s Vera Wang dress needs no introduction, simply beautiful!destination weddings in napaThe ceremony was all about the spectacular view!  They chose to keep the decor minimal throughout this part of the day to let the natural beauty of the surroundings take over.auberge du soliel weddingThen it was off to the vineyard for some sweet couple shots!vineyard weddingProduced by France Liu of Charmed Events Group, the decor was infused with the bride’s personal touches, right down to the welcome table accessories, each item had personal meaning to the bride and groom.wedding signFrances described some of Lynn’s personal touches, “The bride brought key items that were important from their relationship to display on the welcome table such as their crystal heart and android, and they had a great personal video that documented their love relationship that led into their Grand Entrance.”  Then she added wine cork place card holders (with beautiful calligraphy by Laura Hooper), a fingerprint tree for a guest book and the reception was well underway! winery wedding guest bookAnd Frances made sure the couple’s style was key throughout.  “When I first met with them, they kept saying that they wanted their wedding to be beautifully classic and soft so a color palette of blushes was used to complement their style and the venue.  Motifs of the wine country itself were brought in for the escort cards and beautiful soft flowers really accented the wooden architecture of the venue.”pink and peach wedding flowers

sweetheart table ideaFor dessert, the couple went with a wedding cake from the famed Napa company Perfect Endings.  But that wasn’t all!  They surrounded the cake with a sweet dessert bar and finished off the look with a handmade detail by the bride – the sign.  So sweet!wedding dessert bars

first dance ideasTo complete the wedding ceremony, everyone participated in a ballroom release!  “One of my favorite parts of the day was when the couple did a balloon release with their closest friends.  Pink heart shaped balloons were brought in and at the conclusion of the ceremony, they were released at the same time to signify the marriage of their love for one another.  That was truly a picturesque moment captured in time.”  Frances explained.  What a great way to celebrate!balloon release at wedding

Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Destination Wedding Photographer: Il Mare Photography

Wedding Vendors: Venue:  Auberge du Soleil, Dress:  Vera Wang, Planner:  Frances Liu of Charmed Events Group LLC, Floral Design and Candy Bar:  Mints Design, Cake:  Perfect Endings, Calligraphy + Menus + Invitations + Signs: Laura Hooper Calligraphy, Hair and Make Up:  Beauty Expert Tiffany, DJ and Ceremony Musicians:  AMS Entertainment, Officiant:  Kathy Wilkerson of Heartfelt Weddings, Favors:  Lette Macarons, Shoes:  Badgley Mischka