Wine Country weddings no longer restricted to weekends only

Brides and grooms-to-be are making up for time lost to the pandemic shut down. The wedding industry, worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Napa and Sonoma County economies, was reduced to almost nothing the past year.

But with restrictions now lifting, weddings are returning and are no longer reserved just for weekends anymore.

"August through early November we do have weddings booked four and five days a week, each week," says Monica Flick, director of winery events at V Sattui Winery.

One North Bay event planner says about 90% of the weddings planned for 2020 are being rescheduled for this year and into next, and the guest lists are growing from what they've been the past few weeks.

"Folks who are planning going forward into the summer and fall, headcount is climbing appreciably because everyone wants to get together," says Marshall Bauer, president of the Milestone Events Group.

Other larger events are also returning but not as quickly, according to the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce.

"Corporate meetings anniversaries, these are often indoor meetings and they are coming back a bit slower because there is a hesitance for people with large crowds indoors," says Mark Bodenhamer, CEO of the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce.

One problem hampering the recovery: a worker shortage.

"A caterer who might have been able to do five events over the weekend, they can staff up for two," said Bauer.

County health departments currently require mask-wearing indoors and proof of vaccine or a negative COVID test for each guest within 72 hours of the event. But after June 15, California's restrictions will loosen and will align with the CDC.

Still, many in the industry don't expect a return to pre-pandemic days until next year.