Frequently Asked Questions

Up-close shot of place setting with light green napkin, glassware and a floral centerpiece down the middle of the table at a Sbragia Family Vineyards wedding.

For your convenience we have provided answers to many of our most frequently asked questions. Everything from venue and planning information to what’s the weather like at different times of the year. If you don’t see what you’re looking for here, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Venue

What’s included in the Site fee?
The site fee allows for the exclusive use of the site during the hours of your event. All our sites offer different options that are included in the site fee but most of the sites will include tables, chairs, a prep kitchen, a bridal ready room and restrooms. Please visit the Venue page for details on each specific site.

Are tables and chairs included in the Site fee?
Included in the site fee will be tables and chairs up to a certain guest count depending on each site. This will save you hundreds of dollars off your overall rental fee. Some examples of the chairs that we have depending on the site are the white wood, fruitwood and natural wood folding chairs with also the option to upgrade to chivari chairs at Trentadue.

Is up lighting included?
Not all venues have up lighting included and not all need it. At any Milestone venue, up lighting can be rented and installed. For each site there are many different options to choose from and our site coordinators can help suggest where additional lighting might be needed or wanted.

Do you have any packages that include everything?

The vendors will be a la carte. Your vendor selection is rather up to your personal preference. We will require you to choose a catering and DJ company on our list and manage your rentals on your behalf at no additional charge. If you would like to go with a caterer or DJ off of the list, there will be approval processes and buyout fees ($1,500 and $500 respectively).
Our planning process makes things simple and easy for you. Rather than overwhelming you with a full list of all the great vendors we work with, we personally select a sample of vendors that best suit your needs and vision AND will work best within your specific budget.

How many hours are included in the Site fee?
All our venues include 5 hours of event time included in the site fee. Additional hours may be purchased if more time is wanted and we would be happy to accommodate this for you. See below for site details and hours.

Is set up and breakdown part of the 5-hours of event time?
Setup and breakdown is not part of the 5-hour event time but does not count against the event time meaning if it is a reasonable amount of time, there is not additional change for it. The setup will typically begin 3 hours prior to the event start time and the breakdown will occur about 1 hour after the event has ended. This gives most vendors plenty of time for what they need to accomplish. However, if more time is needed this can be arranged prior to the event by your site coordinator.

Are Site fees negotiable?
Site fees are non-negotiable. Please inquire with our venue selection manager for current promotions.

Why does Saturday cost more than Friday?
During the prime season there are very few Saturdays available. These are more expensive because they are in high demand and are peak event days. Considering a Friday or Sunday is a great way to save money and stay in budget.

Is there a military discount?
Yes, we are happy to provide any active members with a $500 discount off the site fee.

What’s a Contract Information Form?
This is an information page filled out by the client that Milestone uses to generate a contract specific to each client and is kept inside your event file.

Why don’t you have a calendar of your open event dates?
We do not post a calendar of open event dates on our website because the dates are constantly changing, and each venue has their own events that they host throughout the year that we do not manage. This also ensures that venues do not get double booked. The venues have also asked us to keep much of its numerical information for internal use only. This is something they have asked of us that we respect. Please inquire with our venue selection manager to find out which dates are currently available.

Event

How late can the event go?
Events at most of our properties can go until 10:00pm, however we do have a few venues that can extend past 10:00pm. If your event exceeds more than 5 hours an additional $1000/hr fee will apply.
Viansa Sonoma: Events can go until 12:00am
The Barlow: Events can go until 12:00am
The Ranch at Lake Sonoma: Events can go until 12:00am
Trentadue Winery: Events can go until 11:00pm

How early can my event start?
The following venues can be shifted earlier or later with no added cost:
Trentadue Winery: The earliest an event can start is 4:00pm (please note that the winery will still be open to the public until 5:00pm. Milestone staff will ensure that winery guests will not be in your event area)
The Barlow: 10:00am
The Ranch at Lake Sonoma: 10:00am
The Geyserville Inn: 10:00am
**If event time exceeds more than 5 hours an additional $1,000/hr. fee will apply.

Can the tasting room be bought out for the hours of our event?
All the wineries will allow for the tasting room to be bought out upon approval. This is not an inexpensive option with prices starting at $2,500/hr. Please inquire with our venue selection manager for specific pricing for each venue.

Will tasting room guests still be on property when the ceremony starts?
All tasting rooms will be closed by the start of your event if the standard start time is observed. Milestone staff will be on site to insure any lingering tasting room guests who may be in the process of leaving the property are kept safely at a distance from your event.

When can guests arrive on property?
Guests can start arriving no earlier than 3o mins prior to event start time. It is very important that our vendors have enough time to set everything up without any interruptions. Our site coordinators are happy to recommend places near your venue if guests want to gather before heading to the event.

Can the bride get ready on property?
The bridal ready rooms are available 1.5-2 hours prior to the start of the event. We find most of the time that our brides will get ready off site and then use the bridal ready room to change into their wedding dress and relax with the bridal party prior to the event. This is also a secure place for you and your bridal party to store your belongings in or provide a quiet and private place for children to relax during the event.

Can I do hair and makeup on site?
The bridal ready rooms can be accessed 1.5 to 2 hours prior to the event start time. Due to this timing we recommend hair and makeup be done off site.

Is set up and breakdown part of the 5-hours of event time?
Setup and breakdown is not part of the 5-hour event time but does not count against the event time meaning if it is a reasonable amount of time, there is not additional change for it. The setup will typically begin 3 hours prior to the event start time and the breakdown will occur about 1 hour after the event has ended. This gives most vendors plenty of time for what they need to accomplish. However, if more time is needed this can be arranged prior to the event by your site coordinator.

Can dinner and dancing be outside?
Yes, all but one of our venues have options for dinner to be held outside. We find that it makes for such a unique experience when you get to enjoy the breathtaking views of wine country while dinner is being served. Dancing can also be held inside or outside at all our properties except Valley of the Moon, where dancing takes place in their romantic and rustic tasting room. After 10:00pm all amplified music must be indoors. At the Barlow amplified music must be indoors at 9:00pm due to the local sound ordinance, but even with the music inside this does not stop the party from continuing!

Are bands allowed?
Bands are allowed at all the following venues: Trentadue, Viansa Sonoma, Sbragia, Paul Mahder Gallery, The Barlow, BR Cohn, The Geyserville Inn and The Ranch at Lake Sonoma. The band will need to provide a current business license, insurance, sign our vendor agreement form and attend a walkthrough at the venue. A walkthrough is important to insure the space gets set up properly for them and there is adequate power. Additionally, we will review the volume levels that are allowed per the sites permit.

Can we use sparklers, fire pits, candles and have a cigar bar?
-Sparklers are not allowed at any property due to the county fire ordinance.
-Fire pits are allowed at all properties except for Copain.
-Candles are allowed on all properties but need to be placed inside votives.
-Cigar bars are allowed on most properties except for Viansa and Copain.

Where are the good photo spots on this site?
Our sites have so many beautiful and unique locations for your event photos. When choosing a photographer from our preferred list, you will be pleased to know that they are extremely knowledgeable about each site and know the best areas with the proper lighting at any given time of day. If you are not choosing someone from our list, then we can conduct a walkthrough with them and show them popular areas for your photos. Being familiar with the venue is a huge benefit because it saves on time and ensures that the photographer will be able to capture your wedding details in each photo.

What happens with different weather issues?
Many of our venues can accommodate different weather issues. Your site coordinator will be able to work with you and recommend different options and layouts if a weather issue were to occur. In cases like rain, most of our venues offer an indoor option or you will have the option to rent a tent. For heat issues we can also offer a lot of indoor options with air conditioning or recommend different areas of the venues that can provide more shade. With wind being so unpredictable we are always prepared! Our site coordinators have a lot of tips and tricks they will recommend avoiding windy disasters!

What are some site options for our rehearsal dinner?
If you are reserving a venue within the Milestone collection of properties for your wedding, you may want to consider one of our sister properties within the collection for your rehearsal dinner. Some special promotions are available to you for booking two venues. If none of these sites are suitable, we will be happy to recommend other sites in the area, typically restaurants we have good working relationships with that may be able to accommodate you.

Vendors

Why we have preferred caterers and if you choose to use your own!
The caterer is one of the most important vendors at your event! Not only will they be preparing and serving the food, the catering staff has the most interaction with your guests. Timing is critical to your event, not only with the overall flow, but also the timing of when the food is cooked and served to your guests. It is very important to us at Milestone that the caterer will be professional and be able to provide excellent service as well as prepare delicious food. All the caterers on our preferred vendor list not only exceed our minimum requirements but their food, service and presentation are truly exceptional as well. Our caterers reflect who we are as well as who they are, and we make sure that each caterer will provide an unforgettable experience from start to finish. However, we do understand that sometimes you may have other plans in mind and if you wish to use an outside caterer they will need meet our standard requirements and provide the necessary information. To use an outside caterer there is a buy-out fee of $1,500.00 and, most importantly, your caterer must be pre-approved prior to booking. Your caterer will need to provide a current business license, insurance with the venue additionally added, comply with our vendor rules and regulations and attend a walkthrough conducted by Milestone staff.

Do I have to use the photographer/florist/bakery you recommend?
We highly encourage you to look within our preferred list of vendors first and promise that you will not be disappointed. If you still feel like someone else will be a better fit for you than you may use the vendor of your choice. After many years of working in the industry we have been fortunate enough to work with so many talented professionals who truly make a lasting affect when it comes to your wedding. We have hand selected every person on our preferred vendor list and strongly feel that they are some of the best out there. These vendors are extremely vetted and know the properties inside and out which makes a big difference when it comes to highlighting specific wedding details. For example, your photographer will know exactly where to take the perfect photo and even know which locations are best depending on the time of day. Please see below for more details on how to use an outside vendor.

Do I need to get MEG approval for all vendors? If so, what is that approval and process?
To protect the client and the site from any issues that may occur when using an outside vendor, we require that all vendors must review and sign our vendor agreement form that goes over the rules and regulations pertaining to working at one of our sites. Any caterer or DJ who is not on our preferred vendor list in addition to signing the vendor agreement form will also need to go through the approval process. This process includes submitting a current business license, having insurance listing the venue as additionally insured and attending a walkthrough conducted by Milestone staff prior to booking. Keep in mind that when you use someone from Milestone’s preferred vendor list it is a huge benefit to know that they are already familiar with each site and pre-approved! This will save you time, money and less stress when choosing your vendor.
Caterer – $1500 buyout fee provide a business license, insurance, sign the vendor agreement form and attend a walkthrough prior to booking.
DJ – $500 buyout fee provide a business license, insurance, sign the vendor agreement form and attend a walkthrough prior to booking.
Band – provide a business license, insurance, sign the vendor agreement form and attend a walkthrough
Florist – vendor agreement only
Photographer – vendor agreement only
Rentals – Encore or Bright for basic rentals, specialty suppliers ok
Bakery – vendor agreement only
Transportation company – vendor agreement only
Photobooth – vendor agreement only
Lighting company – vendor agreement only
Officiant – no documents needed
Wedding Coordinator – vendor agreement only

How does the rental relationship work?
Milestone handles the rental order on your behalf, but it remains in your name. The benefit of this is that you remain in control, since there is no handling fee or sales tax charged on orders that are kept in your name, you will save an average of 20% of the total rental charges. We have found that it is best if you work directly with the rental company to select the style of the products you want. Meanwhile, we work behind the scenes to provide you and the rental company with suggested quantities of items associated with your event that are not already included by the property. We and your caterer will do the technical parts freeing you to select shapes, colors and design elements.

When is the rental deposit due?
Your site coordinator will request a rental quote from one of the two rental companies with the standard needs for each venue based on your guest count. You will still be able to customize this order based on your style and personal preferences. Once this initial rental order is created and reviewed the deposit is due to the rental company shortly after to secure delivery dates, times and rental items. The deposit amount is 50% of the invoice and is paid to them via credit card.

What will the sales tax costs be?
It varies in each region ranging anywhere from 8.125%-8.875%. Please check online for specific details. Please see below for the following vendors that charge a sales tax:
Caterer – food and labor
Rentals – *only if rented through the caterer or a 3rd party. When Milestone manages your rentals, sales tax is not applied
Wine – There will be sales tax on wedding wine if your event is held at a winery
-Non-alcoholic beverage package

What should we give/budget as a gratuity for our vendors?
If you choose to give a gratuity it is typical to budget anywhere from 10-20% of the total invoice. Our site coordinators or your planner can help by suggesting an appropriate amount to tip and let you know which vendors are subject to receiving this. Gratuities are not required, but greatly appreciated if you are happy with your services!

Coordination/Event Planning

What do your event coordinators do?
Our site coordinators are very knowledgeable regarding each site and have a lot of experience when it comes to planning events. A few of the big things your coordinator will do is: manage all your wedding day rentals, create a timeline to reflect all specific details and design and suggest layouts that will work with each venue and your guest count. They will also keep you on track and communicate with all your vendors as needed. Most importantly they will make your wedding day vision come to life by placing all your decorations and personal touches to the designated areas. Coordinators will also make sure that the event follows the timeline and will adjust it as needed. The services we offer are known as “day of coordination”. This process starts at about 8 weeks out with communication with your coordinator throughout the entire planning process. A great benefit when using Milestone coordination services is that you will also have access to Aisle planner, which is an online portal system that allows you to collaborate with your planner. Each client has a customized portal that allows you to stay organized with all your wedding day details and make sure you are staying on track with a checklist that is created specifically for you. You will also get to utilize a guest list, seating chart, a wedding website and create a design studio with your inspiration all in one convenient place! This ensures that you and your planner will always be on the same page and you won’t miss any important details. Please visit our website for specifics on what our day of coordination service entails and to see if it is right for you.

Is a planner required?
Having a day of coordinator will ensure that your wedding day will run smooth and effortless. After all the hard work you put into planning your wedding it pays off to have someone there to guarantee your day goes exactly how you envisioned it. We do require you to have a day of contact person who will be executing your timeline, communicating with all vendors and setting up and removing all décor. This person must also not be a guest at your wedding. Please see above for Milestone’s day of coordination services. If you wish to use an outside coordinator they must sign a vendor access agreement.

Is there any coordination service included in the Site fee?
No there is not. A site coordinator from Milestone will be present during your event to represent and manage the venue regardless if you choose to employ us in an event planning / coordination function. In addition, we will oversee your rentals and will help you design your event layout regardless if you use us for coordination. Milestone does offer “Day Of” coordination services as well to help with all your wedding day needs! Please see our full list of details included in those services.

Who directs the flow of the evening?
With this being one of the most important pieces of your event it is crucial that the flow is directed by a Milestone coordinator, a 3rd party planner or a day of contact person. The flow will be determined by a timeline developed with you that is accurate and realistic for the needs of your event. This timeline will be generated well ahead of time and sent to all vendors to review and abide by. All the vendors will be working together as a team to make sure the flow is executed accordingly.

Can a family member/friend be a vendor at the wedding?
As much as we love our families we do not encourage or recommend this. We find that guests, family and friends really like to enjoy the day with you. Please ask our site coordinators about experiences they have witnessed when family members have been vendors at past events. However, if you would still like to use a family or friend despite our expert advice, they will still be treated as an outside vendor and need to meet our standard requirements. Please see above for using an outside vendor.

Who breaks down after the wedding?
The caterer will oversee cleaning and placing the rentals back into the designated areas. The coordinator will take down all the client’s décor and depending on location and rentals either the rental company or caterer will break down the tables and chairs

Will MEG help place the décor? If so, what are the limitations?
MEG will place décor if the client purchases our coordination services. Clients will fill out our décor information page which lets us know what decorations you are providing and where you’d like them placed. Your coordinator will review the items and if anything has potential to damage the property they will let you know and suggest other alternatives.

Does the MEG coordinator manage vendors once we book them?
Milestone will communicate with all vendors throughout the planning process and will work together as a team to make your event run seamlessly.

What are the nearest hotels, and will you help us with reservations?
We have found that most of your guests will choose to stay in an Airbnb or VRBO for your wedding weekend. We recommend including this map with your invitations so your guests know where to look for vacation rental accommodations. If you would like to include hotels, please visit our website for hotel accommodations near your venue. If you wish to set up room blocks please contact the hotel of your choice directly to set this up.

Will you set up and manage transportation for me?
Sorry, but we do not set up transportation for you. We have recommendations of companies we can provide, or if you have a full-service planner they can arrange this for you. We can suggest pick up times and locations based on each venue once this service is booked. Both Uber and Lyft operate locally, so these are options for your guests as well.

Wine, Alcohol and Beverages

What are the rules around alcohol?
Due to the ABC laws all venues may have beer, wine and a fermentation bar. All venues listed below may also have hard alcohol served by a caterer with the appropriate licensing:
The Barlow
The Ranch at Lake Sonoma
The Geyserville Inn
In wine country, a winery with a working tasting room on premise is prohibited from serving distilled spirits. That is why most sites offer only beer, cider and wine as well as other fermented alternatives. A fermentation bar is a great and fun alternative to have available in addition to wine and beer! Your caterer can suggest different cocktail options within these parameters.

How does the wine minimum work?
For each winery there are specific wine minimums that the client will need to meet when they are purchasing event wine.
Please see below for specifics:
Trentadue Winery: ½ bottle per person
Valley of the Moon: ½ bottle per person
Paul Mahder Gallery: ½ bottle per person
Sbragia: ½ bottle per person
Copain: $40 per person
Viansa Sonoma: ¾ bottle per person or $3,000 whichever is greater
BR Cohn: ¾ bottle per person or $3,000 whichever is greater
The Barlow: no wine minimum
The Ranch at Lake Sonoma: no wine minimum
The Geyserville Inn: no wine minimum
Our site coordinators will be happy to help you choose the appropriate wine based on your guest count, budget and your personal wine preferences.

Can wine not from this winery be served?
All winery events will need to use wine from the venue where the event is taking place. One of the reasons wineries host events is to expose their wine to an increased audience. Additionally, by using this wine, we can guarantee that you will never run out during your event because we have the privilege of pulling more wine if needed. By having this option, it will help you stay on budget and you won’t over buy more than you need! All the wineries have multiple varietals to choose from to best suit your liking.

Is the wine minimum negotiable?
The wine minimum is non-negotiable, however becoming a wine club member is a great way to save on your overall wine purchase. By joining you will also be invited to private wine club events and most memberships provide complimentary tastings for you and your friends to continue to enjoy the winery throughout your wine club involvement.

Can I buy wines from this winery when they have them on sale and save the cases for the wedding? Will it count towards my wine minimum?
Yes, however if discounted wine is purchased it will need to remain on site until your wedding day. Please notify your site coordinator if purchases are made and we will be happy help make the proper arrangements to store the wine.

How does the corkage fee work?
Beer corkage is a $1 fee per adult and allows you to bring in as much bottled or canned beer as you’d like, in addition to covering the cost of water and sodas that we provide.

How does Milestone count underage guests when estimating the wine costs?
Anyone under 21 years old will not be included in the estimated wine minimum.

How do we purchase beer/hard cider?
You can purchase beer or hard cider from any store of your choice. You may bring this during your rehearsal prior to your event. Your caterer will make sure that it is properly stored in a cool place and have it chilled in time for the start of your event!

Weather Options

What happens with different weather issues?
Many of our venues can accommodate different weather issues. Your site coordinator will be able to work with you and recommend different options and layouts if a weather issue were to occur. In cases like rain, most of our venues offer and indoor option or you will have the option to rent a tent. For hot weather we can also offer a lot of indoor options with air conditioning or recommend different areas of the venues that can provide more shade. With wind being so unpredictable we are always prepared! Our site coordinators have a lot of tips and tricks they will recommend avoiding windy disasters!

What is the backup rain plan if we need one?
Being prepared for rain is something our site coordinators will be ready to handle. We always have a backup plan and will create a rain contingency rental order so that just in case you need to rent a tent they will have it ready to go. Many of our venues can accommodate weather issues and offer indoor options as well. For some of our venues that cannot accommodate this, we can recommend different options for each specific site based on your guest count.

What is the weather during (insert month, time of day)?
Please visit this website to find the estimated weather forecast for each month in Sonoma county.

Policies and Rules

Please see the section on Wine, Alcohol and Beverages” for the rules and laws regarding wine and alcohol at our venues.

Can we use sparklers, fire pits, candles and have a cigar bar?
-Sparklers are not allowed at any property due to the county fire ordinance.
-Fire pits are allowed at all properties except for Copain.
-Candles are allowed on all properties but need to be placed inside votive holders.
-Cigar bars are allowed on all properties except for Copain.

Why is it important that I hold my event at a legally permitted location?
Prior to a site getting its overall permits for construction or title transfer as part of a sale it is required to obtain or adhere to the existing in place use permit. That permit details the approved use for the site and includes many items such as hours of operation, types of business activities that are allowed and the maximum size, type and the total quantity of allowed events. If a site does not have those permits it is not operating legally and any event it hosts is at risk. There have been sites that have been closed down because they are not operating legally. These closures do not happen with warning and the fact that a client has paid a deposit and is preparing for an event is of no consequence.

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