When it comes to planning for a wedding some couples opt to really personalize the experience and create memorable moments for themselves and their guests by hosting a destination wedding. However, having a destination wedding doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the 209 area. From wine country to the majesty of Yosemite, the 209 region has some dream-worthy destinations. ■
Having a destination wedding right in one of the world’s most glorious and beautiful locations is a truly memorable occasion for a bride and groom.
“Imagine celebrating the most special day of your life in one of the world's most spectacular locations,” said Lisa Cesaro, the regional marketing director for Aramark, which operates the hospitality functions in the Yosemite Valley. “Host your wedding at one of the park’s National Historic Landmark hotels, book group activities for your guests such as guided hikes and rock climbing classes and enjoy gourmet dining options in Yosemite National Park.
“We host wedding celebrations in Yosemite year-round and each season offers a unique experience and stunning views for great photos opportunities,” Cesaro said. “Winter is a special time of year for a Yosemite wedding as the park is serenely quiet and the valley is a magical winter wonderland filled with snow-capped peaks.”
The Yosemite Valley has several lodging options for a destination wedding, including The Ahwahnee, Yosemite Valley Lodge, Wawona Hotel and Curry Village. There also are ceremony spaces outdoors at both The Ahwahnee and Wawona Hotel. Yosemite Valley Chapel is the only indoor ce remony option in Yosemite. Many couples also get special use permits with the park to have their ceremonies at iconic locations such as Glacier Point or Sentinel Beach. The properties include 15 banquet rooms and one ballroom.
“Our expert staff members are true wedding professionals, dedicated to helping couples envision and create an unforgettable wedding experience,” Cesaro said. “Yosemite National Park will serve as the perfect backdrop to your iconic wedding. We have couples who visit Yosemite each year as it a special place to them and even more so after hosting their wedding in the park.
“We can accommodate weddings that range from 20 to 180 guests at our four properties inside Yosemite National Park,” Cesaro said.
The area offers a vast array of activities like ice skating, skiing, rafting, hiking, biking, art classes, food and wine events, and tours. There are more than 800 miles of trails to explore, some leading to beautiful waterfalls.
Dunbar House Inn and Event CenterNestled right off Main Street in Murphys is the 139-year-old Italianate-style Dunbar House that has been turned into an all in one wedding venue with the added bonus of giving the wedding party and guests the entire town of Murphys to stay and play.
The Dunbar House Inn and Event Property is owned by Michael Ninos and is part of V Vacation Rentals, which includes the Victoria Inn, the 20-acre Crestview Pond Estate, as well as condos in Murphys.
“The fact that we are right in the middle of town is really convenient,” Ninos said of the Dunbar House. “You park your car and you don’t get back into it until you’re ready to go home.”
The house was built in 1880 by the Dunbar family, who owned and operated some of the earliest lumberyards in the region. The house has served as an inn since the 1980s.
Capable of hosting intimate sit-down outdoor special events and weddings for up to 140 people, the lush manicured grounds of the Dunbar house feature a tree shaded outdoor lawn area on the west side of the property for seated wedding ceremony services while the east side of the property is configured for the seated reception, entertainment and dancing.
The Dunbar House also features the newly renovated 1880 Hall and free-standing Greenhouse meeting rooms and an expansive back property patio area. When the patio area is tented against heat, cold or inclement weather, it bridges the 1880 Hall to the Greenhouse, permitting for year-round indoor events for 30 to 100 seated and 120 standing.
An extensive full-service food catering menu is available from some of the local caterers, as well as the nearby Victoria Inn’s “V” Bistro, Restaurant and Bar. In-house food preparation can be staged and completed in the Dunbar House’s large kitchen. Additionally, the Dunbar House is fully licensed for beer, wine and full bar service for any event.
For multi-day events, the Dunbar House has six suites available.
Amenities range from king or queen-size beds, French doors leading to secluded patios and porches, overstuffed furniture and wingback chairs, Jacuzzis, separate showers, and clawfoot tubs, English towel warmers, hair dryers, tables, writing desks, in-room coffee and tea service, WiFi, Smart flat screen televisions, radios, DVD/CD players and more. Guests are treated to a sumptuous full breakfast every morning, with full 24/7 access to the dining area’s coffee and tea services and a selection of readily available fresh bakery goods and fruit.
For destination weddings requiring more than a few guest accommodations, additional rooms of the same superior quality can be reserved at the 13 room Victoria Inn sister property, which is a mere 2-minute walk to the Dunbar House. In addition, 12 of 14 V Vacation Rentals, consisting of condos to full homes, are within a one to 10-minute walking distance from the Dunbar House with two secluded estate creekside or pond-view homes within 1.2 to 2.7-mile driving distance.
“The immediate bridal party is staying here, and all the close family and friends are staying at these exquisite condos and homes that are all up and down the block,” said V Vacation Rentals Marketing Director Christopher Buttner.
For the bride and groom and their wedding party and guests, Murphys offers a variety of activities.
“You can hit 25 tasting rooms right on Main Street, plus shopping and restaurants and ice cream shops,” Ninos said. “I think the mix of retail and restaurants and tasting rooms and everything else that exists here is a really good mix. The wedding experience can stretch out over several days all in Murphys.”