For Joyce Scardina Becker, nothing beats the big moments in life. And here in the Tri-Valley, there’s no shortage of those, thanks to a booming local wedding scene. Becker, author of Countdown to Your Perfect Wedding, is director of the wedding certificate program at nearby Cal State East Bay in Hayward. She’s also the owner of San Francisco’s Events of Distinction and has planned numerous over-the-top Tri-Valley weddings during her 25-year career. We asked her why so many brides to-be are looking east these days.
What makes the Tri-Valley such a great place to get married?
It offers a lovely wine country experience without the high price tag or restrictions of California’s other wine country areas. It’s also a more economical alternative for guests traveling to a wedding, since hotel room rates are typically much lower here. And the warm weather lets couples enjoy outdoor receptions in the evening. Also, for destination weddings, couples often look for activities to entertain guests. In the Tri-Valley, it’s fun to host group bike rides along the Iron Horse Trail, and there are also numerous golf courses. For people who just want to relax, the darling towns of Danville and Pleasanton are perfect for strolling, dining and shopping.
What are some of your favorite venues in the area?
One of my favorites is Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery in Pleasanton. I love its majestic, Mediterranean-style architecture. And as a wedding planner, I especially love the “transition of space,” which allows a couple to have an indoor or outdoor ceremony area, a separate area for cocktails, and the Grand Salon for dining and dancing. Beyond that, the Blackhawk Automotive Museum in Danville showcases classic automobiles and has lots of options for venue space, including the galleries, the lobby and an outdoor plaza. Concannon Vineyard in Livermore provides a charming wine country setting and lots of options, including a lovely lawn adjacent to a beautiful Victorian house. The Grape Arbor is a great place for outdoor dining, or you can have the reception indoors in the Cask Room, which is lined with wine barrels. For a unique and casual rehearsal dinner, Campo di Bocce in Livermore can serve up a three-course meal followed by a round of bocce ball.
What should visitors expect when they come here for a wedding?
Visitors will find the Tri-Valley to be a very welcoming environment, without the attitude often found in other wine country locations. In addition to the numerous wineries, there are lots of public parks for family-friendly fun, and shopaholics will love spending their day at the Livermore Premium Outlets, the Stoneridge Mall or at local boutiques.