Planning a wedding has been more frustrating than usual this year, thanks to the effects of the pandemic. Now that restrictions on events have lifted in most of the United States, a wedding boom is taking place across the nation. “After a year of postponed and downsized weddings, the wedding industry is seeing a surge of couples looking to plan 2021, 2022, and 2023 weddings,” according to Brides magazine. “As a result, experts say the demand for venues, vendors, and goods such as flowers and attire has never been higher.”
Tri-Valley couples have also been affected. “Yes, there is a boom in wedding bookings,” says Marlene Fahrenkrog, Executive Director of Sales at Beets Hospitality Group, an event management and catering company in Pleasanton that operates two popular wedding venues, the Palm Event Center in the Vineyard and Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery. “Inquiries are up and couples are now scheduling into 2023 due to limited availability in 2021 and 2022. Many couples were engaged pre-Covid and waited until now to start looking at venues. So not only do we have the normal demand for couples who have recently been engaged but we have the demand from couples pre-Covid, so this is definitely increasing demand overall.”
Shawn Romeo, Director of Sales for the new AC Hotel by Marriott Pleasanton, has also seen the uptick. “Weddings and receptions are taking place all across the Tri-Valley, at event centers, wineries, golf clubs, you name it,” she says. “Since the reopening in mid-June until now, we have already welcomed ten different wedding parties to the hotel. It's really great to see business come back so strongly.”
While the summer of 2021 is not an easy time to schedule a Tri-Valley wedding, it is a great time for marriage-minded couples to get engaged, and there are many wonderful places to do so. For Justin Bower, Marketing and Event Coordinator at Visit Tri-Valley, the top of Pleasanton Ridge was the perfect place to propose. “It is a hike that my fiancé and I love to do,” he says. “We had hiked to the top a few times, including on one of our first dates. Pleasanton Ridge overlooks the whole Tri-Valley where we grew up. Since we love to hike there, it will now be even more special and the memory will live with us forever. We now reference it as Proposal Peak.”
Pleasanton Ridge is the oak-covered ridge overlooking Pleasanton and the Livermore Valley from the west. It is the highlight of the beautiful 9090-acre Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park. The park’s multipurpose trail system accommodates hikers, equestrians, and bicyclists and provides canyon views and ridge-top vistas, as well as access to remote, deep-canyon streams.
There are many other jewels in the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) as well. The Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve, for example, is prized by many hikers for its beauty. One romantic spot at the preserve, called Little Yosemite, is a scenic gorge on Alameda Creek roughly two miles upstream from the Visitor Center. If nature speaks to you and your beloved, the park system offers many suitable settings for discussing matrimony. The EBRPD comprises nearly 125,000 acres in 73 parks, including more than 1,250 miles of trails and 55 miles of shoreline in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
The Pacific Locomotive Association, a nonprofit organization, operates Niles Canyon Railway as a living history museum interpreting the importance of heritage railroads in the development of California and the nation. Train lovers might enjoy pondering betrothal while riding through Niles Canyon behind steam or diesel power on selected weekends through October. On August 21, a special Hot August Night On The Rails will take passengers through the canyon for a beautiful evening trip made especially memorable should you or your beloved decide to pop the question.
Romantics with an artistic flair will find many suitable occasions to mingle romance with upcoming events to create a truly memorable experience. The Bankhead Theater in Livermore has reopened with a dazzling schedule of live performing arts for the 2021-2022 season. In August, highlights include the lively instrumentation of Jarabe Mexicano combined with the national premier Mexican folk dance company, Ballet Folkloric de Los Angeles. The Pacific Chamber Orchestra performs in September, and October brings the Branford Marsalis Quartet.
If you prefer something more intimate, Visit Tri-Valley created engaging “trails” for wine, beer, coffee, and ice cream that feature a plethora of places worthy of visiting. How might these trails be related to getting engaged? They can be used as a template for small multiple, pleasurable experiences with a beloved. After you and your intended agree to explore a trail, you can enjoy each stop along the way as part of your larger journey. After you complete the trail as a couple, consider offering up a surprise treasure in the form of a written proposal.
The Livermore Valley is justly famous for its vineyards and wineries as one of the oldest wine regions in the country. There are 55 wineries with tasting rooms in the Tri-Valley; several host live music or other special events throughout the year. The region also has ample alehouses, breweries, and taprooms to satisfy beer lovers.
The Tri-Valley Beer Trail, created by Visit Tri-Valley, offers exclusive deals and discounts to those who use its mobile app. Users who check-in at 10 locations can redeem a prize. The Tri-Valley Caffeine Trail, in contrast, allows you to sample craft coffee creations, sweet boba tea, or steamy artisanal teas. Visit five participating shops and upload photographic evidence to earn a Tri-Valley mug–or visit five shops for ice cream instead.
The Tri-Valley region is home to dozens of romantic spots. Whatever atmosphere you consider perfect for popping the question, you can find it locally as well as delightful places to celebrate your engagement. Those who get engaged this year will not be the only ones celebrating, hospitality professionals say.
Many weddings will be extra festive this year, according to Fahrenkrog. “Everyone who postponed is now looking to celebrate with their family and friends after the difficult year of 2020,” she says. “Clients are being very considerate of their guests, realizing that this is a nice way to treat everyone to a fun and special night out when most have not done so in over a year. They are spending their budgets on enhancements that make their guests feel special. People are ready to party.”
For more information about the East Bay Regional Park District, please visit www.ebparks.org.
For more information about Niles Canyon Railway, please visit www.ncry.org.
For more information about the Bankhead Theater, please visit www.livermorearts.org.
For more information about Livermore Valley wineries, please visit www.lvwine.org.
For more information about the Tri-Valley Beer, Caffeine, Ice Cream, and Wine Trails, please visit www.visittrivalley.com.
For more information on wedding venues, please visit: www.hacienda.org/news-events/hacienda-online/pulse/2020/feature/A-Perfect-Place-for-A-Special-Wedding-Day.