Expert Tips on the Do’s & Don’ts for Maximizing Your Alisal River Terrace Event

Alisal River Terrace. Photo by: Kacie Jean Photography

This article originally appeared in a publication that featured local wedding planner expert  and author Kerry Lee Dickey of Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings & Events talking about her top tips for weddings at Alisal River Terrace.  Here is a summary of her “do’s” and “don’ts” to help better-prepare for extra seamless weddings at Alisal River Terrace when you say ” I do”:

“Because Alisal River Terrace is part of the service legacy of the main Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, they automatically provide the full-service aspects so important to a private event:  including basics in equipment such as chairs, dining tables, linens, flatware and china, as well as the staff to set up, properly service the event, and clean up.  They also offer plenty of self-parking and the option for a full bar (many wine country locations – wineries- only allow wine and beer).  That said, there are a few things that if known in advance will help your wedding or private event rock:


  • Choose flameless candles for all decor;  the wind that kicks up blows out any flame and efforts to re-light them are futile.
  • Choose table numbers that are heavy and anchored to the dining tables. Again, the wind being the primary factor.
  • Skip the placecards (unless they are anchored to something that will stay in place and not blow over) and opt to focus on assigned seating done “European style” – that is,  a big board that shows table numbers and who is sitting at each table and plan to place this leaning up against one of the main walls at the entrance.  Easels- no matter how solid- do not keep anything up for long in the wind.  An option to this (easel) would be a custom wood board with heavy metal base or blocks to secure it.
  • Consider this clever option for placecards or escort cards, if you opt to do them:  combining the favor with the escort or placecard.  Example:  one bride did mini succulent potted plants with the guest’s name tied to it and these served as the guest’s favor as well as showing them where they sat at their table.
  • Plan on having a secure, locked box for gift cards and monetary gifts.
  • Plan on one heatlamp per guest table (or per 10-12 guests).  Check Alisal’s inventory to see if you can use theirs or if you need to supplement with extra rentals.  Even on blazing hot summer days, the temperatures drop quite a bit in the evenings and with the wine country breeze, things can get chilly.
  • Conversely, plan on having Alisal set some tables with linens in the restaurant on hot afternoons where guests can cool off during cocktail hour after the ceremony.
  • Hire professional lighting experts. The lighting at Alisal River Terrace is functional; and like functional light on your back porch at home, does not create ambiance or highlight key event areas that can often be left in the shadows.  We work with many professional lighting companies, but the one that is most familiar with the terrace and main ranch is Spark Creative Events.
  • Go “Pro” when it comes to your audio for your ceremony.  Alisal does not offer sound equipment for your officiant and not only is it necessary to have a proper mic and speakers so guests do not miss the officiant  and ceremony (and also the bride and groom, if they opt to), but one needs a professional sound “tech” to man the sound during the ceremony for any glitches, to adjust for feedback, and much more.  Also, many ceremony musicians may wish to “tap into” the speakers to amplify their music and a professional audio system and attendant can help them do that, as well as properly mic the officiant, run a sound check with all participating in the ceremony to ensure all is in order, and much more.
  • Take advantage of the items Alisal has on hand before renting.  If in doubt, ask about their inventory on chairs for ceremony, reception, linens, etc. and then make your decision about possible rental items.
  • Enjoy every succulent morsel of your wedding reception menu prepared by Chef Pascal and his team.  It is abundant, fresh, and will leave guests duly impressed (and full).


  • Worry about a thing.  Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort staff are experienced in events and hospitality and if they don’t have what you need, they have access to many resources and referrals who can assist you.

Extras for Consideration:                                                                                                                 These little gems will put the cherry on the sundae for your Alisal River Terrace private event or wedding:

  • Opt to rent linens which go to the ground.  Alisal’s house linens included do not go all the way down to the ground (make sure your napkins complement or match).
  • Rent a custom dance floor.  While the area is flat at the terrace and fine for dancing, there are so many incredibly different shaped dance floors , colors and styles to add a visually-centered place for dancing later;  a rented dance floor can also complement and anchor a lot of the feel of the entire event and make quite an impression.
  • Because the wind is year-round, and inclement weather is always a chance, if your event is over 50 guests, consider renting a tent with clear ceiling and clear walls, that allow the beautiful light and views, but protect from the wind and elements.
  • Consider valet.  While there is ample convenient self-parking at no charge at the terrace, a lovely touch that works beautifully in the circular drive at the terrace is an experienced valet to greet guests and park their vehicles for them.  Alisal’s preferred valet is Blue Star Parking & Valet
  • Consider having dinner outside on the terrace and moving guests inside to the restaurant with rented beautiful lounge furniture for dancing, late night snacks and dessert later in front of the roaring fireplace.”
Photo Credit: Kacie Jean Photography


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s