From the moment we made the initial contact with Joanna from Churchill Manor, we knew we had a found a special place. We hadn’t even booked yet and still we were treated as individuals rather than just another bride and groom. We had chosen to marry abroad as amongst other reasons, both of us loved the notion of tying the knot outside, whilst feeling the sunshine on our backs. Sun, in Napa, in August… it seemed quite likely. However, marrying abroad isn’t without it’s drawbacks. Although my fiancé travelled to see the venue before we booked, my first glimpse wasn’t until the day before our wedding. As far as meeting vendors… well, that was out of the question! So, we needed somewhere where we knew we were not going to be let down. Somewhere like Churchill Manor. Their reviews on Trip Advisor were outstanding and they were obviously very experienced at hosting weddings. Joanna was able to recommend suppliers, but more than that, she was able to talk us through elements of the planning process as well as coordinate the wedding on the day.
Being a wedding geek, I had painstakingly kept a scrap-book of all our ideas for the wedding – the dresses I liked, possible colour themes, ideas for hairstyles, make-up and of course the overall style and decor. Once we’d chosen Churchill Manor as our venue, lots of other ideas clicked into place. I was able to build a very clear image of what our surroundings were going to look like in my mind, and set about creating the bunting and various other bits and pieces. When we arrived at the venue the day before our ceremony, we sat down with Joanna and chatted about the proceedings. I had diligently explained my vision of how all of the decor I had painstakingly made should be assembled together, but even so, it was hard for me as a perfectionist (read, control freak) to hand over the reins to anyone else. Yet, on the afternoon of the wedding, whilst I was blissfully busy being pampered by hair and make-up artists upstairs, our lovely photographer was flitting backwards and forwards, providing the bridal suite with little updates and titbits about what was happening outside. At one point, she returned and mentioned that the tables had been set up and were looking beautiful. She wasn’t wrong. There is so much to take in on your wedding day… months if not years of preparation all lead up to this one event and then it’s over in a whirlwind. Along the way, you just pray your day turns out the way you had envisioned it and for us, Churchill Manor could not have got it more right. Joanna had positioned each place card perfectly; the bunting was hung from each of the Manor’s columns exactly as I had imagined it; she had even managed to recreate my crazy seating plan idea incorporating 10 green bottles and a load of luggage labels! Their attention to detail was impeccable.
Our wedding was magical. Of course there were blips, but none due to the wonderful Churchill Manor. When one of our guests suddenly decided she would prefer salmon over chicken, a new dish was swiftly served. Our palettes were spoilt. In addition to the wedding breakfast, we were treated to a 3-course gourmet breakfast each morning and there were homemade cookies served in the afternoon (accompanied by wine – of course, this is the Napa Valley!) Indeed, some of us may have taken advantage of being able to BYO without having to pay for corkage and over-indulged a little too much (yes, dearest brother, I am referring to you here!)
The venue is a charming, relaxing place to stay. Although only 10 minutes walk from town, the neighbourhood is quiet and the veranda that stretches around the building makes for a lovely spot to curl up and read or bask in the sun. On the morning of our wedding, whilst the girls headed into town to have our nails manicured, the boys chilled out with a polite game of croquet amongst the rose bushes on the south lawn. The more musical amongst us were free to tinkle on the piano in the parlour, whilst others preferred to catnap in one of the Manor’s ten uniquely designed guestrooms.
One of the advantages of Churchill Manor compared to some other nearby options was that it’s intimate size meant it was an affordable option to hire for exclusive use. A sign was even hung on the front gate to ensure that we wouldn’t be disturbed. The tricky part was deciding how to allocate the rooms to each of our guests as they were all individually styled in such a beautiful and opulent manner. All of the rooms had private bathrooms and most also had claw footed soaking tubs within the main room. Fluffy bathrobes hung in antique wardrobes and the Carneros room on the first floor was perfectly suited to my mother-in-law who had some difficulty walking. We chose the original master suite, Stags Leap to be our bridal suite. It was spacious, light and had a sumptiously comfortable king size bed. As well as a two-person soaking tub, there was a powerful two-person shower and a fabulous full-length mirror to admire your finished bridal look.
Churchill Manor is a perfect hideaway for a relaxing break and a wonderful venue for a wedding. We only stayed for two nights, but couldn’t resist popping back into the Manor on our way back to San Francisco after our honeymoon. I wished we could have stayed for longer and know we will return the next time we find ourselves anywhere near California’s wine valleys. Thankyou Churchill Manor. The Fairytale Bride scores you a maximum 5 stars!
The Fairytale Bride Rating:
The Fab Stuffs:
- Exceptional hospitality and service from your hosts, Joanna, Brian and the rest of their small team.
- Opulently styled rooms with antique furniture and modern amenities – some guest rooms even include a 2 person soaking tub right beside the fireplace… cosy!
- Amazing 3-course gourmet breakfasts in the mornings; wine, cheese and cookies to nibble each afternoon.
- Exclusivity – With 10 bedrooms, it is an easy and affordable option to hire the whole manor for your guests only.
- Complimentary tandem bicycle for you and your spouse to pedal around Napa on.
The Sad Stuffs:
- Best suited to small and intimate weddings; if you’d prefer a full, sit-down dinner, numbers are limited to 60 guests.
- Beautiful gardens and within easy walking distance of Napa town, but if you’re expecting a vineyard backdrop, you may want to look elsewhere.