With Wine Country wedding venues in the dark, brides and planners are scrambling, stressing

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To see live power recovery status per North Bay city, go here


To see a map of PG&E outages in the North Bay, go here


To see a map of current winds in the North Bay, go here

The historic PG&E electrical power shut-off is sufficiently crazy-making for Sylvia Parkinson, who rents party lights and sound gear and such for Sonoma County weddings.

That said, she aches to imagine what the uncertainty unleashed by the outage is doing to brides who can’t be assured that their long-reserved wedding venues will be up and running Friday and this weekend.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” said Parkinson, of Santa Rosa’s ATL Events.

“It’s especially heartbreaking to know somebody’s been planning for two years for their most special day ever, and it may not happen.”

One vexing issue: Who is liable for the costs if a wedding has to be postponed by an intentional power cut, not hardly an act of God?

“PG&E is not taking responsibility,” Parkinson said.

She told of working with two wedding planners who have nuptials set for this weekend and aren’t sure they can be pulled off at wineries that on Thursday were still in the dark.

She wonders, should she have her staff load the trucks with rental gear, or not?

“It’s a sad, sad situation for small businesses, and individuals,” said the rental company owner. “I feel terrible for the brides in particular.”

On Thursday, there were party rental firms, caterers, wedding planners, venue managers and others in the Wine Country wedding industry who scrambled under great pressure to find power generators or to help betrothed couples quickly devise Plan B. None of those contacted knew of any weddings that have yet been postponed because of the outage.

“We have clients even for next week who are calling and panicking,” said Brittany Rogers-Hansen of Napa-Sonoma’s Run Away With Me wedding company.

She was working with the staff at the powerless Chateau St. Jean Winery near Kenwood to rent generators sufficient for one of the weddings she has planned for this weekend.

“We’ve never had weddings on generators,” Rogers-Hansen said.

Russell Craigie, the general manager at Chateau St. Jean, was hopeful Thursday that power will be restored for the two weddings set to occur there on Friday and Saturday. But even if the outage endures — much of Sonoma Valley remained in the dark Thursday night — the winery is ready, he said.

“We’ve got four generators on the property,” Craigie said.

“We’ve got generators and bathrooms and everything delivered. We will do everything to make it work.”

Wedding planner Rogers-Hansen also on Thursday was spending phone time with a bride-to-be stressed by the knowledge that power wasn’t yet restored to the hotel in Sonoma where she and her wedding party intend to stay.

“We’ve bought some battery packs to plug hair curlers into,” Rogers said.

At Vintners Inn just north of Santa Rosa, wedding specialist Denette Huffman said the power was on there and she was hearing from people seeking potential alternative venues should reserved wedding locations remain un-powered and unusable this weekend.

“There has been a lot of juggling,” Huffman said.

“We are here and we might be working with other venues for Saturday and Sunday if their power doesn’t come back on.”

Electricity was restored Thursday afternoon at one popular wedding venue, the Mayacama Golf Club east of Windsor.

To see live power recovery status per North Bay city, go here


To see a map of PG&E outages in the North Bay, go here


To see a map of current winds in the North Bay, go here

In Sonoma Valley, caterer-restaurateur Sondra Bernstein of the darkened The Girl and the Fig restaurant and The Fig Café said the outage has been “a mess” but she senses that power will be widely restored Friday.

She hopes she’s right, because one of the four events she’s set to cater this weekend is a wedding that the outage displaced from one venue to another.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty,” Bernstein said, aching for the couple “that probably has guests coming from all over the country, and it’s supposed to be the best day of their lives.”

Added the sought-after and temporarily powerless chef, “We’ve definitely got to get cooking.”

At the Theoni Collection event rental firm, Eileen Wagstaffe declared, “It has been a bit of a wild road this week, to be sure.”

Wagstaffe has witnessed the emotional toll inflicted on couples, wedding planners, caterers and other service providers who’ve had to quickly change venues because o=f this week’s vast, precautionary power cut.

“It’s been a pretty disheartening experience for some of them,” Wagstaffe said. She added that it’s interesting what an 11th-hour change in wedding location “does to peoples’ psyche.”

Sharon Rooney, who speaks for four upscale Sonoma Valley inns shut down by the outage, said there’s a great effort to make certain that no wedding guest or other visitor is turned away for lack of a room.

“We’ve been contacting every guest” of the darkened Kenwood Inn & Spa, Inn at Sonoma, Sonoma Creek Inn and Gaige House + Ryokan, Rooney said. In a pinch, she said, enough generator power will be fired up at the Inn at Sonoma to allow people to sleep there.

There would be no fancy services, Rooney said, “but we have cool sheets on the bed.”

She observed the power shut-off has been tough for many in Sonoma Valley, and “the hardest part is not knowing.”

You can reach Chris Smith at 707-521-5211 and

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