Recently we found ourselves in Tacoma, Washington, a city about 2 1/2 hours north of Portland and just south of Seattle. Tacoma has had a reputation in the past of being a place that you skip over on your way to Seattle or Portland. But that perception has been changing over the last decade or so. We spent a day here to check out what’s going on, thoroughly enjoying ourselves while keeping an eye out for meeting spaces.
We decided to spend the night at Hotel Murano, conveniently located in the heart of downtown and adjacent to the Tacoma Link Light Rail which connects downtown to the Tacoma Dome. (Alas, we didn’t have a chance to ride the streetcar on this trip. Next time!) The Murano is a boutique hotel with an impressive view of the city. It’s named after Murano Island off the coast from Venice, Italy, an island considered to be the center of Old World glass art. That name is significant, as Tacoma is now a New World center of glass art, with the nearby Museum of Glass just a few blocks from the hotel. The Hotel Murano features glass art throughout, with a different featured artist on each of its floors.
Hotel Murano is not just a great place to stay, but it’s a great space to have an event! Their 30,000 square foot flexible use space can host corporate events, executive retreats, association meetings and leadership seminars.
For many couples, the food is THE most important part of the wedding celebration. I often hear from them: “The food HAS to be good”…”We like the Portland food scene and want to integrate it into our wedding”…”We want to give our guests a taste of Portland and the Pacific Northwest”. Often, they already have a caterer in mind when they start their venue search, and are challenged when they keep running into venues that have strict exclusive lists.
That got me to thinking. What Portland wedding and event venues allow unrestricted outside catering? Here are just a few as of September 2018. Keep in mind that policies do change, so check with the venue first before making any plans or appointments. Know any others? Let us know via sharing in the comments below!
Horning’s Hideout is a great outdoor venue in North Plains, Oregon, only about 45 minutes from downtown Portland. The venue features covered pavilions, a relaxed vibe, and the ability to use any caterer you like.
Matt and Diana wedding at Horning’s, 2018. They used food trucks!
Matt and Diana’s wedding at Horning’s Hideout, 2016.
The Pacific Northwest is the home to boatloads of natural beauty. Its residents love the outdoors with a fervor not seen in other areas of the country. It’s natural for folks to incorporate their love of nature with weddings. A camping or outdoor themed wedding is a natural occurrence around these parts.
At the most basic of levels, all one needs is an outdoor space that can hold the wedding party, preferably in a scenic location. But a successful outdoor wedding needs a little more than that. How easy it for folks to get to? What are the amenities like? If people are camping, will there be a place for them to clean up before the ceremony?
Here are some camping destinations close to Portland (within a one to two hour car ride) that regularly see weddings. A few of them offer “glamping” amenities, next level camping with a luxury touch! Some places also offer lodging facilities like yurts and cabins where beds are provided, but bedding is not.
Camping weddings with tent camping (no indoor lodging)
Horning’s Hideout is located about 45 minutes northwest of Portland, outside the town of North Plains in Washington County. We can attest to its popularity as an outdoor/camping wedding destination. This is due to proximity to Portland, on-site amenities, and beautiful location. The campground is located right on-site, making it easy to party late into the night and retire into a waiting tent! And showers are available so one can freshen up before the ceremony.
South Falls, Silver Falls State Park. Photo: Shawn Granton
Rustic cabin at Silver Falls. Photo: Shawn Granton
Camping weddings with tents, yurts and indoor lodging
Silver Falls State Park is about an hour south of Portland, due east of Salem and outside of Silverton. Sliver Falls big feature is, of course, the falls: ten different waterfalls connected by a seven mile trail! The Silver Falls Lodge and Conference Center features a catered event center with furnished cabins nearby. There are also rustic (you bring bedding) cabins, a regular campground, and a group campground. Full bathrooms with free showers are located in the campground.
Camp Wilkerson is about 45 minutes north of Portland, near Scappoose. This Columbia County Park is located in dense forests on a spur of the Oregon Coast Range. The Day Lodge features cooking facilities and space for 250. There are also a few rustic lodges, 24 Adirondacks (three-sided camping shelters), and space for tent camping.
Camp Nanamu is a youth camp about 30 minutes east of Portland, on the banks of the Sandy River outside of the city of Sandy. The camp has many different facilities, the largest event centers can hold up to 300 people! There’s also numerous cabins and lodges for sleeping, including (and my favorite) treehouses!
Vernonia Springs is a newer facility about an hour northwest from Portland, outside of Vernonia. A former trout-fishing camp, Vernonia Springs features yurts, round-sided permanent tents based off the design used by peoples from the steppes of Central Asia. They also feature traditional (and large) canvas-sided wall tents made by local company Beckel Canvas. The location is right off the Banks-Vernonia Rail Trail, which means one can easily bike to a wedding! (A bonus: they rent bicycles!)
Last but not least, the Sou’wester Lodge is in Seaview, Washington, on the Long Beach Peninsula about two hours from Portland (and about 20 minutes from Astoria, Oregon.) The Sou’wester features space for tent camping and RV’s, but they have cabins, yurts, and for the ultimate in glamping, vintage travel trailers (think Airstreams and the like!) All guests have access to an outdoor kitchen, spa and sauna, and showers.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it hopefully gives you some inspiration when it comes to a camping/glamping themed wedding!
We recently spent some time traveling through Friday Harbor, WA on San Juan Island scouting some ideas for a San Juan Islands wedding. The San Juan Islands are an archipelago in the Puget Sound north of Seattle and south of Vancouver, consisting of over 400 islands and rocks. The four largest islands, San Juan, Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw, are accessible to the mainland via the Washington State Ferry System.
The islands offer a rich tapestry of forests, farmlands, and beaches, plus spectacular views of the water and mountains. You’ll find several wineries and organic farms dotting the islands. The islands are overall rural, but you’ll find urban services in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, Lopez Village on Lopez Island, and Eastsound on Orcas Island. This area is a popular tourist destination in the summer (many people have summer homes here), so it can feel a bit crowded on a nice July weekend. But the overall climate of the islands is more moderate and drier than the mainland, meaning winter explorations are a great way to beat the crowds.
Here are some ideas for your San Juan Islands wedding weekend!
A note about transportation: The Washington State Ferry Service (WSF) is the primary transportation to the islands, connecting the San Juans to Anacortes on the mainland. During the summer, there is one WSF trip to Sidney, British Columbia, just north of Victoria on Vancouver Island. The Victoria Clipper runs a passenger-only ferry from downtown Seattle to Friday Harbor. Privately chartered boat and plane transportation to the San Juan Islands is also available. If you plan on bringing your car on the Washington State Ferries on weekends or during the summer months, advance reservations are strongly recommended! However, you’ll always get on the next ferry if you are on foot or bicycle, no reservation needed, no matter what. Long term paid parking is available at the Anacortes terminal.
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I was lucky to recently spend some time in the Skagit Valley and San Juan Islands. There are so many lovely locations in this area for a Pacific Northwest destination wedding, especially for those thinking about spring and summer events.
Whether you’re coming from the East Coast, or just from Portland where we’re based, the area is easy to get to from either Sea-Tac or Bellingham airports; or just off I-5.
Amtrak Cascades serves the town of Mt. Vernon so, you could even throw your bikes on the train and have a car-free wedding or elopement.
Skagit Valley is known for its flower farms, farmers’ markets, and local art. Anacortes, WA is your jumping-off point to catch ferries for the San Juan Islands; or you may want to spend time in the charming towns of Mt. Vernon, or La Conner (where we hung out the most), or Bow. Here are just a few ideas for your Skagit Valley wedding weekend.
For so many couples, the food is THE most important part of the wedding celebration. I often hear from them: “The food HAS to be good”…”We like the Portland food scene and want to integrate it into our wedding”…”We want to give our guests a taste of Portland and the Pacific Northwest”. Often, they already have a caterer in mind when they start their venue search, and are challenged when they keep running into venues that have strict exclusive lists.
That got me to thinking. What Portland wedding and event venues allow unrestricted outside catering? Here are just a few as of December 2017. Policies do change, so check with the venue first before making any plans or appointments. Know any others? Please share in the comments below!
Horning’s Hideout is a great outdoor venue in North Plains, Oregon, only about 45 minutes from downtown Portland. The venue has covered pavilions, a relaxed vibe, and the ability to use any caterer you like.
Going through old photos of site walks and I came upon this great one I took while venue sourcing for our dear client Kat. Even though she wound up choosing Castaway as her wedding venue, I still love Union Pine and can’t wait to do another wedding here.
There’s just something about this space that I really love! Below, a photo of the venue all set up with our client Rachel and Justin’s wedding (Photo by Bryan Aulick Photography):
Isn’t it gorgeous and also so simple? What wedding venues in Portland are you loving right now? Happy hunting this engagement/holiday season, to all who are looking for a site! (Maybe we can help?)
Anushka, a Portland high school student, has been studying classical Indian dance for 9 years. Last Saturday, EJP Events – Portland Wedding and Event Planning helped her parents celebrate Anushka’s arangetram, or formal debut recital. 350 attended the event at PCC – Portland Community College Sylvania’s Performing Arts Center with an intermission reception featuring food by Swagat Indian Cuisine. Family then returned home for a dinner party catered by Thai Bloom in NW Portland.