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Best Portland Wedding Planners – Featured on Katy Weaver Photography

We were recently featured on the popular Portland wedding photography blog by Katy Weaver in an article entitled “Best Portland Wedding Planners”. We were really flattered to be included; thanks so much, Katy! I’m reprinting my portion of the interview below, because it was so fun to answer these questions. I hope you find this background about our wedding planning services useful! And, included here are a few photos of some the fun weddings we’ve had the pleasure of working on with Katy.

Photo: Katy Weaver Photography

What makes EJP Events unique?

Our team approach with 3 planners on staff (employees not contractors); over 45 years of combined event and hospitality experience in the business; and a “heart and head” approach that speaks to both the data side and the emotional side of weddings helps everyone in your weddings mix feel included, comfortable, and secure that you’re making educated decisions.

Why should couples hire a wedding planner?

Simply because: it’s a lot of legwork that you do not have time to do. Of course you could create your own wedding design brief; write a wedding budget; and research the best vendor choices to fit that design and criteria. (This is just the first part of planning!) However. If you’ve never done this before, it’s a huge learning curve to figure out all the industry terms, conventions, and insider knowledge to get all your planning systems up and running. Why not work with a planner who has already created and tested and used successful systems over and over and over; that way you can focus on the fun things like picking colors, decor, and clothing — rather on trying to figure out in what order you should do your huge wedding planning to-do list.

What advice do you have for couples choosing a wedding planner?

Check out their websites and social media! Do you see your wedding or the possibility of your wedding style, in what they offer? Do you see people like you having weddings like yours in their portfolio? Is there a variety of work and clientele, or do they pretty much do just one type of design and look? The latter is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you have non-traditional ideas, or want to work with someone who is flexible with a wide experience of various cultures, traditions, and styles — make sure to look for that int the planner’s work. If so, it’s a good sign that you might want to meet with them and do that interview next step!

Photo: Katy Weaver Photography

What type of weddings and couples are the best fit for you and your business?

We love to work with people who are willing to invest time and thoughtfulness into the process. Most of our wedding clients are working with us starting 6-18 months before the wedding, envisioning everything from the best location to the emotions they want themselves and their guests to feel at different timepoints of the wedding experience.

What do you love most about your job as a coordinator/planner?

I love standing in the back of the room when the party is in full swing, knowing that the crowd is joyfully celebrating, and that they are completely unaware of what went into producing the day. They are only present in the moment.

What’s the best way to contact you?

We have a contact page on our website: https://ejpevents.com/contact-a-portland-event-planner/ or of course you can always call us at (503) 284-6756 or email emee@ejpevents.com

Anything else you’d like to add?

Remember WHY you’re having your wedding and the love will guide you. Also – we travel!

Dry January, and alcohol-free options for your event

Image: Illustration of Man in suit holding out hand to refuse an alcoholic drink
From an old Soviet anti-drinking poster.

There has been a “Dry January” trend over the last decade of either cutting out or dialing back alcohol consumption in January. It’s a reaction against the overindulgences of the holiday year and a way to have a fresh start for the new year. As alcohol consumption has increased over the last two years due to pandemic and other stresses, now is a good time to be questioning your alcohol intake.

The concept of a sober, or dry January, started in 2013 in London. It’s part of a broader campaign called “Mindful Drinking”, which aims to rethink our approach to alcohol without quitting it completely. Ruby Warrington, who wrote the book “Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol” said in a recent New York Times article that “interrogating one’s drinking habits often leads people to adopt more mindful drinking strategies.”

There are definite benefits to drinking less. Alcohol is expensive, so cutting down is a great way to save money. Less drinking can lead to better sleep, better overall health, and can help with anxiety and depression.

But if you are used to having a drink or two on most days of the week, it can feel daunting to give up alcohol for a period of time, even if the period is relatively short. Several organizations, like the one who started Dry January, Alcohol Exchange UK, offer apps and coaching emails to support the decision. And it’s best not to approach the challenge as an absolute: take it one day or week at a time. It’s OK if you end up enjoying an alcoholic beverage during the challenge.

And there are ways to make cutting back on drinking easier, like exchanging alcoholic drinks with a non-alcoholic equivalent.

A good place to start is with beer. If your only experience with NA Beer is O’Doul’s, you’ll be relieved to know that now there are more and tastier options out there. Athletic Brewing serves up a selection of craft beer styles like India Pale Ale (IPA.) Clausthaler has been brewing German style NA beers for fifty years.

If spirits are your thing, Zero Proof offers booze-free rum, gin, tequila, and whiskey alternatives. Spiritless has their own alcohol free take on bourbon. For lovers of fermented grapes, Surely has non-alcoholic wine.

Are these options not available to purchase in your area? Since these products either don’t contain alcohol or a negligible amount (under 0.5% alcohol by volume), they don’t suffer the same shipping restrictions that actual alcoholic beverages encounter. You can buy many of these drinks directly from their manufacturer, or find an online store that specializes in booze-free booze, like Sipple.

You can still accessorize your non-alcoholic beverages. Groovy Guy Gifts offers up personalized decanters for your spirits-free spirits, while their “sister” company Bridesmaid’s Gifts offer insulated stemless wine glasses for your alcohol-free pinot!

And alcohol-free options should not just be limited to one month! With the hopes of weddings and more in-person events returning this year (fingers crossed), one should think about options for their non-drinking participants. Emphasizing alcohol without giving options for those who aren’t imbibing can make people feel unwelcome. And being unwelcoming is no way to have an event! So consider some of the “dry” options listed above in addition to the normal alcoholic beverages. Your teetotaling guests will thank you!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after following a link from our blog, EJP Events and The Portland Event Planner may be compensated by that company. For more information about affiliate links, please go here. For EJP Events’ privacy policy, visit this link. Thank you for supporting our blog!

Unique Event Venues in San Diego

El Cortez

Winter is definitely here in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t mind it as much as some people do (it helps that I was raised in a colder and snowier climate), but there are times when damp and gloomy days can get to me. That’s when I think of places where summer seems to be all year long. These type of places make great meeting and event destinations in the dead of winter. And if this locale has a Mediterranean climate, it can be good any time of the year! So let’s head to sunny Southern California and explore unique event venues in and around San Diego.

Let’s start with a venue that’s in what was once San Diego’s tallest building and most prestigious hotel. The El Cortez* opened in 1927 and for years was “the place” where big names like presidents or The Beatles stayed while in town. After a period of neglect, the El Cortez is mostly condominiums, but retains some of that old luster in the Don Room at El Capitan. The 3,300 square foot octagonal shaped ballroom can accommodate 250 people seated or 300 standing. There is also an outdoor terrace with fireplace that can be rented separately or along with the Don Room.

The Don Room at El Cortez (from their website)

The Lodge at Torrey Pines is a resort designed in the classic “California Craftsman” style. The lodge boasts over 13,000 square feet of space for events from corporate retreats to weddings. Catering is provided by the in-house restaurants. Perks include a 36 hole golf course with epic views of the Pacific Ocean, a full-service spa, and the manicured grounds featuring the very rare Torrey Pine which only grows in the immediate area!

Lodge at Torrey Pines

It would be very remiss of us if we didn’t mention Raised By Wolves, a Gilded-Age influenced speakeasy located, of all places, inside a suburban mall! It might not be the best place for a meeting where things need to get done, but can be a great add-on for an after event. Reservations are pretty much required to get a spot at this amazing bar.

Raised By Wolves (from their website)

Ok, we’re in a beach town, so let’s go beachside! La Jolla Beach and Tennis Center is a “hacienda” styled private club with 90 guestrooms and of course a lovely beach and tennis facilities. The club features the Walnut Room with 1,300 square feet of space for up to 100 guests, and the La Sala Room with 2,000 square foot event space that can seat up to 150 guests. Events can also be held by the pool, next to the duck pond, and of course on the beach itself!

La Jolla Beach and Tennis Center (from their website)

Would you like both “beachside” and luxury that comes out of a different era? The Hotel del Coronado is a rare surviving example of a wooden Victorian-era beach resort. Upon opening in 1888, it was the single largest resort hotel in the world. A space this big (second largest wooden structure in the US after the Tillamook Air Museum!) has a lot of meeting space, about 96,000 square feet to be exact. The selection of spaces runs the gamut: indoor ballrooms and meeting rooms, outdoor gardens and lawns, and of course the beach itself.

Hotel del Coronado

Forget the beach, how about something on the water itself? Flagship Cruises runs the popular ferry service from Coronado to downtown San Diego and also offers private cruises on its fleet of both modern and vintage vessels. A cruise could be the event itself, or it can augment another event held elsewhere.

Perhaps you want something with more of an urban flavor. Deck 655 incorporates 8,500 sq. ft. versatile indoor outdoor party venue that can be customized for social or corporate events. Deck 655 features a 125 foot long outdoor deck with fireplace and a capacity for 350 guests in both the indoor and outdoor spaces. Centrally located downtown at the corner of W Broadway and Kettner Blvd, Deck 655 is across the street from the historic Santa Fe Depot.

Deck655 (from their website)

And we’ll end our tour at Santa Fe Depot. Opened in 1915, this historic train station built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style still serves as a major transit center. Amtrak runs its popular Pacific Surfliner service several times a day between San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo. One can also catch the Coaster commuter rail service north to Oceanside every weekday. And the depot serves as a hub for the San Diego Trolley, an extensive light-rail system that serves many destinations around the metro area.

San Diego’s Santa Fe Depot, serviced by Amtrak and local commuter rail

We hope this gives you a snapshot of what’s available for events in San Diego. If you’re interested in setting up an event here, please contact us.

* The El Cortez Hotel is named after the conquistador, mutineer, and adulterer, Hernan Cortés, who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Aztec Indigenous peoples. 

It is sadly common that in our regular event planning activities, planners and attendees will encounter venues and points of interest that honor historical figures who committed atrocities against Black, Indigenous, and Peoples of Color. As we all become more aware of our shared history, we can do our part to educate ourselves about the history surrounding the names of event venues and tourism points of interest, and to study the history of colonization and genocide that has led to many of the problems of systemic racism that Indigenous people suffer today; and to prevent future harm. 

In addition, we urge event leaders to provide written or verbal acknowledgement of original peoples and history within the context of hosting an event, and to reinforce verbal statements with actions such as paying voluntary land tax in support of Indigenous peoples.

We ourselves acknowledge that our events and our tourism-related activities with groups and meetings take place on land that was forcibly taken from the original peoples. We endeavor to go beyond mere land acknowledgement and instead, work proactively to prevent harm to Indigenous and Native peoples, and to return land and resources to them. To learn more, here are some resources for starting your journey: https://nativegov.org/news/a-self-assessment/

5 important factors to consider when planning a destination wedding in Mexico

Planning a destination wedding is at the top of many of our clients’ to-do lists, so we make sure to attend many conferences and trainings on the subject. One of them we remember fondly is Love Mexico, which was held in Playa del Carmen some years back. Weddings are cautiously returning to travel for 2022 and 2023. Here are five important factors we took away from this experience:

Mexico destinations aren’t just for casual weddings

A beach wedding doesn’t have to be a casual, barefoot affair if you don’t want it to be. The availability of vendors in Mexico beach destinations is such that you can create the wedding vision, theme and color story of your wishes, including ones with high style and custom designs.

Planning a destination wedding in Mexico? Check out this image of an altar and ceremony chairs lined up on the beachfront in Cancun, Mexico.
Photo courtesy Westin Resort and Spa, Cancun

Not just the beach

Mexico isn’t just about beach weddings, either! The strong Spanish and European influence during colonial times means that old-world palaces and piazzas are just as available as palm trees and sand for a wedding backdrop — and without the 16-hour flights or Euro exchange rate.

Image of a white limestone mansion in Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico
By Matthew T Rader, CC BY-SA 4.0

Research the volume of weddings at your chosen destination wedding venue

Check to see how many weddings may be held at the resort of your choice. We talked to some in-house resort wedding planners who handle anywhere from 5 to 20 weddings per day. If you have chosen a larger resort, consider bringing your own personal wedding coordinator along with you so that you can get personal service on this most important of days. Or, consider working with a personal wedding coordinator who is familiar with the area during site selection, who can direct you to smaller, more exclusive properties and venues that might be off the beaten path.

A wedding banquet table covered in colorful flowers; with lanterns hanging above. A great idea for planning a destination wedding.
Photo courtesy Rosewood Mayakoba

Is it private?

Find out if the site or beach you have selected is a private location. If you picture exchanging vows in a secluded setting, you don’t want any surprises. Visit the location beforehand, or make sure you’re working with your personal wedding planner who has been there.

Wedding chairs set up in front of a white pavilion overlooking the ocean at Barcelo Maya Palace Hotel. One of the locations we've traveled to for planning a destination wedding.
Photo courtesy Barcelo Maya Palace Weddings

Destination wedding budgets can be competitive with local weddings

Planning a destination wedding can be just as affordable as a wedding you might plan in your home location. We’ve seen all-inclusive affairs in Mexico at excellent resorts for the same budget as a 100-person wedding locally. Many resorts offer perks based on your guest count. If you’re having a hard time finding a location you love at home, and most people are flying in anyway, consider a Mexico destination wedding for something wonderful and affordable.

The Portland Wedding Coordinator Blog is supported by affiliate links such as this one from Palace Resorts, or this one from Experiencias Xcaret. EJP Events may receive a payment, should you choose to purchase anything after visiting a link. Thank you for supporting our blog!

Planning events in Seaside: From Family Reunions to Conventions

Image via flickr user Robert Rynerson. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

If you’ve been following this blog for a bit, you’ll know that we love both visiting and facilitating events on the Oregon and Washington Coasts. We’ve talked about the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington and Astoria, Oregon. Now it’s time to give attention to Seaside, Oregon. Seaside is the closest beach city to Portland, which means it’s a very popular destination. It’s got a wealth of venues for hosting small gatherings, business meetings, and weddings. It also hosts the only true convention center on the North Oregon Coast! So let’s take a visit and see what this bustling town can offer.

Let’s start the tour with the Seaside Civic and Convention Center. This newly renovated convention center overlooking the Necanicum River has 24,600 square feet of usable meeting and event space, with an additional 8,900 square feet in the Prefunction and Mezzanine areas. Catering is exclusively provided by Oregon Fine Foods.

Seaside Civic and Convention Center

Planning on staying near the Convention Center? There are several hotels nearby. The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Seaside-Convention Center is just on the other side of the Necanicum River from the Convention Center, just requiring a short walk across a bridge. The Inn at Seaside is just across the street. Another block away is The SaltLine, a freshly built hotel with a saltwater pool and 600 feet of meeting space for small events.

Mural on the side of SaltLine Hotel, Seaside OR

Looking for something smaller than a convention center? The Beacon on Broadway events venue is in a hundred year old building a half block west of US 101 and just four blocks from the beach. The Beacon can hold up to 150 people. This makes it a great spot for a retreat, meeting, or small wedding.

Beacon on Broadway (from their website)

Renting a house in or near Seaside is a great idea if you want a whole place to yourself for a family reunion or special occasion. You can find many choices through Airbnb and Vacasa. You can also check out listings from some rental agencies specific to the North Oregon Coast like Beachhouse Vacation Rentals, Seaside Vacation Homes, and Oregon Beach Vacations.

Do you need help with feeding your guests? Niblack Events catering can help. They can do both buffet and plated style meals. And they don’t even need a venue! They can drop off prepared food where you need to be, even if it’s a picnic!

We hope this gives you a snapshot of what’s available for events in Seaside, Oregon. If you’re interested in setting up an event here, want to plan a wedding on the coast, or need help with a gathering, please contact us.

Unique Event Venues in Los Angeles

Los Angeles City Hall

As event planners, we’re always looking for unique and interesting venue options for our clients. Our recent trip to Southern California gave us the opportunity to explore what Los Angeles has in store. L.A. is a humongous city, with just about four million people within its city limits and a further ten million people in the surrounding metro area, so we barely scratched the surface of what is available. Hopefully these four options will give you something to start your search with!

We love train stations! They make great event venues. And LA is is the home of what is considered to be the “Last of the Great Railway Stations” built in the United States! Opened in 1939, Los Angeles Union Station is a mix of Art Deco, Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne architectural styles. You can rent out the gorgeous Ticket Concourse for an indoor event, or either the South or North Patios for outdoor events. The various event spaces in the station can accommodate anywhere from 100 to 1,000 people. Pricing can range from $6,000 – $20,000 depending on the size and scope of the event. The best part? Union Station is still an active train station and transportation hub, serving over 110,000 passengers a day! Metro Rail, L.A.s local rail-transit system and Metrolink, the region’s commuter rail service serve Union Station. And several Amtrak lines, both California regional (Pacific Surfliner), and long-distance (Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Sunset Limited) call on the depot. And you know we are definitely fans of Amtrak. So your guests can get there without driving!

Los Angeles Union Station

How about an event in a former Catholic cathedral? Built in 1876, The Cathedral of Saint Vibiana served as Los Angeles’s main Roman Catholic Church until the 1994 Northridge Earthquake severely damaged the structure. After a battle with preservationists, the Church built a new cathedral, leaving St. Vibiana to the city. It eventually got sold and transformed into the event space now known as Vibiana. In 2012 Chef Neal Fraser and Amy Knoll Fraser, who own the adjacent Redbird Restaurant, took over operations. They can accommodate corporate gatherings in the 18,000 square foot Main Hall, and/or the 15,000 square feet outdoor courtyard. Food and beverage service is provided in-house. And Vibiana also offers full-service weddings!

Vibiana (from their website)

Getting out of downtown, LA River Studios is located in the growing LA River Arts Corridor. This building was a former toy truck factory built in 1931 that was abandoned for decades until it was restored as a premier event space. LA River Studios has 15,000 feet of flexible space (including outdoor space) and can fit up to 400 people. The space is supported by on-site VOX Productions.

LA River Studios (from their website)

Looking for a spot for a corporate party or even a wedding? Candela La Brea is located in a historic 1920’s building in the Miracle Mile neighborhood. They feature a Mexican restaurant, bar, and a flexible16,000 foot space that could be great for your next event!

Candela La Brea. (from their website)

And finally we’ll end with a grand and historic event venue that is also a place you can stay! When opened in 1923, the Millennium Biltmore Hotel was the largest hotel west of Chicago. This storied hostelry, located downtown across from Pershing Square, had hosted the annual Academy Awards eight times in the early part of the twentieth century. (It is rumored that the design of the “Oscar” statue was sketched on a napkin during the founding ceremony in 1927!) Now the Biltmore has 70,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space and 683 guest rooms. You can have an event in the main Crystal Ballroom (6,300 sq. ft., up to 800 people), the same room where those early Academy Awards were hosted, or in one of the other four ballrooms. The charm of the Golden Age of Cinema can still be found at the Biltmore, yet with modern amenities.

Millennium Biltmore’s Crystal Ballroom (from their website)

We hope this gives you a snapshot of what’s available for events in Los Angeles. If you’re interested in setting up an event in LA, please contact us.