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Event venues in the Columbia Gorge, Part 1: West Gorge

The Columbia Gorge Hotel ballroom set with tables of white linen and golden plates and chairs.
The Columbia Gorge Hotel’s Benson Ballroom (from their website)

Hello folks! Today we are going to talk about event venues in the Columbia Gorge. The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon in the Cascade Mountains, running nearly eighty miles in length just east of Portland. It’s an area of unparalleled beauty, filled with epic vistas, tantalizing waterfalls, deep forests, vineyards and orchards, and lots of rock. It’s a playground to the Portland metro area and features numerous unique venues for weddings, meetings, family events, and more.

A view of the Columbia River with the forested cliffs in the foreground and the distance, and with a view of the historic Vista House.
Vista House at Crown Point, as seen from Women’s Forum

The Columbia River Gorge is a big place with lots to do and see, so we’ve divided up our round-up into two parts. This first part covers the western reach, from the end of the Portland metro area (Washougal, WA and Troutdale, OR) in the west to Hood River, OR and Bingen-White Salmon, WA in the east. This part of the Gorge features most of its famous attractions: Vista House/Crown Point, Cape Horn, Beacon Rock, Multnomah Falls. Part Two will feature the eastern reaches of the Gorge, from Hood River/Bingen-White Salmon eastward through The Dalles, OR to Maryhill, WA.

Venue Options

The Main Lodge building - a gray wooden building - at the Cape Horn Estate in Cape Horn, Washington State.
Cape Horn Estate (Main lodge building, or Greenhouse)
A view of a wedding dressing room featuring large mirrors with Hollywood-style makeup lights above, tufted furniture, and a sitting / dining area. At Cape Horn Estate.
Getting-Ready Suite
A view of a wooden building with cafe seating outside and decorated with cafe market lights above a concrete dance floor.
The Pour House at Cape Horn Estate
A view of an expansive lawn with a stone arch to mark a ceremony site, decorated with cafe lights above. Two wedding planners talk to each other in the background. An aisle path leads to the arch.
The grounds of Cape Horn Estate

Cape Horn Estate Right off WA 14, behind Skamania Store and a couple miles west of Beacon Rock, this venue is located in an old Grange hall. The interior of the hall can accommodate 150, the smaller Pour House can hold 70, and the beautifully groomed grounds can hold 300. And the Getting Ready Suite in the hall is something to behold! The best part? This property is owned and catered by the same people behind Hoda’s Lebanese Restaurant in SE Portland. You can have delicious Mediterranean food at your wedding!

Columbia Gorge Hotel (from their website)
Wah Gwin Gwin Falls

Columbia Gorge Hotel Up next on our list of event venues in the Columbia Gorge is this historic Mission style resort. Located just on the west side of Hood River, the hotel was built in 1921 to accommodate travelers on the then new (now Historic) Columbia River Highway. There are three outdoor lawns available for weddings, the largest can accommodate 250. The indoor Benson Ballroom can hold 150. There are 40 guest rooms located at the hotel, and catering, staffing, setup and breakdown that is all handled by their staff. While the building itself is impressive enough, the most impressive feature to me is the waterfall right on the property! Wah Gwin Gwin Falls drops 207 feet (63 m) from the back of the hotel to the Columbia River below. The area is renowned for its waterfalls, but this is the only one I know that’s adjacent to a hotel. If you have a wedding here, you don’t need to travel to another waterfall.

From Will and Erik’s wedding on Thunder Island.

Thunder Island How about a venue where the splendor of the Gorge serves as the backdrop? Just off the shore of Cascade Locks, Oregon, Thunder Island came into being in 1890 with the creation of the Cascade Lock and Canal. This lock/canal combo was built to get around the notorious Cascade Rapids, the last rapids of the Columbia River before the ocean. Bonneville Dam’s pool flooded the rapids, but the island remains. Now the island can be rented out for special events, including weddings. Island rental includes a wedding platform and 200 chairs. And destinations in Cascade Locks, like Thunder Island Brewing, are just a short walk away.

Skamania Lodge wedding planned by EJP Events. Photo credit: ©Evrim Icoz Photography

Skamania Lodge Want a spot where you can have a wedding or event and never need to leave the grounds? Across the river from Cascade Locks, this resort located outside of Stevenson, Washington features a hotel (including luxury treehouses), restaurants, a spa, and an adventure park complete with zip-lines. Weddings can be done in their amphitheater, and receptions can be held either in their Ballroom or the outdoor, covered Riverview Pavilion.

Places to Stay

There are many lodging options in the Gorge. We’ve highlighted a few below:

Transportation to the Columbia Gorge

Most people arrive to the Gorge via car. Nevertheless, there are other options:

  • Train: Amtrak’s Empire Builder stops in Bingen, Washington (across the river from Hood River) twice daily. The eastbound train (from Portland to Spokane, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Chicago) calls on Bingen around 6:21 PM. The westbound train (from Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Spokane to Portland) calls on Bingen around 8:04 AM. (Times are subject to change)
  • Bus: There are multiple options that connect the Portland metro area to the Gorge, all of them have bike racks on the front and/or rear of the bus.
    • Oregon side: The Columbia Gorge Express travels from Gateway Transit Center in Portland to Hood River several times a day, making stops in Troutdale, Multnomah Falls, and Cascade Locks.
    • Washington side: Skamania County Transit travels from Fishers Landing Transit Center in Vancouver to Bingen several times a day (weekdays only), making stops in Washougal, Skamania (store), North Bonneville, Stevenson, and Carson.
  • Bike: Undeniably the Gorge is a great place to ride a bike, at least on the Oregon side. (Washington Route 14 has lots of traffic and often lacks a shoulder.) The Historic Columbia River Highway is the way to go. It’s a scenic route that winds its way from Troutdale, OR to Cascade Locks. You’ll share the western route (Troutdale east to Yeon State Park) with cars, east of there it’s a car-free path! (Note: There is one long staircase you will have to negotiate.) Bike maps for the route can be found here and here. East of Cascade Locks is tough, though, as parts of the old road are gone. Oregon Department of Transportation has been building back much of the disappeared route, including the legendary Mitchell Point Tunnel. However, this will take years to complete. Meanwhile, it is perfectly legal to ride the shoulder of I-84 here, but if you do not want to do this, you can take the Columbia Gorge Express bus (see above) for this segment.

One important note about driving through the Oregon side of the Gorge: Between May 24 and Sept. 5, 2022, a Timed Use Permit will be required for each personal vehicle accessing federal lands adjacent to the Waterfall Corridor between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. just east of the Bridal Veil off-ramp (Exit 28) to Ainsworth State Park (Exit 35). 

Waterfall Corridor permits will be available online for a $2 transaction fee and in person for a limited amount of same-day permits (no fee) at the Gateway to the Gorge Visitor Center in Troutdale and Cascade Locks Historical Museum. If you want to drive, Recreation.gov will release online permits approximately 2 weeks prior to the visit date. For more info, please see the website.

Hope this helps you find event venues in the Columbia Gorge!

How to get your wedding invitations hand-cancelled at Bridal Veil Post Office

Front view of Bridal Veil Post Office, a small wooden house of about 10 feet by 10 feet, with front porch.
Photo: Shawn Granton

How do you get your wedding invitations hand-cancelled at Bridal Veil Post Office? And where is this post office, anyway?

To call this post office inconspicuous is an understatement. Maybe you’re zooming east put of Portland on Interstate 84. You spy what looks like a shack on the right, just before the off-ramp for Exit 28. What could that shack be? Maybe you followed Google directions and wondered aloud to yourself as you make the turnoff for the post office: “There surely can’t be a post office down this back road, right?” Welcome to the Bridal Veil Post Office!

This post office sits in a small wooden building, no bigger than 10′ x 10′, making it one of the smallest post offices in the country. It technically serves a “town” that no longer exists, what remains of this former mill town is a cemetery and small collection of houses along the Historic Columbia River Highway (Old Route 30). Besides 40 post office boxes contained in the postage-stamp sized lobby, there seems to be no reason for a post office like this to exist.

What keeps this post office afloat is the thousands upon thousands of wedding invitations sent from here. Sending your announcement from a place named Bridal Veil is romantic enough, but what puts it over the top is hand-cancelling. Rather than a postmark generated via automatic sorting machine (what you’ll see on 99% of letters sent via United States Postal Service), the staff at Bridal Veil Post Office will cancel your stamped letter with a hand-stamp. Many people will go there in person to get their invitations hand-cancelled, while some will mail them in.

The three hand-cancel stamps of Bridal Veil Post Office. From top to bottom: Two linked hearts, a view of the Columbia Gorge and Bridge of the Gods, two birds.
Photo from Bridal Veil Post Office Facebook page

The post office has a few different options (usually three) for the hand-cancel, they can be seen above. A popular favorite for wedding invitations is one with two interlocking hearts, another features doves. The Bridal Veil Post Office turned 135 on July 7th of this year. In honor of this, the post office is offering a special hand-stamp.

How do you get your wedding invitations hand-cancelled at Bridal Veil Post Office? You can check their Facebook “Friends” page for details, but it comes down to this:

  • Make sure you don’t use wax seals or anything that will stick out too much from the envelope
  • You can’t use regular first-class/forever stamps (current value 60 cents). You’ll need at least 99 cents of postage on each envelope to get the “non-machine” rate. You can buy special non-machinable stamps at your local post office or order online.
    • Or better yet, buy the stamps from the Bridal Veil Post Office! Stamp sales help keep this unique post office afloat.
  • For less than 50 invitations there is no charge to hand-cancel your invitation. For 50 or over, there is a 10 cent fee per envelope.

Please note that this above information was verified on July 27, 2022. Policies and prices can change.

The Bridal Veil Post Office is located at 47100 W Mill Rd, Bridal Veil OR 97010-7010. They are currently open from 10 AM to 2 PM Monday through Friday, and 8 AM to 2 PM on Saturdays. Operating hours and days can change, check the USPS web site before you head out. And if you have questions, you can call the post office directly at (503) 695-2380.

Event Planner Job Posting: Associate Event Coordinator, Location: Portland, Oregon/partially remote

A woman event coordinator places a floral arrangement on a long banquet table and smiles while looking at the camera.
Associate Event Coordinator, Marisol, helps put the finishing touches on a wedding head table, at an event at Ecotrust in 2016. #tbt

We have an Event Planner Job Posting to share with you! EJP Events LLC is a Portland, Oregon-based event planning company holding the core value that True Hospitality Welcomes Everyone. We work all over the US and internationally, supporting individuals and organizations so they can be excellent hosts of their important milestone events.

Our Associate Event Coordinator(s) will join a distributed team of three, and be responsible for a broad range of event planning support activities with both office (computer-based) and on-site event work. “Office” work will be flexible, within regular business hours, and work-from-home compatible after a reasonable training period. On-site event work will require specific mandatory work hours and locations with occasional travel. Primary tasks will include: data & resource library coordination; vendor follow-up; maintain/develop vendor relationships; event documentation; transcribing and organizing event notes after client and vendor meetings; internet research; on-site event support and coordination; and errands. The AEC is required to attend 1 weekly in-person staff meeting in Portland at minimum, and additional weekly meetings during training until their remote schedule is established.

Pay and benefits: Base hourly rate $15-$18/hr DOE, W-2 position. (Not a contractor). A commission program of up to 15% of net sales in addition to the above compensation is available to sales-trained accepted candidates. Plus $100/mo Employee Convenience Reimbursement to reimburse for the use of personal devices and travel to the in-person office.

Time requirement: 20 hours/wk, with opportunity for growth to full-time position as well as hourly rate increase and project-based bonuses for the right candidates. This position will be customized to fit the experience level of the accepted candidate(s).

Required Qualities, Skills, & Experience:
• relationship focused and results oriented
• calm and professional under pressure
• approachable and confident
• attendance: dependable, reliable and punctual
• honest and ethical
• respectful of client, vendor, and company confidentiality
• highly organized and detail oriented
• proactive and persistent
• robust internet research skills
• professional verbal and written communication skills
• evening & weekend availability (scheduled in advance)
• MS Office Suite, G Suite/Google Apps, email
• High School Diploma or GED
• minimum 1-5 years of related or applicable work history
• valid DL & insurable driving record
• able to walk and stand for long periods of time
• able to lift and move up to 25 lbs. comfortably

Preferred:
• Experience with Honeybook, Asana, and/or Timeline Genius event planning software
• experience in an intensive customer service environment
• bachelor’s degree
• data management experience
• hospitality industry experience
• Spanish proficiency or fluency
• Knowledge of additional software related to event planning, project management, or creative business management (please list any event planning software types you are proficient in, in your resume or cover letter)

How to Apply to this Event Planner Job Posting: Send a cover email of interest with your resume as a PDF attachment to: emee@ejpevents.com Please use email Subject: AEC 2022 APPLICANT: (your last name)

Please include a description of your regular weekly availability in your cover email. Women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ candidates are encouraged to apply. Candidates requesting accommodations to the above required skills, qualities, and experience are asked to include a description in their cover letter.

EJP Events is a 100% non-smoking company; smoking or vaping of any kind is prohibited at all office locations and at events. Please read more about EJP Events at our website: https://ejpevents.com/about-us/

Your guide to meeting and event venues in Tuscon, AZ

  • EJP Events coordinator Katherine O'Brien stands next to a desert cactus in Tuscon, Arizona.

We recently were able to visit Tuscon for a recent event. We’re excited to share our favorite reasons to visit this amazing oasis, and produce your guide to meeting and event venues in Tuscon.

What’s So Great About Tucson?

Tucson is in the aptly named, Sun Corridor, and enjoys, on average, 350 days of sun every year. (If you are like us and live somewhere with more cloudy days than sunny ones this alone may convince you to visit.)

Tucson is also home to the University of Arizona which brings a youthful vibe to this city and enriches the cultural options it provides.

Tucson has a rich history steeped in Native American traditions and culture that is worth exploring!

We also have to include the cacti in this list. They are everywhere you turn and possess the most amazingly beautiful contrast to the desert terrain. Hiking in this area is a treat! You can view these centurion giants along sandy paths that wind through the many impressive canyons. If you are lucky you may even come across a road runner or javelina (a small pig-like animal).

Tucson Activities

Tucson is a fantastic place to host an event with all of the unique activities offered there:

Try adding a trip to the Tucson Botanical Gardens, the Pima Air and Space Museum, the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Museum or the Mission San Xavier del Bac.

And don’t forget to make time for some fun with a group taco bike tour! Enjoying tacos together = team building in our book!

Where to host your event in Tucson?

Good Things Come in Small Packages at the Arizona Inn

If you are looking for an intimate venue for your next retreat, look no further than the Arizona Inn:

This historic boutique hotel is located in Midtown and offers a uniquely charming escape. With 5,000 square feet of meeting space and four meeting rooms to choose from, the team can gather comfortably and even step out onto the garden patio for breaks!

Guests will be refreshed and ready to go after a relaxing night in their well appointed casita-style rooms and some time by the pool. *Tip: Keep an eye out for the bunnies that hop about the grounds!

  • Entrance of the Arizona Inn, a meeting and event venue in Tuscon, AZ
  • Image of a table set in rustic desert color tones at the Arizona Inn in Tuscon.

Casino del Sol Shows us that Bigger can be done Better

Looking for a property that you don’t ever have to leave? Casino del Sol is a four-star luxury resort and casino that is Native American-owned. This resort has something for everyone.

Casino del Sol hosts more than 100,000 sq. ft. of flexible indoor/outdoor meeting space and even offers unique meeting settings like their conference center terrace or a picturesque pool deck and gazebo.

Immerse yourself in Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s history through original artwork and cultural expressions throughout the property.

Casino del Sol also has on site – 10 restaurants, 6 bars, 3 pools, a spa and golf course, 5 event venues (where you can catch acts like Patti LaBelle or even Smashing Pumpkins) and thousands of games to choose from in their state-of-the-art casino.

  • Aerial photos of the Casino Del Sol resort complex in Tuscon, Arizona

Break All the Rules at Culinary Dropout

Culinary Dropout is a great option for group dining out! Snack on their famous honey drizzled fried chicken or pretzel bites and provolone fondue while you sample from their extensive beer, wine and cocktail list.

With 5 different private venue options, it’s easy to find the right fit for your group here. There’s plenty of different options for smaller groups, but it can also hold up to 250! Plus, they also have bar games and live music most nights.

Do you need a guide to meeting and event venues in Tuscon?

We hope after reading your guide to meeting and event venues in Tuscon, you get a sense that this special place can handle a meeting, wedding, or event of any size — and that you’ll be as excited as we are to explore this beautiful and culture-rich area of the United States. Please contact us for more info.

Alternatives to the “bouncy” wedding font, Part 1: Script Fonts

A good example of a script font that isn’t the “wedding font”

You’ve seen it by now, the default “wedding” font. It’s usually cursive (or cursive adjacent) and features a “bouncy” baseline–the bottoms of the letters don’t sit on a line, but rather go up or down as if by whim. Head over to a “create your own invitation” service like Zazzle, and you’ll see a bunch of these fonts. It’s very of the moment.

The issue of using anything in the moment is that it may become dated and not age well. And if you are striving to be unique with your wedding, it’s hard to be unique when you’re using the same font that everyone else is using.

We asked designer Meagan Ghorashian, founder of Brolly Design, for ideas for some alternative fonts–fonts that capture the same spirit but are not the same-old, same-old. Here are a few of her picks:

The above fonts do cost a nominal fee to use. Perhaps you are on a tight budget and can’t afford the expense. If so, check out some of these free fonts Meagan found on 1001freefonts.com:

And if you do have the cash, consider getting an artist to hand-letter for you! It will add a very unique touch to your invitations and other decor, a touch that you can’t get from a computer typeface.

Hand lettering is always a nice touch!

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!