It’s no secret that one of our favorite wedding locations is the Columbia Gorge just east of Portland. Here is where the Columbia, the mightiest river in the west, literally cut through a mountain range on its way to the Pacific. The steep mountains that form the “walls” of the Gorge are supremely photogenic. And the staggering number of waterfalls add to the natural beauty. We were so excited that Shannon and Ryan asked us to assist with their Thunder Island wedding planning.
Shannon and Ryan met during a camping trip in college. They love the outdoors, so much that their engagement session involved rock climbing at Smith Rock in Central Oregon. So an outdoor wedding was definitely in the picture for them. The weather on their wedding day was almost perfect: ample amounts of sun and warmth, though a wee bit breezy. But it’s the Gorge, wind is to be expected!
The reception was held indoors at the Pavilion at Thunder Island. An example of the couple’s unique touch was an audio guest book that guests would record their greeting via a vintage rotary phone.
It was a lovely wedding and we were happy to help.
The west side of the Cascade Mountains is lush and wet, giving Oregon our reputation as a damp place. But east of the Cascades? The high mountains cause a rain shadow, leaving the area drier and sunnier. How much drier? The Dalles, 60 miles east of Portland, only receives 15 inches (40 cm) of rain a year. Compare that to Portland’s 35 inches (90 cm)!
The area around The Dalles (Wasco County in Oregon, Klickitat County in Washington) is in the heart of the “dry side”. The dry rolling landscape with mountains as a backdrop makes a good setting for a wedding (or event retreat), especially an outdoor one! Plus, you’ll have a greater chance of a rain-free wedding on any given date. (Though it will most likely be windier!)
Things to do around The Dalles
The area has a number of attractions that make having a wedding there more attractive. Rowena Crest is the east-most spectacular viewpoint on the Historic Columbia River Highway, featuring a set of photogenic hairpin turns. The Maryhill Museum a former estate built overlooking the river, is now a museum featuring more than 80 works by Auguste Rodin. Maryhill Stonehenge is a full scale replica of the British original, built as a memorial to World War I veterans. And the region is filled with wineries, though the craft beer scene is starting to expand with breweries like Freebridge. (Try the pizza if you go!)
Wedding venues around The Dalles
Sunshine Mill in The Dalles. This 100 year old mill building in downtown The Dalles is home to Quenett and Capa di Vino wines. Weddings take place in the foundation of the old mill.
Balch Hotel in Dufur. Billing itself as the “Sunniest Wedding Location in the Gorge”, the Balch is a good safe bet if you want an outdoor wedding not afflicted with sprinkles. Plus, there’s 20 guest rooms on site that exude an early 20th Century vibe.
Imperial River Lodge in Maupin. Located right on the Deschutes River (a popular rafting spot), the lodge provides 25 guest rooms and the options of indoor or outdoor wedding venues.
Maryhill Museum. Want a wedding with a stunning backdrop of mountains and the Columbia Gorge? The grounds at Maryhill are perfect for that!
Celilo Inn. We are very excited about this new wedding venue coming online expected in 2023. The artist rendition shows the incredible view of the Columbia River Gorge, city of The Dalles, and Mt. Hood. Weddings will also receive room blocks and a suite; while all overnight guests receive a glass of wine and a passport to complimentary Columbia Gorge wine tastings.
Looking for a wedding or event venue that is near Portland but has a different flavor than the Willamette Valley? Then consider a wedding in The Dalles, Oregon. Feel free to contact us if you would like assistance!
This blog post was updated 2/24/2022 by Emee Pumarega.
How time flies! Beth and Sachin were married last summer in the Columbia River Gorge. Many thanks to Evrim Icoz for capturing the day through these photographs.
The wedding weekend kicked off with a Friday evening rehearsal dinner at Multnomah Falls Lodge, followed by a welcome event at the hotel featuring local Oregon and Washington bourbon, beer, and wine tastings; mehndi hand painting by Amrapali Boutique, and lots of treats including s’mores around the fire and cuisine provided by Skamania Lodge catering. Northwest Navigator was on hand to make it easy for guests to get around the Gorge.
Saturday, everyone was up early for beauty and preparations. Family and friends shared in both traditional Hindu wedding rites and a non-denominational Christian ceremony. The cocktail hour was held in a quiet garden patio area, and followed by the wedding dinner reception and dancing a meadow lit with twinkling lights and adorned with bright flowers and vintage details.
Congratulations to Cassie and Brad on #brassie17! This wedding is extra special to me, as it involves many people who I’m lucky to know personally. It’s always fun to get to do a wedding with friends. Cassie and Brad were married in the Ballroom at McMenamins Edgefield on a lovely spring April day in the Troutdale/Columbia River Gorge area, Oregon.
Today’s real wedding was photographed by Scott McNamara. We helped Lauren and Kurt from Chicago plan an Oregn destination wedding weekend at Multnomah Falls Lodge. With this type of scenery you really don’t need any other decor!
Their ceremony was held on the patio surrounded by forest and the falls in the background; the reception was held inside the historic 1925 lodge Great Hall, with its soaring ceilings and crackling fireplace.
This time of year, we’re fielding tons of inquiries, cleaning up the blog, receiving happy emails from couples with links to their summer wedding photos. I was just going through some photo files and couldn’t believe I’d overlooked blogging Mindy and Ashish’s garba (Gujarati-style dance party) and wedding weekend from a few years ago.
The garba was held at the downtown Hilton Portland and catered by East India Company. I worked with Royce’s Prop Shop and the bride, who had brought back a ton of gorgeous sari fabric that she wanted to use around the room. Royce and I came up with the idea of draping the saris over T-bar posts, and using uplighting for a festive effect: