Hello folks! Today we revisit a region near and dear to our hearts: The Columbia River Gorge. This valley carved straight through the mighty Cascade Mountains, providing a water-level route to the interior. This gorge is filled with immense beauty and special places, making it a favorite place of ours not only to visit, but also to hold weddings and other events. We have planned several weddings in the Gorge, like Will and Erik‘s and Shannon and Ryan’s. Come with us to tour event and wedding venues in the Columbia Gorge near Cascade Locks!
Gorges Beer Co.
This brewery is new on the Gorge beer scene, opening in the summer of 2021. Their three-story space, located in downtown Cascade Locks, features two open-air patios with expansive views of the Gorge and Cascade Mountain range. They also have a one-acre lawn and separate “barn” with bar for an outdoor ceremony of up to 200 people. Plus, you’ll get to drink the tasty beers Gorges is known for.
Maple Leaf Events Wedding Venue
Located in the foothills above Stevenson, Washington, across the river from Cascade Locks, Maple Leaf Events feature a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces for weddings. The reception hall can accommodate 150, with a large kitchen and small bar available as well. Plus, they provide suites for the couple to get ready, and three rentable cabins for overnight stays for members of the wedding party.
Black Pearl on the Columbia
This industrial-styled, multi-level facility is located in Washougal, Washington, at the west entrance of the Gorge. Its 12,600 sq ft can accommodate up to 1,000 people, making it a great spot for a large corporate event. And its floor-to-ceiling windows give a sweeping view of the Columbia River and Cascade Foothills.
Columbia Gorge Museum
Would you like having your event held amongst big pieces of machinery and historical displays? The Columbia Gorge Museum (also known as the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum) in Stevenson allows facility rentals after the museum’s public hours end. As per their website, this museum boasts thousands of square feet of available space including a meeting room, theater, large outdoor patio, as well as the Grand Gallery. (Editor’s Note: This museum should not be confused with the similarly sounding Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in The Dalles, which we mentioned in our East Gorge roundup last year.)
Transportation to the Columbia Gorge
Most people arrive to the Gorge via car. Nevertheless, there are other options:
Bus: While Amtrak’s Empire Builder passes through the Gorge here, it does not stop until Bingen, about 20 miles east of here. Taking the bus is a better option. 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.
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. Bike maps for the route can be found here and here. Don’t have a bike? Rent one from Bike The Gorge in Cascade Locks.
We hope that you found this post informative, and that it helps you when sourcing event and wedding venues in the Columbia Gorge near Cascade Locks If you need any help planning your next Corporate Meeting, Event or Conference in the Gorge, EJP Events is here to assist!
In the picturesque landscape east of the Cascades, amidst the breathtaking beauty of towering mountains and high desert greenery, a vibrant tapestry of colors and traditions unfolds as an enchanting Indian wedding in Central Oregon took place last fall. The air is filled with anticipation and joy, as family and friends gather from far and wide to celebrate the union of Luke and Rekhna.
Elaborate floral decorations adorn the venue, while the aromatic scent of Indian delicacies mingles with the crisp mountain air. Against the backdrop of nature’s splendor, the bride and groom, draped in resplendent attire, embark on a lifelong journey together, surrounded by the warmth and love of their loved ones.
We look forward to another Indian wedding in Central Oregon.
We recently attended Connect Pacific Northwest in Boise, Idaho and heard from Justin Skeesuck who taught about the Multiplier Effect and how it relates to accessibility in your events. My takeaway from this important talk was: If you exclude one person, you are also losing 4-5 additional attendees who might be connected with that person. Photo from official website of the speaker.
Everyone says, “I want to throw the best event ever!” and that means making events more inclusive. If your attendees feel unwelcome or left out, your event is falling short. Here are 6 ways you might be making attendees feel unwelcome, and how you can fix that. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive or definitive list. We welcome your input and additions in the comments if you have the time.
The menu. (Including alcohol)
Gone are the days of the rubber-chicken conference dinner or surf-and-turf-for-all. Today’s event attendees are health-minded, from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and care about the environment, animal welfare, and where their food comes from. Food is the centerpiece of any gathering, and if the foods you offer at your event do not serve all of your attendees, they’ll feel left out and unwelcome. Check out this blog post, written by EJP Events’s resident vegetarian and Marketing Events Assistant, Shawn Granton, for some examples.
Are you preparing for attendees who avoid animal products; follow diets based on their faith, such as Kosher or Halal; or have sensitivities to any of the nine major food allergens? If not, you should! And to do so, you’ll want to ask, in your registration form, whether or not your attendee has any dietary preferences (I prefer the word “preferences” rather than “restrictions,” which can sound negative). You also want to make sure you’re working closely with your caterer and venue — even before signing the contract — to make sure they can prepare the foods your attendees want within your budget.
Don’t forget alcohol! As we talk more and more about mental health and overall wellness, we need to bring this into our events too. Not every attendee is excited about an open bar. Indeed, being around a lot of alcohol can present problems both for individuals on a recovery path as well as for organizations who want to promote healthy choices and professionalism. Make sure you are designing your event not just for different dietary needs, but also including those who make the choice to avoid or reduce alcohol consumption. Here’s a recent blog post we wrote about Dry January and how that thinking is coming into how events are planned.
There’s nothing worse than getting to an exciting event you’ve been looking forward to, and finding out it’s a literal pain to get there. Think about the last time you had to walk what felt like miles inside a giant venue to find the restroom, or when you finally got there, only to find it was cramped or poorly appointed. Now imagine being a wheelchair user, someone on crutches, or a person with any other kind of mobility challenge, and you can see how the problem gets much worse. All of us are one accident away from disability, and if we’re lucky enough to grow old, we’ll all need accessibility accommodations at some point in our lives. Again, ask your attendees when they register what their needs and preferences are. “What accommodations, if any, would make it easy for you to attend this event?” is one example of how you can ask. And again, start asking your planning and logistics questions BEFORE you book your venue. One important one is “Are there ramps for a wheelchair-using speaker to get to the stage?” You can find a good resource of additional questions to ask starting here.
Finally, just because there are no curbs, or because the venue is legally ADA accessible, doesn’t mean your event is safe for a wheelchair user. We recently attended a presentation on Accessibility in Travel, where a wheelchair user described being assigned to stay in a hotel where she couldn’t open her room door by herself, from the inside. When asked, the front desk said she could call them whenever she wanted to leave her room. But what if there was a fire? Clearly, “just following ADA” is not enough. We all need to do more, such as spending more time evaluating the actual attendee journey through the space, not just checking off boxes.
Outdated concepts and wording
Sadly, this example of making guests feel excluded is still common. When attendees eagerly click on your event website, or registration form, is there anything there that would make them feel like this conference isn’t for them? One example I see often is titles on a registration form such as Mr. and Mrs. If all I see is Mr. and Mrs. as the choices, I feel left out because neither one describes me.
While many people use these titles, it’s true that “Mrs.” in our current society refers to marital status, and in a business setting, there’s no reason to ask women to declare their marital status. while leaving Mr. as the default for men, without any kind of denotation. Probably a whole dissertation could be written about why there is no version of “Mrs.” to denote a married man, in our society. What to do? A couple of ideas: Avoid titles altogether and instead, ask for first and last name, and pronouns. Or do all of the former and allow multiple choices and fill-in options for the title, such as Dr., Mr., Ms. or Mx.
Just like physical accessibility, online accessibility involves allowing everyone, not just sighted or hearing folks, the ability to enjoy your content and use your registration form. If someone with low vision, or a Blind or Deaf person can’t get to your registration form, then how will they attend? It’s a real problem and if your goal is to be inclusive and attract a diverse audience, you must consider disability. Thankfully there are lots of tools to make your visual content readable by a screen reader, so a person with vision disability can have it read to them. And vice versa – there are lots of tools to create captioned content for photos and videos, so hearing-impaired people can access your event sound content. One of the resources for finding these that we like is at MabelyQ – they’re a resource helping organizations improve access for people with disabilities. We recently took their course “Accessibility Made Easy“, and we realize we have a lot of work to do. Even looking at my own web theme at ejpevents.com, there is a lot that needs fixing, starting with text color contrast in my own, low-vision opinion. From adding alt text to photos, to using #CamelCase for hashtags, the resources out there have been useful and important to learn.
Online accessibility is also related to other ways of including everyone. By offering an online component of your event, whether it’s a selected number of livestreams or a full hybrid version, you’re making events more inclusive and accessible to attendees with a caregiving responsibility, such as mothers; the immunocompromised or at-risk populations who are still told to avoid large groups due to COVID; and those for whom traveling to an event would pose a barrier. Consider virtual or hybrid options to increase your attendee reach and inclusivity.
Excluding introverts and the neurodiverse.
This is something, as an event planner, I have struggled with for many years. As someone who gets energy from one-on-one contacts, and can feel depleted having to connect with many people all at the same time, I’ve realized over time that I identify as introverted. It’s common for me to need extra time to process information, to desire to skip small talk, and jump right into deep discussion of a topic. These might sound like liabilities in the workplace. On the other hand, what clients and colleagues stand to gain from these traits, is they receive more authenticity, well-thought-out opinions and guidance, and meaningful interaction. Glen Cathey, SVP of Digital Strategy and Innovation at the staffing agency Randstad, has a wonderful presentation about introversion at work called Introversion: The Largest Neurodiversity Category In Sourcing, Recruiting, Diversity and Inclusion. Unfortunately, because introverts are in the minority, our society and events tend to be built for assertive, “sociable”, and talkative people who have the tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others, leaving introverts (1 in 3 people) feeling left out and excluded. While introversion is not officially yet considered a category of neurodiversity, both Cathey and others, such as Sam Sheppard, advocate for including introversion as a part of any organization’s strategy to include the neurodiverse, and I agree.
And let’s talk about the more well-known neurodiversity identities, which are just as, if not more important, to accommodate at events if you truly want to work towards making events more inclusive. How do we serve those who are on the autism spectrum? How do we design for those with sensory issues or other neurodivergent traits?
What can you do? Learn, learn, learn, and then take action. We love the resource from GoogleXi called The Neu Project, which explores the topic of neurodiversity and helping create events that embrace all neurotypes. We recently heard Naomi Clare, one of the leaders on this project, speak at CMP Advance in New York, and she provided us with a Guide to Neuroinclusion which contains a wonderful A-Z toolkit of what you can actually do, starting now, on your path to making events more inclusive.
Affordability of events, in my experience, has only recently become part of the conversation of inclusivity. However, as a child of immigrants, and someone who identifies as “1st Gen” (being the first generation in your family to meet a major life milestone, such as going to college in the US), I’ve witnessed firsthand how affordability can be a real issue in attending events. While there has been some consideration of affordability at events, most often in community and nonprofit events, the affordability question is now being addressed by more corporate and business events as well. This is important when we think about the history of racial inequity in this country, and how financial and monetary resources, and paths to generational wealth, have been inequitably distributed or just outright stolen, removed, or legislated out of the hands of marginalized groups. This Twitter thread from Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, an associate professor at University of Michigan, clearly outlines many of the major issues of affordability and events.
What can you do? Here are a few ideas and you’ll need to consider your event’s business model.
Offer a sliding scale or path to reduced or free participation.
Get sponsors to host scholarships or awards that come with a comped registration.
Pay speakers the cost of their travel plus an honorarium, so you’ll have access to all kinds of talent no matter their financial situation.
Sometimes, stakeholders will say, “There isn’t a budget for this.” However, my experience is that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Consider how you’re apportioning your entire budget. Do you have budget for conference swag, luscious decor, or other items, but not a few scholarship or student/low-income registrations? Did you pick a venue that leaves you no margin? Why is that? Can you sharpen your event planner pencil and find a place for your priorities? Your budget will show what the goals and priorities of your event are. If inclusivity is one of those goals, you and your budget will find a way.
I hope you find this blog post helpful! EJP Events works to include many of these methods of thinking when we are working with our clients. If you find these methods would be helpful for your event, I hope you’ll reach out.
There are many types of locations that people gravitate towards when they plan a wedding: places like houses of worship, hotels, banquet halls, and parks. But for some, the idea of having their wedding at a vineyard tops the list. Not only do you have a scenic locale, but you can sample the wines grown and fermented there! And vineyards are great for other events, like corporate retreats or a family reunion. Let’s explore some of the options for weddings and events in Oregon’s Wine Country.
Oregon Wine Country Venues
Domaine Roy and fils.Located in the hills above Dundee, this winery gives impressive views of the Willamette Valley, especially on a clear day when you can see Mount Hood. Domaine Roy can accommodate up to 60 guests for intimate dinners to corporate getaways. Full venue rental includes full access to the Tasting Room, Patio, and Olive Grove. (Please note: Domaine Roy no longer accommodates weddings, but they do handle corporate and other types of events.)
Eola Hills Winery.Located in the hills just to the west of Salem, this winery’s rambling and scenic vineyard is a great wedding locale. The Legacy Estate Vineyard can host up to 300 folks in its outdoor setting next to a small pond. Want something inside? Their Wine Cellar location, located a few miles to the west in Rickreall, can host a wedding of 200 within its barrel room. Eola Hills allows you to choose your own catering.
The Allison Inn and Spa. The only full service hotel and spa in Oregon’s Wine Country, The Allison offers a variety of indoor and outdoor venues on its 35 acre estate north of Newberg. Weddings of up to 250 guests can be accommodated here, and the guests can stay on property.
The Bindery. For a change of pace, here’s a non-winery venue in Wine Country. Located right in downtown McMinnville, The Bindery (no relation to the similarly-named Portland business) is an open industrial style space that used to be home to the community newspaper. The space has capacity for 150 people for a seated event, or 200 for standing. It’s a good spot for a wedding, rehearsal dinner, or corporate event. And since it’s in downtown McMinnville, you can easily walk to all the attractions this charming town offers.
Places to Stay
While it is close enough to Portland that one can easily stay in the Rose City, staying in the Wine Country means one can better immerse themselves in the experience. (And if “immersing yourself in the experience” means enjoying wine, staying here means not having to get back to Portland after a day of wine tasting!) There are many hotels in the area, we’ve selected a few of them below.
Atticus Hotel. Located in downtown McMinnville, this hotel offers a lovely fleet of Gazelle bikes to borrow.
Abbey Road Farm. Instead of a trailer, you can stay in a converted farm silo on this working farm located west of Newberg.
Places to eat
There’s a lot of great food in Wine Country. We’ve highlighted a few of our favorites below.
ōkta. Located in the Tributary Hotel and helmed by Michelin-Starred Chef Matthew Lightner, ōkta features a hyperlocally sourced, ten- to twelve-course meal, that Portland Monthly describes as “smart, tender, understated…as if Ziggy Stardust returned and put out a poetry album.” Reservations required.
Red Hills Kitchen. Located in the Atticus Hotel, Red Hills Kitchen is “a celebration of the local bounty in the Oregon Wine Country.” You can eat in, take it to go, or shop the small market attached to the restaurant. Red Hills Kitchen is also a preferred caterer for The Bindery, located just across the street.
Wooden Heart. A food truck parked at Furioso Vineyard (next door to Domaine Roy), they make great pizzas using their brick oven. The truck can also travel to your destination for catering.
Transportation to Oregon’s Wine Country
Most people arrive to the wine country via car. Nevertheless, there are other options!
Train: Amtrak stops in Salem, which is on the south side of wine country. Both the Cascades service (Vancouver BC-Seattle-Portland-Eugene) and Coast Starlight train (Seattle-Portland-Oakland-Los Angeles) call on Salem’s historic depot.
Bus/Transit:Yamhill County Transit serves much of the Wine Country. Connections to Trimet (Portland’s metro area transit) can be made via transfers in Hillsboro, Forest Grove, and Tualatin. Yamhill County Transit also runs a bus from McMinnville to Salem. (Please note: Most of Yamhill County Transit’s service is weekday only.) Salem’s transit provider Cherriots also accesses some destinations on the south and east side of Wine Country.
Bike: Riding around Wine Country can be both rewarding and challenging. Rewarding because of the spectacular scenery and all the wine that can be tasted. Challenging due to the numerous, sometimes steep hills and busy, narrow roads. The best all around info for cycling can be found via Visit McMinnville. Ellee Thalheimer’s Cycling Sojourner Oregon guidebook has a great Wine Country bike tour, but as far as I know it’s only available in print.
Shuttle: We definitely recommend you to have someone else drive if you plan on doing a lot of wine tasting. There are many options for shuttle service and wine tours. We suggest Lucky Limo and Aspen Limo.
We hope this post helps you find the right venue for weddings and events in Oregon’s Wine Country.
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.
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.
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:
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.