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!
Elopements don’t have the same social connotations as in days of yore: a rushed wedding, kept under wraps for various reasons; family drama. Nowadays, elopements are becoming a popular choice for couples who don’t feel a big, traditional wedding suits them. Modern elopements, rather than being just the couple running off together, now often include a small number of close family and friends.
What makes it a modern elopement?
The couple is often going to a destination wedding location rather than marrying in one or the other’s hometown, or their current place of residence
There are less than six months of planning involved
Some traditional wedding customs may be left out such as a lavish wedding cake, printed invitations, or an elaborate dress.
What items are we still seeing being “left in” the elopement that are like a planned wedding?
A lot of thought is still going into the wedding clothing and for the couple to look their best
The location is very important, since without a lot of wedding traditions, the location is the centerpiece and more important than decor. The location IS the decor.
Wedding photography is not getting skimped on! In fact, many elopement weddings we’re seeing are able to afford a skilled professional photographer, because they aren’t spending so much on having hundreds of guests in attendance.
What are the pros?
Can save a lot of money. Reducing guest count is the number one way to reduce the cost of a wedding.
Simplifies arrangements. By not using many wedding traditions, the overall planning becomes simpler. Elopement planners can be used to help find the location and negotiate contracts, and may set everything up; but once you walk down the aisle, you may not need the full services of a wedding planner. Asking a wedding planner about their elopement package for a group of 20 guests or fewer may result in surprising savings.
Could reduce stress. If you are introverted, or just don’t like the fuss surrounding a traditional wedding with a large dance party and hundreds of guests, a small wedding or modern elopement can feel perfect.
What are the cons?
Some people could feel left out. If it’s common in your family culture to have large weddings, those not invited could feel snubbed. Check with the elders of your family if you think this could be the case! Be diplomatic and use the 25-year-rule.
Does not always mean a great reduction in cost. We have seen modern elopements where wedding guests are included, quickly turn into destination weddings. These type of events can quickly grow to a $5,000-$10,000 price tag for 20-50 guests. As long as you have set your budget and planned carefully in advance, you should be able to get the type of wedding you want. A wedding planner can be helpful in this respect, especially those who do a “Kick-Off Consultation”.
It can be hard to find just the right location for a modern elopement. A couple searching on the internet for a place to get married can often easily find the flagship or traditional wedding venues in a destination, while the quirky, unusual, or unique locations are harder to find. For this reason it can be helpful to work with a wedding planner who is familiar with your destination, has traveled there before, and can possibly offer a different angle from what you would see on traditional wedding websites like TheKnot and WeddingWire.
Whichever direction you take your wedding planning in, there are a lot of great elements that we can take from smaller, intimate weddings and elopements.
Kristin and Jason were married last July at Lewis and Clark College in the Agnes Flanagan Chapel and their reception was at Smith Hall in the historic Albany Quadrangle on campus. Many thanks to Joe Riedl for the photos of the day.
We enjoyed working with the following great companies to make their day truly special:
I was just glancing through the 2017 WeddingWire Newlywed Report – a market research report where recently-wed couples are polled for data. A couple of items really stood out to me:
40% of couples underestimate their wedding budget. This means almost half of people planning a wedding have a picture in their head of their wedding, but an incorrect estimation of what it will cost. To me, this is a recipe for heartache and stress, and could be easily solved if instead of picking a venue or a design vision first, couples first took their budget and evaluated it line by line to find exactly how each item should be allocated. (This is something we do in our very first meeting with clients.)
50% of weddings occur on just 22 dates of the year which are all Saturdays. This means that, for example, if you take the approximately 16,000 weddings that occur in Oregon each year, about 8,000 of them are vying for venues on the same 22 Saturdays. It seems like it would help to have an organized planner on your side to help you find the perfect location. (We have venue sourcing services that range in price, so get in touch!)
Hope you find the report as interesting as I did, and that it helps you in your planning! — Emee
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.
If you are looking to deck out a candy bar, stuff scrumptious sweets into guest bags, or just take a break from planning and treat yourself, make sure to check out Quin Candy. All of their candy is made in-house and the ingredients are sourced locally when possible. They have an array of caramels, lollipops, and chews with unique and delicious flavor profiles like maple and cracked pepper caramels and smoked cola gumdrops. Their Best of Oregon Caramels are crafted with Oregon grown hazelnuts, local honey, and salt from the coast. You can visit their store on SW Stark or find these treats in shops around town. If you don't live in Portland you can also order these confections online. Just make sure to get enough to share!
Today’s EJP Events real wedding comes to you courtesy of Thalia and Conor, who we worked with last summer on their lovely wedding at the World Forestry Center. The WFC is such a great venue because there are so many choices for catering, and there are both outdoor and indoor wedding locations. For Thalia and Conor’s wedding, they chose the tented outdoor plaza for the ceremony, followed by a cocktail hour inside Cheatham Hall. During this time, our team changed the tent setup from ceremony to reception. Finally, they and their almost 200 guests headed back to the tent for a seated buffet dinner with a dance area in the center.
While the guests went in for cocktails, the EJP Events team worked quickly to move ceremony decorations for reuse as reception centerpieces; remove tent dividers and bring out tables, move ceremony chairs around the dining tables; and set placesettings and favors.
Unique escort cards can add a special touch to your wedding, so here are some great ideas that are sure to grab your guests' attention. Escort cards are a nice way to set the tone for dinner and can even become a favor for your guests to take home!
Using vintage keys are a wonderful way to make your guests excited to find their name. This is one that can double as a wedding favor that guests are sure to keep.
Here in Oregon we had an uncharacteristically beautiful October. Blue skies and temps in the 60s and 70s are a reminder that fall can be the perfect time to host your wedding. Here are some ways to incorporate a fall feel into your wedding.
During the summer it's best to stick to cool, refreshing cocktails but fall begs for a warmer beverage. Here is a DIY Apple Cider Cocktail from Green Wedding Shoes that is sure to wow your guests. Plus, the alcohol is added after the cider is already concocted, making this an easy one to offer as a non-alcoholic choice as well.
We have to give a shout-out to Hi Fi Weddings, a blog we've just discovered. I know how important music is to our clients — over half of the brides and grooms we talk to say that music and dancing are the most important part of their party.
Hi Fi Weddings celebrates the music that you choose for your wedding in great detail, from posts about real weddings and the music they used, to music-themed invitations, fun favors and gifts, and just about anything music.
The great thing too is that the blog covers far more than your typical Top 40 and mainstream wedding music choices. As a music lover who rarely finds compatriots in musical taste, nay not even of the spousal variety ("What, you don't want Morrissey's cover of Moon River for our first dance?"), I highly appreciate that Ashley, the editor, has put together several playlist suggestions for your wedding featuring everything from Otis Redding to Devendra Banhart. Play on!
Weddings are all about personalization. And we find that many of the men out there already own their own tuxedo. That's great! If you want to wear your own tuxedo in yours or your friend's wedding, here are some must-do tips for success:
– Check with the groom first to make sure that this is OK! He may already have a look in mind, and if so you should go with his decision.
– Coordinate your accessories with the group for a polished look.
– If you are the groom, you might be able get away with a slightly different style. However, if you're not the groom, your tuxedo style should not be radically different from the rest of the wedding party. No mandarin collars if everyone else is in a notch collar!
– If you are bringing your own accessories (tie, bowtie, vest, etc.) don't forget to pack them in your wedding kit.
– Consider renting or buying the same accessories and shirts for the group for a coordinated look (and also to make sure everyone has them!)
– Don't forget to pack dark socks and the shoes that go with your tux.
Hope you find these tuxedo tips helpful! Next up we'll talk a little bit about ivory vs. white in the wedding colors.
If you have tech-savvy guests, have them make use of the Portland "Twisitor's Center" by following @travelportland on twitter.com . Your guests can then post questions with the tag #inpdx and receive real-time advice on where to eat, shop, and play during their wedding-weekend downtime. Thanks to VentureBeat for the tip!
I’m a big fan of What Not to Wear on TLC. I love the transformation the show’s guests undergo from beginning to end. A wedding can be a lot like that, where we go from the everyday, to the once-in-a-lifetime, on every level, including the bride’s look.
So I was so excited to hear that they were doing a wedding edition of the show: how fun! to see Stacy and Clinton work their magic on a bride.
And even cooler — I’ve found that this same service (minus the embarrassment of having to be on national TV) is available right here in Portland, from Inspire Style Coaching. Jandi and her team will come to you, take measurements and do a style interview, to help you find the exact kind of dress that will work best with your body type. No more guesswork and relying on salespeople to figure out what is going to look great; the Inspire Style methodology is an art and a science in itself. The stylists will even go shopping with you, directing you to the right stores and boutiques that carry the exact look you’re shooting for.
For most people, the wedding dress is a huge part of the day — and a huge part of the stress! How cool that there is a service like Inspire Style for those of us who don’t have Stacy and Clinton!
Is accessibility on your site selection checklist? It's not always something that you as the bride and groom may be thinking about. Often, high on the site "gotta haves" are things like a gorgeous view, good chairs, and a good selection of caterers.
However, with so many people of varied ages and needs in most families, perhaps some thought should be given to the accessibility of your wedding event sites. And that's not just limited to the ceremony and reception — think also of your rehearsal dinner, bridal luncheon, goodbye brunch, or any other events to which you might have guests attending with accessibility issues.
The most common issues are older folks — think Grandma and Grandpa, your Auntie coming from abroad; anyone who might have trouble with a flight of stairs, a steep stone path, or uneven walkways. Think about any of your family or guests who have recently had surgery or medical treatment that might make walking or longer distances between sites a potential problem.
Putting a little bit of forethought into the accessibility of your chosen site can help a great deal in making sure all of your guests, including those with physical challenges, feel welcome and comfortable at your wedding.