Venue Time :: Destination Unknown

While my fiancé and I live in one of the best cities in the world - San Francisco (yes, I know I'm biased!), we have known for a while that we wanted to get married in Oregon. I grew up in Eugene and we met while in school at the University of Oregon. We both have a lot of history there and the summers, especially, just feel like home to me. I can't imagine getting married anywhere else. Beyond knowing the state we want to tie the knot in, we are pretty open. The areas we have been focusing on spans from Eugene, up north to Portland and, from there, east to Hood River and the Mount Hood area. With this vast area in mind, the next question I asked myself was – where can I picture getting married?

Sources: 1, 2

  • Vineyards: I grew up in the Willamette Valley, which is home to some beautiful vineyards and delicious wines! Chris and I had our first date at King Estate Winery and have visited many times since.
Sources: 1, 2, 3
  •  Farms/Ranches: Views, nature and a little country flair…what more could a bride ask for?!
  • The Beach: I grew up going to our condo at the Inn at Otter Crest, located about 8 miles north of Newport, Oregon. The Oregon coast is scenic and raw and would make for amazing pictures. The downside of an Oregon beach wedding? The weather. If I got married in a beach setting I would want it to be outside and Oregon beaches aren't exactly known for warm summer evenings. Cold and wind-blown wouldn't be a good look for me.
Source: 1, 2
  • Urban Scene: Portland isn’t just for shows about quirky, over-the-top Portlandians, it also has some great potential wedding spots. I am envisioning an industrial, exposed-brick-and-beams look for the reception. Possibly a little chapel for the ceremony (not because we are particularly religious, but I think it would be sweet and fun).
  • Hood River/Mount Hood area: ahhh, the views! If you’ve ever had the opportunity to drive along the Columbia River Gorge, which forms the boundary between the State of Washington to the north and Oregon to the south, you know it’s a sight to see. I was not surprised to hear that this area is increasing in popularity for weddings. A snow-capped mountain in the height of summer would be such a cool backdrop for the big day.

Brainstorming was the fun part. Next came the searching where I found out the hardest part about planning a destination wedding is just what I thought it would be – not being there! The internet has been a lifesaver for me over the past couple weeks in the quest to find the venue but, with that said, most of the websites are not designed with the destination couple in mind. It is so tough to get a feel for the space and its layout through the pictures most sites have posted. I keep thinking to myself ‘I don’t care about these people’s center pieces and wedding rings hanging from a grape vine; I want to see the space!’ This is where Google Earth’s Satellite and Street View’s have come in handy for me. I have been able to zoom in on the area and see the layout of these places. Why don’t more sites feature a floor plan?! (It could be the interior design student in me. Does anyone else think this?)

Not only has it been hard to get a feel for the spaces through companies’ websites, I quickly realized that venues are booking up for summer 2013. So last week we bought plane tickets for a long weekend trip up north to see some of these places in-person - we're leaving next Friday! I do feel lucky that our ‘destination’ is a quick and direct flight away!

With just a weekend to look at spots, we don’t have the luxury of spending weeks looking and visiting, going back and weighing our options, but the destination thing is forcing us to be efficient and I like that!

Are you having a destination wedding? Destination or not, did you have the same trouble with venue websites? What was your venue strategy?