I'm happy to say we found the 'where' and the 'when' for our wedding! We took an extended weekend trip up to Oregon last weekend and fell in love with one venue in had all the checks on my list and then some. Not only that, but we got to spend an afternoon in Hood River, where our guests will be staying, and had so much fun! As a bonus, our friends and their sweet ten-month-old baby girl were passing through town too, so we got to go to lunch and walk around town with them (with a little wine tasting room pit-stop). I can only hope for the 80-degree weather from last weekend when our wedding comes around! I hadn't been to Hood River since I was a teenager, and I can say that it definitely lived up to the memories. I know our friends and family will enjoy this town as much as we did. As I mentioned last week, it's really important to us that our guests are staying in a place that they can explore and hang out with each other. As we walked around town, we kept our eyes out for places we could be in the days before the wedding. There were so many great spots and things about the town that fit our style...breweries, fresh and local food, outdoor decks, nice people, etc.

The downtown area is full of quaint buildings with home and clothing boutiques, windsurfing stores and restaurants. In the background is the Columbia River and the State of Washington.


Hood River is also the windsurfing capital of the world!


 About a 30-minute drive south of the town of Hood River, past wineries, lavender farms, and pear orchards lies the spot we will be saying 'I do' in July of 2013 - Mt. Hood B&B.


Here are some pictures of their awesome 47-acre property that sits on the northeast side of Mount Hood.

Mountain backdrop: check.


Room for lawn games: check.


Great dance floor: check!


Spot for the music: check (although now my fiance wants a band and I'm not sure if that fits into our budget :-)



Another reason we loved the B&B is that the owners were really sweet and helpful. Jackie (the wife/mom) happily answered my million and one questions. The couple raised their four kids on the property and now their daughter is also a day-of event coordinator. We wanted a day-of coordinator and she knew her stuff, so we hired her on the spot. That is sort of becoming a theme with our planning - if we know we like something, we make the decision quickly.

I am so relieved to have the date set and the venue booked. Now I feel like I can make all the other decisions within that framework and the vision can sort of fall into place. My mind is racing with all the other fun details...the colors, the dress, the flowers! Did anyone else feel like this? Or are the hard decisions yet to come?

Location, Location, Location :: Venue Search

You've heard it before - 'location, location, location' - and while it usually refers to real estate properties, I think it's also applicable to wedding venues. In searching for where we want to have our wedding, we were quickly faced with thinking not only about where the actual ceremony and reception would take place, but also where our guests would be spending a weekend. As I mentioned before, Chris and I have many friends in Oregon and my family is there, but we have lived in San Francisco for the past five years and his family is in California, so we have a community here too. Over our wedding weekend some of these people will be meeting for the first time, so it's really important to us that everyone get to know each other and have plenty of opportunities to hang out. As we come together in this union of marriage, we want our friends and family to come together as well (sounds corny, but it's true!). When thinking about this, we realized that if people just came from their house to our wedding and then went back home, it wouldn't have the effect we wanted. So, we decided, what better way for everyone to get to know each other than to be thrown into a small town over the course of a couple days?! Hence, our decision to narrow our search. We think the perfect place for what we have in mind is the Gorge/Hood River/Mount Hood area because it will be a 'destination' for almost everyone. At the same time, it's only an hour drive from the Portland and PDX airport, so it's not crazy remote for anyone either.

After we made the decision on this general location, the search has gotten easier and I'm beginning to actually picture what everything will look like. The main things we want in a venue are for it to be outdoor (although an indoor backup plan in case of rain would be a huge plus), some views would be nice, for it to fit our style - outdoor chic/whimsical - and to have a great dance area! Here are some of the images inspiring me and that I hope to find parts of this weekend on our visit. I know part of it will be being able to envision what we could turn a space into with some creativity.

Bridal Veil Lakes, sources: left, top right, bottom right

Mt. Hood Organic Farms, sources: Top, bottom left, bottom right

Mt. Hood B&B, sources: top, bottom

Gorge Crest Vineyards, source: all

I'm loving each of these venues for different reasons. I can't wait to see them in-person in a couple days. And it doesn't hurt that the forecast is showing 81 and sunny on Saturday so it will feel like summer!

Bear with me on one more real estate comparison...blame it on me living in several 'for sale' houses growing up (and countless HGTV shows in the past few years). If you remember last week when I talked about the difficulty seeing a venue through their website, I mentioned that I was sick of seeing countless close-up images of people's weddings - from their centerpieces to their rings on a grape vine, etc. I'm not trying to sound insensitive, it's just that that's not what us brides are looking for we search online for a venue (we want to see that when we are looking for a photographer or for DIY projects). The principle already applies in real estate - when you are trying to sell your house, you want to stage it in a way that other people can picture themselves living there, but at the same time, don't picture your family living there. So, you take down personal touches - family pictures, your moisturizer and toothbrushes from the bathroom counter and so on and you 'stage' it so that they think 'oh that little side room would make the perfect library/office!' I think wedding venue websites would benefit from a similar mindset. Instead of treating their sites like wedding blogs with pictures of all the details, they could find a way to balance couples being able to let their imaginations run wild with the space (staging), while removing the personalized elements of other weddings (family pictures on the wall). Any out-of-state brides out there? What do you think - are you running into this issue?


Follow up to my first week: If you were patient enough to read through this post, below is a picture of my finished ring!!! My first post two weeks ago was about the ring my fiance proposed to me with (his grandmother's beautiful ring) and how we went to design the 'engagement' ring that day together. Well, he got down on his knee again last night with the ring we designed in-hand (actually in-pocket) for me to see for the first time and it seriously exceeded all my expectations. For some reason I'm not super comfortable posting pictures of my ring for all to see, which is why I hid it all the way down here. Perhaps it's because I don't want to come across as superficial or giving the impression that the loveliness of a ring has anything to do with what truly matters about a couple, because it doesn't...but I do truly love this ring and the guy who gave it to me and I'm not ashamed of either of those things.  ;-)

props to our amazing jeweler!

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?

Put a Ring on it :: Something Old, Something New

With this being my very first post on E&I, I thought it appropriate that I start at the beginning – the day I got engaged. Most of us ladies picture the moment of our proposal with a big shimmering diamond peeking out of that little box. My story happened a little differently (and I could not be happier with how it turned out!). My boyfriend, excuse me fiancé, Chris, proposed to me with his maternal grandmother’s wedding ring. It fits perfectly with the vintage style I love and is so special to have something that saw his grandmother through many wonderful years.

My Ring!

Chris’ idea was that this ring could be my wedding band and that we could go design the actual ‘engagement’ ring together later that day. He knows how picky I can be and while I know I would have loved whatever he chose on his own, I was thrilled to have a part in designing the ring. Chris’ family friend and jeweler, Lynn of Lynn Hill & Co., had been helping him with the process of fixing up the ring he gave me and he had an appointment for us that afternoon. I have loved pear-shaped rings for the past few years so I at least had that part figured out.

Here is some of my inspiration: 

Source - Clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3, 4

The traditional way to wear pear stones is with the pointed side up, but I love that you can change the whole look by turning it over. Lynn was so patient while I tried on rings and figured out just how I wanted everything to look. While I thought I knew exactly what I wanted before I went in, I found it was a little more complicated when I actually got into the shop and had all the amazing options around me. Not to mention taking into account that I wanted the two rings to complement each other. I was imagining how guys must feel on their own picking out a ring – the pressure!

I finally came to all the decisions I needed to make and can’t wait to see the end result in a couple weeks. I decided on a thin, plain band (because with pave it just looked like too much going on along side the existing ring), bezel setting (since the ring will already be sitting high enough to get up over the wedding ring and prongs would make it even higher), and a halo around the main stone (hopefully I have all my jewelry lingo right!).

Did you have a hand in your engagement ring design or did you prefer to leave it up to your man? If you did go along to help design the ring, did you find it harder than you thought it would be?



Of course rings, jewelry and all things sparkly are so much fun to day dream about (and try on!), but this brings me to another thing I’ve been thinking about over the past few weeks…staying grounded/calm/sane during this coming year. I think the first few weeks of being engaged are sort of the calm before the storm that can be wedding planning. Once reality sets in that you have a very important party to plan! In this time I have been thinking more big-picture – what it means to be getting married, what our dream wedding would be (if logistics and money were not factors), what things will be the most important to us on our wedding day and looking back on it.

Time and again I come back to two things that I know I want – 1. For our wedding to be a true reflection of Chris and me as individuals and as a couple along with the community and lives we have built together, and 2. For everyone to have FUN! I am hoping that if I can keep these two things at the back of my mind during this process, it will help me to be confident in the decisions I make and enjoy this special time as much as possible. Of course, I want other things too (i.e. great food, lovely décor, etc.), but I think by coming back to my main points of focus, I will be able to make decisions with more ease.

How are you staying grounded during your wedding planning? Do you find that having some basic theme or idea to come back to keeps you on the right track?