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!

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?