24 March 2009

The Best Places to Kiss in the NW - Part 1

I could spout off about how we were “pressed for time” to find a venue, but in all honesty, venue hunting was more of a whirl-wind vacation than anything else. I hope you’re catching on now that we kind of like to travel ;).Our time together in New Mexico was drawing to a close – Mr. Rye Bread defended his thesis on August 29, and we were to start work in Chile on October 1!

good bye new mexico! You’ve been good to us!

I’m from California originally, and Mr. Rye’s from Portland – we’d spent the past two Christmases at his dad’s home, and treasured every moment together in the northwest! There was no question about our wedding location - we wanted to get married in the NW.

If you’ve been keeping up with the story arc, I should tell you – I was hired for the job at the neighboring observatory in Chile! We’re really very lucky, especially considering both our companies instated a hiring freeze in November! This meant that we’d have two incomes (we could AFFORD a wedding!), and I’d have a visa to live in Chile! With this golden ticket of extra time to plan the wedding, I started looking online for wedding locations in the NW.

Mr. Rye and I consider ourselves pretty flexible, but there were a couple of things we were definitely looking for in a venue:

1. Lodging for ~80 people in one place – We live in Chile now! We never get to see our friends or loved ones anymore! When we get married, we want it to be WAY more about the reunion of family and friends than the union of marriage. I miss my friends, and Rye does, too! Hotels and motels are a bit stuffy, so we tried to lean towards summer camps, big bed and breakfasts, and house-rentals.
2. Relatively easy access – Most of our guests have to fly to the NW; there’s no point in making them drive for hours after that!
3. No lameness – We know everyone upcharges just for the word “wedding”. That’s lame. We’re not going to stand for it. If someplace wants to charge us several thousand dollars to stand on their grass, they’ve obviously been smoking too much of said grass.
4. We can bring our own booze – again with the upcharging! Who needs it, when we can BYOB?
5. Killer food – duh!
6. A full-size kitchen we can use (to bake the cake!) – yes, I may be insane, but I'll have my cake, and eat it, too! ;)
7. Must be laid-back
8. Must have an AWESOME view. I really do mean awesome. I know it sounds cliché, but the only things I’d ever envisioned about my “wedding day” were my dress (that it be stunning), and the location (on a meadow on a cliff overlooking the coast)

With this, and a month to book our venue before we fled the country, I got organized, and fast! A lot of brides-to-be have a wedding binder - I had a 50-cents tiny spiral-bound notebook for scribbling in wedding contacts and appointments! This cheapie wasn’t a beaut, but it was certainly uber-portable, and super-organizing! (my mom would be so proud! :) )

The general locations we were looking at were Orcas Island (Mr. Rye was a camp counselor at Camp Orkila!), Vancouver Island (only one place on that huge island!), and the Oregon coast. Originally “Oregon Coast” meant a big house we could rent in Cannon Beach, a la this wedding (isn’t it so sweet? Bummer the audio is gone ☹), but on looking into it further, we realized that one house couldn’t really house everyone, and the most important thing was for everyone to be together. Looking back at this video though, this was really my primary inspiration for our wedding day. This video is what I want!

After reading through The Best Places to Kiss in the Northwest and searching the net, we made our prelim list.
Locations on Orcas Island – 
1. Beach Haven – cabins face the west (hello, sunsets!), not exorbitantly expensive → CHECK!
2. Green Dolphin Farm – quite pricey, but it's run by an AWESOME chef! Reception site only! → ruh-roh!
3. Spring Bay Inn – pretty, but too small → ruh-roh!
4. Camp Orkila – A little "camp anawanna", but it's Mr. Rye Bread’s old camp! How awesome would that be?? → CHECK!
5. Cabins on the Point - a bit pricey, and likely too small → ruh-roh!
6. Buck Bay Farm - a lavender farm! How lovely! However, quite small ☹ → ruh-roh!
7. Turtleback Inn - an adorable farm house! Would you believe they thought our wedding of ~80 was huge?? → ruh-roh!
8. Doe Bay - These hippies took some marketing classes! The place was promising, but way pricier than others → CHECK, for now!
Vancouver Island –
1. Strathcona Park Lodge – Have you seen this?? WOW → CHECK
2. Clayoguot Wilderness Retreat - WOW. SRSLY - look at the link! This place is AWE-SUM. You have to be flown in on a personal plane ($$$$$) ... eek... → ruh-roh!
Oregon Coast –
1. Camp Westwind -- Beautiful Oregon coastline? → CHECK

Our venue-shopping road-trip began with Camp Westwind:

What's that?  Is that a meadow on a cliff overlooking the ocean?  WHY YES IT IS!  BINGO!  I really can't imagine a more beautiful place to be married!  Said grassy meadow is accessible only by a 1km foot path:

... that ain't too shabby either!  I love oregon!  When we were visiting the site, we were passed by a couple of wedding-day joggers.  Yes - Weddingers!  Weddingers?  What do you call people that attend a wedding?  Guests?  uhh.. kinda lame.  I'm going with weddingers from now on!

Sorry little weddingers for putting your pics up on the net!  Luckily most of you are looking away!  Anyways, there was a wedding in prep for that afternoon, so Mr. Rye, MIL Rye Bread, and I got to see the place is full-on weddinging (heehee!) action!

Look!  A sweet cobble-stone fireplace!  RAD!!  Look!  A shaggy Mr. Rye!  WAY rad! ;)

Aren't these cabins darling?  Our rental would be the entire campsite!  It's like a little village of darling cabins and the sweet-ass lodge with the rad fireplace!

Ok, one more pic of Westwind, because I loved it so much:

That's our site-coordinator with Mr. Rye, pointing to Cascade Head!

Westwind was the first site we looked at on our whirlwind venue-shopping trip, hence I was a little nervous my wedding-excitedness was clouding my judgement.  How practical!  Sheesh!  Still, both Rye and I knew we loved the place, so instead of "proposing" to westwind, we decided to "lease", as in, write-in our dates in their calender, but no down-payment (sweet deal, no?).  Then we had to actually decide on a rough date!  We visited westwind in mid-September.  Believe it or not, this is actually the sunniest time for Oregon!  Since they're a summer camp (ahem - SUMMER camp), the only dates they had available were around the vernal equinox and the autumnal equinox - that's around March 21 and September 21.  A little back-story: Mr. Rye runs a (southern hemisphere) summer program for undergrads in Chile that ends around March 21 every year.  It'd be downright insane of us to get married on March 21!  SO - autumnal equinox, it is (tentatively)!  If you're lost as to why I'm harping on the equinoxes, don't worry, I'll save that for another post!  

We loved westwind, but we still had 2 other main locations to check out!  And camping to fit in, of course!  What hippy-come-scientist doesn't fit camping into her wedding-venue search? ;)

Do you think we chose westwind as our location?  Did you chose the first place you looked at?  What was your favorite part about the venue search - and how did you find your venues?


  1. i LOVE that location! I would check out the other two, but likely go for Westwind. I picked the first venue we visited!

  2. did you post about your venue hunt?? I loved looking for a venue! :) I love that you picked your first venue! :) It's kinda of like love at first site, huh? ;)

  3. My Dad has family that used to live on Orcas Island. We just went there in August 2007. We had a GREAT time. I am a little jealous you will be getting married there. It is BEE-utiful!!

  4. orcas is SO beautiful!! I'm going to post pictures soon! What's your favorite place on orcas??

  5. That is an amazing venue! So glad you get the cliffs you wanted.

  6. Please send me pics! Hope all is well in your world!
    Anne, Westwind.

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