Happy brides, fellow professionals, and our editors have spoken—presenting this year’s winning Oregon wedding experts and their ultimate advice for you.
By Liz Hummer and Samantha Ross
BEST NEW WEDDING VENDOR
- PORTLAND: Zest Floral & Event Design
Known for: modern bouquets and event décor featuring bold colors and a playful style.
Words of Wisdom: “Knowing what you like is just as important as knowing what you don’t like. Bring lots of pictures—it is the best way to help convey your vision.”
Finalists: Fleur:ology, The Candy Buffet
- VALLEY: With This Ring Wedding & Event Planning, Salem
Known for: unparalleled organization and a genuine love for helping couples realize the wedding of their dreams.
Words of Wisdom: “When choosing your vendors ask who their back-up is for the wedding day in case they get sick. You never know what may happen and you don’t want to be caught off guard.”
Finalists: Stargazer Weddings, Raina Powell Events
BEST ALL-AROUND WEDDING VENDOR
- PORTLAND: Nora Sheils, Bridal Bliss
Known for: positive energy and incredible attention-to-detail, planning deeply personal and seamless events.
Words of Wisdom: “Save money by splurging in the areas that are most noticeable like lighting and quality linen, rather than smaller details like custom postage and a champagne toast that can be easily overlooked.”
Finalists: Champagne Wedding & Event Coordination, Blush Bridal Consultation
- VALLEY: The Bridal Gallery, Salem
Known for: fun and inviting dress shop, with a secret wine stash and private alterations department.
Words of Wisdom: “Prioritize your budget from the get-go. Decide together what is most important on the big day—whether it’s the dress, the photos, the food—and build your budget around that. Don’t cave to what everyone else wants or expects from you.”
Finalists: Focal Point Digital Media, Face Body Beauty
BEST WEDDING PLANNER
- PORTLAND: Bridal Bliss (see Best All-Around Wedding Vendor)
Finalists: Champagne Wedding & Event Coordination, Blush Bridal Consultation
- VALLEY: Stargazer Weddings, Salem
Known for: helping brides refine their ideas and find local vendors to match their personality.
Words of Wisdom: “Hire professionals! It is a common misunderstanding that they’re too expensive, but there are professionals at price points for all budgets.”
Finalists: With This Ring Wedding & Event Planning, No Ordinary Affair
BEST DAY-OF COORDINATOR
- PORTLAND: Blush Bridal Consultations
Known for: “Month of Package” to personalize event timeline, finalize all vendors and payments, and direct all details on-site.
Words of Wisdom: “Allow plenty of time for on-site professional hair and makeup. You and your girls will be much more relaxed getting pampered at the hotel or venue and it’s a chance to just kick back and chat about the upcoming events of the day while sipping a mimosa.”
Finalists: Soirée, Hitched Weddings & Events
- VALLEY: Stargazer Weddings, Salem (see Best Wedding Planner)
Finalists: A Time 4 Memories, No Ordinary Affair
- PORTLAND: Paper Bloom Invitation Design Studio
Known for: breaking the invite mold with fresh designs and finding incredible deals on quality materials.
Words of Wisdom: “Take a minute with your new spouse during the wedding to stop and look around at all that is happening around you. Soak it all in!”
Finalists: Uncommon Invites, Ecru Modern Stationer
- VALLEY: Red Pearl Designs, Salem
Known for: capturing the essence of each wedding with stylish custom suites and pre-designed collections.
Words of Wisdom: “Surround yourself with things that you love. Pick a combination of styles and colors that are meaningful to you and your fiancé to truly capture your personality and style.”
Finalists: My Sunflower Expressions, French Lil Design
- PORTLAND: Moore Creative Weddings
Known for: keeping each bride and groom the focus of the ceremony with his warm voice and thoughtful words.
Words of Wisdom: “When planning your wedding it is imperative that you work with seasoned professionals that will work as one to create a memorable day.”
Finalists: Carroll R. Myers, Lisa Kristen-Scott
- VALLEY: Johanna Respini, An Event to Remember
Known for: putting true emotion into the ceremony and incorporating unique traditional and personal touches for each couple.
Words of Wisdom: “Know that whoever stands in front of everyone on your wedding day is going to set the tone for the entire event. Make sure he or she has a speaking style you like.”
Finalists: Judge John Collins, Bob Renggli
BEST NEW WEDDING VENUE
- PORTLAND: The Foundry at Oswego Pointe
Known for: newly renovated private riverfront site with vaulted ceilings and dramatic round deck over the water.
Words of Wisdom: “Surround yourself with qualified professionals who will attend to every last detail allowing you and your family to relax and completely enjoy the day.” Finalists: Pure Space, Domaine Margelle Vineyards
- VALLEY: The Vue, Corvallis
Known for: luxe, contemporary two-story event space high in the sky, with sweeping views over the Willamette Valley. Words of Wisdom: “Pick a venue that has it all—a great location, beautiful atmosphere, and space for both intimate conversation and dancing. This makes it enjoyable for your guests and saves money and time by needing little or no decoration.”
Finalists: Philomath Scout Lodge, Pronghorn Club & Resort
BEST OREGON DESTINATION VENUE
- STATEWIDE: Skamania Lodge
Known for: unparalleled Columbia River Gorge scenery, year-round recreation, and on-site coordinators to create the perfect wedding weekend.
Words of Wisdom: “Remember the little moments of the day and reflect on them for a lifetime.”
Finalists: Youngberg Hill, Resort at the Mountain
BEST SUNSET WEDDING SPOT
- PORTLAND: The View Point Inn
Known For: charming bluff-top hotel with views of the Columbia River just half-hour outside the city.
Words of Wisdom: “Enjoy the process and hug it out.”
Finalists: Garden Vineyards, Portland World Trade Center
- VALLEY: Youngberg Hill, McMinnville
Known for: expansive hilltop views of wine country and exclusive use of the property.
Words of Wisdom: “Select a location for your wedding based on where you want to be married, and the logistics of all the hows will follow.”
Finalists: Willamette Valley Vineyards, Pelican Pub & Brewery
BEST VENUE FOR LARGE WEDDINGS
- PORTLAND: The Governor Hotel
Known for: a variety of gala rooms with incredible historic architecture at this downtown Portland landmark.
Words of Wisdom: “There is no right or wrong way to have a wedding, just your way. Go with it and have fun!”
Finalists: Abernethy Center, Portland Art Museum
- VALLEY: Zenith Vineyard, Salem
Known for: luxuriously appointed French Country-style estate winery with modern ballroom and extensive lawns.
Words of Wisdom: “Weddings are an opportunity to share your joy and hope for a bright future with those you love. Make sure your guests are comfortable, well-fed and feel appreciated.”
Finalists: Youngberg Hill, Willamette Valley Vineyards
BEST VENUE FOR INTIMATE WEDDINGS
- PORTLAND: Portland City Grill
Known for: swanky rooms and panoramic view of the city from atop the 30th floor.
Words of Wisdom: “Choosing a venue with seasoned professionals, no room rental fees, and with all the necessary elements included will ensure that your experience is easy and enjoyable.”
Finalists: Hotel Vintage Plaza Wine Cellar, The View Point Inn
- VALLEY: Red Ridge Farms, Dayton
Known for: the old-world charm of a working olive mill with state-of-the-art conveniences.
Words of Wisdom: “Always make sure your guests know how to get to your venue, and that they leave extra time for traffic. Don’t be afraid to ask your venue for a map or driving directions you can send to your guests. This makes them feel taken care of!”
Finalists: King Estate Winery, BeckenRidge Vineyard
BEST ALL-INCLUSIVE WEDDING VENUE
- PORTLAND: Abernethy Center
Known for: bucolic escape near the city, with a ballroom, gardens, on-site catering, and planning staff.
Words of Wisdom: “Remember that your wedding is about celebrating who you are as a couple. Make sure to incorporate those small touches that are a reflection of who you are.”
Finalists: Skamania Lodge, Resort at the Mountain
BEST WEDDING DRESS DESIGNER
- PORTLAND: Elizabeth Dye
Known for: thoughtfully-designed wedding dresses with a vintage sensibility.
Words of Wisdom: “Enjoy the process. Stay true to your vision. Make it yours.”
Finalists: Sarah Seven, Love June Boutique
BEST DRESS SHOP & BRIDAL ACCESSORIES
- PORTLAND: Charlotte’s Weddings & More
Known for: eight private bridal suites and dresses, shoes and jewelry for the whole wedding party.
Words of Wisdom: “Come prepared with photos you like but be open to trying on different things. What you like in a photo and what you like on your body can often be two different things. And bring along just a few people that know your style and respect your opinion.”
Dress Shop Finalists: Anna’s Bridal, AniA Collection
Bridal Accessories Finalists: Anna’s Bridal, August Veils
- VALLEY: The Bridal Gallery (see Best All-Around Wedding Vendor)
Dress Shop Finalists: Bridal Exclusives, Blush Bridal Boutique
Bridal Accessories Finalists: Blush Bridal Boutique, Nordstrom
BEST INDIE WEDDING JEWELRY DESIGNER
- PORTLAND: Sahlia jewelry
Known for: mixing traditional silversmith techniques with unexpected materials like rough-cut stones, reclaimed leather and vintage lace.
Words of Wisdom: “If you’re on a budget, be creative and think outside the box—the best weddings are the ones that have unique, unexpected details, especially the hand-made ones.”
Finalists: Elizabeth Perry Collection, Grayling
- VALLEY: Nashelle Designs, Bend
Known for: using recycled precious metals in a variety of designs handmade in Bend.
Words of Wisdom: “What you wear on your special day should always reflect your personal style, be kept simple and beautiful, and above all be something that commemorates this event for years to come.”
Finalists: Butterflies Studio & Gallery, Karen Bandy studio
- PORTLAND: Judith Arnell Jewelers
Known for: guiding couples through a selection of exclusive ring designers and ideal cut diamonds.
Words of Wisdom: “Your engagement ring and wedding bands are one of the most important investments you will ever make. Make sure your jeweler will give you a quality product at a good price and wants to help you make the best decision.”
Finalists: Kassab Jewelers, Malka Diamonds
- VALLEY: Skeie’s Jewelers, Salem
Known for: nearly 90 years of business yet still a modern source for the latest trends in diamonds and rings.
Words of Wisdom: “Grooms, get to know a reputable jeweler. Build a friendship now, and you will never regret it—and neither will she. Brides, if you are very picky, help him out with good strong hints.”
Finalists: Jackson Jewelers, Fred Meyer Jewelers
BEST HAIR & MAKEUP
- PORTLAND: powder inc. makeup by Nicole Wagner
Known for: making brides feel their most beautiful, with smoky sexy eyes, incredible lashes and flawless skin. Ulitmate Wedding Advice: “Wax! Even if you haven’t before, start a waxing routine about six months before the wedding, and don’t just do your eyebrows—that upper lip and chin hair has to go too!”
Finalists: Katherine Ross, Event Cosmetics
- VALLEY: Face Body Beauty
Known for: romantic hairstyles and fresh-faced looks that are both camera-ready and glowing in person.
Words of Wisdom: “Choose a get-ready location that has plenty of natural light, outlets, mirrors and space for the bridal party. Having a comfortable setup lets everyone relax and enjoy the morning together.”
Finalists: Today’s Hair, Revolution Salon
BEST CEREMONY MUSICIANS
- STATEWIDE: Duo Con Brio
Known for: helping couples choose the perfect music to set the tone, including the custom arrangement of two special songs.
Words of Wisdom: “Trust the work of your professional musicians. Although it is important to manage their work, allow them a little artistic license to perform for your event. Enjoy it.”
Finalists: Effesenden Music, Collage Music
BEST RECEPTION LIVE BAND
- PORTLAND: Design Band
Known for: complete musical and visual experience, with a catalog spanning over 80 years and custom lighting and video.
Words of Wisdom: “Talk to people you trust for recommendations. Start early—good entertainment books up well in advance.”
Finalists: Swingline Cubs, Hit Machine
- VALLEY: Liquid Assets
Known for: rocking and rolling with true emotion—these musicians love what they do and it’s infectious.
Words of Wisdom: “If you want people to dance, choose the right music. Find something everyone will know and love (like classic rock). Some music is great for listening but not for dancing. Find a band that knows the difference.”
Finalists: Robbie DeCosta, The Ashlings
- PORTLAND: All Wright Music
Known for: getting the party started and reading the dance floor to match the mood with a diverse music mix.
Words of Wisdom: “Please eat—you’ve chosen a delicious menu! I’ve seen hundreds of couples not eat and miss out on their menu. Plus your energy level will thank you!”
Finalists: Chad Dowling, Event Team Entertainment
- VALLEY: Dan Dubay
Known for: extensive one-on-one consultations to create the perfect personalized playlist and schedule of events. Words of Wisdom: “The DJ you hire is responsible for so much more than you realize—the entertainment is what keeps the party going, which is what you’ve planned for all these months. Make sure your DJ suggests how to make the event better-than-average—better than just providing music.” Finalists: Flip Flop Sounds, Star Productions
MOST CREATIVE FAVORS
- STATEWIDE: Crave Design
Known for: weaving a wedding’s theme into memorable favors that truly show appreciation.
Words of Wisdom: “Don’t make yourself crazy trying to please everyone. Pick your battles and stand up for what’s important to you, then let everything else go!”
Finalists: The Candy Buffet, Fliptography
- PORTLAND: Geranium Lake Flowers
Known for: being always ahead of the trends and using flowers in unexpected yet gorgeous ways.
Words of Wisdom: “Find vendors that ‘get’ you. And don’t be shy about your budget—everyone has one and they’re all different. A good vendor’s work will translate well across all price points.”
Finalists: Blüm Design in Flowers, Zest Floral & Events
- VALLEY: Mint Floral
Known for: drawing on a background in mixed media art to create floral designs that make the most of varied natural textures.
Words of Wisdom: “Love the process! The art of planning and designing a wedding is such a huge portion of what the memories are composed of.”
Finalists: Distinctive Designs by Denice, Celebration Florals
- PORTLAND: West Coast Event Productions
Known for: ensuring that nothing is impossible with an expansive inventory covering amazing structures, décor, lighting, and sound design.
Words of Wisdom: “Have a clear understanding of your budget, including breakdowns on what is important to you, what you could forgo, and what is in the gray area.”
Finalists: Barclay Event Rentals, The Party Place
- VALLEY: SHE Design
Known for: a fabulous showroom to play with event design options and experts to show you how to make your vision a reality.
Words of Wisdom: “Slow down and breathe…take 15 minutes each day and visualize what’s important to you, make notes. Get help from a professional planner if you find yourself losing sleep over the multitude of details.”
Finalists: Parties To Go, Special Occasions Parties & Events
- PORTLAND: Art of Catering
Known for: stunning presentations of food that isn’t only eye-catching, but locally-sourced, creative and delicious.
Words of Wisdom: “Don’t over-plan your reception. Leave plenty of time for guests to relax, enjoy the venue, reconnect with family and friends, and make new friends. This will also give you time to mingle and talk with all of your guests.”
Finalists: Vibrant Table Catering & Events, Crave Catering
- VALLEY: Willaby’s Catering & Event Design
Known for: top-notch service, décor, bartending, and of course, cuisine with flexible prices to fit a variety of budgets.
Words of Wisdom: “If anything goes wrong, you will not be any less married. If a detail gets lost or the roses are a slightly wrong color, the guest will not know because they don’t know what you planned in the first place!”
Finalists: Café Uncorked, Wild Pear Catering
- PORTLAND: Dream Cakes
Known for: made-from-scratch cakes with fondant details or fresh flowers that are as delicious as they are beautiful.
Words of Wisdom: “People are at your wedding because they want to share a special moment with you—personal details help to make that happen.”
Finalists: Beaverton Bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa
- VALLEY: Sweet Life Patisserie
Known for: never being afraid to try new shapes and decorations, while catering to all varieties of dietary needs.
Words of Wisdom: “Browse through some pictures, read over the brochures, peruse the menus, and gather some basic information before meeting with prospective vendors. And don’t be afraid to ask questions—vendors have been in this business a while and usually have excellent advice!”
Finalists: Myriad Cake Design, Enlightened Patisserie
BEST GROOM’S CAKES
- PORTLAND: Le Cookie Monkey
Known for: cheeky decorated homemade sugar cookies and buttercream wedding cakes with intricate piping.
Words of Wisdom: “Make sure you eat cake on your wedding day!”
Finalists: Beaverton Bakery, Wrightberry’s Custom Cakes
- VALLEY: Myriad Cake Design
Known for: turning anything you can dream up into a showstopping confection, reflecting the unique character of each couple.
Words of Wisdom: “Resist the urge to choose flavors that are intensely personal. It’s best to choose what will be universally appealing to your guests, otherwise you may end up with a lot of uneaten cake.”
Finalists: Sweet Life Patisserie, Haute Cakes
BEST WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
- PORTLAND: Holland Studios
Known for: a relaxed and fun style that puts couples at ease and gets results that are alternately dramatic and tranquil.
Words of Wisdom: “Fall in love with the right person! After that, decide what feature of your day is the most important and then invest in that area.”
Finalists: Powers Photography Studios, Mosca Photo
- VALLEY: Erika Nicole Photography
Known for: romantic and chic images with a sexy edge and organic, vintage flair.
Words of Wisdom: “Hire a photographer who’s work you love, but more importantly you could see yourself becoming friends with. You spend more time with your photographer than anyone on your wedding day, so make sure your personalities click.”
Finalists: Stalnakers Photo Studio, Becerra Photography
BEST WEDDING VIDEOGRAPHER
- PORTLAND: Hybrid Moon
Known for: a stealth shooting style that captures every important moment without getting in the way of the celebration.
Words of Wisdom: “Don’t get pulled into trends or traditions that aren’t necessarily reflective of who you are as a couple. Decide together your top priorities and let it guide you through your wedding planning.”
Finalists: Ambient Sky, Moving Picture Weddings
- VALLEY: Focal Point Digital Media
Known for: bringing a true filmmaker’s touch to your memories—and a smile that fits in at any party.
Words of Wisdom: “Really consider the importance of your photos and video. Since they’re the only things you’ll get to keep after your wedding, they will quickly become the literal basis of your memories of the event.”
Finalists: Vivid Wedding Films, Lights in the Attic Wedding Films
BEST WEDDING SUPPLIES
- VALLEY: Special Occasions Parties & Events (Corvallis)
Finalists: SHE Designs (Salem), Parties To Go (Eugene)
BEST BOUTIQUE REGISTRY
- VALLEY: Pomegranate Home & Garden (Bend)
Finalists: The Inkwell Home Store (Eugene), The Arbor (Salem)
BEST QUINTESSENTIAL REGISTRY
BEST BRIDESMAIDS & GROOMSMEN GIFTS
BEST MOTHER OF THE BRIDE DRESSES
BEST CHILDREN’S APPAREL
- STATWIDE: Nordstrom
BEST SPA FOR GROUP MANI-PEDIS
BEST REHEARSAL DINNER RESTAURANT
- VALLEY: Green Energy Transportation (Bend)
Finalists: The Trolley (Willamette Valley wine country), Sunshine Limo (Eugene)
- STATEWIDE: Premiere Valet
BEST WEDDING NIGHT HOTEL & GUEST ACCOMODATIONS
- PORTLAND: The Nines
Finalists: The Governor Hotel, Hotel Vintage Plaza
Valley: The Grand Hotel in Salem
Finalists: The Allison Inn (Newberg), Hilton Eugene
Find contact information for all 2011 Best of Bride winners in Resources starting on page 116 and the Reception Site Grid starting on page 105.
Voting methodology: The Best of Bride 2011 winners are the result of an online survey in which more than 1,500 brides and wedding vendors voted for their favorites.
MOST UNEXPECTED NEW VENUE
Couples looking for a modern, artistic space to celebrate their I Do’s found a new opportunity when Northwest Portland dance company BodyVox opened up their new building to events in 2011. The historic Wells Fargo carriage house now offers a large performance space (great for dancing, of course) with sound and lighting, as well as a mirrored studio that glows for banquet dinners. Truly intrepid couples can also turn the raw brick warehouse/former stable into 5,000 square feet of urban party chic.
BEST NEW TEAM
In most cases, the best collaborations come from the best of friends. And Studio 430 is no exception. The new downtown Salem studio is home to four talented wedding professionals: stationery designer Megan Ward’s Red Pearl Designs (our Best Invites winner!), planner Katie Zuniga’s With This Ring (our Best New Wedding Vendor winner!), photographer Ashley Sturm, who captures every couple’s beauty and sense of fun, and Bridal Alterations by Mary to make sure every detail is all sewn up. Any bride that teams up with Studio 430 will feel totally confident with this troupe of creative professionals on her side.
MOST CHARMING NEW SALON
Portland is crazy for all things mobile—food carts, double-decker bus vintage shops—but it’s still not often you think of getting pretty in a trailer. Until Holiday Hair Studio rolled into Southeast Portland. The refurbished 1964 Kenskill rambler sits in a whimsically overgrown garden, home to hairstylist Robin Carlisle and her fun and sexy ‘dos. Brides and wedding parties are invited to relax on the outdoor patio with champagne or tea while the ladies take turns getting primped inside in front of the vintage vanity (Carlisle does makeup, too). It’s your own private full-service salon (yes, there is running water), the perfect place to get ready for your enchanting day.
CUTEST NEW SMALL TOWN VENUE
Vintage charm meets modern elegance at Bella Via, Sherwood’s newest event space. Built as a Quaker meeting house in 1912, the venue has been completely remodeled to make original touches like polished concrete floors and colorful stained glass windows truly sparkle. We love the chandeliers hanging from the vaulted ceiling, the original fir floors in the upstairs bar, and the whimsical outdoor patio—true sophistication in a sweet small town.
BEST NEW GET-IN-SHAPE PLAN
Working out might not be such a chore if you could do it in the great outdoors. That’s the idea behind the weekend Bridal Bootcamp at the Resort at the Mountain in Welches. The program, led year-round by renowned fitness trainer Nate Seifert, is completely customizable to your level of athleticism. You can hike, run and bike natural trails all over the grounds, or take it up a notch with an intensive interval cardio routine or an iron man abs session. Invite your bridal party and family to participate with a game of tennis or golf. Then wind down with a variety of relaxing spa treatments. What a great kick-off to renew a fitness routine or one last push to look and feel your best on the big day.
BEST NEW BACHELORETTE CELEBRATION
One of the best parts of being a bride is being the center of attention, and Hush Sessions (hushsessions.com), a new service from Luxe Event Productions and Mosca Photo, takes that to the max, with a private art-directed boudoir shoot to make you feel your sexiest (sultry hair and makeup included, of course) before planning a glamorous night on the town for you and your ladies. The entire evening is personally coordinated for you, with VIP access to local clubs (with champagne service) and, of course, a limo for primo transportation. You can choose from a variety of other options like chocolate tastings, massages, and distillery tours. Hush pampers brides-to-be like celebrities, and we can easily say this is an unbelievable experience you and your girls will never forget.
MAN’S BEST FRIEND
Sure, we’re Oregon Bride, but we know a marriage is about both people in the couple. So we’re excited to see a new, easy-to-use wedding resource for the men we love.
TheGroomsList.com was launched in January 2011 by Portlander Jeff Trinci, a former wedding DJ and marketing professional who couldn’t find any valuable information when he was a groom-to-be. The site guides men from the proposal to the honeymoon (and beyond, with refreshing relationship advice), serving up helpful timelines, tips for the wedding party (try a Groom’s Roast, the guy’s version of a bridal shower), and a vendor directory to find the most dapper duds and more. If this gets more dudes involved in the planning process, then we say, “Thank you!”