Destination Weddings in Salem
Everything you need to know about a wedding in Salem.
Where do you picture yourself exchanging vows? In a sunset ceremony while guests toast you with Oregon’s famous Pinot? On the lush lawns of a dreamy Victorian estate? Or are you the outdoorsy type who’d prefer a wooden gazebo surrounded by eye-popping flora? If so, you might want to consider saying “I do” in Salem.
Salem has been our capital since the days when Oregon wasn’t yet a state. Missionary Jason Lee established the first permanent American settlement here in 1840. Once “Oregon Fever” hit the nation, droves of incoming settlers made Salem the political and agricultural heart of the territory. In fact, Native Americans called the area Chemeketa, meaning “gathering place.” So why not take a cue from history and have your own gathering here?
With a population of roughly 155,000, Salem is the third largest city in the state. And while it’s often overshadowed by bigger brothers Portland and Eugene, the city is uniquely situated between the two in the center of the bountiful Willamette Valley, making it the perfect destination spot for foodies and oenophiles alike. Salem’s downtown is also experiencing a renaissance, with 36 restaurants, a quaint shopping district and restored historic ballrooms galore (including the Historic Elsinore Theatre, home to the largest working pipe organ on the west coast). Any architects on your guest list will appreciate this: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House is just a stone’s throw away in Silverton. And the best part? Salem’s wedding vendors bring big-city style while maintaining small-town ideals.
CEREMONY AND RECEPTION SITES
With Zenith Vineyard’s Euro-estate vibe, it’s easy to forget you’re in Salem and not, say, Burgundy. Couples can exchange vows on a rolling hillside, enjoy wine and cocktails on the veranda, then enjoy dinner and dancing in Zenith’s high-ceilinged, rustic-chic ballroom. And with a selection of varietals from Zenith and neighboring wineries, you can give guests the full Oregon wine experience. Bonus: Zenith’s luxurious French bridal salon, an upstairs suite with room for you and a bevy of bridesmaids to primp in style.
Log House Gardens
Log House Gardens is part of Willow Lake Nursery, a 103-year-old family farm just outside of Salem. If you’re the less-is-more type, Log House Gardens is the way to go: you can skimp on the candelabras and let the nursery act as your décor. An outdoor-only venue, most couples opt to marry in the rustic log gazebo amid four acres of elegantly manicured gardens, and then celebrate on the lawn or beneath twinkle lights on the nearby covered patio. Plus, the Log House Garden has a charming old-fashioned tradition—they’ll toll the family bell to announce your union.
Historic Deepwood Estate
For a wedding with maximum romance, look at the Historic Deepwood Estate, located near Bush Park and just outside downtown Salem. Partially designed by the Northwest’s first female landscape architecture firm Lord & Schryver, the formal English gardens at Deepwood are straight out of a storybook—and feature multiple outdoor “rooms” in which to set your fairytale affair. Small weddings can even be accommodated inside the estate’s house, a stunning 1894 Queen Anne Victorian.
Willamette Valley Vineyards
The sustainable Willamette Valley Vineyards won Oregon Bride’s award for the most quintessentially Oregon reception site, and it’s easy to see why: Our state’s largest winery boasts breathtaking views, award-winning wines and an exclusive partnership with Willaby’s Catering (more on Willaby’s later). The winery’s versatile indoor/outdoor space includes the Estate Room, a 3,300 square-foot space with high, open ceilings, or the more intimate Cuveé room, located above the wine production facility with hardwood floors, a fireplace and a view of the valley. The only downside? You may have a hard time pulling guests off the wraparound decks and onto the dance floor!
CATERING AND CAKES
Willaby’s Catering & Event Design
Director of catering Jena Kautto describes Willaby’s as “fun, funky and full-service.” Willaby’s specializes in delicious, relatable food with lots of flexibility. They’ll work with you to customize your dream dinner. Does your groom long for a mashed potato bar alongside the steak au poivre? Willaby’s has you covered. And their pristine presentation style means that everything will look picture perfect—and is one of the many reasons why they won Oregon Bride’s Best Overall Vendor in the valley for 2009.
Myriad Cake Design
Marion Barnes started decorating wedding cakes 12 years ago—starting with her own. Today, with her shop located in the Willaby’s loft on SE Liberty Street, one of her bestsellers is a toasted coconut cake filled with almond ganache, but that’s just beginning. Marion’s designs are always experimenting with texture, so your cake can resemble anything from Tuscan-style stucco (perfect for a winery wedding) to delicate eyelet fabric. Yum!
Jennifer Haas may run Salem-based Bittersweet Baking on her own, but she has big ideals: She tries to use as many local, organic ingredients as possible, with no artificial additives. Though she loves working on bold, fun designs that take advantage of her creativity (giraffe-shaped Rice Krispies groom’s cake, anyone?), her top priority is to make sure your cake tastes as good as it looks.
NW Salem-based Ean Perkins is only in his second year of wedding photography, but he’s already made a huge impression. Don’t expect cookie-cutter photos from Studio 190: Ean, dedicated to creating exquisite images unique to your wedding, is always trying new things. Expect interesting angles, dramatic lighting and cinematic composition—and extensive post-production work to make everything look as perfect as the day itself.
Stalnakers Photo Studio
Kris Stalnaker doesn’t put a time limit on photographing your wedding. This is a once-ina- lifetime event, so the NW Salem photographer doesn’t mind putting in a few extra hours to ensure he doesn’t miss out on any key moments. And though you might be hiring him for his creative eye, Kris is game to try out any ideas you might have. His goal? For you to be able to pull out the photos on your 30th anniversary and get goosebumps all over again.
Fred Molesworth, owner of SE Salem-based Encore, believes that the better he knows you, the better your photos will be. The time he takes to understand your style and personality pays huge dividends when it comes to wedding day images. Encore’s “directors” (that is, Fred and one of two associate photographers) can make even posed photos feel and look natural. And let’s face it: when you’re spending the day in a pair of Spanx, you want everything else to be as comfortable as possible.
Focal Point Digital Media
The award-winning videographers at Focal Point are wedding video super-specialists. NW Salembased Ryan Chaney has been telling nothing but wedding stories full-time since 2004, and his expertise is evident. The end product is a tightly edited movie highlighting the best moments of your day—with a polished storyline and custom soundtrack to boot. Focal Point also offers theatrical trailers, mind-blowing same-day editing and the option for couples to record their own “directors’ commentary” on the DVD.
Lights in the Attic Creative Media
Like Focal Point, Lights in the Attic produce a cinematic retrospective of your wedding and offer same-day edits. Owner Jeffrey Haney (who shares a space called “the Loft” with four other vendors in the Bush Park neighborhood) brings his production background to the table with film-quality equipment and visuals ranging from HD to Super 8. Other options include a music video montage of you in your gown—or you, creatively trashing that gown post-ceremony. Ultimately, Jeff loves providing a visual representation of your emotions. When he makes you cry (in a good way!), he feels he’s done his job.
The Bridal Gallery
Angie Oven, owner of the Bridal Gallery in downtown Salem, wants brides to have her on speed-dial. Expect to spend two hours playing dress-up while the Gallery’s spectacular staff sift through over 450 gowns to find your dream dress. Don’t worry if the fit isn’t quite right—one of the on-site tailors can take care of it. And after the big day? Hit that speed-dial and ask Angie how you can turn your gown into an heirloom.
Belle Fleur Floral Design
South Salem-based Belle Fleur is trying to rid the world—or at least Salem—of boring bouquets. Owner Rebecca Butler loves mixing traditional elements with the unexpected, like branches, veggies or wrapping flowers in eye-catching fabrics, and she’s constantly researching to stay on top of trends to ensure your floral design is as one-of-a-kind as your wedding.
WEDDING PLANNING AND EVENT RENTALS
Crossroads Fine Linens & Party Rentals
“Party rentals” doesn’t begin to cover it with Crossroads. Owner Shirley Kavanaugh has put her south-of-downtown Salem shop in a class of its own with her massive collection of china, crystal and all the décor a girl could dream of. Crossroads hand-makes most of its linens from imported European fabrics, creating a sophisticated look you won’t find anywhere else (except maybe in, ahem, a magazine).
SHE Designs & Event Rentals
SHE Designs & Event Rentals is a boutique wedding planning service with a dash of bridal therapy, as owner Sue Hamilton provides “technical support, design support and emotional support.” Located in the Willaby’s Loft in Salem’s Bush Park, Sue can help with everything from vendor selection, to custom design work, to fixing any issues that could awaken your inner Bridezilla. All you have to do is tell Sue what you’ve been picturing—and then let her work her magic.
Class Act Event Coordinators
Susan Adkins, owner of Class Act, encourages brides to ask lots of questions. She takes an individualized approach to each wedding, so you won’t find any package deals here. Class Act wants to make sure you’re having the right wedding for you—in terms of budget, priorities and overall vibe. With 22 years of experience and four wedding coordinators (each with their own assistant!) on staff, Class Act can guarantee that everything will be under control on the big day.
The Other Printing Service
There’s a reason The Other Printing Service has been a mainstay in wedding invitations for 31 years: they have the largest selection in the Valley. Period. Plan to settle in and spend some time flipping through their huge collection of designs. Thirty-five albums of invites by the world’s best designers means you’re bound to find something—or several somethings—in your style.