Enchanting Eugene: Host Your Wedding in Oregon's "Emerald City"
A hidden gem in the valley boasts a bevy of wild and wonderful wedding venues
by:Lindsay Gard and Nico Lim
Eugene is having its moment. Known as the “Emerald City,” Oregon’s second-largest city bustles with a population of nearly 160,000 that includes a melting pot of students from the University of Oregon, musicians, artists and a fair share of aging Deadheads. As the city has transitioned from a mellow hippie heaven to a high-tech hub with no shortage of art galleries, restaurants and bars, Eugene can play host to almost any wedding style or theme.
Ogren Gardens, photography by New Morning Photography
Celebrating the progressive ethos of Eugene, University of Oregon’s Ford Alumni Center’s light-filled atrium is just one of the stunning details in this 2011 LEED Gold building. Couples don’t need to be alumni to choose between a number of spaces in the Center including the expansive indoor-outdoor grand ballroom that includes exclusive catering and state-of-the-art sound system to keep the party going.
Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Eugene, the recently renovated Hilton Eugene has transformed its interior with elegant finishes and décor. Planning a destination wedding will be simple with the help of a professional wedding specialist to create any wedding style and a custom menu with local ingredients. The modern ballroom features floor-to-ceiling panoramic city views and holds up to 150 guests. Only minutes from campus, shopping and restaurants—and a complimentary shuttle to the Eugene Airport—everything is easily accessible from the hotel.
Ford Alumni Center at the University of Oregon
Also located in downtown Eugene in the arts district is the Hult Center for the Performing Arts. Built in 1982, the concert venue is known for its glass architectural detail and asymmetrical design. With a variety of unique spaces to choose from, the venue can hold from 80 to 500 guests. To help ease the planning process, the Hult Center has a variety of contracted caterers to fit any culinary desire, including signature cocktails for the couple’s special day.
Party with the Past
Eugene’s rich history as a turn-of-the-century sleepy timber town comes alive in buildings and homes that provide a storied backdrop for wedding celebrations. Located near Skinner Butte Park, the 1892 Campbell House Inn and Restaurant is a fully renovated bed and breakfast and an ideal place for an intimate outdoor wedding for up to 60 guests. When couples reserve the venue for their wedding, they are also paying to rent out the entire inn for a night, complete with 18 rooms for up to 40 guests. “The brides that book our venue are the ones that love that traditional, quaint and charming feel to their wedding,” says assistant director Leah Christenson.
Downtown’s 1925 landmark the McDonald Theatre sits on the National Registry of Historic Places and offers couples the chance to tie the knot on the same stage as musicians and entertainers such as Hot Tuna and Ziggy Marley have played. The theater does not offer exclusive catering but does offer a full bar and lounge area, in addition to an indoor balcony that can accommodate up to 400 guests.
Passionflower Design, photography by Anne Nunn Photographers
With its distinctive teal paint, the 1888 Victorian Shelton McMurphey Johnson House sits on a hill on the edge of downtown Eugene and hosts only the most intimate of weddings. As a museum that regularly hosts tea parties, the mansion has a grand fireplace and bay windows, where couples can tie the knot in the same place as Alberta Shelton, one of the original owners, did in 1893. Together with 40 of their nearest family and friends, couples can enjoy a sit-down dinner amongst the home’s elegant architecture and period furniture.
Without a doubt, the Willamette Valley has scenic beauty—and unique wedding locations—to spare. Located an hour south of Eugene in Elkton, The Big K Guest Ranch is a perfect setting for couples looking for a cozy lodge to host a western-styled wedding. City slickers will enjoy the experience of living on a full-working ranch while staying at one of the 20 private cabins on the property.
Cowboy boots can be traded in for hiking boots at Deep Woods, an eight-acre piece of land filled with towering Douglas fir trees minutes away from Eugene in Elmira. Couples can pretend they are getting lost in an Oregon forest outside, complete with a customizable pergola, or they can create a cozy indoor wedding in the site’s wooden-style event hall.
For brides who are aching to host their Pinterest-perfect dream wedding, Ogren Gardens harbors an ideal place for the secluded, intimate garden wedding. Brides could walk down the aisle toward the site’s quaint gazebo and then dance the night away in the nostalgic dark-stained barn with aqua shutters.
Tipi Village in Marcola, photography by Stephanie Kaloi Photography
The Tipi Village Retreat, located in Marcola in the Mohawk Valley near Eugene, is the ideal setting for a private woodland wedding. Following the festivities, newlyweds can spend two relaxing nights with 30 closest friends and family at the retreat. Like the name says, guests will sleep in authentic tipis and wake up to complimentary breakfast served near the creek.
From hipster to country vibes, from traditional to unique décors, brides will find this bejeweled city the perfect setting for a memorable destination wedding.
Sweet Life Patisserie
Eugene Wedding Resources
by Andrea Rodriguez
Eugene’s nationally recognized public transportation system allows visitors to travel by train, bus, airplane or bike. Eugene Airport is the fifth-largest airport in the Pacific Northwest and is only seven miles northwest of Eugene. It offers daily flights to and from cities such as Seattle and Los Angeles. The downtown Amtrak station offers quick and easy rides for guests coming from Portland and other nearby cities. The state-of-the-art Emerald Express (EmX) bus rapid transit line, and designated bike lanes make it easily accessible for guests to spend the weekend exploring everything Eugene has to offer.
Wild Duck Catering: Creating unique dishes as well as honoring tradition, Wild Duck’s award-winning chefs are focused on detail and use only fresh ingredients to customize a couple’s own special menu.
Carte Blanche Caterers: From buffet-style meals to plated and seated dinners, Oregon brides can expect a gourmet culinary experience with signature dishes and seasonal specials.
DRESS & FORMALWEAR
Blush Bridal Boutique: One of the best selections in the Valley, Blush is known for its couture offerings for brides, grooms and the rest of the wedding party.
Good Seed Floral Design: Whether a couple is looking for full-service, à la carte or DIY, Good Seed offers many different packages for every budget. Staying true to its Oregon roots, Good Seed uses flowers from locally owned flower farms.
Passionflower Design: Earthy and organic or classic and refined, each floral arrangement features seasonally appropriate flowers.
Sweet Life Patisserie: With more than 20 years of experience, Catherine Reinhart and her sister Cheryl produce exquisite desserts made with locally grown and organic ingredients. Their offerings include wedding cakes, cupcakes and dessert buffets.
Essig Entertainment: One of the largest full-service wedding event companies in Eugene, couples are offered the Willamette Valley’s grandest selection of everything from audiovisual equipment to table linens and lounge furniture.
Parties to Go: From concept to completion, Parties to Go boasts a 20,000 sq warehouse filled with rentals for every type of celebration. (2645 Suzanne Way, Eugene, 541.485.5587)
Little Arrow: Little Arrow creator and designer, Brianna Bulski provides unique paper goods with vintage flair. Her art prints and custom stamps can provide added flourish.
Blue Bus Creatives: The owners of this photography business use a “Photo Swagon,” which is a renovated 1973 Volkswagen bus and Eugene’s first mobile photo booth.