Field of Dreams: 11 Enchanting Garden Venues

Whether you’re looking for a venue that’s woodsy or stately, wild or carefully manicured, we’ve found the best gardens in Oregon for a delightful outdoor wedding.
From: Spring/Summer 2016 edition
Lewis and Clark College's Estate Gardens

It’s hard to resist the Oregon landscape: green as far as the eye can see, seemingly endless fields of flowers, ancient forests giving way to valleys of farmland. No wonder so many couples celebrate their nuptials in the many gardens of our fair state.

The Emerald Valley

Located in Silverton near Salem, The Oregon Garden often comes to mind when considering garden wedding locations. The options at this venue vary widely, with 20 specialty gardens on 80 acres, a ballroom, a refurbished barn and a classic white gazebo. With full-service catering, an on-site spa and over 100 resort guest rooms, all of the couple’s needs are easily met for weddings of up to 450 guests.

“Some of the acres are manicured, with fountains and beautiful flowers,” said regional marketing manager Brittney Hatteberg, “while other areas are more wild, with tall grasses and trees. We can really meet any couple’s aesthetic.”

Another Willamette Valley option is the Log House Garden in Keizer (outside of Salem), which has a more manicured feel. Flowering cherries, lilacs, rhododendrons and roses line the brick walkways and green lawns; couples wed in a wooden pavilion and continue the celebration under a covered white patio. Flexible catering, a 300-person capacity and a working wedding bell make it an eye-catching option.

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The Oregon Gardens || photography by Brokenframe Photography

Eugene’s Ogren Gardens provide another mid-Valley choice, with event capacities of up to 499 guests under their covered porch. Its wooden barn is not available as an indoor reception space, but the dark wood and green edges make it a rustically elegant backdrop for photos.

Atavista Farm lies in the small town of Brownsville, 25 miles north of Eugene. Its 1876 Victorian farmhouse and garden setting combines the “best of historical elegance and Oregon’s natural beauty,” says owner Sharon McCoy. The house allows for indoor restrooms, as well as an air-conditioned bride’s room. The expansive lawn accommodates up to 400 guests, with tables, chairs, lanterns and parking attendants included.

Last on our Valley garden tour is Navarra Gardens, tucked cozily creekside in the small town of Willamina, 30 miles west of Salem. Owner Marie Navarra says the key to a great outdoor wedding is to encourage guests to bring “flexible attire. “Even with shade, air temperature can be warm, and evening temperatures may be cool,” she says. Navarra Gardens’ smaller wedding package, with the couple’s choice of vendors, can accommodate up to 400 guests, while the more inclusive option (featuring day-of coordination, linens, catering, music, photography and flowers) serves up to 200.

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Lakeside Gardens || photography by Peter Mahar Photography

Urban Havens

Naturally, the Portland area also offers its share of garden venues. The Lan Su Chinese Garden in Chinatown features a bridged lake, a waterfall, winding pathways, exquisite pavilions and lush gardens that can be rented for weddings of up to 300. “It’s the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China and offers lasting impressions,” says event sales and site manager Anna Schwartz. Inspired by the Ming dynasty gardens, it combines art, architecture, design and nature. Due to its draw as a cultural museum, the venue requires specific catering and rental companies and is not available to rent during public visiting hours. For smaller weddings of up to 50 guests, an authentic Chinese teahouse with artisan furniture and hanging lanterns is also available on the site.

Lakeside Gardens in Southeast Portland has a different style, with weeping willows and tall cedars bordering the lakes and gardens. “It’s important to think of your guests when you’re tying the knot outdoors,” says bridal consultant Jenna Naef. She suggests considering the angle of the setting sun when planning the ceremony space, as well as considering venues with indoor options for food service and temperature control.

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Ainsworth House and Gardens || photography by River Rock Weddings

Kevin Yell, managing partner of Ainsworth House and Gardens, echoed this advice with the suggestion to “pick a venue that caters both to your dreams and your guests’ needs.” This historic property just south of Portland in Oregon City books only one event per day and couples have several indoor and outdoor settings to choose from. Outdoor options include the Pine Tree Garden, surrounding a 200-plus-year-old Ponderosa Pine, which seats up to 125; the Main House lawn, in front of the grand, colonial-style Ainsworth House (built in 1851), which seats up to 75; and the garden’s Wedding in the Grove, for more intimate gatherings of 20 to 40. The inside facilities accommodate up to 125, with the couple’s selection of either the Fireside Room or the Conservatory.

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Lan Su Chinese Garden is an oasis in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown Neighborhood || photography by ANIKO productions

Heading to Portland’s Southwest Hills, Lewis and Clark College rents its Estate Gardens for up to an incredible 900 guests. “Lights in the trees, dancing under the moon, champagne in the gazebo—there is nothing like it. Enjoy all the glorious nature you find yourself in and relax,” says Kerry Keenon, associate director of conferences and events. Options include the Reflecting Pool, intimate side lawns, or a fountain area on the Great Plat Lawn below the Reflecting Pool. Due to its location and parking restrictions, logistics for this venue are trickier than others. Couples wanting to wed at Lewis and Clark must retain a certified wedding coordinator that will work directly with the venue.

Two of Portland’s public parks are also available for weddings with fewer than 200 guests: Leach Botanical Garden and the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Both gardens are open to the public, but the event spaces are private. Crystal Springs is tucked away in Eastmoreland and has a more forest-like atmosphere than other garden venues. Three waterfalls, a woodland site and a meadow site make it “Portland’s best kept secret,” according to event coordinator Rachael Moloney. Leach Botanical Garden is nestled in southeast Portland and includes the use of the Manor House for kitchen service and restrooms as well as the East Terrace. The garden itself contains both local and specialty plant varieties, as well as butterflies, rabbits, beavers and other fauna.

The stunning photo opportunities (as well as abundance of natural light), expansive space and guest capacities, and breathtaking ceremony and reception backdrops are just a few reasons to consider a “destination wedding” at one of Oregon’s enchanting garden venues.