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Oregon's Secret Spot For an Extraordinary Destination Wedding Weekend

Say ‘I Do’ in Central Oregon’s High Desert, surrounded by wine country, craft breweries and breathtaking landscapes.
By: 
Kimberly Bowker

Sojourning among the mountains and rivers, deserts and forests, and lakes and meadows of Central Oregon, couples can pick from a profusion of possibilities for beginning life’s next adventure. An exciting and beautiful location for destination weddings, Central Oregon is a spot known for its array of outdoor activities and breathtaking landscapes, not to mention more than 250 days a year of sun. Its terrain has something for everyone and serves as a stunning backdrop for nearly every wedding theme.

“I feel Central Oregon is a great spot for destination weddings. There is such a great a draw because the area has so much to offer,” says Deschutes Brewery private event coordinator Candi Calihan. “Weddings these days are not just one day, but three days to a week, and there is so much for guests here to do.” In the fall, that could mean hiking, golfing, rock climbing, mountain biking, caving or playing on the river. In the winter, vacationing guests could go sledding, snowshoeing, skiing or sip a pint while lounging around an outdoor fire pit.

Central Oregon is a hot spot for craft beer, and weddings at Deschutes Brewery could include private brewery tours, dining options with beer and cuisine pairings, and an expansive view of the Cascade Mountain Range from an elevated indoor venue. Nuptials at the brewery range from casual to upscale celebrations and, according to Calihan, showcase the carefree outdoor culture of Central Oregon.


High Desert Museum in Deschutes County (Julia Green Photography)

Delving deeper into the region’s history, the High Desert Museum brings the past alive with timeless and historical scenes and activities. A selection of exhibits remains open during receptions, so guests can wander through the 1920s re-creation of the Old West town of Silver City, connect over visions of Western art or experience hands-on learning. “Everyone walks away with learning something about Oregon that they didn’t know,” said events manager Gail Hodge. Both the outdoor and the indoor ceremony spaces—such as on the porch of a homesteading ranch, in front of a tepee or in the Birds of Prey Center—transport guests back to another time on the Western frontier. Due to the somewhat unpredictable nature of Central Oregon’s weather, a final decision on a wedding location can be made up to 24 hours in advance.

Fall and winter weddings in Oregon’s high desert are not only more cost-effective than in the peak summer season, but they also cultivate a sense of intimacy and coziness. Guests can wonder at the fall colors and feel the magic of the falling snow. (Be sure to remind guests to dress appropriately and prepare for winter travel.)

If you don’t want to travel far, McMenamins Old St. Francis School Hotel sits in the charming hub of downtown Bend. The campus includes a hotel, restaurant, several bars, movie theater, tiled soaking pool and outdoor fire pits. This fun, eclectic space, decorated with original art and antiques, was built in 1936 as a Catholic school and is conveniently located within walking distance of an armada of hair salons, spas and restaurants.


Upscale luxury at Brasada Ranch (IQ Photography)

If you’re searching for a destination resort for the big day, Brasada Ranch, Pronghorn Resort and Sunriver Resort all offer a variety of on-site activities and exclusive experiences. Brasada Ranch, set on 1,800 acres near the farming community of Powell Butte, is a luxurious ranch resort with wide-open views of the nearby mountains. All wedding venues on the property face west for that perfect moment at sunset, and food is locally sourced, from eggs laid a half mile down the road to beef raised by local ranchers.

Set on 640 acres within Central Oregon’s 1,000-year-old juniper forest and surrounded by the Cascade Mountain Range, just 15 miles from Bend, Pronghorn has received recognition as the West’s premier resort community. The resort offers a serene escape, with luxurious amenities, thoughtful accommodations, the new 104-room Huntington Lodge and endless recreational opportunities. “We can take those lofty wedding dreams and create an element of fantasy, especially for wedding imagery,” says group sales manager JoAnna Eisler. In the fall, foliage turns shades of orange, red and purple, providing the perfect high desert autumn scenery for an elegantly rustic venue.


Endless views at Sunriver Resort (Mosca Studio)

About 20 miles south of Bend sits the hamlet of Sunriver Resort, where guests can ride bikes, float on the river, play golf, rejuvenate at the spa, ski at nearby Mount Bachelor or feel the romance on horse-drawn sled rides in the winter. Many couples celebrate their special day at the Great Hall, built in the 1940s. From the grand timbers to the rock fireplace, the hall offers the elegance of a great lodge with the comfort of mountain living. “It’s definitely a destination that we could turn any dream into reality,” says Sheila Shelton, director of catering sales at Sunriver Resort.

Many who choose Central Oregon for their wedding location feel a real connection to its natural setting, culture and history, something akin to a joyful childhood experience. The diverse landscape of the high desert offers a place to celebrate love among the mountain and create memories for the future.

Central Oregon Vendor Guide

Coordinators
Bend Weddings and Events specializes in destination weddings and offers full, partial or month-of planning services.
AE Creative is a full-service planning and event design company, with an inventory of unique decor rentals. Events by Mint, conducting business in Bend for nearly 14 years, provides couples with a full package of services and convenient planning through its online platform.

Catering
Tate and Tate Catering assists in creating a couple’s food visions and specializes in a Pacific Northwest flavor profile.
Bite Catering is a full-service Bend catering company that goes the extra mile when working with out-of-town customers.

Flowers
Summer Robbins Flowers is an award-winning floral studio that creates lush, textured, organic arrangements.

Music
Bend Event Music is a husband-and-wife duo that performs on violins, a guitar and a mandolin to create the perfect soundtrack for your wedding, whether that involves classical, bluegrass, pop, rock or cinematic melodies

Jewelry
Saxon’s Fine Jewelers, a Bend business for 35 years, specializes in custom designs and presents a wide selection of fashionable pieces for both men and women.

Cakes
Foxtail Bakeshop & Kitchen takes a whimsical approach to wedding cakes, using the finest local and organic ingredients in the process.
The Cake Lady Shoppe, creating wedding cakes in Bend for 42 years, offers any size of cake in 20 different flavors, along with its popular buttercream frosting.
Dreamin’ Desserts provides a range of baked goods from wedding cakes to American classic desserts to signature European pastries.

Photographers
Kimberly Kay Photography is a destination wedding photographer who cultivates a clean, classic, timeless style.
Kellianne Jordan Photography features light and airy images that tell the story of the big day while capturing all the love and excitement.
Byron Roe Photography exposes the raw beauty, personal moments and emotional connections in an authentic and nonintrusive approach.
Gallivan Photo specializes in natural, candid moments to showcase couples as they truly are.

Gown Shops
The Bridal Suite & Special Occasionis a full-service bridal shop that includes alterations and custom redesign among its services.
Bespoke Bride offers a curated selection for the modern bride. Bella Brides provides timeless beauty and cutting-edge looks, as well as dress steaming and day-of bride dressing service.

Video
Mike Hiatt Media loves laughing with clients and bringing their weddings to life through video, using techniques such as drone shots of the special day.

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