There’s no place like home for a wedding—but, oh, the allure of a destination celebration. Happily, this part of the world has some truly stunning celebration venues that can backdrop your biggest dreams of romance and adventure. Within four hours of Seattle you’ll find gorgeous vineyards, majestic mountain ranges, and bucolic waterfalls surrounding great, homey lodges and architectural masterpieces of the region. Guests from Spokane, Sacramento, and Singapore will all have plenty to discover, and lots of opportunities to relax- and enjoy each other—which is what weekend-long weddings are all about.
Our guide to six top nearby destination spots preps you for pulling off a multiday fest right here in the great Northwest.
THE MOOD: Quality Island Time
ROSARIO RESORT & SPA
Orcas Island, WA • rosarioresort.com
Rosario Resort’s Point Lawn has a 300-degree view of Cascade Bay. “That backdrop is one of the biggest reasons people book with us,” says director of operations Jolene Versailles. Rainy-day weddings take place in the music room in the Moran Mansion, and friends and family watch the proceedings from the balcony above. Whatever the weather, the pristine beauty and shipbuilding history of the area are honored guests.
Make it work Before Rosario’s recent closure, remodel, and reopening, couples who married here had to bring in a caterer—surprising when you think about what a foodie’s paradise the island has become. The 2012 season marks the debut of chef Dan Koomoo and dishes such as island-raised lemongrass- and soy-braised pork belly as well as cedar-roasted, locally caught trout with corn bread, andouille sausage stuffing, and Black Dog Farm greens. Versailles recommends the on-island flower arrangers at Patina Floral Design and says the nearby Salon Mir’Toi specializes in bridal looks.
Make a weekend out of it Charter a sailboat or yacht and see if you can catch a glimpse of the island’s namesakes in the surrounding waters.
THE MOOD: Edge of Nowhere
CAVE B INN & SPA
Quincy, WA • cavebinn.com
While the sun disappears behind 900-foot cliffs that skirt the Columbia River, you and your guests can be gathering around the majestic outdoor swimming pool, exploring the dramatic vineyard-dotted oasis, or getting ready for the singular experience of sleeping in a modern yurt. No matter the scene, someone will surely observe that there’s no place on earth quite like this Eastern Washington winery and resort.
Make it work “We can bring out a portable dance floor, but most girls like to kick off their shoes and dance in the grass under the stars,” says sales manager Elizabeth Averill. And while it’s impossible to point a camera at anything other than supernatural beauty out there, you’ll want to ask potential photographers how they factor in Eastern Washington’s bright, sometimes harsh sunlight.
Make a weekend out of it Fly-fish the Yakima River, taste the wares of area winemakers, relax in the sun, and let the far-out landscape expand your horizons.
Methow Valley, WA • rollinghuts.com
Famed Seattle architect Tom Kundig found a way to combine clean, simple architecture with the ruggedness of the North Cascade wilderness. Six modern wood-and-glass huts provide sleek, spartan quarters; beyond them, a renovated three-bedroom farmhouse sleeps eight. Beyond that lie an old barn and the jagged peaks of the Cascades.
Make it work “There’s extra space for tents,” says property manager Dixie Gardner. “We just ask that you steer clear of the sprinkler system.” You won’t have to roast hot dogs, though:
Mazama-based Stewart Dietz Catering takes your crew from camping to glamping.
Make a weekend out of it Wander Okanogan National Forest trails that run through Douglas firs and wildflowers, or wander into Winthrop for kitschy Old West adventures.
THE MOOD: Elegant Adventure
COLUMBIA GORGE HOTEL
Hood River, OR • columbiagorgehotel.com
Bobby Rand sure did a bang-up job picking this parcel back in 1904: the hotel’s 11 acres are just a few miles from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to the north and the Mt Hood National Forest to the south. “You can hear the faint roar of the 208-foot Wah Gwin Gwin Falls from every wedding site on the property,” says event manager Trina Serdar. Gardens surround the property, and kite boarders swoop through the gorge. Nature really has a way of opening up around here.
Make it work Since the lodge is four hours from Seattle, you’ll want to consider hiring some local talent, such as the perfectly imperfect rose arrangers at Lucy’s Informal Flowers.
Make a weekend out of it Peruse painterly interpretations of the dramatic landscape at local galleries, count the stars at the nearby Goldendale Observatory, or book white-water rafting adventures with Zoller’s Outdoor Odysseys.
THE MOOD: Secret Staycation
Seattle • cedarbrooklodge.com
Tucked at the end of a winding road off a main arterial on the south end, built on 18 acres of quiet wetlands that you wouldn’t even know were there, and surrounded by tall evergreens, lush green landscaping, modern Northwest architecture, and cool-water ponds, Cedarbrook feels like nature’s equivalent of a secret room. And who wouldn’t want to gather 150 of their favorite people inside an outdoor enigma?
Make it work This 104-room property might be best suited for guest lists that include overworked locals and busy out-of-towners. Both
parties deserve rest and relaxation, but neither should have to work too hard for it. From your sister’s downtown condo, it’s a quick 20-minute drive; from Sea-Tac, your college buddies will be there in five. The ease in arriving means extra relaxation in actually being there—all the better for catching up, hanging out, and real togetherness—which all of you will enjoy.
Make a weekend out of it Why not just pretend it’s your private estate, and let the staff help everyone feel blissfully at home? Enjoy Cedarbrook’s farm-to-table culinary program on the patio, reminisce around the fireplace, and let Uncle Ray organize a game of billiards near the bar.
THE MOOD: Summer Camp Luxury
ALDERBROOK RESORT & SPA
Union, WA • alderbrookresort.com
A lot has changed since Alderbrook’s original 16 cottages were built in 1913. “For a long time, the only way guests could arrive was by steamboat,” says the Hood Canal venue’s Marty McCormack. Those early vacationers probably wouldn’t recognize the 77 very modern guest rooms, festive Grand Ballroom, and on-site spa.
Make it work “Stay within budget by using Alderbrook’s linens, tableware, and other provided materials,” advises event planner and designer Rachel Bowes of Finch and Thistle. “Accentuate what’s already there rather than re-creating from a blank slate,” she continues. She should know; Bowes was married at the property in 2007. “Alderbrook’s ballroom has huge floor-to-ceiling windows with a sweet courtyard outside. We asked them to keep the windows open and hung Indian lanterns from the curtain rods. Some of my favorite pictures are the ones our photographers took of the reception from outside looking in.”
Make a weekend out of it Tennis, paddling, clam digging, camp songs by the fire? Absolutely-—and the Lady Alderbrook yacht carries 90 for cocktails on crystal-clear canal waters. After-party, anyone?