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February 14, 2023
The Columbia River runs along the border of Washington and Oregon – and just outside of Portland, you’ll find a place bustling with rushing waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes, and dense old-growth forests – the perfect spot for any nature lover to explore! A Columbia River Gorge elopement is great for anyone who wants to tie the knot outdoors, and this guide will tell you everything you need to know about eloping in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge!
One of the first steps you’ll take when you’re planning your Columbia River Gorge elopement is deciding when you want to say “I do!” The weather in Oregon can vary quite a bit depending on what season your ceremony is in, so knowing what to expect can help you prepare for your wedding day.
For most couples, the best time for a Columbia River Gorge elopement is in the summer! From June until September is when you’ll come across the fewest rainy days, and the weather is perfect for all sorts of outdoor adventures. Summer is also the most popular time to visit the gorge, so to avoid crowds in some more popular areas, I recommend planning your elopement for a weekday! Saying your vows at sunrise or sunset can also mean you’ll find fewer crowds during your elopement.
Fall and spring are also great times for your Columbia River Gorge elopement! The blooming wildflowers in the spring and the changing leaves in the fall bring color to the gorge, creating a stunning backdrop.! The thing to watch out for in these seasons is the unpredictable weather – you can wake up to the sun shining, and then get stuck in a downpour by lunch. It’s important to be prepared, so wear lots of layers!
The Columbia River Gorge is often covered in a blanket of snow in the winter. The cold weather and fresh snow create the perfect environment for winter elopements, if you bundle up! You’ll find the fewest crowds in the winter, so you won’t have to compete for the best photo spots.
The Columbia River Gorge is full of gorgeous locations to say “I do!” Get married along the Columbia River, or underneath a rushing waterfall – you’ll find the perfect place for your ceremony! Here are a few of the best spots for a Columbia River Gorge elopement.
Nestled between old-growth forests and fields of wildflowers, Bridal Veil Lakes is a beautiful full-service venue nestled on the lake. Head out to take photos on the lake on a canoe or spend some time walking along the forest paths. This is perfect for hosting a couple of friends and family members if you want to share your wedding day with them!
Latourell Falls is a cascading waterfall that’s easy to get to and absolutely beautiful. You can choose from a few different hike options – the accessible 1-mile flat path to Lower Falls near the picnic shelter, the 2-mile loop up to Upper Falls, or combine them both to take in the beauty of both of these spectacular waterfalls! Upper Falls has an adorable rustic bridge that makes for the perfect place to say your vows!
After a hike past flowing waterfalls into a slot canyon, you’ll reach Wahclella Falls. One of the most beautiful waterfalls in the gorge is an easy 2.4-mile out-and-back hike! The views are incredible all along the trail, so you’ll have plenty of places to take photos before you tie the knot at the base of a 350-foot waterfall.
If you’re looking for a quick place off of the highway to take some photos or say your vows, Government Cove is the perfect spot! Since it’s more popular with fishermen, you’ll find fewer people around. The trail is only about a 5-minute walk, so it’s perfect if you’re not looking for something too adventurous. The wildflowers at Government Cove in the spring are spectacular!
Perched on the cliffs above the Columbia River Gorge is a beautiful outdoor venue, The Griffin House! The family-owned venue has panoramic vistas and plenty of gathering spaces for you and your guests. If you’re looking for a private venue with gorgeous views, The Griffin House is perfect! You can even rent the space overnight if you want to wake up at your Columbia River Gorge elopement location.
One of the gorge’s most iconic viewpoints is Rowena Crest. This Columbia River Gorge elopement location is perfect for a sunrise ceremony, and then you can take the 2-mile Rowena Plateau Loop trail to see more of the gorge. The viewpoint is right at the parking lot, so you can stop to take photos with the panoramic views even if you don’t have your ceremony here!
If you’re coming in from out of town or even if you’re a local, you’ll want to find a place to stay after your elopement! Whether you want to retreat to a cabin in the woods or spend the night exploring the bustling city of Hood River, you’ll find plenty of unique hotels and resorts for your stays.
McMenamins Edgefield is 74 acres of old farmland, turned into a resort with tons of eateries and amenities like a spa, live music, a winery, and a couple of restaurants. You can rent a room and explore the grounds, originally built in 1911! This is also a wedding venue with many rentable ballrooms and outdoor spaces!
Located centrally in downtown Hood River, the historic Hood River Hotel has been around since the 1800s! You’ll get the best of both worlds with views of the city and of the Columbia River from the rooms. Head downstairs for a cup of coffee or a delicious brunch at their bistro, or head out into town to explore the many shops and restaurants nearby!
For your own private cabin, head an hour out of Portland, or 30 minutes from Hood River, to the Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins. Nestled in the woods near tons of hiking trails, you’ll find yourself in a serene paradise. Spend your wedding night cuddled around the fire or have some tea in the morning on your cabin’s porch!
After a long day of celebration and excitement, it’s important to keep your energy up! Luckily, the Columbia River Gorge has some great places to grab a bite before or after your ceremony – and they’re so cute, so they’d be great for some more photos! Here are some of the best places to eat in the Columbia River Gorge!
If you’re looking for the best drive-in diner, look no further than the Eastwind Drive-In! They have delicious burgers and the tallest soft-serve cones I’ve ever seen! Their list of milkshakes is to die for, and their fries are the best around. They only have outdoor seating, but it’s the cutest place to stop by after a hike or on the way to say “I do!”
The most creative sandwich spot is definitely the Sugar Pine Drive-In. Try their waffle grilled cheese or curry pulled pork sandwich, and try The Larch Mountain sundae as a sweet treat. On top of their delicious food, the vibes are adorable! What was once a gas station in the 1920s, they’ve managed to turn the place into a cozy restaurant experience.
One of the best breweries in Hood River is Full Sail Brewing Company. Located near the marina, Full Sail is a cozy pub with both indoor and outdoor seating, so you can decide what you’d prefer! The food is delicious, and they have tons of beers and hard ciders on tap! You’ll find savory pies, mac and cheese, fish and chips, and more at Full Sail Brewing Company!
Your wedding day should represent who you are! As an elopement photographer, it’s my job to make sure that you’ll remember this day for the rest of your lives. When you look back at your photos years from now, I want you to really feel how you felt in that moment. Eloping is a big decision, and as someone who chose to elope herself, I know the importance of creating a wedding day that feels right! From helping with location recommendations to planning a timeline, and being your day of adventure buddy, I’ll be there every step of the way to make sure that everything goes according to plan!
If you’re ready to plan your wedding day, or to learn more about my Columbia River Gorge elopement packages, get in touch, and we can start planning your day!
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