Thursday, March 19, 2009

Portland Unveiled: Getting Hitched in Stumptown Style

By Hollyanna McCollom

Whether you are planning a big to-do or a simple backyard wedding, the big day can be a big headache to plan. It’s easy to get sucked into the hoopla and suddenly find yourself asking, “Do I really need designer suits and a horse-drawn carriage?” Well, if the tiara fits, then go ahead and have the sort of nuptials that would make royalty blush. After all, how often do you get the chance? But if you’re looking for something with a little more character (and a little less pomp), you’re in luck. Thanks to all the designers, artists and other creative types who have flocked here, Portland is one of the hippest cities to get hitched.
Before you start picking dresses and arranging bouquets, you’ll have to invite your wedding day audience. If you’re keen on being green, take a spin through Oblation Papers & Press (, an “old-world letterpress print shop, urban paper mill and fine European-style paper boutique” that turns recycled 100% acid-free cotton garments into beautiful old-school cards and invitations. Consider using a plantable invitation that guests can place in a pot with soil and grow wildflowers like bird’s eyes, poppies or snapdragons. Botanical Paperworks ( makes 100% post-consumer waste cotton cards, invitations, journals and wedding favors embedded with North American flower seeds that bloom as the paper breaks down.
Want to eschew traditional invitations all together? These days it’s even more acceptable than ever to plan your wedding electronically. Brides are choosing to use online invitations (like that will send invites, provide updates and reminders and keep a running tally of guests. E-Brides are also using the internet to build personalized wedding blogs wherein family and friends can read about the day-to-day trials of nuptial planning, offer their insight and share amusing stories.
Next, of course, you have to get dressed. Thanks to Leanne Marshall’s break-out win on last season’s Project Runway, the world started to pay attention to Portland’s fashion scene. But we already knew that P-Town had a bevy of talent, particularly when it comes to wedding gowns. Allison Covington of Amai Unmei ( is a favorite amongst local fashionistas for her mix of clean, classic lines and striking colors. Her 2009 bridal collection is no exception with gowns in silk charmeuse, chiffon, embroidered Italian cotton, opulent brocade and raw dupioni silk in colors that mimic a spring garden.

(Wedding coat by Amai Unmei, Photo by Jessica Hill)
In Portland, individuality reigns and designers like Kate Towers ( and Elizabeth Dye ( are popular for their one-of-a-kind creations. Towers, a self-taught designer who sells her wares at Seaplane (, creates dresses and wraps that seem to echo nature with their wispy, romantic silhouettes and distinctly Northwest palette. Dye, on the other hand, whose ready-to-wear collection is sold at The English Department (, seems to craft dresses that look like they stepped out of a fairytale. A self-professed ruffle addict, Dye’s dresses are pretty confections, perfectly suited for both the bride that dreamt of being a ballerina and the one that still fancies herself Ophelia.
At the Alphabet District’s Lena Medoyeff Bridal (, brides are also encouraged to engage their own inner-designer as they try dresses on, swapping out bright colored sashes and bows to create a personal touch. Designer Lynn Medoff (Medoyeff is her original Russian surname) understands that the “perfect dress” should be an extension of the bride’s personality, so her dresses range from understated and simple day dresses to richly embellished gowns rippling with ruffles, hand-painted flowers and lace.
There’s no need for the groom to opt for the standard rental tux, either. Seyta Selter of Duchess Clothier ( has been custom-making suits since 2005 and since then she has become the unofficial dresser of guys who believe than looking natty is not an obligation, it’s an art form. For less than it might take to buy an off-the-rack, one-in-a-million suit, Selter can custom make a three-piece suit for your special day that incorporates your colors with colorful linings, hand-made shirts and dapper accents. Last year, Selter paired up with boutique owner Jordan Saylor of Winn Perry ( and began selling her off-the-rack creations alongside Sovereign Beck ties and the remarkably well-crafted Alden boots. Dana Pinkham ( is another local favorite and nationally recognized milliner who has also sold a few of her creations at Winn Perry. Come to think of it, the addition of a kicking fedora is all the more reason why Winn Perry is a spot every groom should go before agreeing to spend the day in an uncomfortable, ill-fitting suit.
Once the apparel is taken care of, the next big nightmare task is making sure your guests are fed. Planning a menu can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. If you’re having a daytime affair, you may be able to get away with hor d’oeurves and dessert. Or, plan to have a buffet instead of a sit down meal, but keep the size of your guest list in mind. If you over-plan a buffet, it can end up being more costly. Chloe Fennell of locally-owned Eat Your Heart Out (232-4408, notes that it is important to be true to yourself when choosing a menu. She says, "The wedding create together will be memorable for your guests. Choose the style you feel comfortable with and foods you love or have loved sharing throughout your relationship."
(Photo courtesy of Eat Your Heart Out catering)

Of course, the food is place where couples can really express their creativity. Mandy L. of NE Portland writes to tell us that she went with a carnival theme for her July, 2001 wedding. She says, “We used a hot dog cart and had the tables heaped with big bowls of candy and unshelled peanuts.” Another bride says that members of her Italian family (most of whom are known for their cooking) each brought a signature dish to the reception along with a recipe. Guests were then given a “keepsake cookbook of Italian and Sicilian recipes that had been passed down through generations, some of which had been secret up until that day.” Fennell remarks that personality, not expectation is key when planning the big day, "If there is some quirky food that you both love, even if it's not elegant, you can serve it as an hors d'oeuvres. People have never stopped talking about the time we did a potato chip bar that we served at cocktail hour before the guests sat down to an elegant meal.
(Photo courtesy of Eat Your Heart Out catering)
If you opt for a caterer, make sure you find one that is willing to listen to your needs and accommodate them whenever possible. Make use of the bounty we have here in the Northwest and talk to potential caterers about creating a menu that adopts local favorites or things that are in season at nearby farmers markets.
When it comes to your cake, the sky’s the limit. You can choose an elaborately tiered formal cake, artfully displayed trays of cupcakes or even a collection of fresh NW pies. Portland has a number of bakeries that can cater to your particular desires. Want a vegan cake? Check out Sweetpea Baking Company (, where they concoct some truly stunning (and tasty!) cakes without using any of those pesky animal products like milk, eggs and butter. Can’t decide on a flavor? Call Seri Lopez at Serious Cake ( She can make a cake the size of a skyscraper that features one of her 17 flavors in each death-defying layer. Want your cake with a little side of kitsch? Jocelyn Barda is your go-to gal at Bakery Bar (, where you can get a traditional cake or you could opt for a tattoo-inspired heart with bluejays holding a banner that bears the initials of you and your beloved. What could be more Portland than that?
(Sweetpea Cake, Photo by Katie Marggraf)
If you are planning a wedding this year, keep in mind that even though the economy has been tanking, your love has weathered the storm. It’s okay to celebrate. In fact, it’s encouraged. Sing it from the Burnside Bridge. Shout it from the rooftops of downtown. Enjoy the love that you have found. When you decide to tie the knot, your day should not only be a celebration of your union, but of your individuality as well. After all, that’s the reason why you fell in love in the first place.
(Opening photo courtesy of West Coast Events)

1 comment:

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