Wedding Planning

Sara and Joel’s Portland, OR Real Wedding by Powers Photography

I love Portland weddings for the same reason I love living in Portland. The vibe is totally urban and cool, while still remaining warm and welcoming. Sara and Joel’s wedding is no exception. These high school sweethearts celebrated in high style, with a playful sensibility.

I love Portland weddings for the same reason I love living in Portland. The vibe is totally urban and cool, while still remaining warm and welcoming. Sara and Joel’s wedding is no exception. These high school sweethearts celebrated in high style, with a playful sensibility. Thank you to Powers Studios for sharing this gorgeous event with us!

Any DIY projects?

I am a very crafty person, so from the time we got engaged I spent a lot of my free time planning the details of my DIY projects. Pinterest, of course, was instrumental! I really wanted my wedding to be classic beauty meets modern vintage…but on a serious budget. Since we paid for the wedding ourselves, every penny was thought out and planned. We needed to keep the wedding within the budget, but didn’t want it to look cheap. I never imagined myself having a winter wedding, but hey, the prices are cheaper in ‘off season’, right? Once I was thoroughly engaged in full-blown Pinterest mode, I realized how stunningly beautiful winter weddings can be, and with the help of DIY projects, it turned out perfectly.

The DIY’ing started with our invitations. I am a huge fan of Paper Source, and I found an invitation that I loved in their album…but it was way too expensive for us. So, I bought a stack of stock paper, invitation holders, and envelopes and set to work on my computer. Many, many hours later, they were DONE and looked just like the one I had seen in the store! Then, after researching how much wedding veils cost, I decided I could make my own for a fraction of the cost. I bought French netting and two vintage-looking flowers and set to work with my hot glue gun. My wedding veil cost me a total of $6! I also hand made my centerpieces (inspiration from Pinterest, of COURSE!), favors (pouches of hot cocoa with a hand-stamped label and a chocolate dipped stirring spoon), as well as a standing scrap-book featuring my husband and I throughout our relationship for people to look at during the reception. Annnd (last DIY, I promise!), I hand stamped to-go mugs for guests to take their coffee/tea/hot cocoa outside.

Did your wedding location hold a specific significance to you?

Yes! We love living in the Pearl District in Portland, OR, and knew we wanted a venue that was close to our home. The West End Ballroom was just perfect because it was so easy to get to (a short streetcar ride for us, and just off the freeway for guests). The coordinators made everything so easy that it truly felt like the venue just slipped into our laps.

What was the most meaningful part of your day?

It meant so much to me to have my sisters and best girlfriends in one place. We all live pretty far apart from each other, so it was the best weekend of my life to have them all together–even if it was just for a few days.

Did anything funny or out of the ordinary happen?

How can a day like this go by without anything funny happening?!? A lot of funny things happened, but you can likely see that it was freezing cold and POURING down rain before the wedding. Since our wedding was a week and a half before Christmas, it was the annual ‘Santa Bar Crawl’. From our 11th story hotel room where the girls were getting ready, we could see about a hundred men and women dressed in Santa suits marching down the street! Brrrr!

Tell us details of the events surrounding the wedding as well.

My family and bridesmaids flew in to Portland a few days before the wedding. We spent those days doing mad dashes around the city picking up random last minute items (I’m pretty sure the employees at Michaels knew us by Friday afternoon). Friday morning, we met at Mother’s Bistro in downtown Portland for brunch and then set to running more errands. My fabulous sisters and friends did our flowers, so preparation for them started on Friday. By Saturday morning, everything was set to move to the venue. My husband stayed at our condo, and I got a hotel room with my bridesmaids. We got up early the next morning and the fun began! On the day after the wedding, we met my family for another brunch, then we were off to our ‘mini-moon’ in the mountains for two nights.

How did you know your partner was ‘the one’?

We have known each other since we were 7 years old, and we grew up as friends in a small town. We started dating in 12th grade, and I knew he was the one I would marry! It was so long ago, that I’m not sure what made me know that at 17 years old, but I must have had a killer instinct, because I was right! Every day, I am reminded that he is the one because he has the important qualities I need in a lifetime partner. He knows when I need extra love and patience, as well as when I need my space. He is patient and forgives easily, and he knows me better than any other person does. He knows just how to make me laugh and helps me keep the important things in life in perspective.

Any advice you’d give new brides who are just getting started?

Yes! Try to keep the whole wedding process in perspective. This is just one portion of the rest of your life with your spouse. The stress can get to you and lower your patience threshold….but in the grand scheme of your lives together, is it really worth the stress and tension if every single little detail is not perfect? Chances are, your guests won’t notice if the candles are out of place by 1/2 inch (or if they are the WRONG COLOR!!!!!), or if one of the bridesmaids didn’t get her tan just right. Also, not everything needs to be top brand name. We chose to mix in less expensive items with nice items to save money and stress. Your wedding day is an important day, but when you look back on it in 30 years, don’t you want to look back and think, ‘I had so much fun on my wedding day!’? It doesn’t have to be perfect, just perfect for you and your spouse.



Photographer: Sara, Powers Photography Studios

Venue: The West End Ballroom

Dress: Rina di Montella, I got it second-hand from Brides Against Breast Cancer

Bridesmaid Dresses: Target

Shoes: Nordstrom

Men’s Attire: Chap’s Sharkskin Slim Fit Suits, shoes by Allen Edmonds

Catering: Eat Your Heart Out Catering

Flowers: DIY with help from and Michaels