Oregon for the Solar Eclipse

August 21, 2017 Oregon will be right in the path of the total solar eclipse at about 10:19am. While the best viewing spot will be in Salem, it’s OK if you want to stay in Portland for the big moment. Most known campsites were completely sold out a while back. The State Fair Grounds will be hosting a Solar Fest; all 5,500 spaces were sold out long ago. Many farms, vineyards of the Willamette Valley, and even our State Capitol Mall are in on hosting activities for the big day. Some family farms may still have rustic camping options available, but if you are going to go this route, make sure you come prepared with water, food, and the ability to survive should Oregonians cause a little havoc with our unique ability to massively shut down activity for such an awesome rare occurrence. FYI to say traffic will be horrid, is an understatement – think zombie apocalypse, or two inches of snow in December.

We will likely have at least a million tourists descend upon us. We’re excited. We love cool people who enjoy science, so this is going to be fun for us! If you are looking for events (the celebration is starting on the 18th and running through the 21st, here is where to look first. 

If you want to stay here in Portland, then stay right here. We should enjoy a 99.4% eclipse. Where should you go if your front yard or back yard isn’t your first choice? Anywhere on the waterfront. Seriously go walk outside there will be thousands of downtown offices taking a break, employees walking out on to the bridges and out to Tom McCall Waterfront Park and enjoying. Bosses, please do yourself a favor, pre-order NASA approved glasses at www.amazon.com look for American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, or Beader Planetarium manufactured glasses with the “ISO” label. They must also reference #12312-2, not be pre-used, warped, or damaged. A box of 25 will likely cost you about $25-35, if you buy today.

If you want to go to Pittock Mansion, or other optimum viewing sites, plan to go very early. Remember the park grounds open just before sunrise if you aren’t hiking in, you may not get a parking spot if you go later than that.

Cheers to the sun and the moon and everyone coming together right here in Oregon!


2017 Rustic Chic Farm and Vineyard Weddings

This summer in Portland is all about rustic wine country farms. Rustic open fields and barns are hot and chandelier-adorned ballrooms are not. The most important thing you need to know about a rustic wedding is that they are not necessarily more affordable than a classic black-tie worthy ballroom wedding.

We know you paid close attention to your basic econ classes in high school and college, so rule #1 of economics–supply and demand determines market price–applies here. In Portland, we have a large supply of rustic farm style venues (good for the consumer bride) but the demand is so high nationwide that we see now people coming to Portland for our venues, food and perfect summer weather weddings as a hot destination spot from California, Seattle, and even New York. What that means is you have to trust an expert to help you find the venues everyone hasn’t searched for online from far away, if you want to find a good price for an in-season rustic farm style venue (assuming they aren’t already booked through 2018).

Things to keep in mind: Some rustic venues include basic tables and standard sturdy wedding chairs, white or black basic linens and lots of natural beauty – but very little else. Your typical rustic venue is going to cost between $3,000 and $7,000 for a peak Saturday. That does not include catering, decor, rustic chic wooden rental tables, upgraded chair rentals, flowers, lighting (beyond what is standard at the venue)–did we mention flowers? I’m going to say it again because flowers are an often overlooked necessary expense you should splurge on if you’re going for a rustic venue.

It’s important to note that farm venues are working farms, sometimes open to the public vineyards, and people’s homes and property. Therefore many require you to work with only a select group of vendors, their specific wedding planner, and if they allow you to choose your own vendors, they will at least require you to work with a very inclusive caterer or a “Day of” wedding planner.

The term “Day of” wedding planner confuses a lot of couples planning a wedding on their own. Most wedding planners are booking up for 2018 already, many don’t have any availability left in the summer of 2017. So if you thought you could wait until close to your wedding to hire a “Day of” planner, you are going to be out of luck. In Oregon, event planners book up for our very short very peak summer season. If you find a team or planner you like you have to book them early. And if they are a smaller planning company, or a diverse company that also does non-profit and corporate events, they only have so much bandwidth to take on “Day of” weddings.

The problem with “Day of” weddings, the wedding planner’s event planning bread and butter is the referral and the guest who enjoyed their experience so much they want to know who the planner was. It’s impossible for a professional to accept a true “Day of” job in an industry where your reputation and style are everything. It’s hard enough for a professional to put their name on an event they didn’t play a part in planning. If it is not their decor, floral and table setting designs, and vendor suggestions, they don’t want anyone faulting them if the quality is out of their hands. You will find for this reason most professionals will not accept “Day of” events. Instead, we offer “Month of” services.

With a month of service, professional planners will typically find the gaps in your design, and plans long before your wedding day. They’ll be able to tell you months before it is too late how you could save money, stress, or disasters by making a few small tweaks. They’ll make your last several months before your wedding FUN, less stressful, and worry-free. They’ll help you dot every “i,” cross every “t,” confirm every single detail with every single vendor and handle a ton of those last minute calls, emails and details you really don’t need to do – since you’re required to pay for their services anyway. Some of us can and will offer you floral designs, set up and assistance for your seating charts, place cards, favors, place settings, specialty linens and rentals, sweets table design, signage, and we’ll be there for your rehearsal and every minute of your ceremony and reception, to make sure everything happens exactly according to schedule.

The more personalized elements you add, the more you need a professional wedding planner. So why do we not just show up on the day of your event? Because our services are priceless, and we book up for peak season with all the couples who need full service or month of services. Professionals aren’t available for “Day of” for the same reason venues are more expensive during the summer – supply and demand.

My best advice to any couple who’s just gotten engaged, hire a full service planner FIRST. A good professional will offer you a free consultation. From that consultation most will offer a basic inexpensive guide to planning your wedding, including venue and vendor recommendations, they’ll help you set a very realistic budget and give you a complete guide to doing it all yourself. These packages at Vareus Events start at $50 for very basic starting points, if we met through a referral from a preferred venue or vendor, or if we met at a show or pop-up wedding planning workshop. It’s only $200 for complete getting started plans. If you are just engaged, call us first and you’ll probably save up to ten times that amount in your time and wedding costs. If you later book us for complete or Month Of services, we will deduct that up front amount from your total services package price.


Money saving tips cheat sheet for rustic chic farm style weddings:

Step 1: Call a professional planner for assistance getting started

Step 2: If you already selected a venue, and you know you will need a wedding planner hire your planner ASAP. Their “Month of” Services don’t mean they won’t get involved in your planning process before the month of your wedding. The sooner you book them, the more help you will get and it is usually already included in your package.

Step 3: If you are coming up on your wedding date and realize you need a “Day of” planner, look to a novice or mom n pop style planners who may not be booked up far in advance. Don’t hesitate to call a preferred planner first, you never know if there may be a date they just never completely booked, and they may be available to help you at their “Month of” rate. If you are still finding it hard to find a “Day of” planner, call your caterer. They often have connections within the industry and may be able to help you.


Finishing touches

Incorporating fresh herbs into your event catering menu has pretty much always been a thing, Well we’ve evolved past the 70’s dill in a macaroni salad at the reception to added herbal touches to perfect tabletop decor.

When adding greenery to your place settings, think about the significance behind your herb of choice – beyond the beautiful pop of color.

Herbs in the mint family are significant as an herbal boost of the immune system, to brighten your mood, and to soothe a sour tummy. From Mint, or Rosemary, to Lavendar, brighten your table top and your guests’ mood, all at once.



Personally, We Think The Ceremony Is The Most Important Part

There are many reasons couples turn to a friend or loved one to officiate their wedding: They don’t belong to a specific church or feel attached to a specific clergy member; our kids’ fourth birthdays are a big spectacle why wouldn’t our wedding ceremony be something to remember and completely unique; it only takes a few minutes to become ordained online; and couples enjoy having their ceremonies in very non-traditional personally meaningful ways.

While we are certain your best friend is going to be just great at this, we’re also betting they may not have done this before. Even if you don’t want or need a professional officiant, we highly recommend you turn to a professional to help you write and plan your ceremony.

Personalized ceremonies are our favorite, but they can also be the absolute WORST! There is nothing more embarrassing than a wedding where the bride and groom clearly worked on their own or with a planner to create an amazing and unique reception experience for them and their guests, but they failed to pay the same attention to detail in planning their ceremony.

Sure, the couple knew where they wanted to stand, the decor, even the chairs are comfortably fantastic, and the processional and recessional music Had guests dancing in their seats or crying tears of joy, but what about the ceremony? What’s in a ceremony? Do you have to pledge obedience or other creepy antiquated ideals of a sexist past you’d like to not participate in? Of course not!

Writing and poetry are not every person’s strong suit. Even if you as a couple are determined to write every word of your vows yourself, what about the other parts of the ceremony? Your friend may be brilliant, an excellent public speaker, or even a writer, but are they going to write your perfect ceremony from start to finish? What readings or traditions will you include? What would you like to keep out completely?

This is why hiring a wedding planner can help you in ways you may not have even considered. You thought they were just going to arrange who stood where, but no, your modern planner is also an ordained minister (remember it only takes a few minutes online and come on when we say we are ready to solve any problem that may arise, that includes being ready to officiate because it was the plan all along or because your officiant got caught in traffic between weddings). We are experts, we won’t let you forget a single detail. And most importantly, at Vareus Events and other modern planning firms, you can turn to an expert just to help you craft the perfect custom ceremony plug in the parts from your friend – the officiant, and your personalized vows. It’s stress free, and more importantly it will be the part you most look forward to.

Our Vareus Events Custom ceremonies start at $200. For $500 you get a custom ceremony, an officiant, and a rehearsal. As part of an existing package, writing and planning services may already be included. Our full service planning packages always include a planner as an emergency back up officiant – where local laws allow (void in some states or counties).


To Elope, or Not To Elope…That Is The Question

Many Modern couples are opting to get married in a courthouse with just a handful of people, or elope somewhere non-traditional and special to them, in lieu of a large church ceremony.  Millennials do not have the same attachment to a Church their parents or GenXers may have had, so a religious ceremony is not a necessity.

There are a lot of pluses to feeling free to marry exactly how and where you want to. For starters, we are big believers that the Wedding Ceremony, itself, is the most important thing about your upcoming nuptials. Why? Because your promises made to each other are truly what this is all about.

What better way to start your life together, than by bringing your absolute true selves out to seal the deal. For some that means a religious ceremony in a house of worship, for others, even if they are deeply faithful, it may mean they have to share this moment in a very different and special way for them. You’re in luck. It is 2017 and you do not have to look at your upcoming marriage as something you have to do in any set way in order to please the world.

The question you should ask yourself is how do you stay true to who you are as people in this commitment to each other to become one – and should you sacrifice having the giant party to celebrate even if you don’t want the traditional ceremony? Of course not! You can have it all.

Let’s look at some of the options you have available to you for your perfect Wedding:

  • Get married in the religious house you love and are an active member of – If you go to Services most weeks, are active in your community and can’t imagine getting married without your religious leader giving the Consecration, then do it! You don’t have to have a traditional reception just because you opt for a traditional ceremony. Think about some venues not too far from where your ceremony will be and plan a day that fits you and your personality. If you worry the formal wedding gown you will wear for your ceremony will not work for the venue you want for your reception, change your close before the Grand Entrance. Brides today are opting to wear traditional or family heirlooms to the ceremony and a different look that is more modern and fun for the reception.
  • Just make it legal – getting married in a courthouse with no big crowds is the perfect way to have a simple ceremony that checks off all the boxes, secures the legality, and makes it all official. If you are a no-nonsense kind of person who really doesn’t want a large ceremony, or to customize your own vows, and add a lot of detail to your ceremony, a Justice of the Peace may be exactly what you need. Many Justices of the Peace will work with you to allow for minor personalizations but they are not typically where you go if you want a unique, completely you ceremony. This may also be a great option for you or your families are very religious, you are not, or your religions do not fit in to your ideas for your marriage. Having an intimate ceremony does not mean you cannot have a huge or traditional reception. Also, some courthouses will even allow for large massive ceremonies so you don’t necessarily have to make this small or intimate. Another great plus, the flexibility. You can get married on a Friday morning and host a massive celebration Friday or even Saturday evening. You can marry on a Tuesday in the town you live in and then fly to your parents’ town for a huge celebration.
  • Get married somewhere that is deeply special to you with only your select few key people around. It can be a destination ceremony. A ceremony at the top of a mountain. You can marry in a park, on a trail, at the Coast, or in your own backyard. It’s really and truly OK to marry wherever you feel it’s right to commit to forever together. Maybe your first trip was to Joshua Tree or Yellowstone and you want to have a small ceremony in the park. Do it! Make sure you abide by Park rules, get the proper permits, and bring along a legally ordained Minister. Also be sure you’re legally marrying by abiding by local laws for getting legally married. Do you need a license (definitely) Do you need witnesses? Is there a waiting period? Do you need a blood test? Plan your special ceremony months to a year in advance and still plan the reception of your dreams. It doesn’t have to take place the same day or in the same town so truly make this completely your dream. We highly recommend you use a professional planner for this type of event. Serious planners and planners who work with non-traditional couples are often ordained Ministers, too – so we can make sure your unique ceremony is legal and done right.
  • Host a large traditional ceremony, even if you don’t belong to a church. You may want everyone you know and love at your ceremony, you may even want religious aspects, or a blending of traditional and non-traditional elements, but you don’t attend weekly services or even feel there is a Church you belong to or would feel welcome or comfortable marrying at. There are many Open Churches. Seriously, this is Portland in 2017! There is no pressure to become a member of many of our area churches, and they will still happily welcome you in to their doors to get married. Even better, some will let you use your own officiant or will just meet with you in a welcoming way, before the wedding, and then happily marry you in a way that makes you feel welcome and comfortable. Some Christian Churches are very excited to have you get married in their Church, and they won’t judge you for blending religious values or doing it your own way. The pluses are they often ask for a reasonable venue rental fee you don’t need a lot of decoration or any chair rentals and they even have a lot of additions like a large organ, lighting and included standard decor or runners. You can spend more on the flowers and less on large decor rentals.
  • Have a large, medium or intimate ceremony at a Vineyard, elegant hotel, on a farm, at a local venue, or rent out an estate for a full day, where you also host your reception.
  • A final idea – a destination wedding. Make sure you use a planner! Professionals like us have contacts everywhere. We can help you secure all the details you want, book rooms for your friends and family, and save you stress, time and money.

The key is to have the exact wedding you want. These are just some basic ideas, and truly your options are endless. Think about the exact perfect Wedding for you and then go for it!

“I Love it When You Call Me Big Papa”

There are two things  every couple should stop doing now – skimping on the bar and designing their wedding and traditions around the photography.

So let’s fix two problems at once, please have a hosted cocktail hour for your guests. Serve them passed hors d’ouevres if it is a classy elegant evening wedding and provide them with a lovely Charcuterie spread or fun tapas style stations if it is an afternoon, laid back, farm, vineyard, or garden wedding.

Always, and I mean absolutely always provide your guest with hosted beverages (within limits). A cash bar is great for charity events never at a wedding! That doesn’t mean you should supply your guests with all the top shelf liquor or a truly open bar, they can buy their own random favorites. It means who are you as a couple? Where did you meet? What’s your favorite drink? What do you do for fun? Incorporate that in to your hosted bar options.

If you love to drive to Hood River and drink a Double Mountain Kolsch on the patio while waiting for your meaty pizza, then serve YOUR favorite brew at your reception, throw in some catered pizza bites if you want. Do you enjoy quiet Saturdays at Colene Clemens, tasting their fantastic local wines? Serve your guests a glass of their Margo Pinot.

If your favorite drink is a Sangria Aunt Sally makes every 4th of July, give your bartender the recipe. If your favorite bar to meet up at after a long work day, is North 45 Pub, then please order The Big Poppa, and give a shout out to our old school roots by serving your guests your own version.

Now let’s be honest, there’s a reason you come late to your best friends’ parties. If you come on time everything is awkward. They’re neighbor who voted for Trump is there early with the campaign hat on. Your friend is distracted, still putting out the food, the dogs are overly excited by every new arrival, and nobody has had time to relax a bit with a drink. So while your friends are all preoccupied drying their happy tears, making small chat with people they’ve never met, and warming up with a drink, you should be taking your couple and complete bridal party photos.

We don’t avoid having the couple see each other before the ceremony because we are traditionalists or old fashioned. And we don’t believe all the bad luck of twelve broken mirrors will doom your wedded bliss if you take pictures together before the ceremony. The honest brutal truth is nobody should deny the couple that amazingly overwhelmingly powerful moment when you see the person you are about to marry, for the first time, as they come in to view walking down the aisle.

Your pictures are monumentally important, but not half as important as the commitment of love you are making to each other at this exact moment. It is life changing, profound and will rock you to your core when you do it right. Nothing else matters in this day, just you. Your joining together.

So what I’m saying is do all the pre-ceremony photos you can without the couple being together in the same space. After the ceremony, spend a few minutes signing the official documents and then pose for photos together and with your entire bridal party – while your guests are enjoying the cocktail hour with food, libations, and games.

Don’t forget the entertainment. And if you don’t have a wedding planner, make sure your ushers and bridesmaids lead the party to the cocktail area with your parents, while the couple, officiant, best man and maid of honor make it legal.

Have the photographer capture this moment. Here’s a great reason to hire a team of two photographers for the day, one can take candids of the cocktail hour while the other is taking posed photos of the couple. After the two of you get some quality couple shots, your wedding planner will bring the bridal party back for final group photos. This entire process should only take 45 minutes, max.

At the end of cocktail hour, your wedding planner will send the parents back to your guests they should only be missing for fifteen minutes tops. It is their job to host the guests while you are busy.

Make sure you have entertainment for the cocktail hour. What could that be? It’s Portland, get creative! Have lawn games, a photo booth, a social media #hashtagged photo contest or scavenger hunt. If it’s outdoors, set up stations to direct your guests to mingle and explore. Hire a jazz quartet, a small marching band or fire dancers. Is your reception at a hotel? Hire a jazz singer and host it in a staged piano bar set-up. You have actually talented friends right? Ask them to entertain and wow everyone.

You can have your guests directed to move in to the reception area before your grand entrance. Or you can slide in to the cocktail hour and mingle. If you wait to do a grand entrance at your reception and opt to skip the cocktail hour, make sure the serving staff brings your bridal party drinks and a snack during the cocktail hour because you don’t want to forget to eat.

If transportation is required between your ceremony and cocktail hour send the parents with your guests but keep the rest of the bridal party with you. You can snap a few posed family photos with the parents and couple at the very end of the ceremony as you sneak back into the church after your guests have left. Have your ushers direct guests to leave for the cocktail hour.

Great Planning Tip: Many area churches have gardens or other spaces appropriate for a cocktail hour. You can host your cocktail hour at the church. If your reception will follow at an area hotel, you may save a great deal of money on the catering portion of your bill by hosting a cocktail hour in the garden. Local bartender service vendors will often let you provide them with kegs, specialty cocktail items, and wine and charge you a lot less then the per drink costs of a hosted cocktail hour at a hotel or cater included venue. After your pictures are done your guests will celebrate you as you lead the way to the venue with a parade, go by bike – it’s Portland, or meet back up in a few at your reception site.

*money saving tips:

  1. Set up a DIY photo spot with signs directing guests to post pictures with your #hashtag on social media. You can save on photography costs if your guests are snapping great candids while the professional is staging your posed photos.
  2. Have your ceremony at an open church. They allow other officiants to handle the ceremony, you don’t have to rent chairs or spend as much to decorate, and they often will throw in a cocktail hour space for a huge deal.
  3. BYOB – you provide the beer, wine and signature cocktails, your bartender does the rest.
  4. Order your cocktail hour trays from New Seasons or Costco and semi DIY for the cocktail hour at the church.
  5. Host your ceremony and cocktail hour in an area park for many of the same cost-savings of a church.
  6. Do every staged photo you can before the ceremony, leaving only ten – fifteen posed photos left to check off after the ceremony.