Elisabeth and Jeshua wanted a stress-free wedding that focused on the most important wedding day detail: the vows.  They felt that an intimate wedding with very few close friends and family at the beautiful Columbia Gorge (where they met) was the perfect way to say “I do.”

Thanks to Ashley Forrette photography for the lovely photos.

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

Elisabeth, 29 & Jeshua, 36

Portland, OR

Wedding Date: October 10, 2011

Number of Guests: 30

Wedding Cost: $5,000 (including rings)

Wedding Ceremony Location: Bridal Veil Lakes

Wedding Reception Location: Bridal Veil Lakes


Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

bride and groom in a canoe

bride in lace-up boots


Why did you have an intimate wedding?

For a while, we thought we were going to elope. Trying to find a way to include my East Coast family with his West Coast family was achingly difficult, especially since Portland is my home now. We finally decided to open it up to a very few close friends and family after months of deliberation, and to have the wedding where we met: in the beautiful Columbia Gorge. Our 4 year relationship was such an intimate journey for the two of us (much of it long distance), that we really wanted to maintain that intimacy. And we were afraid that planning an actual wedding would distract us from the vows we would be making. All that stress, ya know? (Note the Giving Tree Invitation below. Get the free wedding template here.)

giving tree invitation

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

rustic fall sweet table

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding dress

Flower girl tulle tutu

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding reception

What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

Not inviting “significant others” hurt a couple feelings. The challenge for us was sticking to our guns on what we wanted. And what we wanted was an intimate wedding.

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

Not really. Our guests were his family, only 5 members of mine (they were the ones flying in from Buffalo) and a small handful of our closest friends.

Rustic Fall Oregon Lake Wedding

Fall bride in a cardigan

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

Actually, we did have one or two issues. Everyone was supportive and excited about our wedding, whether they were there or not. But there was one person who didn’t understand and let us know it. That situation assured us further that we had made the right decision about who we wanted with us on that day.

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

We had decided early on that we were going to write our own vows, and that we really wanted to exchange them privately. We had thought for so long that we would be eloping, that we wanted to hold on to the intimacy of that moment in some way. So we exchanged them in the middle of the lake, in our own rowboat, before paddling in for the ceremony. Everyone could see us and watch what we were doing, but no one could hear us. It was the most breath-taking moment, even for us. As our boat arrived mid lake, we were overcome by the beauty surrounding us on all sides and the absolute quiet that we felt all alone out there. In that silence, with an October crisp in the air and the mist from the waterfall rising through the trees…our hearts were as full as they could have been. And we were able to be fully present for these vows we had written for each other.

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

bride and groom in a canoe

Oregon lake wedding

Oregon lake wedding

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding ceremony

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

What were the highlights of the reception?

Fitting every single guest at one huge family table :) We knew we wouldn’t be assigning seats or placing place cards at anyone’s chair. But the day we tried to figure it out, we eagerly settled on one big family table…for 30 guests. It was so fun! We had scribbled pictures and shapes onto pieces of paper, trying to Tetris the tables into one big one, until finally I drew one simple rectangle and said, “How about that?” Somehow, someway, we had just enough room to seat all of our guests around one huge table. It made my heart so happy to be able to make eye contact with everyone throughout dinner.

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

gourd centerpieces

Fall wedding apple cider

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

rustic fall dessert table

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

Being present for it. Remembering my conversations. Having distinct memories from that day. Having time for everyone. Being able to do most of it ourselves. And feeling like one big family was ushering us into the rest of our lives.

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

Do not be afraid to do what makes you happy, however it defies tradition. You won’t regret the wonderful personal moments you share that day with the ones you love. Just make sure to give yourself enough time for all the ‘DIY‘ you’ll be doing. And above all else, remember that you and your ‘soon-to-be’ are on the same team.

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding

Rustic Fall Oregon Wedding


Photographer: Ashley Forrette, of Ashley Forrette photography, Holly Sobocinski

Videography: Tracey Whitney, of  Woodstock Videography

Venue: Bridal Veil Lakes (a beautiful secluded lake on top of a hill in the Columbia Gorge)

Pies: Random Order Bakery (Brandied Peach, Oregon Cherry and Vanilla Salted Caramel Apple Pie)

Gluten Free Baked Goods: Sweetpea Bakery (Chai Spice Cupcakes, Snickerdoodles, & Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies)

Chef: Kevin Chambers (Caterer and friend – also the manager of Cafe Nell in downtown Portland)

Dishes, flatware, linens: Avalon Hotel and Spa

Officiant/Pre-Marital Counselor: Reese Mayo, of Waterfront Church

Our guitarist/singers: Kevin Neal (Old boat friend), Heather Schrock (friend of Beth)

Groom’s Clothes: Pants (thrift store-$6), Vest & Shoes (Macy’s), Hat (Banana Republic), Shirt (his closet) , Belt (borrowed from his brother)

Bride’s Clothes: Dress (Camp Hollyhock Boutique- $38), Belt, Sweater, earrings, socks, and slip (Camp Hollyhock), Boots (Nordstrom Rack), Birdcage Veil (Magnifique Boutique)

Beth’s Rings: Gilt Jewelry and Antiques

Jeshua’s Ring: Wes and Gold

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16 Comments  |  Filed Under: Budget Weddings ($10,000 or less), Destination Weddings, Real Weddings, Rustic Weddings

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  1. Posted by keith Infokus on March 21st, 2012 at 6:51am

    This wedding is like a scene out of a 20s movie!! Great photography and a love story well captured!! Thanks for sharing your images :)
  2. Posted by Amy on March 22nd, 2012 at 3:44pm

    I absolutely love this wedding! The photos are lovely and really capture the feeling of your wedding. I have to know - where can we get the flower girl's dress?
  3. Posted by Beth Turk on March 24th, 2012 at 7:21pm

    Thank you Keith and Amy! We worked very hard on the details :) Amy - I bought the flower girl dress on Etsy from the shop BellaBeanCouture.

    She's also on facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bella-Bean-Couture/118145384904155.

    And on Etsy she's here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/67025679/classic-flower-girl-tutu-and-satin.

    The seller is wonderful and worked graciously with us on a tight schedule.
  4. Posted by Kim DiCaprio on March 28th, 2012 at 12:04am

    Just beginning to plan a wedding of just 15 guests. Your pictures were so beautiful & inspiring. We were also going to go away and get married(second marriage for both of us). After some time & thoughts had passed we really would like to say our vows in front of closest family members. Loved every detail of what you did. Any suggestions on venues in general? Live in south jersey, his children live in long island, NY and I really want to make it as easy as I can for them. I can't even locate good websites. I would certainly appreciate any suggestions you may have. Congrats on your beautiful wedding and all my best for your life together!!
  5. Posted by IRENE on April 1st, 2012 at 3:41am

    My heart is blessed that i came across your wedding photos, they captured the most important element of your wedding day, your Love ! The intimacy you wanted is portrait perfectly, wish you Jeshua and Beth all the Blessing of Marriage and children & a life time of memories.....Just Beautiful ! Irene South Africa
  6. Posted by Lily on April 3rd, 2012 at 12:10pm

    ok your wedding looks perfect and beautiful and romantic! LOVE the boat shots and the intimacy of exchanging your vows alone out there. just one question - how did you have photography + videography + dinner for $5000 including rings??!! This includes some friends gifting you food or pies or something right?! Please share!
  7. Posted by Beth Turk on April 3rd, 2012 at 5:17pm

    Hi Lily- Considering we had our wedding on a Monday in October for only 30 people, our vendors were very generous and willing to negotiate. That's usually a slow time of year, and 30 people is just so manageable. I was upfront and honest about our budget from the start. And after a cup of a coffee and sharing our story and ideas, many were happy and eager to help us pull it together. We ordered the basic packages from both our video and photography ladies (4 hours of raw video for $250 and 4 hours of photography for $500) and forewent on the big, edited packages. We just kept it simple :) Our rings were bought at an antique store. We skipped official catering and had a close chef friend shop for and cook our wedding dinner. The food, beverage and dessert for 30 people cost us around $1000, (and still had WAY more than we needed). We had very few rentals...our venue came with everything we needed. And I bought my wedding dress for $38. My groom bought his wedding pants from a thrift store for $6 the day before our wedding, haha. We loved the challenge of pulling this together. But it would not have been possible without the generous and talented hands of everyone involved and listed above.
  8. Posted by Liz on April 6th, 2012 at 3:11pm

    What a beautiful wedding. Thank you so much for sharing this. I can't beleive that the dress was $38. That's amazing!
  9. Posted by Misty Lou on May 22nd, 2012 at 1:41pm

    i've been digging online for months looking for a dress like yours! its beautiful and perfect and exactly what i've been looking for. our wedding is in july and we live in Texas, I was just wondering if you know where I might could get one at least similar to yours??? I've looked on line at camp hollyhock but did'nt see anything like it.....any comments would be appreciated.
  10. Posted by Becky on March 16th, 2013 at 6:12pm

    What did your guests do while you were on the boat? I absolutely love this idea because I think vows are something extremely personal. Any feedback would be super helpful!

    Also-- your Gorge wedding is just so perfect and I appreciate you sharing it with everyone!! I can't think of a better place to get married :)
  11. Posted by jlaurie06 on March 28th, 2013 at 12:29pm

    beautiful and love love LOVE all the advice! My fiance and I are also planning an intimate wedding with a budget of $5,000 and it's very reassuring for me hear this story and how to focus on us and the moment and not worrying about pleasing everyone else.
  12. Posted by Beth on July 22nd, 2013 at 1:16am

    Hi Becky,

    Sorry for the late reply! I just happened to be perusing this website again today, and saw there were new comments. You asked what our guests did while we were on the boat. We weren't out there for long. But as he and I did the "big reveal" and climbed into our canoe, our guests were mingling and having cocktails under the big pavilion, waiting for the ceremony to begin. As they saw us row around the bend in the lake and begin our vows, many of them migrated to the water's edge to watch and to listen to the song we had being sung live in the background. After about only 10-15 minutes, we rowed into shore, where we were met by our flower girl and pastor. And everyone took their seats at that time as the official ceremony began.
  13. Posted by Hubri Hubbard on November 23rd, 2013 at 4:46am

    Please send more information on this venue
  14. Posted by Leah S. on August 21st, 2014 at 2:13pm

    This is so beautiful!
  15. Posted by Alicia on September 6th, 2014 at 6:31pm

    I have never seen a more beautiful, breathtaking wedding.
  16. Posted by Lindsey on March 3rd, 2015 at 3:37pm

    I was starting to doubt my decision about having a small wedding but this made me feel alright again :) such a beautiful wedding and everyone looks so happy! I also love the swings... bravo!
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