Laura & Brian | City Tour Wedding Reception in Portland

Today’s wedding is, as the bride puts it, “a love letter to Portland.” Instead of a traditional celebration, Laura and Brian did things their way with an unexpected twist: a double-decker bus tour of the city between the ceremony and dinner!

While guests arrived at the groom’s parents’ home and enjoyed treats, drinks, and a photo display, the bride and groom hid upstairs and sipped champagne together. Says Laura, “It was a wonderful hour before the ceremony and the hoopla of the day when it was just us, some champagne, and the opportunity to be alone with each other. It was a really special quiet time before the celebration.”

Everyone rode to the Rose Garden in a red London double-decker bus (a nod to the bride’s British grandmother who rode a bus like that to school in post-war England), and the bride and groom surprised their guests by hopping on the bus to the ceremony!

Says Laura, “The park remained open to the public during the ceremony and we’ll never forget walking through the gardens with strangers clapping, snapping our picture, and sharing well wishes. It just added to the uniqueness of our day.”

After the ceremony, everyone hopped back on the bus for a 2-hour tour of Portland, with with wine, beer, and appetizers, and stops at Portland landmarks including the Portland Theater for the Performing Arts (the Portland sign), Portland State University, Pioneer Place, the Portland Waterfront Promenade, and Voodoo Doughnuts where the newlyweds picked up doughnuts for their guests and bride and groom doughnuts for themselves.

After a few photo-ops, the tour ended at Meriwether’s Restaurant, just around the corner from the groom’s parents’ home.

Why did you choose this location for your wedding?  Portland is Brian’s hometown and a favorite place of ours together. We live in Washington, D.C., our families live 3500 miles apart, and our friends are all over, so we decided to pick Brian’s hometown as a way to share and showcase the beauty of the Northwest. My family had never been to the Northwest and our wedding was a great chance for them to see a new part of the country. We got married in the Gold Medal Rose Garden at Washington Park – a symbol of Portland (the City of Roses), a special family location, and the unmatched beauty of the literally thousands of flowers in bloom made this a perfect spot for our wedding day.

What inspired you when you were planning your wedding?  Casual but in control, classic and traditional with a twist. We also wanted some sort of surprise element (the bus) and used the bus as a reception prior to dinner. We wanted every choice to be a reflection of our relationship and us – if it wasn’t special, we didn’t do it. We intentionally created a day that reflected us, involved our guests in meaningful ways, and embraced the notion that our marriage requires the love and support of our families and communities to thrive.

What was your favorite moment or part of the day?  From the bride: The ceremony – it was the most incredible 30 minutes. I will never forget the joy and excitement of actually getting married and sharing our vows. Brian’s best friend officiated a ceremony that we had crafted together. We designed the ceremony to be inclusive of the family and friends gathered with us and included readings and a blessing from our parents, a community pledge of support, and a ring warming. The ceremony was as funny as it was heartfelt – you can see it in the photos as we are both laughing and crying! // From the groom: Hiding upstairs while our guests gathered at my parent’s house, before surprising everyone by joining them on the double decker bus. The time that we had together, alone, just the two of us, was amazing. We could settle down, reflect on the journey we’d been on to that point, and just share in our love right before getting to surprise our guests and going to get hitched!

What was the best advice you received as a bride?  A friend told me to take “mental snapshots” of the day. She encouraged me to pause during the day and remember how I felt in that moment with an image. Those are some of my favorite memories of the day.

What advice do you have for other brides?  The day of: RELAX – all you really need to be married at the end of the day is the groom, your rings, an officiant, and a fabulous outfit – everything else is gravy!* (*Caveat: In the days before: you need to be organized, create a schedule, and ask for help!)


See more from Laura and Brian’s unique bus tour wedding in the gallery.

Vendor Credits

Photographer: You Look Nice Today / Ceremony Venue: Gold Medal Rose Garden / Reception Venue, Catering:  Meriwethers / Bride's Gown: Wtoo via Watters / Bride's Shoes: Toms / Mrs. Necklace: Kate Spade / Groom's Suit: John Varvatos / Groom's Cufflinks: Tiffany & Co / Floral Design: Quince Flowers & Events /  Donuts: Voodoo Doughnut / Stationery: Paperfinger / Transportation: Double Decker PDX


  • Totally love the style of this wedding and I love what looks like a little English influence if I’m not mistaken. Pure class and lots of moments captured forever, Just great.

  • Evan says:

    As a native Oregonian who currently lives in Washington, D.C., loves Voodoo Doughnuts, and is friends with the Orlando family (owners of Meriwethers), this is just the most awesome things to read about (got to admit – a fleeting feeling of homesickness occurred)! Best wishes to the both of you! You’re off to a great start!

  • megan says:

    Wow! What an amazingly, unique wedding. This is definitely a way to celebrate. A day that will never be forgotten by anyone who attended. As a wedding planner I am extremely inspired by this. Beautiful!

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