WALLY'S WORLD: Vow tohave an outdoor wedding

Traditionally, June is the month for weddings.  Why this should be the case isn’t especially clear, but I suspect it involves high school and college graduates who, in June, probably for the first time in their lives, are free to work full-time and use the money to finally culminate long-term relationships.

Still speaking traditionally, most marriages are conducted in a church. But during the past 30 years, an increasing number of nuptials are defying custom and are taking place outdoors. Given the whimsical climate in this mossy corner of the planet, you can plan for an outside wedding, but always keep a shelter-covered option close at hand.

In years past, one of this region’s most popular sites for open air ceremonies was Lady Dyar’s estate. Her grounds were surrounded by an old-growth forest and all manner of colorful, domestic and wild flowers. There was a small, charming lake with several kinds of water fowl, including two or three snow-white swans, who always seemed to appear for the events, floating nobly and leisurely about as though they knew exactly what was happening. Unfortunately, Lady Dyar’s grounds are no longer available. She hosted her last wedding five years ago.

There are other options but, alas, I don’t believe any of them are quite as lovely as Dyar’s place. For instance, there’s Shangri-La.   Coming down the old Franklin highway from the Green River Gorge bridge, off to your right you’ll come upon a dirt road that descends to the river. At the bottom of this one-lane road, you’ll find a beautiful, primitive, natural preserve of towering cedars – not old growth, but impressive nonetheless – beside the river rapids and a waterfall or two. A rustic, weather-beaten day lodge offers such modern conveniences as generator-powered electricity and propane gas cooking facilities. There are a number of picnic tables, patios, covered facilities and a bride and groom ceremonial area beneath a gazebo. Shangri-La is private property owned by Palmer Coking Coal Company and you can make reservations through that business.

Then there’s the Mountain Crest Memorial Park on Lake Walker Road outside Cumberland. Nestled comfortably in the foothills, this little cup of serene wilderness has a recently-remodeled banquet room and chapel and a covered bandstand with an outside dance floor.  The grounds can be rented for all kinds of parties;  i.e., birthdays, anniversaries and retirement parties, as well as weddings. For reservations, call Annett Nordberg at 253-680-9563.

There’s yet another wedding facility that should be mentioned: Genesis Farm and Garden. This gorgeously-landscaped site of long, colorful flowerbeds and uniquely sculptured fountains is near the cemetery at 41925 236th Ave. S.E., surrounded by sprawling, green farm fields and a majestic view of the foothills and Mount Rainier. Large oak and maple trees provide shade for the dog days of later summer. Furthermore, if the climate doesn’t cooperate for your special event, the whole ceremony can be moved inside a barn. To be sure, a freshly-painted, scrubbed and vacuumed barn, but still a barn. For those who consider themselves cowboys and cowgirls, this might be just the type of ambiance you’re looking for.

So, what’s my best advice for couples currently looking for a wedding site? First, carefully evaluate all your options. And then, second, don’t get married.


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