This century-old barn sits in the rolling hills of the Columbia River Gorge. Surrounded by mountains, rivers, orchards and forests, the destination makes an amazing weekend getaway for nature lovers, wine tasting enthusiasts and fishermen alike. Set in the heart of it all, Tin Roof Barn is a wedding venue that’s family owned and operated, set up for weddings and events that suit up to 150 guests.
We recently caught up with Kelly, who not only owns the space but actually grew up on the property. Her passion and love for the land are undeniable, and we think you’ll enjoy the picture she paints of this rustic venue where no detail is overlooked. Check it out if you’re planning a spring, summer or fall fête.
Photography by Hazelwood Photo
Tell us a little about how you came across the property and decided to open a venue.
My parents bought this property in 1970 when they first moved to the Pacific Northwest from Southern California. The people they bought the land from had built a small farmhouse and barn back in 1915. My parents thought it was the perfect place to settle down. I was brought home from the hospital to the little farmhouse and spent much of my childhood playing in the barn - I specifically remember crawling into the manger so that the cows would eat hay around me and snuffle my face with their warm breath and ticklish whiskers. So to say that this venue has a dear place in my heart is putting it mildly - it's my childhood home! Fast forward to 2014 when I was working and living my adult life in LA. One morning, shortly after returning from a visit back home, I woke up and a light bulb went off in my head: "I should turn our old barn into a wedding venue!" I loved the idea that others could experience the same nostalgia and magic that I feel every time I walk into that old barn.
Can you share about the process of opening Tin Roof Barn?
I had very specific ideas about how I wanted the venue to turn out - specifically that the barn not be reconfigured so much that it's unique turn-of-the-century look would be compromised. There was a massive amount of structural engineering that went into making it a viable commercial structure, though we were able to keep with its original vintage look. I also wanted to keep with that vintage vibe, rather than the typical country look for the venue aesthetic. You won't find any wagon wheels or hay bales here.
Almost every design aspect of the venue comes from the many, MANY weddings I've either attended or been in myself! A couple of my biggest pet peeves at outdoor weddings include when my 4" heels would sink into the grass and I had to bunny hop down the aisle, or venues that didn't have plumbed restrooms (enough said), or having to hear about how my friends were "nickel and dimed" for every last detail to the point that the whole planning experience became tedious and exhausting. So I made sure that we had hardscape paths put in everywhere that people would be walking, a beautiful new restroom building complete with chandeliers and a powder area, as well as including all the basic necessities for an elegant and timeless wedding (we include vintage dining tables and chairs, ceremony chairs, antique rugs, vintage mismatched china, linens and glassware, as well as custom furnishings both indoor and outdoor just to name a few). And yet even with all these things we provide, each and every wedding at Tin Roof Barn has a unique look and feel that encompasses the nature of the two people getting married here.
What are events and weddings like at Tin Roof Barn?
Joyous. Magical. Heartwarming. The venue gives its guests a feeling of nostalgia and family, even if they've never been in an old barn before. It's actually tough to explain. The light breeze that blows through the tall willowy flowers, that rustles the leaves in the trees, makes its way through the barnwood slats and the smell of summer surrounds you. It's like that. One of the best compliments we've received was from a Mother of the Bride during her daughter's reception. She pulled me aside and with tears in her eyes said, "Kelly, this place is truly magical. There are family members here today who haven't spoken in over 20 years, and they are right over there on the sofa, talking and having a wonderful time. Thank you for that." I had tears in my eyes after hearing her words. That's what this old barn inspires - a feeling of family that is supposed to last through thick and thin, through the good and the bad, through sickness and in health. And isn't that what a wedding is all about?
Who is the team behind the barn?
This is a family run experience. And I say experience, not business, because that's what it feels like to all of us - we feel the thrill, the stress, and the love of each and every wedding we have here. My parents are key figures behind the scenes. My mom can be found weeding the landscaped areas before guests arrive, my dad will be on his old tractor pulling a grater over the gravel roads to make sure they are smooth, and the people who work for us are like family as well - we even coined ourselves "the TRB Family." Each person is invested in making the venue as beautiful and functional as possible for each special event and the people who attend them. We also work closely with a number of talented local Columbia Gorge vendors, from catering and floral to our exculsive wedding coordinator who makes sure each wedding is executed to perfection. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by such a great team of family, employees, and vendors.
Do you have any advice for brides looking to have a barn wedding?
Of course - come to the Columbia River Gorge and celebrate at Tin Roof Barn! But if we're too far out of their way, then I would definitely recommend finding a place that feels like home, or at the very least, gives you that warm fuzzy "this is it" feeling. In my opinion, a wedding shouldn't be in a sterile, non-customizable environment that people feel uncomfortable attending. Your guests will get the same first impression that you had so make sure it's a place that feels like you, feels like a place where people can connect and be comfortable. And if that place happens to be an old barn, then embrace the cracks in the floor, the frog that's nestled in a corner next to your seat, and the creaks in the wood as the barn swells with the laughter and love from bringing all your best friends and family together in celebration of your union.
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