Local wedding planners, those who operate venues and those who have businesses that serve the wedding industry are all saying the same thing. People from all over are coming to Kitsap County to have their wedding ceremony reception and celebration.
One of the reasons, said Chloe Hix, a local wedding planner, is that those providing services here are “in the wedding business because they really want to help people out.”
“I’ve seen where a bride wants a certain special thing,” Hix said. “In the city, a place would tell her ‘No.’ But here we’ll say ‘Let’s work that out.’”
According to Theweddingreport.com, there were 1,617 weddings in Kitsap County in 2016. The average spent on a wedding was $34,485. Total sales in the county attributed to weddings was $55,762,245.
North Kitsap County has become such a destination for weddings that Kingston House manager Matt Kelley said 75 percent of their wedding business last year was from brides and grooms who didn’t reside in Kitsap County.
“We are smaller scale than places like Port Gamble and the Red Cedar Farm,” Kelley said. “We have just one wedding each weekend during the spring and summer. But three-quarters of our business comes from outside the county. People are choosing to come here deliberately.”
Why? Because there’s so much to offer, he said.
“Just the idea of taking the ferry over is romantic,” he said. “And in doing so, it creates distance from their day-to-day lives. It’s just a neat escape.”
And he said for guests who travel from elsewhere in the country, Kitsap County is just about 45 minutes from an Olympic trail.
“Many of those who choose us are more outdoor people,” Kelley said. “They like that we are so close to so many outdoor places to hike or bike or walk.”
Kelley said with the addition of some great new local vendors, brides and grooms can get anything they need right here in Kitsap County.
“I passionately tell our couples to use our local vendors for things like food, flowers and photographs. We have some expert services right here.”
From just the weddings that were at the Kingston House last season, Kelley has estimated that those weddings have brought in a quarter of a million dollars in sales in Kitsap County.
“The whole wedding industry here is growing,” he said. “It’s so fun to see how the business is really taking off. It’s a good thing.”
And while things are looking rosy for those hosting weddings in North Kitsap, there’s still room for growth.
“With the addition of the new (Point) hotel, there’s more lodging for guests,” he said. “But we could still use more. On the typical summer weekend, with all the events and the tourists, everything’s booked up.”
He also sees a need for another good restaurant in downtown Kingston, and he would like to see some more music or theater venues.
“We have to shut down the bands at 10 p.m. because of local noise ordinances,“ he said. “With the 20-somethings that get married her, they want to keep going. They’re aren’t many places in north Kitsap where they can dance until midnight or after.”
One other need he said, is transportation.
“We’ve had great luck with Viking Cab,” he said. “But we could use some Lyft or Uber drivers. Some couples will rent a bus, but that’s quite expensive.”
In the area, there’s a range of venues, from elegant ballrooms and outdoor plazas with beautiful waterfront views, to charming country settings with sophisticated amenities.
Kitsap County seems popular for a destination wedding, Hix said, because it’s “not too far away.”
“It may be a bit less expensive,” she said. “But you have to factor in the costs of travel. From what I’ve seen, people just like it here because it seems closer to nature than Seattle. And they know they can get everything here that they want or need.”
Wedding planner Rhianna Guevara, of Saving Grace Events, agrees.
“We are more rural,” Guevara said. “Here you’re not dealing with the city and the traffic. They want peace and quiet and you can find that here.”
One way to take an overall look at what’s offered for weddings in Kitsap County is to go to www.visitkitsap.com where there’s a list of possible venues, services and planners listed.
Hix can be reached at 360-340-4179. She is a full scale events planner in business since 2012. See www.weddingplannerbremerton.com for more.
Kingston House is a 15-acre, park-like wedding venue and lavender farm in north Kitsap County. The five bedroom house is unique in its northwest architecture, has a large kitchen and Great Room and a fireplace. See more at www.kingstonhouse.com or call 360-930-9737.
Saving Grace Events is owned by Jerry and Rhianna Guevara and can be reached at 360-621-2988, or www.SavingGraceEvents.com.
This story originally appeared in the 2017 Wedding Guide.
Leslie Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.