In Bloom: Glen Echo Garden has new owners, renewed vision
A conversation with the family that is reinventing Bellingham's premier wedding venue
Glen Echo Garden has been a staple of the Bellingham wedding vendor community for decades. With flourishing gardens and an ideal location just outside of the city, the venue has seen hundreds of couples through their special day.
So, when the property's owners of 40-years decided it was time to head in a new direction in 2020, another Bellingham family jumped on the opportunity without hesitation.
We recently spoke with one part of the family-operated business, Sarah Larson, about the property and her family's dreams for the future of the garden.
Keep reading to hear about what they offer wedding couples on their wedding day — including some eye-catching new additions!
For readers that aren’t acquainted with Glen Echo, could you share a bit about the property and what you offer?
Glen Echo Garden is a 7-acre landscaped forest oasis along Anderson Creek just outside of Bellingham, WA city limits. Our property has a secret garden feel and is a perfect mix of open green space, established gardens and towering trees. Our passion is helping create magical, memorable experiences that connect and bring people together. We view our space as a foundation for guests to create the event of their dreams and as a place of healing and grounding. We invite guests to be creative with our space—we love hosting events of all kinds, from weddings to yoga and art retreats.
You’re continuing in the footsteps of Glen Echo Garden’s previous owners as a family-owned business. How did you all decide to take the plunge together?
Our family has dreamt for years about having a place like Glen Echo Garden, where we can be creative and where everyone in the family can find their niche. Little did we know that a place like this existed! When we found this amazing property, we just knew it was the right place to share our vision with others.
We’d love to know a bit more about your family! What outside experience are each of you bringing to this endeavor? What are you each most excited about as you begin this adventure?
We are a family of artists and entrepreneurs, landscape gardeners and dreamers. Several of us have extensive experience in event and retreat-planning through nonprofit positions we’ve held for years and several of us are passionate gardeners and landscapers. Two of us are also working artists and just about all of us are avid outdoors people and lovers of all things beautiful.
All of us would consider ourselves “doers”—we dream up ideas and help each other figure out how to execute those dreams. As a group, we’re incredibly excited to build on the amazing foundation and framework that already exists at Glen Echo. We have big visions for this property—with such a naturally gorgeous, tucked away forested garden like this, the possibilities are endless.
What changes can the public and wedding couples expect to Glen Echo’s operation or gardens?
For the first year of operations, we will be mainly focusing on finding our sea legs and creating a rhythm and workflow as a group, while continuing to offer much of what the former owners had in place. The look of the gardens will be largely the same as in years past, with a beautiful mix of established perennial gardens and colorful annual flowers.
We’re very excited to share that we’ll have two brand-new, large glamping tents in the gardens for the bridal parties! The spaces will be comfortable and chic—perfect for getting ready and sharing a toast before the ceremony.
We’re also very excited to expand the business into a new area and offer nightly glamping and camping options. Stay tuned throughout the spring and summer for more on this!
Tell us a bit about the amenities you offer for weddings at the garden. Why should couples choose Glen Echo?
When couples choose Glen Echo for their wedding, they are reserving our entire 7-acre gardens, which are completely private, so magical and incredibly naturally beautiful. This means that everything you see in the gardens is yours to use, from the two glamping tents to the indoor gathering space complete with a full kitchen. We have two centrally-located bathrooms and one shower in the gardens. Included in the cost of your rental are banquet tables and chairs as well as two large event tent shelters.
Guests are welcome to tailor our space to their personal vision, though many couples choose Glen Echo for its natural beauty that acts as decoration and backdrop in and of itself. When you descend into our private gardens, you enter another world of huge towering trees, lush green lawns and beautifully landscaped spaces.
Glen Echo Garden has received negative attention under previous ownership for reportedly homophobic remarks as well as allegedly not allowing LGTBQ+ couples to rent the venue for their weddings. How are you actively working to mend this history and ensure LGTQ+ couples feel welcomed at your venue in the future?
It is incredibly important to us that the public knows our family’s values, which are that of openness and inclusion for all communities. We were deeply saddened to learn about the couples that were turned away by the former owners because of their identity as part of the LGBTQ+ community. While we aren’t able to change history, we can do everything in our power to let the public know that under our ownership, all are welcome here. We see Glen Echo as a space of comfort, grounding, beauty and celebration and we invite all people to be part of the community we are building here.
Where do you envision Glen Echo in 5 years? Tell us about your dreams for the property’s future.
The property’s future is what gets us most excited! While we plan to continue opening the space for event rentals, we have a wider-scope vision for our offerings here at Glen Echo. A few of our dreams are: to offer the property for yoga, art, meditation and other retreats, with the ability to provide lodging onsite for retreat participants; to build a number of beautiful, rustic structures for nightly rentals, such as A-frame cabins, yurts and geodesic domes; to plan community events of our own, like woodfired pizza and beer nights or outdoor movies in the summers. To us, this amazing property affords endless opportunities, and we are so excited to share this vision with others!
If newly-engaged couples are interested in scheduling a tour, what should they do?
The best way to get in touch with us with inquiries is through email at email@example.com! Couples are also welcome to send an inquiry through our website at www.glenechogarden.com.