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Wedding invites popular at historic Bridal Veil post office.



CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: QUINTON SMITH - Taking photos of soon-to-be brides, proud parents and tourists is part of the job for Bridal Veil Postmaster Tara Stiller. On Monday Stiller snapped a shot of Tina and Ron Calleros and James and Veronica Medina of Colton, Calif. who spotted the rustic post office on a trip to Multnomah Falls and stopped to mail postcards.Frank and Lona Arnold of Vancouver, Wash., were first in line Monday morning when the tiny post office opened.

The Arnolds had 67 invitations to mail for their daughter’s Aug. 14 wedding. When Frank Arnold managed Oregon state parks in the Columbia River Gorge, his family lived just up road in Latourell and their daughter, Marisa, passed by daily in a school bus.

“We knew the history of the post office,” Frank Arnold said. “We surprised our daughter when we mailed her ‘save the date’ cards from here, so it was only natural that when it came to the invitations we came back.”

The tiny Bridal Veil post office — it is 13 by 14 feet unpainted clapboard with a cedar shake roof — has survived the gorge’s wind, sleet, snow and worries that the U.S. Postal Service might suggest closing it. It now handles 200,000 pieces of mail a year, 95 percent wedding related.

It has been saved, postal clerk Tara Stiller believes, by brides. Without wedding mail the tiny post office and the last remaining building in the historic town would be gone.

The allure is the office’s official postmark. Not only does it contain the words Bridal Veil but also “Marriage Station” and a choice of two interlocking hearts or interlocking doves.

In the ever-expanding quest to perfect the tiniest details of modern weddings, the decision by many to drive up the gorge to drop off mail is simple.

“It was my idea,” Jane Fenton of Tigard said Monday as she dropped off 99 invitations to her daughter’s Aug. 22 wedding. “I never got to do it for myself so I decided to do it for her. It’s not a long drive and it’s a beautiful day.”

June is the post office’s busiest month for wedding-related mail, says Stiller who started work in January when the Postal Service trimmed the office’s daily hours from six to four in order to balance income and expenses. Mondays and Fridays in the spring and summer are the busiest days of the week. Brides or their parents are often waiting outside when she unlocks the door at 11:30 a.m.

“I get very busy this time of year,” she said. “It’s pretty much all I do.”

Wedding mail also arrives in boxes from brides in other states and foreign countries, postage paid in advance.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: QUINTON SMITH - Bridal Veil Postmaster Tara Stiller helps Frank and Lona Arnold with invitations for their daughters Aug. 14 wedding. The Arnolds used to live in nearby Latourell so knew where to go to get special postmarks for their invitations.

The post office sits on the edge of a gravel parking lot just off an Interstate 84 exit. The nearby Historic Columbia River Highway offers a more scenic route.

While Bridal Veil has had a post office for 128 years, it has not always been in one spot. According to the Bridal Veil Preservation Society, the post office started at the town’s railway station on July 7, 1887. After that burned down it moved into the lumber’s mill’s offices and then finally up the hill to its current site where a mill tool shed was converted into a two-room office.

The “lobby” can hold just two customers; anyone else has to wait outside. There are 60 tiny mail boxes, 45 of which are rented by local residents. A small wood-framed service window connects the front room to Stiller’s work area, an 80-square foot room crowded with mail shelves and cabinets, pouches of stamps, and a desk holding a computer that connects her to the Postal Service. A blue portable outhouse is tucked against the west side of the building.

A USPS driver stops each night to pick up and drop off mail; most locals swing by daily.

“It’s a very special place for them,” Stiller says. “They take care of it as though it’s their own home. There’s a lot of history here.”

Stiller’s job also entails much picture taking. Many visitors ask for a snapshot posing in front of the tiny brown building crowned with a big white Bridal Veil sign.

Ron Calleros of Colton, Calif. stopped by Monday with his wife and friends after spotting the building from I-84 on their way to Multnomah Falls.

“They didn’t believe it, so we pulled off and sure enough it’s a post office,” Calleros said.

The group dropped off postcards to mail and Stiller took a group photo outside.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: QUINTON SMITH - Wedding mail is stamped by hand with a special cancellation showing intertwined hearts or doves.

Stiller believes her job is to make the simple act of getting a Bridal Veil postmark as memorable as possible. Since starting in January she’s scrubbed, painted, hung welcome signs for brides and covered shelves with wedding-themed paper. That touch comes from five years of work as a wedding coordinator for her church.

“I try to give them a really positive experience when they come out,” Stiller said. “They’re so excited.”

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