Seattle wedding venue review – Ray’s Boathouse
Ray’s Boathouse (now usually just called “Ray’s”) has been a Seattle institution since the early 1970s. Anyone in Seattle who wants the best in seafood knows that Ray’s is always a great choice. Located in Shilshole Bay at the entrance to the ship canal, Ray’s not only has wonderful food but also an outstanding view across Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula. Ray’s is a rather unique building, largely constructed on a pier that extends over the water.
But most people are not aware that in addition to the main restaurant, Ray’s also has a private waterfront banquet room called the Northwest Room located right next door. This is, simply put, one of the outstanding wedding and/or reception locations in the Seattle area. And of course it is also perfect for any other kind of party. To my thinking this is one of the best all-weather/all-season wedding and event facilities in Seattle. Roughly half the events I do at Ray’s are both weddings and receptions, and the rest are receptions only. Here are some of the reasons that I am so excited about the Northwest Room
- It offers the options of both indoor and outdoor weddings, and even something in-between. The Northwest Room consists of two parts; the main building (completely indoors) and the deck, which literally sits out over the water. At high tide the waves come underneath, and at low tide you can see all kind of interesting sea creatures on the rocks below. The deck is covered with a tent year-round. In cold weather there are clear plastic curtains that can be put into place, and once the heaters are turned on the deck becomes comfortable in even the worst weather. And with or without the plastic curtains the deck gives great views of Puget Sound.
- I have done wedding ceremonies on the deck in the middle of winter with heavy rain, and was still able to get great photos of the ceremony with a beautiful backdrop of Puget Sound. And the covered deck space allows for some great indoor photos with an outdoor look and feel, not something you will find in many other places.
- In addition to the main room and covered deck there is an area of deck between the NW Room and the main restaurant that works wonderfully for outdoor ceremonies. It also allows extra space for guests to spread out during a reception or other event. And this outdoor space is perfect for photos of the wedding party or family groups with that great backdrop of the Sound.
- But as nice as the Ray’s facility is for photos, one of the best things about this venue is that there are several killer photo locations no more than 5 minutes away. When I do a wedding at Ray’s, I almost always will take the couple (and sometimes the wedding party and family) to either nearby Golden Gardens or to the Chittendon Locks for a photo session, either before or after the ceremony. Both locations offer tremendous photo opportunities that are worth a trip on their own merits.
- And just a hundred or so yards to the north of Ray’s is a small patch of public beach that is one of my favorite places in Seattle for sunset photos. It is an easy 2-3 minute walk from Ray’s, and with any reception that will extend after nightfall I always suggest to the couple that they set aside a few minutes to take some photos on this beach as the sun is dropping behind the Olympics.
Whoa, I almost forgot something VERY important. Ray’s serves some of the best seafood (and other fare as well) in Seattle, and if you want great food for your event you will NOT be disappointed! When one of my couples is having their reception at Ray’s I know that the meal service will be exceptional.
Ray’s can accommodate up to 85 people in the room itself and up to 120 if they put tables on the deck as well. They can do up to about 150 for a cocktail style event.
Ray’s books very far in advance, so if you think this might be the place you’d want for your wedding and/or reception I recommend that you visit them as soon as you have your date set to give you the best chance of booking them. Ray’s is also happy to accommodate on short notice if the room is available.
The outdoor deck area is covered with a tent, with sides that can be open to the outdoors or closed during bad weather. Great place for a ceremony with an outdoors feel, even though you are warm and dry even if the weather is poor.
The open area between the restaurant and the NW Room is perfect for outdoor ceremonies. It also allows the guests to enjoy nice weather during the reception, and will often have cocktail tables put in place once the ceremony has finished.
The same space is great for large group photos too! This photo also gives a good look under the tent with sides all removed, and some cocktail tables in place
The main building has a built-in dance floor.
Good view of part of the main room, set up for a reception. Dance floor is seen in the back right of photo.
The tented portion of the deck is often used to hold the buffet, though it can also be set up with tables if more space is needed for guest seating.
Or the buffet can be placed in the main room
At the nearby “hidden” public beach, a great place for photos!
The deck area at Ray’s, with its view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, also offers a great photo backdrop for photos.
Gotta love the Ray’s sign!