n Bridal Veil, around 30 miles east of Portland along the Columbia, lie the remnants of a once-bustling lumber community. The mill, school, and church, all of which once served some 150 residents, are long shuttered; all that remains is a cemetery, and, surprisingly, a post office. This 10-by-10-foot wooden outpost is one of the smallest post offices in the country but still does big business, catering to thousands of betrotheds every year who send in their wedding invitations for a much-coveted Bridal Veil postmark.
“Before I left, we were getting invitations from all over the world to hand-stamp—China, Bolivia. I can’t believe the people that would go to that trouble to put double hearts on there,” says Geri Canzler, who served as Bridal Veil’s postmaster from 2006 to 2017. Though folks can certainly drop by with their invitations and watch them receive the Bridal Veil postmark in person, Canzler says the process typically involves receiving a package of invitations, hand-stamping each one, ensuring they have proper postage, and shipping them off to their destinations. “You never know if you’re going to get 100 [invitations] that day or 5,000,” Canzler says.
At 77, Canzler continues to volunteer for the post office, which celebrates its 135th anniversary this year, as part of her role as president of the Bridal Veil Historic Preservation Society. During her time as postmaster, Canzler herself designed several Bridal Veil postmark stamps, the most enduring of which is an image of two interlocking hearts. With the town named after the nearby Bridal Veil Falls, a misty white trail of water reminiscent of the traditional wedding piece, Canzler says the romantic moniker helped the post office thrive against the odds.
Despite the brisk wedding business, the Bridal Veil Post Office is struggling to stay open. Regular break-ins and vandalism have required intensive repair efforts that Canzler says are often led by its part-time workers and a cohort of local volunteers. And outside of the wedding invitations, the post office’s only major business is the 40 or so PO boxes paid for by those determined to keep the post office alive. These days, the USPS does not fund a postmaster position in this tiny outpost. But that doesn’t mean Bridal Veil’s iconic spot is not looked after.
“We’ve taken care of it. We’ve put a new roof on it. We’ve put gutters on it, we’ve put new doors on it,” Canzler says of the local volunteers who remain invested in Bridal Veil’s claim to mail fame. “It’s a struggle. But it’s worth it.”