Down East 2013 ©
Whether you live here or not, Maine is a top-notch destination to say, “I do.”
1Islands inspire romance
Stage your ceremony or reception on an elegant island for a celebration sure to make waves. Maine has more than four thousand islands, fifteen with year-round communities, and several with inns. The Inn on Peaks Island (33 Island, Ave., Peaks Island, 207-766-5100, www.innonpeaks.com ) and the Chebeague Island Inn (61 South Rd., Chebeague Island, 207-846-5155, www.chebeagueislandinn.com ) both offer complete wedding packages just a fifteen-minute ferry ride from Portland in Casco Bay. Farther up the coast, the sprawling Island Inn (Box 128, Monhegan Island, 207-596-0371, www.islandinnmonhegan.com ) off Port Clyde is equally inviting.
2 The outdoors are part of the package
Whether your dream wedding takes place on a mountain, by a lake, or at the seashore, Maine provides a pristine setting for your perfect day. Numerous land trusts and more than thirty state parks (Bureau of Parks and Land, 207-287-3821, www.maine.gov/doc/parks ) supply beautiful scenery for ceremonies or photo shoots. Consider tying the knot encircled by historic Fort Popham, atop the coast’s highest peak, Cadillac Mountain, or on a secluded strip of sand, such as Jasper Beach, way Down East near Machiasport. Or have the groom arrive by kayak at Wolfe’s Neck State Park in Freeport.
3 Farm-fresh food makes good eating effortless
Long before “locavore” became part of the lexicon, Maine caterers and cooks have relied on local food caught fresh from the sea, raised on small farms, or harvested from backyard gardens. Pick your own produce or visit a farmer’s market for local foods and gifts from artisan cheeses and breads to handmade soaps. Discover what’s growing at www.mainelocavore.org . Or have your event catered by a company that relies on sensational fresh food, such as the Black Tie Co. (One Union Wharf, Portland, 207-761-6665, www.theblacktieco.com ), which features all-natural ingredients from nearby Pineland Farms.
4 Handmade invitations fetch a reply
Work with a local artist to create custom invitations and save-the-dates that won’t get overlooked. Rather than ending up in the recycling, handcrafted cards — whether stitched, glued, embellished, calligraphied, or painted — are likely to become treasured keepsakes that not only share important information but reflect your style, too. Watercolor artist Sara Fitzgerald O’Brien behind Griffin-vites (shown at left) (P.O. Box 134, York Harbor, 207-361-4784, www.griffin-vites.com ), has been featured in numerous wedding magazines for hand-painted wedding stationary as original as the senders.
5 We really do have four seasons
Want to get married in a winter wonderland? Take advantage of Maine’s off-season. Beginning from the first drop of autumn leaves to when lilacs bloom in the spring, hotels, inns, and other venues offer significant savings during the colder months. Fall offers dramatic foliage and fireside romance. Winter weddings can be cozy and intimate. Spring weddings are softened by budding trees. And then, of course, there’s summer. The Vesper Hill Children’s Chapel in Rockport (207-236-2239), much loved for its wooded garden setting and view of the nearby Atlantic, is a favorite outdoor ceremony site during warmer months. Or be the star of your own show with a winter wedding at the nearby Camden Opera House (29 Elm St., Camden, 207-236-7963, www.camdenoperahouse.com ).
6 Garden blossoms abound
Why rely on imported flowers when you can have fresh? Maine nurseries and farmstands produce beautiful and affordable bouquets. You could also hold your ceremony in a botanical garden filled with living arrangements, or have a local florist design fresh flowers just for you. Cottage Flowers (162 Otter Creek Dr., Bar Harbor, 207-288-2509, www.downeasthost.com/cottageflowers ) regularly cuts blooms from its own gardens at the foot of Cadillac Mountain.
7 Lobster is the ultimate celebration food
Maine’s cold, clean water and rocky coast yield more than 70 million pounds of lobster annually. And the state’s signature crustacean is a great way to celebrate new-found marital bliss (as this Harpswell reception at left demonstrates). Put together your own backyard lobster bake, or call an expert to do it for you. Foster’s Downeast Clambake (5 Axholme Rd., Cape Neddick, 207-363-3255, www.fostersclambake.com ), which once served an authentic Maine clambake on the White House lawn, offers the same service at a site of your choosing. Farther north, Seacoast Catering & Lobster Bakes (44 Sprague Rd., Nobleboro, 207-563-8539, www.seacoastcatering.com ) offers distinctive cocktail parties and
receptions or shore dinners delivered by a Maine lobsterman.
8 Kids can be kids
Beaches, lakes, mountains, boats — what could make little people more happy? No matter where you get married in Maine, your youngest guests will have plenty to keep them busy. A favorite midcoast wedding venue and vacation spot, the Maine Maritime Museum (243 Washington St., Bath, 207-443-1316, www.mainemaritimemuseum.org ) offers boat rides, lobstering demos, and a jungle gym pirate ship where cabin boys and girls can play.
9 Locally brewed beer makes for a great party
With nearly two-dozen breweries producing close to one hundred different beers, Maine is a recognized leader in the craft-brew movement. Host a bachelor party at a brewery of your choice or take guests on a guided brewery tour. Or even pick up a keg of Bar Harbor Real Ale for a big party (Atlantic Brewing Company, 15 Knox Rd., Bar Harbor, 207-288-2337, www.atlanticbrewing.com ). A list of Maine breweries can be found at www.mainebrewersguild.org 
10 A cake made from whoopie pies delights
What other sweet has its own day? Or festival? The Maine whoopie pie has both. Head to Dover-Foxcroft on June 25 for the annual Maine Whoopie Pie Festival to sample flavors for your big day. All passionate puns aside, whoopie pies make for creative wedding cakes. These chocolaty, fluffy concoctions can be found at nearly every convenience store and bakery, including Douin’s Market in New Sharon (150 Mercer Rd., 207-778-4111), which makes an award-winning, ten-pound whoopie pie cake. Looking for a more refined touch? Cranberry Island Kitchen (52 Danforth St., Portland, 207-774-7110, www.cranberryislandkitchen.com ) uses fresh and organic ingredients to craft delicate mussel and scallop shell shapes, great for favors or for assembling an entire cake.
11 Everyone loves blueberry pie
Indigenous to Maine and first harvested by Native Americans, blueberries are a quintessential part of the Maine experience. More wild berries are grown here than any other state. And in a pie is one of the best ways to eat them (other than right off the bush). Feature pies for a bridal shower, picnic, post-wedding brunch — or even as an alternative to a traditional cake. Pie in the Sky Bakery (1 River Rd., Cape Neddick, 207-363-2656, www.pieintheskymaine.com ) offers these favorite berries in all-natural, deep-dish pies topped with tasty pastry hearts.
12 Cocktail hour can be creative
Invite guests on a sunset, lighthouse, or lobster cruise for a cocktail party they won’t soon forget. Keep an eye out for seabirds, whales, porpoises, and seals while cruising in style. Whether charting a leisurely loop around Maine’s islands or boarding for a longer haul up the coast, schooners, tour boats, and ferries from Kennebunkport to Eastport can accommodate groups of practically any size. For those a little green around the gills, the smooth-riding ferries of the Casco Bay Lines (56 Commercial St., Portland, 207-774-7871, www.cascobaylines.com ) offer soothing jaunts around Casco Bay.
13 Green is the new white
Worried about the environmental and financial costs of buying a dress you’ll likely wear only once? Take an old-fashioned adage to heart and consider wearing “something old.” Dressing green has never been easier — or more stylish. For elegant wedding and bridesmaid dresses, accessories, shoes, decorations, and tableware pay a visit to Eco-Elegance (157 Middle St., Portland, 207-828-4696, www.ecoeleganceconsignment.com ), a high-end consignment boutique focused on weddings.
14 Hats are back
Whether for groomsmen, attendants, or brides, dashing hats are debonair. Keep the sun off while making a fashion statement or warm up ears at a winter wedding. Outfit your whole party at Queen of Hats (560 Congress St., Portland, 207-772-2379, www.queenofhats.com ), which has been custom designing and detailing hats for men, women, and children for more than two decades.
15 Classic rides keep the fun rolling
Arrive in style or make a speedy get-away with the right set of wheels. The York Trolley Company (589 York St., York, 207-363-9600, www.yorktrolley.com ) can accommodate entire wedding parties. Or pay a small membership fee and rent a classic car at the Owls Head Transportation Museum (Rte. 73, Owls Head, 207-594-4418, www.ohtm.org ), where you can choose between a 1940 Ford “woody” station wagon or a 1939 Packard Town Car.
16 Unique favors are extra sweet
Chocolate-covered blueberries are among the state’s most popular wedding favors. Greet guests with gift-filled bags or baskets featuring Maine jams, honey, maple syrup, or chocolates. Personalize placeholders for the rehearsal dinner or reception with custom candy bags. The Bath Sweet Shoppe (19 Centre St., Bath, 207-443-4221, www.bathsweetshop.com ), an old-fashioned candy store featuring some of the state’s top chocolatiers, creates whimsical sweets for your special day from miniature chocolate lobsters to Maine-themed candy buffets.
17 Artisan albums make memories last
Preserve your wedding memories in a handmade guest book, journal, photo album, or keepsake box when you choose a traditional Maine bookbinder or paper maker. This specialized art is still practiced by hand at small art studios scattered throughout the state. Joelle Webber, of Mermaid Bindery (75 East Shore Rd., Westport, 207-350-0935, www.mermaidbindery.com ), creates custom designs from traditional materials to reflect your individual taste.
18 Homegrown gifts engage the senses
From the soft glow of handmade candles to the vibrant hues of flowers to the wafting strings of a quiet quartet, a wedding is a composition designed to delight the senses. Whether for bridesmaids’ baskets, personalized sachets, or fragrant table decorations, Glendarragh Farm Lavender (22 Main St., Camden, 207-236-8151, www.mainelavender.com ) grows a dozen varieties of English lavender at its twenty-six-acre Maine farm, creating aromatic options for your wedding — including dried flower buds to toss during the bride and groom’s getaway.
19 Everyone deserves to play queen for a day
Or king. For a fun night out or to calm pre-wedding jitters, relax like a royal at a luxury spa. While brides were once hard-pressed to find a Maine spa, many inns and hairstylists now include facials, massages, pedicures, and more as part of their services. For the ultimate experience, hire a traveling spa to come to you. The stylists at I Do Spas (19 Ferguson Dr., Sidney, 207-441-0008, www.idospas.com ) offer everything from hair, makeup, and nails to anti-stress facials and massages.
20 Quality cakes come in many designs
Match your theme with the perfect wedding cake. Whether conventional or quirky, Maine pastry chefs and bakers are experienced at working with brides and grooms from away to create the perfect conclusion to their special day. For something truly unique, consider handmade sugar shells so real that guests will be amazed they’re edible. Or, for those looking for a laugh, try a cake topped with a lobster bride and groom complete with veil and top hat by Let Them Eat Cake (11 Lockwood Dr., Kennebunk, 207-967-4145, www.letthemeatcakemaine.com ). Dive into decadence with moist layers of cake filled with lemon curd, chocolate mousse, or vanilla custard among the popular flavors available through Sweet Sensations Pastry Shop (309 Commercial St., Rockport, 207-230-0955, www.mainesweets.com ).
21 Traditional tunes get toes tapping
What better way to break the ice than with old-time country dancing? Get everyone celebrating together with authentic Maine folk music and all-inclusive circle dances, waltzes, polkas, square dances, schottisches, and two steps. Old Grey Goose International, an acclaimed four-member folk band (116 Pleasant Cove Dr., Woolwich, 207-443-5411, www.oldgreygoose.org ), features fiddle, guitar, piano, mandolin, ukulele, accordion, and banjo and has played at events around the world. Don’t know the steps? That’s okay. Caller Doug Protsik teaches in a way all ages and abilities can understand.
22 Horse-drawn carriage and sleigh rides are timeless
To entertain guests or arrive at your ceremony in style, take an old-fashioned trail, sleigh, or carriage ride. Acadia National Park is famous for forty-five rolling miles of carriage roads. Teams of horses from Wildwood Stables (P.O. Box 81, Seal Harbor, 877-276-3622, www.carriagesofacadia.com ) still pull visitors over century-old woodland trails and granite bridges built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and can be booked for private tours. Or head inland and enjoy the romantic scenery of the White Mountains by reserving a ride with Deepwood Farm
(84 Parsonage Hill Rd., Albany Twp., 207-824-2595, www.deepwoodfarm.com ), which regularly takes wedding parties to and from the famed Bethel Inn.
23 Maine fashion goes beyond mud boots
Whether you’re looking for accessories, such as a hand-painted scarf or a just-off-the-loom evening wrap or outfits for an entire wedding party, Maine clothing designers and tailors offer customized quality for any size or season. You can create something truly unique by having your wedding gown designed just for you. Svetlana Clothing & Couture (85 Main St., Yarmouth, 207-846-5844, www.svetlanadesign.com ) will work with you from selecting fabric to choosing the most flattering style for your figure to create a truly one-of-a-
24 There’s no better place to get carried away
Tie the knot, hold a party, or embark on your new life with an adventure to remember when you set sail aboard a classic windjammer. Whether for a quiet cruise or a romantic honeymoon, Maine’s infamous tall ships are available for private charters. The Maine Windjammer Association (P.O. Box 1144, Blue Hill, 800-807-9463, www.sailmainecoast.com ) includes twelve owner-operated vessels — the largest fleet of traditional sailing schooners in North America. Or get married by a certified sea captain aboard a vessel from the Portland Schooner Co. (Maine State Pier, 56 Commercial St., Portland, 207-766-2500, www.portlandschooner.com ), pictured above left.