if you're in the process of, or thinking of planning a destination wedding in maine, i strongly suggest you take a few moments and read this blog post. one of my past brides was kind enough to give you some advice and share her experience with planning a maine destination wedding. christine and michael's wedding took a ton of hard work and years of planning, but it was all worth it; the wedding was so beautiful!
Where do you live?
When we first started to plan our wedding, we were living in Silver Spring, MD and then moved to Philadelphia the month before the wedding.
Why did you decide to get married in Camden, Maine?
When we first got engaged, I had never been to Maine. Maine was Michael's vacation destination as a child and where his mother grew up. We knew it would be a stretch for our families to travel so far, but we decided to get married in a special, meaningful place over somewhere generic. We knew that we wouldn't have a lot of time off from our jobs to visit Maine before the wedding, so the Summer of 2011 we went up (my first time to Maine) and venue-searched with Michael's family for a week. We went all over the state to about eight places. The Camden Amphitheater was the last place we visited and we knew it was perfect. We signed a contract before we left to go back home 2 days later.
What was the hardest thing about planning your wedding from out of state?
The most challenging was dealing with everything over the phone/email. We went up again the summer of 2012 and met some of our vendors; however, most contracts were signed without visiting places and people. Because of this, I always had a feeling I was bothering them or seemed like a control freak with a million questions. In addition, I've come to the conclusion that Maine has one-season tourist season. Reaching vendors became increasingly difficult when it was out of spring/summer months and I relied heavily on Yelp, TheKnot.com, and different review sites to keep my interest and plan. If I continuously saw bad reviews or raving reviews, I would monitor it until I could speak with the vendor and ask questions. By the time I got them on the phone, it became clear how they would be and we signed contracts accordingly. It's my opinion that 99% of the time when a vendor has a bad review it is true and while you can't make everyone happy all the time, they should at least try and change the opinion of the reviewer. Bad press in the form of a customer review should never be taken lightly, especially if the services the vendor is providing is their livelihood.
What surprised you the most about planning a destination wedding?
Two things actually:
The mixed reactions when I told people we were planning a destination wedding. They ranged from utter excitement to questionable looks and pauses.
The amount of research required on every aspect of the wedding. Obviously we wanted to shop around a bit, but because favors weren't tangible over the phone, and meeting someone gives you a better idea of who they are, we felt overwhelmed by wanting to collect all of our options and go from there.
What would you have done differently in your planning process?
Hands-down would be to change my own mindset about what a wedding should be. I never thought of my wedding as a child or thought everything had to be perfect, but I guess it was the research and time we spent on planning the destination wedding itself that made me lose sight of the important aspects. As if all the planning and time spent had to pay off in people's thoughts and opinions of our big day. I started planning with the idea that this was the beginning of a new chapter in our lives, and I'm ashamed to say it turned into a wedding as an “event.”
There were a lot of ethical conflicts - would we be happier with a smaller wedding?
Financial conflicts - should we really spend this much money on xyz?
Moral conflicts - Why do I want people to credit my research on this “event?”
In the end, we got on track by canceling a large part of what was already planned. We lost thousands of dollars and there were panic attacks, but we got back in the correct mindset and in the end were so relieved.
What are you really glad you did while planning your wedding?
I'm glad that I planned early and when I saw a good “deal” snagged it. Many of the vendors we used, understandably increased their prices/rates, so planning early allowed us to lock in the set price at that time. I can't imagine not having any of the vendors that we booked as part of our wedding. They honestly were all so great.
In addition, being honest and upfront with wedding vendors really helped with planning as well. We've all seen the wedding shows/known couples where they aren't honest with vendors or even themselves about budget and expectations. Being honest and having open dialogue with vendors really improved the planning process and made it less difficult for everyone.
What advice do you have for other couples planning a Maine wedding while living out of state?
My advice would be to plan early and plan smart. Find local vendors in the area in which you are holding the wedding. Many vendors will travel and service all of Maine, and while we did use a couple of vendors distant to Camden, finding knowledgeable locals for our needs helped in more ways than one. One vendor lead to another, led to another, and it's really important to us to help small-business owners.
On that topic, because many were local, advertising can be a big challenge. We found many vendors on Craigslist! There's a “Maine” specific Craigslist and a subgroup for events/services.
What was the best part of your wedding day?
The most meaningful part of the day was actually exchanging vows. The best part of the day was knowing that we were finally married and we could celebrate with everyone.
What are some of your favorite wedding day moments?
Tied into question 9... exchanging vows. Hearing Michael's vows to me and saying my vows to him really solidified our 6+ years together and how pleasant the future will be.
I also loved our first look photo session. I had always wanted to do a first look, but Michael didn't. We decided on doing the session so that we could get all of our jitters out of the way and be a little less emotional during the ceremony.
We both agree that spending the rest of the day with our family and friends was the highlight, but also getting ready with our bridal party members are memories we'll cherish forever.
What stands out in your memory about your wedding day?
Since we got married in June, it's still pretty recent.... everything really. It really was a perfect day.
Remember to not only write thank you's, but leave reviews/comments about your vendors. You will then have come full circle and it helps out others planning their destination wedding.