When Catherine of Wild Connections Photography was planning her destination wedding, she felt that she needed to entertain her guests the night before the wedding. But when guests showed no sign of heading home as the night went on, she began to regret her decision. “I so desperately wanted to take care of the guests who had traveled thousands of miles to celebrate with us, so I organized a meet and greet at our apartment. But the nice, relaxing evening I had wanted turned into me playing hostess and almost losing my nerve when nobody would leave and all I wanted to do was clean up, have a bath and get a good night’s sleep.”After that experience, Catherine decided to partner with destination wedding planner Kajsa Reisenbauer to create an inspiration shoot for the perfect night before the wedding, this time spent with your bridesmaids relaxing, enjoying dinner and a glass of wine and pampering yourself before getting a good night’s rest. A beautiful holiday apartment in the Austrian province of Tirol made the perfect setting for this luxurious getaway.
You may have noticed a little bit of radio silence and that’s because…
I got MARRIED!
About a month before my wedding, I decided I needed a little break from blogging. Because the month before your wedding is when ALL your vendors desperately need your attention to confirm every last detail and talk through every contingency. So in order to have the energy to focus on my full-time office job as well as the finishing touches of my wedding, I just did not have the mental capacity to update this space as well. But here I am and here’s my wedding update! Warning: It’s going to be a long one!
A lot of people asked me how Andrew and I chose Maine as our wedding destination since we’re not from there. The answer is that in the second year of our relationship, we took a trip to Bar Harbor together and fell in love with it (and which each other, duh). Afterwards, we talked about making a trip to Maine a yearly tradition and both strongly felt it was something we wanted to do. As a couple, we love a balance of traditions (like camping every fall or going to the beach for Fourth of July) and exploring new places in our travels. So every year since, we’ve gone to Mount Desert Island together to hike in Acadia National Park, enjoy lobster at Beal’s Lobster Pound, play mini golf at Pirate’s Cove and sip local brews in Bar Harbor.
Our wedding venue was the Asticou Inn, a gorgeous historic inn that’s been open since 1883 and overlooks Northeast Harbor. It has the classic New England charm we wanted to share with our guests from around the country, from its floral wallpaper and antique furnishings to the Adirondack chairs on the lawn. They also happened to have the perfect event coordinator for me. While I did all the planning and design for our wedding, Sue from the Asticou handled the day-of logistics and truly did an amazing job of executing. I realized early in my wedding planning process that I didn’t need an event designer. I knew exactly what I wanted our wedding to look and feel like—I just needed someone to carry out that vision so I wasn’t arranging place cards or directing lighting installation on the day of my wedding! Sue was perfect for that.
Every wedding will experience a hiccup or two, and we were very lucky to have only very minor ones. The first happened on Thursday afternoon, when my maid of honor Meryl texted me to say that the Bangor, Maine, airport was temporarily closed due to a plane stuck on the runway. This caused delays and cancellations for a few of our guests and ended up resulting in my mom and brother not getting in on Thursday as planned and missing the dinner at our favorite lobster pound on Thursday night. And while that really, really sucked, air delays and travel issues are just a natural part of a destination wedding. If 100% of your guests are traveling to your event—as was the case with our wedding—there are going to be issues, and you just have to be ready for that. The important thing is that everyone makes it to the wedding, and my mom and brother arrived Friday afternoon with plenty of time to spare.
Friday morning is also when Andrew and I realized two things about getting married we hadn’t anticipated: (1) Getting married is like being a D-list celebrity. Everywhere you go, people wave at you, smile at you, want to hug you, etc. (2) Pursuant to number one, when getting married, you must budget 15–20 extra minutes into literally everything you do to spend time talking to guests who see you and want to talk to you. Someone will see you while you’re carrying your breakfast to your table and start chatting and hugging you and your breakfast will get cold if you do not extricate yourself. So those are my two nuggets of wisdom for you.
Our wedding welcome dinner was Friday night at the Lompoc Café in Bar Harbor. We called it a “welcome dinner” rather than a rehearsal dinner because all of our guests were invited. This is common etiquette for a destination wedding when all guests travel to the event. We chose the Lompoc Café because we wanted our guests to have an opportunity to check out Bar Harbor and we wanted a very casual vibe, with people mingling, ordering drinks from the bar and catching up. The Lompoc has a rustic cabin feel and there’s a covered, heated porch as well as an outdoor seating area with bocce ball. It turned out to be a great venue and guests mingled while enjoying delicious pizzas and salads made from seasonal local ingredients.
I have to take a moment to compliment our amazing wedding photographers, Brett and Jessica Donar. We did a photo session together in Acadia National Park, they shot our welcome dinner and then our whole wedding day. We could not love the pictures more. Brett and Jessica were laid-back and easy to work with, and their direction was totally natural. I felt comfortable with them right away and I think it shows in the pictures.
Andrew and I spent the night before our wedding together. Though I know the tradition is for brides and grooms to spend the night apart and not see each other until right before the wedding, that honestly didn’t appeal to me at all. I wanted to spend the night before and morning of my wedding snuggling with him, talking with him, being excited with him. Anything else would have felt weird.
The morning of the wedding, we encountered snafu number two. I had ordered custom table signs on Etsy that were supposed to be paintings of places Andrew and I had been together. The vendor, Lefty Lady Chalk Shop, had told me she was shipping the signs to the inn, but then a week before the wedding she stopped communicating completely and never sent the signs. I held out hope till the day of the wedding that they would magically show up in the mail…but they didn’t. (The Lefty Lady Chalk Shop has since disappeared from Etsy and Etsy refunded me, but this girl basically got away with it and never gave me an explanation.) My bridesmaids and I were forced to think on the fly to come up with a solution. I mentioned that I had black and white rough draft pencil sketches from the artist on my computer and my bridesmaid Marisa got to work cleaning them up in Photoshop, printed the signs in the inn’s front office and delivered them to Sue. All of my bridesmaids told me they thought the versions we made turned out even better than the final product would have been, but I was just grateful to have such supportive, helpful friends. The value of amazing bridesmaids!!
Around noon, I sent my Mom down to the tent to check on how things were looking because I knew she would be the perfect person to direct the look. She’s an amazing hostess and her house and table always look like something out of a magazine. When she came back up, the first thing she said was “Caitlin, the flowers are amazing.” I knew if Mom loved the flowers we were in good shape because her house is always full of them. A few minutes later the florist, Annie of Broadturn Farm, arrived with our bouquets and we got a taste of how beautiful they would be. The bouquets were full of vibrant fall colors—reds, yellows, purples—and all kinds of texture, including fallen leaves and eucalyptus. They were gorgeous.
Meryl helped me get into my dress, which was the Watters Beilin lace sheath with cap sleeves. I also wore my grandma’s fur wrap—her brother was a furrier and made it for her and it has her name embroidered on the inside. It was really special to me to incorporate her into the wedding in some way because she passed away a few years ago and we were very close. I also wore an emerald heart bracelet from my Mom as my something borrowed. It was so special to wear pieces from these two important women in my life.
We did bridal party pictures at the ceremony site, which gave me a chance to sneak into the tent and see it decorated for the first time—it looked amazing, honestly so close to image I had in my head. The long farm tables were left bare to let the deep wood show and then a garland ran down the middle with flowers and candles woven in. Each place was set with white china and accented by a vintage green goblet set on top of a custom coaster I created. The makeshift table signs looked great too. In one corner of the tent was a seating area with a deep green velvet couch and three antique armchairs in gold and green. In the center of the tent was the band stage and dance floor and on the other side was a rustic wood bar draped with a garland and the dessert table. The dessert table turned out totally over the top. We had cakes and pies from a local bakery, cookies from a Youngstown bakery and Momofuku in New York, and our family’s traditional dessert, kolache, homemade by my aunt and dad.
Before the ceremony, my bridesmaid Michele had asked me if I thought I would cry and I said I didn’t think so. I felt calm. I was doing great…until Andrew said his vows. Then I broke down and cried all through my own vows. The officiant actually started crying too! Afterwards all of our guests asked us if we knew her and said they had never seen an officiant cry at a wedding before! We used this set of vows that I found a few months before the wedding. I just immediately connected with the language—it was exactly what I wanted to say and captured how I feel about love and commitment. I shared them with Andrew and we agreed they were perfect for us.
After the ceremony, we took a few last pictures together. We followed a little trail behind the inn down to the shore and I jumped through mud in my wedding dress to get out to a rock so we could get a shot of us right on the water. Then we headed to our cocktail hour (more like hour and a half) so we could finally party! We specifically planned the cocktail hour to be a bit longer so we would get to enjoy some of it.
Around 6pm, the guests headed down to the tent, which was set right by the water. It was really, really hard for me to pick a first dance song, but we finally chose Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love,” which I think was perfect for us. We are really silly together and loved getting to laugh and smile and sing to each other while we were dancing to this. Throughout the night people commented to me on how great Silver Arrow Band was. They had amazing energy and two killer singers as well as a horn section (my personal must-have). Their range was also incredible—they played jazz at cocktail hour and music across the decades and for all ages at our reception. They are all young music students and graduates trying to make a living in the music business and their passion really shows in what they do.
About halfway through the night a bonfire was lit and that became a gathering place for people who wanted a quieter spot to sit and talk. At one of the band breaks, I saw Sue rush in and ask them to make everyone go outside the tent for a surprise. It was fireworks! My Mom and Dad had arranged them for us without me knowing! The fireworks were shot off from a boat in the harbor and honestly at one point I thought the boat was on fire. It was the perfect ending to an amazing weekend.
For those planning your own Maine wedding, my full vendor list is at the bottom of this post. I highly endorse all these people; they were amazing to work with! And feel free to email me with questions about any of them or planning a wedding in Maine—I’m happy to help!
Wedding venue: Asticou Inn | Photography: Brett & Jessica Photography | Flowers: Broadturn Farm | Rentals: Wallace Events | Vintage rentals: A Family Affair Maine | Band: Silver Arrow Band | Hair and Makeup: Echo Salon | Transportation: Acadia Transportation Services | Officiant: Malen Hsu of All-in-One Weddings | Rehearsal dinner venue: Lompoc Cafe
Trina Turk at Banana Republic? Yes, please! I did a bit of a double take when I found this mini collection. Trina Turk’s Palm Springs-inspired neon-patterned dresses usually run in the $350 range, so at half the price these are a steal. Her clothing has a very specific resort feel, but it would be perfect for an oceanside destination wedding in Miami, the Caribbean, or Costa Rica.
This is my favorite, and I know what you’re going to say. Caitlin, it’s white. Yes, yes, I noticed. But only partially white! Just picture it! All the girls lined up on the beach, tanned skin, the bride in sparkling clean white flanked by her bridesmaids in pops of neon, perhaps holding bouquets of coral and yellow flowers.
Can’t get past the white? I offer you this alternative. I love the band at the natural waist and the very slight sweetheart neckline. The seaglass blues and sunset yellows are perfect for a seaside nuptial.