2015 Real Maine Wedding of the Year
Christina & Luke
 
Christina and Luke’s real Maine wedding was held in Maine’s Midcoast. The communities of Camden, Lincolnville, Rockland, and Rockport held a fabulous three-day event that will never be forgotten.
 
By Melanie Brooks
 
Christina Quach and Luke Paul met while doing something they both truly enjoy—working out. Christina was attending the University of Maine at Farmington and the two of them would see each other at the gym almost daily. “One day he started talking to me about pronouncing my last name, and we haven’t stopped talking since,” Christina says. 
 
It didn’t take long after their first date for the couple to realize that they were embarking on something very special. 
 
“No one has ever looked at me the way Luke does,” Christina says. “I knew when I met him that he was the one person that I was willing to compromise with. He was the one person I knew I could work on things with no matter how hard it got.”
 
Luke felt the same way. He started planning a proposal while he was away in Louisiana for military training for the Maine Army National Guard. “There was no better feeling than the one I had just being with her, no matter what we were doing,” Luke says. 
 
He decided to propose on his birthday, July 10, 2014, thinking Christina wouldn’t expect anything special for her on his big day. Luke headed out of their apartment in the morning, telling Christina he was running out for breakfast. About an hour later he sent Christina a message telling her to check in her pillowcase. There he had left a clue that would send Christina on a scavenger hunt that took her through Farmington, to Augusta, and to her parents’ house in Rockland. “I thought that would be the last stop, but I found my favorite flower, a lily, and the last clue taking me to one of my favorite spots.” 
 
Christina’s family drove her to the Rockland Breakwater, and Luke was waiting at the very end by the lighthouse. “He was nervous and asked me how my day was, and then dropped down on one knee and asked me to marry him,” Christina says. “I couldn’t have asked for a more romantic and thoughtful way to start this new chapter in our life.”
 
Christina was the one who suggested entering the 2015 Real Maine Wedding of the Year contest to Luke. “She had followed the contest before and told me it was going to be taking place in her hometown,” Luke says. “It almost felt like it was meant to be.”
 
After months of voting, Christina and Luke arrived at the Maine Wedding Association Freeport Wedding Show at the Hilton Garden Inn Freeport Downtown as one of the three finalists. They were overwhelmed when they were announced the winners.
 
“The support we received from family, friends, and people we haven’t met yet was unreal,” Christina says. “Real Maine Weddings, all of the participating vendors, and everyone who voted for us has given us more than we ever dreamed of.”
 
Planning for the big, three-day event began right away. “I don’t think I would have survived planning my own wedding,” Christina says. “Amber from Sweetest Thing Weddings was so much fun and we loved working with her!”
 
The public had the opportunity to vote on many aspects of Christina and Luke’s dream wedding. “I loved getting the public’s votes to help us plan our wedding,” Christina says. 
 
Amber Small from Sweetest Thing Weddings sat down with the couple to talk about their wedding theme. She asked them to share their wedding Pinterest board with her so she could start creating the three wedding themes for the public to vote on. While all three design themes were lovely, the one titled “Nautical Chic” won out. It included sea-themed aspects that Christina and Luke particularly loved, like nautical maps and navy and white ribbons. 
 
The very first stop on our planning schedule was to choose Christina’s wedding gown and the bridesmaids’ gowns at Andrea’s Bridal and Formal Wear in Portland. “Even though Luke and I had been engaged for almost a year, I hadn’t tried any dresses on in the hopes that we’d win this wedding,” Christina says. “When I walked into Andrea’s Bridal and saw all of the beautiful dresses I was beyond thrilled. The space is intimate and everywhere you look there is gorgeousness.”
 
Christina tried on gowns from the lovely WToo collection by Watters. Luckily the gown Christina fell in love with was the one the public chose, too.
 
Once Christina was finished trying on gowns, the attention was turned toward her bridesmaids. Christina chose floor-length gowns from twobirds, and the public voted on the color. “These bridesmaid dresses are so versatile, and I love that they can wear them again and again,” Christina says. 
 
After a quick lunch, Luke met up with Christina and headed to Day’s Jewelers in Topsham to choose bridal jewelry, bridesmaids jewelry, and a special gift for their mothers. “I love that we are giving the most important people in our lives classic jewelry that they can wear all the time—Honora pearls,” she says.
 
Christina had a hard time choosing her bridal jewelry from the Crislu line because there were so many things to choose from! “I was trying to find something I wouldn’t normally wear, but I kept getting drawn to my favorite—pearls,” she says. “With my dress favorites fresh in my mind, I found three earring and necklace sets that would work with whatever dress the public picked.”
 
Our second planning day took us to the Midcoast. We started the day with Wallace Events in Ellsworth to choose elements for Christina and Luke’s tented reception.
 
The couple easily chose gorgeous navy linens and striped runners for their reception tables. “Tammy Mann from Wallace Events helped us understand how our choices would look at the reception,” Christina says. “We envisioned the space and picked out the glassware and china to fit the nautical theme.” The couple left the choice of their chargers up to the public.
 
Our next stop was Hoboken Gardens in Rockport to discuss flowers for the ceremony and reception. “I was thinking that picking out a bouquet would be easy, but there’s a lot more to it than just putting all the flowers that you love together,” Christina says. “Lisa Farley and Sharon Heck at Hoboken Gardens were awesome at making suggestions while always keeping what I loved at the forefront. We discussed everything from centerpieces to boutonnieres to ceremony arrangements.”
 
Seasons Downeast Designs was put in charge of Christina and Luke’s welcome party and rehearsal dinner, so we met with Anna Remsen next. “The fun thing about planning the other two parties is that we got to design it completely different than the way we designed our ceremony and reception,” Christina says. 
 
The last stop of the day on our second planning excursion was at Maine Coast Weddings & Special Events. Luke’s groomsmen met us there to try on their tuxes. “I can’t remember the last time I wore a tuxedo!” Luke says. “It was a great feeling putting on the color choices the owners Linda Lewis and Kristin Saunders-Falla had for me. I had a lot of options to choose from when it came to the tie my groomsmen and I wore.”
 
We rounded out the month of April back in the Midcoast for more planning. Christina and Luke headed to Fiore Artisan Olive Oils and Vinegars to choose flavors for their wedding flavors. “We love eating and we love cooking, so we were looking forward to visiting Fiore,” Christina says. Owners Pat and Nancy O’Brien stayed true to the nautical theme and tied a navy blue and white striped ribbon to the olive oil and balsamic vinegar for the favors that were given out at the reception. 
 
Our next stop was at the home of Beth Doan, the Maine Wedding Artist. “Beth is a very passionate Maine artist and takes great interest in the couples that she creates her hand painted buoys for!” Christina says. The couple had Beth create three different buoy designs for their wedding, and tied them to their guests’ escort cards at their reception.
 
The last stop of the day was at the Norumbega Inn. “Sue Walser, the innkeeper, greeted us and we sat down to talk about our Welcome Party event,” Christina says. Luke is a big food fan and was elated when he got to meet chef Phil Crispo (Sue’s husband and co-owner of the inn) at the meeting. “Luke smiled so big when he got to talk to Phil a little about food,” Christina says. 
 
An important part of any wedding is the invitation, and Christina and Luke were excited to head to Papier to pick out their paper goods. “Owner Valerie Kyros explained the printing process of different types of invitations that she had on display,” Christina says. “A lot more work goes into creating invitations than some may realize. That’s what I loved about Papier!”  Keeping their nautical theme in mind, Christina and Luke designed an invitation suite that incorporated nautical maps and knots. The finished product was exactly what the couple had envisioned! 
 
We knew the food tasting part of the planning process was going to be a highlight for this couple, so we were excited to get them underway.
 
In June we headed to Boothbay to meet with Patricia Moroz, owner of Starlight Custom Cakes. “The cakes she made for our tasting were so delicious!” Christina says. “We loved all the flavors we tried, which included lemon, chocolate, spice, and orange/chocolate marble. All of the cakes were super moist, light, and fresh, and the buttercream frosting was the perfect sweetness.” 
 
We then headed to the Samoset Resort for our tasting with chef Tim Pierce. “We are 100% certain that our guests were very happy with their dinner,” Christina says. “We sampled three main dishes along with a salad and soup. Every dish chef Tim brought out for us was extraordinary!”
 
The couple also chose ice sculpture designs for the public to vote on. The winning design was a copy of the LOVE artwork created by Robert Indiana and was  showcased during the cocktail hour on the lawn at the Samoset
 
The last stop of the day was at Point Lookout Resort in Lincolnville, the site of the couple’s after party. “We loved everything they had for us to sample!” Christina says.  
 
That evening the Point Lookout Resort hosted a Vendor Meet & Greet with the couple, their families, and friends. Everyone enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and drinks at the Summit, which provided an amazing view of Camden Harbor. 
 
We visited three more vendors on our final planning day. We started at the Whitehall to discuss the menu for the rehearsal dinner. “The culinary team at the Whitehall pride themselves on cooking with fresh, local ingredients,” Christina says. “We loved the recent renovations and the atmosphere is welcoming, charming, and fun!”
 
Our next stop was at the Camden studio of Etienne Perret where Christina and Luke picked out wedding bands. “The custom made jewelry by Etienne is very special to us,” Christina says. “Rather than going into a store or ordering them online, we got to see exactly how the rings would be made. It means even more to us that he is a local Maine artist.” 
 
The last stop of the day was with Risteen Bahr, owner of Simply Sophisticated Hat Studio. “My advice from my experience is to try on everything,” Christina says. “I fell in love with styles I never would have expected to look good on me. Choosing my veil felt harder than dress shopping—with the veils, I liked everything!” Christina decided on a long veil and a blusher, and Risteen created the one-of-a-kind piece with Christina’s wedding dress in mind.
 
After the planning days were over, the couple enjoyed the rest of their summer before heading to the Midcoast for their three-day event. In mid-October the couple headed Sea Street Massage Therapy where they enjoyed a couple’s massage before the wedding  festivities began. “It was an amazing way to start our wedding week,” Christina says. “The quality of service and the great feeling we left with will keep us visiting here for years to come!”

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The celebration kicked off with a Welcome Party for the couple’s friends, family, and the wonderful vendors who helped make their dream wedding possible. The Norumbega Inn hosted this event, and Anna from Seasons Downeast Designs helped decorate the historic inn based on Christina’s favorite flowers.
 
“The décor the night of the welcome party was stunning,” Christina says. “The Normbega itself is breathtaking, and the floral arrangements throughout the first floor made the space even more welcoming. The garlands were incredible! I’ve never seen orchids that large before!”
 
The couple had been anxiously awaiting the Welcome Party so they could sample the hors d’oeuvres created by Chef Crispo. “All of the food was delicious,” Luke says. “Toward the end of the night the salmon quiches couldn’t even make it to the table because my groomsmen and I were swarming around Sue every time she came out with more!
 
On Thursday the couple and their wedding party enjoyed a tour down Rockland’s Main Street with the Maine Foodie Tour. “As a Rockland native, I was very proud during the tour,” Christina says. “Rockland is a foodie town, and I was proud to share that with our closest friends. Phelps, the tour guide, did a great job giving everyone another reason to love my hometown!”
 
After the Foodie Tour everyone headed back to their hotels and bungalows to change for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Amber Small from Sweetest Thing Weddings led the rehearsal, which ran extremely smoothly. “It’s always exciting to run through the ceremony for the first time,” she says. Once everyone was comfortable with the plan for the following day, they headed up the street to the Whitehall for the rehearsal dinner.

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“We loved the Whitehall before this year’s renovations, but after seeing the modern look we were even more excited to have our rehearsal dinner there,” Christina says. “The space was so inviting and the evening felt like an intimate dinner in the comfort of someone’s home.”
 
Guests were served family style, and the highlight of the evening was the fried chicken. “Our wedding party table all agreed it was the best salad and fried chicken any of us had ever had,” Christina says. “No matter how full everyone was from dinner, they all made sure not to let the dessert of blueberry crumble go to waste!”
 
Anna from Seasons Downeast Designs helped decorate the inn for the event with romantic branches in the doorway, lit up with twinkling lights, and centerpieces set in rustic birch bark vases for the tables. “Anna had the great idea of creating garlands for the welcome party and centerpieces for the rehearsal dinner to change things up for each event,” Christina says. “It was a great idea and we were supremely happy with everything she created!”
 
Another highlight of the evening was the grooms’ cake Patricia from Starlight Custom Cakes created specially for Luke in the shape of Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions. “I am a diehard Detroit fan,” Luke says. “To see my favorite player made into a cake for me was amazing! I couldn’t have been happier.”
 
Christina and Luke took the opportunity to give gifts out at the end of the rehearsal dinner. Each guest received a mini blueberry jam from Stonewall Kitchen, which was set at each place setting. “It’s the best jam we’ve ever had,” Christina says. “Mainers appreciate local food, and Stonewall Kitchen highlighted one of our Maine favorites—blueberries!”
 
The couple passed out special gifts to their wedding party and their mothers, courtesy of Sea Bags. “With the nautical theme of our wedding, my bridal party had already been scoping out Sea Bags before we found out they were participating vendors,” Christina says. “When we heard, we were thrilled!” Christina gave her bridesmaids wristlets, Luke gave his groomsmen dopp kits, and they gave their parents a wine bag—all with the same nautical map design. Christina also received a special clutch purse. “The guys proudly carried around their travel bags that evening, talking about how when they got home they were going to get rid of the old one and fill up the new one.” 
 
Christina and Luke had other wonderful gifts for her bridesmaids and their mothers—the Honora pearl sets they had chosen months before. “I love pearls the most,” Christina says. “They are elegant, timeless, classic, and sophisticated. The Honora pearl collection from Day’s Jewelers had so many different color options. We chose classic white pearls for the bridesmaids and blue pearls for our mothers. Everyone loved them!”
 
Everyone went to bed happy on Thursday night, ready and excited for the following day. By 9 a.m. the girls were all getting ready in the Penobscot Room at the Samoset Resort while the guys relaxed at Point Lookout Resort
 
Christina had picked up her gown the day before from Clean Bee Laundry. “I had no idea the difference a professionally steamed wedding gown makes,” Christina says. “When I was having my dress altered I wondered about some creases. But after Clean Bee did their magic, it was pressed fresh again!”
 
Cynthia Clayton, owner of From This Day Forward, was on hand with her table-full of makeup for the wedding party. “It was the first time for many of my bridal party and our mothers to have their makeup professionally done,” Christina says. “Cyndi customized every look to enhance everyone’s natural beauty—and everyone looked amazing. My little sister, who is already drop dead gorgeous, looked so grown up it took my breath away.”
 
All of the bridesmaids were thrilled with their emerald green, floor-length, twobirds dresses from Andrea’s Bridal and Formal Wear. “The fabric is so luxurious and the length was perfect for our fall wedding,” Christina says. She studied the twobirds website to learn how to tie the dresses by practicing on herself. “It was a lot of fun trying the different styles, and that’s how I chose how I wanted each girl to wear their dress.”
 
Christina was over the moon about her WToo wedding gown from Andrea’s Bridal and Formal Wear. “I could wear my wedding gown every single day,” she says. “It was everything I wanted in a gown—sweetheart neckline, ivory, fit and flare, gorgeous train, some lace, and some dazzle. I couldn’t have found a more perfect gown.”
 
Risteen from Simply Sophisticated Hat Studio had studied the gown and added lace appliqués to the edge of the veil for Christina. “I was the first Real Maine Wedding of the Year bride to wear a blusher!” Christina says. “Risteen designed a separate blusher so it could be taken off after the ceremony. Blushers are romantic, and when I wore it I really felt like a bride!”
 
While the girls were getting gorgeous at the Samoset Resort, the guys were listening to pump-up speeches in their cabin at Point Lookout Resort. “My groomsmen and I are all avid sports fans, so we listened to speeches from movies like “Miracle” and “Rocky” to get us ready for the day,” Luke says. 
 
For most of the groomsmen, this event was the first time they wore sophisticated suits. “It was nice to dress up out of our usual everyday attire,” Luke says. They dressed in their charcoal gray suits from Maine Coast Weddings & Special Events and Amber from Sweetest Thing Weddings helped the guys attach their boutonnieres from Hoboken Gardens. “Not to toot our own horns but, wow, what a great looking group of men!”
 
Luke and Christina also had Hoboken Gardens create corsages and boutonnieres for some of their important family members. “Our families didn’t know they were getting these, so when Melanie from Real Maine Weddings handed them out, the ladies in our families were excited,” Christina says. “The corsages made our moms and grandmother feel extra special at our wedding.”
 
Christina was elated when Lisa and Sharon from Hoboken Gardens dropped off the bouquets. “I loved my flowers!” Christina exclaims. “Lisa and Sharon put together the most stunning bouquet I have ever seen.” Luke thought the boutonnieres were perfect. “A touch of class and masculine enough for us guys,” he says. 
 
Once Christina was dressed in her gown, her mother helped her put on her bridal jewelry from Day’s Jewelers. “The drop earrings and necklace added just enough sparkle and highlighted the elegant pearls,” Christina says. The final piece of Christina’s look was the Sea Bags clutch. “I loved the nautical map design. My clutch and the wristlets added a fun element to our wedding outfits.”
 
After a rainy morning, Mother Nature decided to cooperate, and the sun came out in time for the First Look. When Christine from Real Maine Weddings mentioned having their First Look at the Breakwater, the couple excitedly agreed.
 
When Luke first saw Christina he was speechless. “I don’t think I said anything for what seemed like minutes,” he says. “She looked so beautiful, and I am so happy we shared that moment in that location.” Christina admits that the First Look was the most nervous she was all day. “I think I asked him, ‘Am I pretty?’ a few times before he said anything! I was hoping that he would fall in love with me all over again when he saw me for the first time in my dress.”
 
After formal portraits, everyone was escorted from the Samoset Resort to the Camden Amphitheatre for the ceremony in a coach from Northeast Charter & Tour Company. The Hoboken Gardens team had decorated the Amphitheatre site and Wallace Events provided the seating, which was set up facing the stone stairs. “The Amphitheatre was gorgeous!” Christina says. “What a perfect place to get married on a lovely fall day.” 

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Lucas Lanigan from Revolution DJ provided the music as the procession of family members and bridesmaids made their way down the aisle. “The whole time I was walking down the aisle with my dad I was trying not to cry tears of happiness,” Christina says. “When I made eye contact with Luke it really hit me that this was it. I was about to marry the love of my life.”
 
“I didn’t think that Christina walking down the aisle was going to be as emotional as it was because I had seen her at our First Look, but man was I wrong!” Luke says. 
 
Luke and Christina’s friend Joshua Newhall officiated the ceremony, which included a time capsule and personalized, heartfelt vows. “Writing those vows was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done,” Luke says. “When my pen hit the paper, it all just started to write itself.”
 
The couple exchanged their wedding bands from Etienne Perret to make it official. “We love our ceramic wedding bands,” Christina says. “Luke is still getting used to wearing a ring and we do gentle ‘ring bumps’ daily as a reminder that we’re married and we love our bands!”
 
After the ceremony Luke and Christina spent some time at the Camden Amphitheatre with photographers Cindy Giovagnoli and Mark McCall while their guests were brought back to the Samoset for the cocktail hour. By the time they rejoined their guests the sun was about to set and the bistro lights were glowing.
 
“We loved the set up of the cocktail hour on the green!” Christina says. “The LOVE ice sculpture was a great centerpiece and the view overlooking the Breakwater was more than perfect!” 
 
Guests grabbed their escort cards at the cocktail party and brought them inside to their table. The cards were attached to the hand painted buoys crafted by the Maine Wedding Artist. “Everyone loved the buoys Beth made,” Christina says. “One of my friends told me later that people were mingling more with people they didn’t know because everyone was trading buoys!”
 
The reception was held inside a gorgeous tent from Wallace Events. “The space was the perfect size for the number of guests we had, and we couldn’t believe how warm it was with the heaters!” Christina says. Lucas Lanigan from Event Lighting Concepts had spent the morning stringing bistro lights and chandeliers inside the tent. “These things really made a difference when it came to setting the mood for what we wanted at our wedding,” Christina says. 

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The tables were laid with the navy tablecloths, runners, chargers, flatware, and stemware, from Wallace Events, and Christina and Luke were elated with how they were expertly set. Hoboken Gardens created elegant high and low centerpieces with green, blue, yellow, and white flowers. Each setting had a pairing of Fiore Olive Oils and Vinegars, which the guests truly enjoyed. “We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful reception!”
 
The expert staff at the Samosest Resort served dinner—and it was delicious! “We had many guests come up to us during the meal and say it was the best meal that they had ever had,” Christina says. “The servers were friendly, full of smiles, and very quick!”
 
During the speeches the couple toasted with specially made toasting flutes from the Maine Wedding Artist. “Beth’s nautical design was perfect, and we toasted with Pumpkin Head Ale because it’s one of our favorite seasonal drinks,” Christina says.
 
The nautical-themed wedding cake created by Starlight Custom Cakes was a huge hit. “The design was incredible!” Christina says. “We would have never pictured that something like this could be made until we saw it at our wedding.” Sitting on Christina and Luke’s sweetheart table was a smaller cake with cake toppers created in the likeness of the couple’s two cats and their dog. “We wanted to include our pets without going crazy. Patricia from Starlight Custom Cakes really showed off how talented she is!”
 
Luke from Revolution DJ kept the party hopping all night long. “I didn’t step off the dance floor for anything!” Christina says. “The DJ played the perfect play list. I’ve never seen my family dance before, and you couldn’t get them off the dance floor.”
 
Throughout the reception Christina and Luke’s guests enjoyed posing in the photo booth from Maine to Boston Photo Booth. “Everything was customizable, and Jim Curtis, the owner, did a great job incorporating our theme and the things we cared about in the backgrounds,” Christina says. “The photo book we received as a gift from Jim still has us laughing. He collected all of the photos from the night and allowed our guests to comment in a book for us.”
 
At about 9 p.m. the last song was played and Christina and Luke exited the Samoset Resort with a sparkler send off. Everyone was invited to hop on the coach from Northeast Charter and continue the party at the bowling alley at Point Lookout Resort. “It was awesome having someone else take care of the driving for the day,” Christina says. “All of our guests really appreciated the transportation!”

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Christina, Luke, and their friends go bowling on a pretty regular basis, so it was fun to wind down on the lanes at Point Lookout. The arcade and the pool tables were also free to use. “There were activities for everyone, and no matter how exhausted everyone was, no one could stop themselves from taking advantage,” Christina says. There were all kinds of food to nibble on, too, including milk and cookies, mac and cheese, pizza, spring rolls, and more. “Everyone was pretty full from a day filled with eating, but everyone went back for more!”
 
All throughout the day, Christina and Luke were followed around by Matt Forcier of LMV Productions. “We were so excited to have Matt record our happy moments,” Christina says. “We’re looking forward to seeing the video he puts together!”
 
The couple also had three talented photographers capturing their every move. Cindy Giovagnoli from Cuppa Photography and Mark McCall from Mark McCall Photography were there from day one, capturing everything from their announcement as winners to their final kiss. Patrick McNamara Photography was on hand the day of the wedding to capture more of the important details. 
 
“Wedding photography was one of the most important things to us,” Christina says. “Couples are lucky to get one professional photographer at their wedding—but we got three wonderful ones! We felt so lucky that Mark and Cindy were documenting every real moment, not posed ones. We had such an amazing experience winning this wedding and love all of the people who were involved. No one could be luckier than to win this dream wedding.”

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