A Cliffside Wedding
Megan And Matthew plan a romantic coastal wedding in Cape Neddick
By Susan Grieve
In late 2014, Megan Donnelly and Matthew Philbin reluctantly agreed to meet over dinner and live music with mutual friends. Neither liked the idea of being “set up”, but finally relented. In spite of their hesitation, a bond was formed, and that fateful first date is now referred to as “the best day ‘eva!”
“We covered everything from food, music, and sports, to childhood, family, and goals,”
Megan remembers. “Our compatibility was affirmed at the end of the night when he said
that our next date should be a Celtics game, and that was it, we have been together ever
since.” Matthew adds that “As our time together went on, we discovered our paths likely passed over the years, being from the same area and with both our families for generations having vacationed in southern Maine. We each had memories of walking the
Marginal Way in Ogunquit, in hitting the Scoop Deck on the way back…a tradition we
After dating for several years, Matthew decided to propose in a carefully executed romantic weekend in Wells, Maine. “Maine is a very special place for our families, both of whom have spent summers on Wells Beach and Drake’s Island for years,” says Megan.
“When a property-related matter needed attention in April 2018, Matt and I headed to Wells for the weekend. It had been a cold and rainy couple of months, so I didn’t hesitate when he suggested we stop in Ogunquit to stretch our legs on Marginal Way. We took our time walking and stopped off at some of our favorite viewing points. We stopped a bit longer at one particular spot — where a beautiful photograph of Matt’s mother was captured decades before — and we looked out over the cliffs, remembering her this day as it was her birthday. I turned around to Matt on one knee and was overcome with emotion. He completely surprised me and made the proposal so incredibly meaningful. I didn’t realize he’d planned the entire weekend until after we checked in to The Anchorage, where gorgeous flowers and champagne were waiting.”
After considering many different options for their wedding, Megan and Matthew always came back to the same basic want: a summer wedding in Maine. Megan recalls, “Given the timing, a summer 2019 wedding seemed impossible, but my sister, Molly-Kate Donnelly accepted the challenge. Matt and I already loved the history and location of Cliff House, but neither of us had visited the property post- extensive renovations.” Megan, Matthew, and Molly-Kate drove up in mid-May 2019 to start imagining the possibilities at one of their favorite spots: Cliff House in Cape Neddick, Maine. “We were sold just walking down the lobby stairs to the lounge area. The combination of its contemporary design with its historical ties, and the luxury amenities with New England comfort aligned with every element we’d been thinking but couldn’t describe ourselves. The property’s size, layout, and operations also ensured a safe and comfortable environment for the number of guests, their age range, and any/all special accommodations necessary.”
The couple quickly decided to hold their wedding at the Cliff House, with their ceremony on the North Lawn and the reception in the Atlantic Ballroom. Megan remembers feeling that the Cliff House was so special that she didn’t necessarily need a “theme” to make the wedding weekend memorable. “Cliff House is so spectacular on its own. We incorporated personal touches in subtle ways that we could appreciate, but that really just highlighted the remarkable features of Cliff House. Rather than a theme, we wanted to create a feeling that would provide our guests with unique, lasting, and joyful memories.” Again, Megan’s’ sister stepped up to help with the planning.
“We are so thankful we took every recommendation she made. Planning seemed overwhelming and tedious. Molly made the process enjoyable. She knew what complimented us. We can’t thank her enough, for planning the most perfect day ever!”
With Molly on planning duties, the wedding came quickly. Before they knew it, Megan and Matthew were ready to walk down the aisle. Guests were greeted with glasses of champagne as they entered the North Lawn for the ceremony, and the Conscious Reggae Band played “Over the Rainbow” in tribute to Megan’s grandmother. Megan’s father, John Donnelly performed the ceremony. “The only direction given to him was to keep the ceremony joyful, engaging and brief,” says Megan. “From the beginning with his address to the guests, to the promises of marriage which included to improve our pickle ball game and sharing our cones at the scoop deck. He ended the ceremony by asking the guests to join him in a rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’. We will always remember looking back at our guests smiling and singing together, a song that brings memories and celebrations to us all. And complete strangers, young and old, were singing along from their balconies and the family pool at the Cliff House. Then - off we went for photographs on the beautiful cliffs at the Cliff House, and a wonderful cock- tail hour, reception, dinner and dancing in the Atlantic Ballroom.”
Megan and Matthew look back fondly on their wedding day in Maine — a day full of family, friends, and love.
One of my favorite moments was
... the fireworks … yes, fireworks!!! They were spectacular.
I’m so glad that
... [we hosted] the wedding wind down at the lobster shack, with late night snacks, with family and friends coming from all over to celebrate.
I will always remember that
... everything about September was magical. A part of us is always
Venue/Caterer: Cliff House
, Cape Neddick
Photography: Elizabeth Ivy Photography
Florist: Minka Fine Flowers
Wedding Cake + Dessert Buffet: Bear Brook Bakery
, New Gloucester
Linens: Marshall Rental
Transportation: Ogunquit Trolley Company