Katie McConnell and Colby Laflamme are one of the sweetest couples to ever enter the wedding of the year contest. We knew there was something special about them the first time we all met, and it was a thrill to watch their Maine wedding journey unfold…from land to sea!
By Reuben Bell
Photography by Kivalo Photography and Molly Breton and Co. Photography
When Katie McConnell and Colby Laflamme walked into the Portland Wedding Show in January of 2019, we had no idea that they would be the winners of the 2019 Wedding of the Year Contest. They happened to be the first couple that Reuben Bell, the new editor of the magazine, told about the contest on his very first day on the job. There was no way for them to foresee the incredible wedding journey they were about to embark upon. As soon as the winners were announced in March at the Freeport Wedding Show, the Real Maine Weddings team sprang into action and started making plans. Fausto from Blue Elephant Events and Catering and Christine, magazine publisher, immediately began working on the schedule for the planning days. Katie and Colby after being announced as the winners of the Maine Wedding Association Wedding Show in Freeport. The first planning day, held at the Saco offices of Blue Elephant Events and Catering, focused on florals with Elishia of E. Grace Design, place settings with Theresa of Peak Event Services, and the wedding cake with Linda of Mainely Wedding Cakes. Fausto deftly guided them through the process. “Colby and I were beyond excited to get started with the planning process. This meant it was really real!” Katie remembers. Patty from Kivalo Photography was there to document the day and to get to know Katie and Colby a bit. The first meeting of the day was with Theresa from Peak Event Services, to see and discuss the many different options for place settings for the rehearsal dinner and reception. “Colby and I were so impressed with the amount of detail and thought that goes into setting a table.” Katie says. “It was like Fausto was reading our minds because the pieces he was picking were exactly what we had been imagining.” A quick trip to the Peak Event Services showroom in Kennebunk followed. “The space was absolutely gorgeous,” says Katie, “from walls lined with linens, beautiful farm tables, lounge seating, and table settings. We started by picking out options for the rehearsal dinner and then moved on to the reception pieces. It was so hard picking because the options were endless and all truly stunning! Fausto is a design genius and having him there every step of the way was such a blessing.” After that, it was back to the office to meet with Elishia from E. Grace Design. “Elisha stopped in with beautiful arrangements in hand to discuss florals. Having Elishia there was extremely helpful because she not only suggested beautiful arrangements for the wedding, but also educated us a bit too! She was an absolute joy to work with and really helped us to envision how beautiful the wedding would be.” The final meeting of the day was with Linda from Mainely Wedding Cakes. “Cake time!” Katie says. “Linda arrived with cake and filling samples. Everything that we tried was heavenly and decadent, baked to absolute perfection. We talked about the design for our cake and Linda had some ideas that I never could have dreamed of myself. Linda’s energy and passion for what she does was incredibly infectious, and it was such a plea-sure to work with her.” After getting to know each other a bit more during this first planning day, we knew that we were going to have a great time working together.”
A couple of weeks later, Katie was off to planning day number two with her bridesmaids. This day was all about dresses! “The second day of planning was one for the books!” says Katie. “The day had finally come to pick out my wedding dress, a moment a lot of people dream about for their entire lives. I woke up with butterflies in my stomach.” Katie and her bridesmaids piled into the car and headed for Rockport, Maine where they were greeted by Kristin and Linda from Maine Coast Weddings and Special Events. Once again, Christine from Real Maine Weddings and Patty from Kivalo Photography were on hand to facilitate and document the day. “Linda and Kristin showed me around their adorable shop and took me to a rack of dresses that looked like they came straight from my Pinterest board!” Katie recalls. “I was looking for something whimsical and ethereal with a sleeve for the fall. I felt confident right away that I would be finding my perfect dress that day.” While the girls were selecting dresses for Katie to try on, one of her bridesmaids went outside to get Katie’s mom and dad on a FaceTime call from Florida. Everyone knew how important it was to Katie to have her parents involved on such a special day, and their efforts were greatly appreciated by the bride-to-be! Katie remembered later, “The dresses that Linda and Kristin had picked out for me were the most gorgeous dresses I have ever seen. It was very clear to me that they are pros at what they do and are great at listening to what brides are looking for. They helped make me feel so comfortable and more beautiful than I have ever felt in my life. It was an overwhelming, emotional experience and I’m so lucky to have had Linda, Kristin, my group of girls, Christine, and Patty there to share it with me.” After a satisfying morning focusing on the wedding dress, Katie and crew headed to The Henry’s Bridal Boutique in Bangor, Maine to meet with owner Molly and look at bridesmaids' dresses. “My bridesmaids got to look through endless racks of dresses and pick out their favorites and try any and all of them on. It was so fun to see what each girl picked out and see everyone’s personality come through with their choices. At one point, I got emotional watching each of them and how beautiful they all looked. I felt so grateful for this experience and for all of the amazing people in my life. It is truly such a blessing.” Colby also made a trip to The Henry’s with his groomsmen to select their wedding tuxedos. The Henry’s team helped make some great decisions with Colby choosing a beautiful wine-colored tuxedo for himself, and black for his groomsmen. These paired perfectly with the custom-made ties and pocket squares from The Maine Square. After a fun afternoon comparing and contrasting and debating colors and styles, dresses were selected, with expert help from Molly and her team. “Each girl ended up with a favorite dress, each unique in its own way and perfect for them. We really couldn’t have done it without Molly and her incredible knowledge and friendliness. It was such a treat to get to work with her and have her on our team. She was so positive and welcoming and her passion for what she does really shined through.” Reflecting on this exciting day, Katie remembered, “This was a day I will never forget for the rest of my life. It will forever hold such a special place in my heart and I’m so thankful to have been given the opportunity.”
Planning day three brought Katie and Colby back to the sea and to Portland, visiting Portland’s Custom House to discuss the rehearsal dinner, RíRá Irish Pub to plan the welcome party, Day’s Jewelers to select jewelry, and Dube Travel to discuss details of their honeymoon at the Marigot Bay Resort in St. Lucia. They were joined by planner Fausto of Blue Elephant Events and Catering and Christine from Real Maine Weddings. Molly and Victoria of Molly Breton & Co. were on hand to document the day in photographs. Upon entering Custom House, Katie remembers that “we were immediately over-whelmed with how stunning this building was, with beautiful checkered floors, sprawling marble counters, gold leaf ceilings, and gorgeous wood details throughout. In the center of the hall there is a large walnut spherical clock that stands with a writing surface, outfitted with scrolls and quills. This gave me major Harry Potter vibes, which was an added bonus.” After finishing at Custom House, the group headed to RíRá Irish Pub to talk about the welcome party. “Colby and I are huge fans of RíRá,” Katie says, “so having our welcome party here really felt meant to be!
We met with Desiree who took us up to the 2nd floor where we saw the upstairs bar, parlor area and Bay View Room. It is such a gorgeous, bright and airy space, with large windows overlooking the water. After drooling over how beautiful everything was, we sat down to discuss what food we would have at the welcome party. It was clear Desiree is a pro at this, as she was giving her suggestions of fish and chips, lobster egg rolls (yes, please!) and an oyster bar.” After a productive meeting and a fun team lunch, the crew headed over to Day’s Jewelers to talk about wedding jewelry. Katie recalls, “Colby and I don’t know much about jewelry, so we were a little nervous going into this.” After meeting Leo from Day’s Jewelers, they realized that they were in good hands. “Leo had such fun energy and instantly made us feel comfortable and like we were an extension of the Day’s family. We first looked at wedding bands for both of us and it was clear that he had a wealth of knowledge on the subject. He even picked out wedding band options that would complement my engagement ring. After Colby and I were done picking wedding bands we moved on to wedding jewelry. It was such a special, humbling moment. This opportunity is definitely one I will NEVER forget.” The final stop on day three was at Dube Travel to talk about the honeymoon at Marigot Bay Resort on St. Lucia. “We talked about the unbelievably beautiful resort where we would be staying and the surrounding area. We went over possible excursion options, transportation, and food. We left the meeting feeling even more excited than when we walked in. We couldn’twait to spend our first week as newlyweds on this incredible island!
Katie and Colby then made a special appointment to talk about their wedding invitations with Jessica from Zula Bell. “Working with Jessica was so easy and felt like we were meeting with an old friend,” Katie remembers. “Going into this, we had a slight idea of what we wanted for invitations, but Jessica helped show us how gorgeous and meaningful our invitation suite could be. She came prepared with dozens of examples of invites she had done in the past, color swatches, paper examples, etc. She heard our vision and came up with something better than we ever could have imagined.” Three suites were submitted and went up for a public vote online. The finished product was truly stunning!
The final planning day had team Katie & Colby heading to Waterford, Maine, to talk about the main event: the ceremony and reception at Bear Mountain Inn. Katie remembers feeling nervous: “Colby and I woke up on the fourth day of planning with butterflies in our stomachs. This was the day that we were going to finally visit the location where we will start the rest of our lives together.” Those nervous feelings quickly dissipated as soon as they arrived at Bear Mountain Inn. “We made the scenic drive to Bear Mountain Inn in Waterford and were greeted by Fausto —who I now referred to as my ‘Wedding Dad’ —from Blue Elephant Events and Catering, innkeepers Brian and Julie Sullivan, and Molly and Victoria from Molly Breton & Co. Photography. We started with a tour from Brian and Julie and were wowed by all of the work they have put into each room. We just felt at home here, like we wanted to curl up in one of their rooms by a fireplace and never leave! “Katie and Colby immediately fell in love with Bear Mountain Inn. “After the tour of the Inn, we continued on to the rest of the property, where we were met by Julie and Brian’s adorable pups, Maci and Mackenzie. Colby and I are huge animal lovers, so the fact that this venue is dog friendly is a major plus for us! We saw the cozy fire pits and imagined how fun it will be to sit by them this fall with our family and friends. We walked to the spot where we will be saying ‘I Do,’ the Lake Patio that overlooks Bear Pond and then to the barn to see the reception space. It was a perfect marriage of rustic charm and classic elegance. From Brian and Julie’s warmth, the beauty of the Inn, barn and surrounding property, to the best butterscotch oatmeal cookies ever, Bear Mountain Inn could not be more perfect. “Once the tour concluded, it was time to plan the wedding reception menu with Heather from The Good Food Store & Catering Company. “Heather knew prior to meeting us that we were big taco fans, and she had prepared some personalized menus for us to look over. We discussed having a taco bar with assorted toppings and how none of our friends or family would be surprised if we planned this. She helped us pick out appetizers that would complement each other and the sprawling taco bar that we would have. “Next, Katie and Colby met with Mary from Mountainess Handmade —maker of all sorts of thoughtfully packaged, high quality candles, lip balms, soaps, and deodorants made from organic oils and plastic free pack-aging, to select their wedding favors. “Colby and I are obsessed with candles,” says Katie, “especially ones that are environmentally friendly and locally made. She brought handfuls of candles for us to sniff, all in tins with beautiful hand-designed labels. Mary was so fun to meet with and another great reminder of how important local businesses are to us and to the Maine way of life!” After months of preparation, the wedding weekend finally arrived. The festivities began with a wonderful welcome party at RíRá Irish Pub in the heart of Portland’s Old Port. Katie and Colby’s friends and family met with the vendor team for an evening of great food and conversation. Katie even made gift baskets for every participating vendor with home-made bread and maple butter, and special homemade dog treats! Desiree and her team from RíRá provided the bar and some wonderful food, including lobster egg rolls, Maine oysters, and a selection of creative passed hors d’ouvres. The next night found Katie and Colby’s team boarding a bus from Maine Limousine Company and riding in style from Bear Mountain Inn back to Portland, to the US Custom House for the rehearsal dinner. Blue Elephant Events and CateringPeak Event ServicesE. Grace Design, and Mainely Wedding Cakes joined forces and put together a gorgeous dinner experience in the beautiful historic space. Nearly 30 guests joined Katie and Colby for appetizers and dinner, which included mini cheeseburger sliders, spanakopita, and a duel entrée of chicken saltimbocca and roasted filet of salmon with mango salsa, paired with roasted asparagus and fingerling potatoes. After dinner, Katie and Colby presented their bridal party with gifts and ran through the ceremony rehearsal. At the end of the evening, they boarded the bus back to Bear Mountain Inn to continue celebrating and getting ready for the big day.
On a blustery mid-October day, it was finally time to see the finished product! Katie and Colby’s wedding day. It was fun for the Real Maine Weddings team to see everything fall into place after so many months of careful planning and discussion. “Katie and Colby were a dream to work with,” says wedding planner Fausto Pifferrer of Blue Elephant Events and Catering. “The entire team was looking forward to seeing their faces as the day unfolded.” As Colby and his groomsmen got ready in their rooms in the Inn, Katie and her bridesmaids spent the morning in the Post and Beam Suite getting ready with Lena from Hair That Moves and Christine from The Crown Boutique working their magic with hair and makeup. Angela and Becky from Pratt Abbott spent the morning carefully steaming and pressing the dresses and suits in preparation for the ceremony. After spending the morning dressing and getting ready with hair and makeup, the wedding party and guests staying at the Inn broke for a casual lunch in their respective getting ready areas. Anticipation was running high, and everyone was ready for the festivities to begin. When it was time for the first look, Molly and Victoria escorted Katie to the edge of Bear Pond to wait for Colby. Fausto walked Colby down for the big moment. When the time was right, Katie approached Colby, who then turned to see his bride framed by the gorgeous natural backdrop of the pond and the grounds of Bear Mountain Inn. After a few tears and some laughter, Katie and Colby and the team made their way back up the hill to the Inn to prepare for the ceremony. The ceremony was officiated by Colby’s aunt, with guests facing beautiful Bear Pond. Breaking from tradition, Katie decided to position her bridesmaids to the right and Colby and his groomsmen to the left. The ceremony was full of laughter and happy tears as Katie and Colby said “I Do” in front of their friends and family in the crisp fall air, surrounded by love and the beautiful natural setting at the Inn. As the guests erupted in happy cheers and applause, Katie and Colby and the wedding party exited the ceremony site, excited for the reception to come. Cocktail hour was a whirlwind of well-wishing and happy greetings by Katie and Colby’s gathered family and friends. Passed hors d’ouvres from The Good Food Store & Catering Company were a preview of the evening’s Mexican feast, and included both chicken and cheese Smoked Jalapeño Poppers, Tequila Lime Grilled Shrimp, and Beef and Bean Enchilada Cups. The passed hors’ d’ouvres were supplemented by a beautiful Cheese and Charcuterie Board at the edge of the barn’s patio. Special mention must go to the hot crab dip which, according to the guests in line, was a showstopper! Another highlight of the cocktail hour was the presence of The Roaming Speakeasy –an elegant and fun super mobile bar in a retrofitted horse trailer. Tucked into a corner next to the barn, The Roaming Speakeasy served as the cocktail hour bar, and friendly bartenders served a variety of drinks to the crowd. Katie and Colby even took a minute to pose inside the trailer for an impromptu photo! After cocktail hour, guests were ushered into the barn at Bear Mountain Inn and were speechless at the décor put together by the team. A dramatic wall of florals drew attention to the sweetheart table and was echoed in the centerpieces at each table. Ivy climbed up the center posts of the barn adding a whimsical feel to the decor. The tablescapes from Peak Event Services sparkled in the candlelight, and a balsam candle from Mountainess Handmade was carefully placed at each setting. After welcome toasts, guests were called into the adjoining game room where they were greeted by the friendly staff from The Good Food Store & Catering Company and an amazing build-your-own-taco spread that featured an impressive array of fillings, sides, and toppings. Katie and Colby got their wish – wedding tacos! “The food at our reception was some of the best I have ever had. People are still coming to me, weeks later, saying that it was the best food they have ever had at a wedding. They put out every taco bar ingredient we could have ever wanted —the fish tacos were my absolute favorite! —and there was a street “The food at our reception was some of the best I have ever had. “corn salad that was to die for. Their appetizers for the cocktail hour also had everyone talking. I’m a big lover of jalapeño poppers and The Good Food Store & Catering Company makes a smoked jalapeño popper like you have never had. It was truly one of my favorite things I have ever eaten. We had a ton of leftovers, so we were able to enjoy it all over again with our family the next day,” says Katie. After dinner, guests enjoyed the photo booth provided by Maine to Boston Photo Booth Company and filled the dance floor until the last possible second with tunes curated by Jason from The Music Man DJ Service
Throughout the day, Katie and Colby were closely followed by a fantastic photography and video team that include Molly and Victoria from Molly Breton & Co., Patty from Kivalo Photography, and Luke from Life in Focus. Their unobtrusive style ensured that each and every special moment was captured. “Having cameras follow us around isn’t exactly a normal thing for us,” Katie says, “so having people like these to help ease the nerves was beyond helpful.” 
After the whirlwind wedding weekend, Katie and Colby left for their honeymoon at the beautiful Marigot Bay Resort in St. Lucia. Katie recalls that the resort’s hospitality and excellent customer service started before they even left Maine. “Our experience with Marigot Bay started before we actually got to St. Lucia. A few days before, we were called by Carleen, our ‘personal assistant.’ We had a lovely 20-minute conversation where she told me all about the resort and then asked us things like what our favorite foods were, if she could help book anything for us, favorite drinks, etc. Sometimes traveling to a country you have never been to can be a bit nerve wracking, so having a conversation with someone from Marigot Bay prior to flying out, eased our nerves a lot.” Katie and Colby got the royal treatment assoon as they got to the resort. No detail was left out! “When we got to Marigot Bay, we were greeted by Carleen and her team. They gave us some of their signature pomegranate rum punch, which was just what we needed after a day of traveling! They took our bags up to our room for us and gave us a quick tour before heading to our suite. This place was big and definitely luxurious. What impressed us the most was not just how beautiful our suite was, but how personalized it was. They left us a bottle of champagne, a framed picture of us from our wedding, and delicious sweets with a ‘Happy Honeymoon!’ written in chocolate. The fridge was stocked with beverages and there were flowers all over our bed and floor. What a way to get a honeymoon started! The rest of our time there was spent primarily relaxing around the pool, making new friends and eating lots of yummy food. “We checked out both pools and could not pick a favorite, so we alternated each day. We found the infinity pool was quieter with less people, good for taking a nap in your own cabana. The larger pool was where we would go when we were ready to wake up a bit, have a drink and some good conversation or a good swim. You can’t go wrong either way, really. “We ate dinner at The Rum Cave (an amazing tapas restaurant with a super swanky ambiance), had sushi at the pool bar and breakfast every morning at The Grill. This is a breakfast buffet unlike any you have ever had. I still miss it!” Katie remembers St. Lucia and the experience at Marigot Bay fondly. “St. Lucia was gorgeous, friendly, relaxing and everything you would want a vacation or honeymoon to be. The weather was perfect everyday—80s and sunny with a bit of a breeze. The people are some of the friendliest we have met. The food and drinks (ask LB at the pool bar to make you a mojito) are unmatched. We can’t wait until we can go back!" We wish Katie and Colby the very best in the future. We enjoyed getting to know them and their families this year!