Maine’s Mountain Magic
Ben and Ryan's midcoast wedding on Mount Battie
When Ryan Reynolds traveled to Freeport to do a little shopping for Mother’s Day, he had no idea he would also meet the love of his life in Benjamin Dunbar, a classic case of being in the right place at the right time. After a run-in, while perusing the outlets, their meet-cute in the village ended with lunch. The two kept in touch after, and for almost the first full year of their relationship, their romance was long distance. “It wasn’t long into the relationship that I started to think that he was the one,” said Ben. “When I realized how many times I had driven over 3 hours to see him in the first few months, I knew something was up.” For Ryan, the feeling was mutual. “I knew I couldn’t go wrong hitching my wagon to his star,” says Ryan. Since then, the couple has learned from each other and grown together, and both say that they have adopted traits they admire from the other. “I was always drawn to how driven Ben was. He had goals, short term, and long term, some modest and some lofty. I liked that he was a man with a plan,” said Ryan. “I’d like to think this quality of his has rubbed off on me.” For Ben, he appreciated that Ryan made him laugh right away and always pushed him out of his comfort zone in a way that always felt right. “Together, we have grown and become better versions of ourselves,” said Ben.
While on vacation together in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, Ben had planned to set the stage for popping the question. Under the guise of “not wanting to fumble with a self-timer or take a selfie,” Ben had previously arranged for a photographer to capture the big moment in front of some of the most beautiful sites the park has to offer; Peyto Lake, the Canadian Rockies, and Victoria Glacier. Right at sunset, Ben proposed, and the photos of the big moment are some of the couple’s favorites.
When thinking about where they’d like to get married, Ben and Ryan wanted to stay true to their love of being outside and hiking. For the ceremony, they chose to exchange on the summit of Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park, which is accessible by road, with a reception that followed at 16 Bay View in downtown Camden. Hosting their wedding in Camden was the natural choice for the couple who would visit the seaside town multiple times a year. Both had grown up near the ocean, so choosing a locale close to the water was a must. With Ben having grown up in Southwest Harbor and Ryan in Kennebunkport, Camden was a relative midpoint between their two hometowns, which was convenient for both families. “We wanted to be near the ocean for the big moment,” said Ryan. “Exchanging vows on the mountaintop was the perfect location.”
When planning their wedding, the couple didn’t have a central theme for the day and knew that they wanted to keep the décor and everything else simple. “We wanted the nature of the location to speak for itself,” said Ben.
Highlighting natural elements was a crucial factor in the reception as well, and Ben and Ryan chose to incorporate live plants into the decor. The colors of the suits the couple decided to wear for the day were mirrored in colors chosen for the reception.
In keeping with their theme of simplicity, the couple elected not to have a large wedding party, choosing instead to focus entirely on their union. Ben and Ryan felt this kept the focus on joining their lives and not on the minutiae of trying to keep a wedding party on task.
In joining the ranks of couples in 2020, overcoming the hurdles thrown their way due to the pandemic, Ben and Ryan first rescheduled what was supposed to be a May wedding to October and created two guest lists for their family and friends. The first guest list was for the outdoor ceremony, where a larger group of (masked) guests were able to join to watch the couple exchange vows at the mountain’s summit. The second, more intimate guest list was for the indoor reception. “It was difficult to pick and choose, but our guests were very understanding of the restrictions in place at the time,” said Ben.
The couple had prepaid the State Park fees, so guests were encouraged to drive up and enjoy the view while they waited for the ceremony to start. The couple considered themselves lucky to have the opportunity to bend tradition, and each walked their mothers down the aisle. During the ceremony, Ryan and Ben exchanged vows they had written for each other.
“I went first, followed by Ben,” said Ryan. “It was incredible to hear how similar some of the moments in our vows were, even though we hadn’t previewed them with each other. It was emotional and exciting and more than we could have expected.”
Following the ceremony, the couple had a receiving line at the top of Mount Battie for the guests who would not be joining them down at the reception. In another break from tradition, the couple elected to only take a few photos on the day of in Camden Harbor, and returned to the site of their nuptials the following day back in their wedding finery to take portraits.
“This was one of our favorite things because we not only got to take our time and explore the mountain a bit more, but we also got to choose the optimal time of day for lighting without having to worry about scheduling issues.”
After photos at the harbor, the couple entered their reception. While the couple did have help from their loved ones and Audrey Knowlton from 16 Bay View, the couple prided themselves on doing most of the planning work themselves, from the floral arrangements to the boutonnieres worn during the ceremony. “Ben is very hands-on when it comes to any kind of project, and chances are he wouldn’t have been happy with the results if he hadn’t done it himself,” said Ryan affectionately. “We knew what we wanted, and we knew what we needed to do to make it happen.”
Ben and Ryan have both had an affinity for doing things their way, and the food they chose for their wedding was no exception. “We chose to do breakfast for dinner,” said Ryan. “It’s our favorite meal, and while it surprised a lot of guests, we think they really enjoyed it!”
The couple had their first dance immediately following their entrance into the reception, and each danced with their mothers following dinner before opening up the dance floor to their guests. The dancing continued into the night until, as the couple said, “the dancing wore them all out,” and the day came to a blissful close.
Photographer: Provencher Photography
Planner: Audrey Knowlton (reception layout), 16 Bay View
Venue/Caterer: 16 Bay View
Engagement Ring/Wedding Rings: Ellsworth Jewelers
Wedding cake: Janice Strout, Celebration Cakes
, Hulls Cove
Reception Music: Collin Spillane, Lucky Penny
Transportation: Northeast Charter & Tour
(they were incredible to work with and were very understanding when we had to cut the guest list and cancel the reservation.)