A Little Bit Country
Heidi & James
Heidi and James turned their wedding day into a weeklong celebration with their closest friends and family members in Maine's western mountains.
By Alyssa Kavanagh Planeta
Photography by Kim Chapman Photography
Heidi Farr's dream of finding a summer love like she had seen in the movies became a reality when she met James Vernier at The Old Club on Harsen's Island, Michigan. They had both decided to spend their college breaks working at the summer club; James happened to be bartending right next to Heidi's lifeguard post and his bright blue eyes immediately caught her attention. A few heart to hearts, a boat ride, and many hand delivered Shirley Temples later, Heidi and James were an item!

When Heidi ordered a full rack of ribs and a loaded sweet potato on their first date, James knew it was love. "I knew it was love on the train ride back from Chicago," Heidi says. "I opened the book he was reading to find that his bookmark was a drink ticket from one of the Shirley Temples he gave me at the pool. The fact that he saved one of these really got to me."

That magical first summer together eventually came to an end, and Heidi and James parted ways. Heidi was starting graduate school and James left for a semester abroad in France. "The time apart was hard on us," Heidi says. "James used most of the money he had saved for European adventures to fly me out there and to give me a dream vacation in Paris!" The long distance finally ended post-graduation, when the couple moved to Texas to start a life together.

Three and a half years after their first date, James planned a romantic proposal to take place on Christmas Eve. As holiday festivities were wrapping up, he pulled out a gold envelope with a wax stamp and handed it to Heidi. Inside the envelope there was a coin and a poem that read, "Before this night has concluded, you must take the contents I have included."

Heidi instantly knew what the note meant. She and James had a tradition of throwing a coin and making a wish at each fountain they encountered. "Each time I wished Jimmy would ask me to marry him," Heidi says.

That night, James took Heidi to Fountain Place in Downtown Dallas, one of her favorite spots in the city. Heidi made her wish and flipped the coin into the fountain. When she turned around, James was down on one knee. After her enthusiastic acceptance of his proposal, James climbed into the freezing cold fountain to retrieve the coin so that they could save it forever.

The couple knew they wanted to get married in Maine from the very start of the wedding planning process. "Heidi's whole family lives in New England, and there really is no better place to have a wedding in the summertime," James says.

Since the couple had so many relatives traveling to Maine from out of state, they wanted their wedding celebration to last an entire weekend. Heidi and James decided on the Ski Esta Mansion in Newry for both their wedding ceremony and reception. "The 10- bedroom Ski Esta offered us the opportunity to not only have a wedding, but to have a weeklong reunion between friends and family," James says.

Since Heidi and James made the road trip from Texas for the big day, they decided to bring a little bit of the south up to Maine. The Ski Esta Mansion and Covered Artist's Bridge helped them capture a country vibe. Southern flair was woven throughout the day, from James and the groomsmen wearing vintage Texan belt buckles to the cowboy caps and coonskin caps used as photo booth props.  

As guests arrived at the ceremony site on the lawn of Ski Esta, they were greeted with glasses of lemonade served by the youngest members of the wedding party from a lemonade stand. "Next to the stand was a wooden sign that had the names of places we stopped at on the way to Maine and how many miles away they were," says Heidi.

The ceremony was sweet and touching, with readings from Heidi's grandmothers and her emotional entrance. "My brother walked me down the aisle, as my father had just passed away a month earlier," Heidi says. "Although I was smiling ear to ear, I heard later that this moment was a real tear jerker." Heidi felt her father's presence throughout the ceremony as she had a locket with his picture inside her bouquet.

After saying their vows and sealing them with a kiss, Heidi and James took pictures with the wedding party on the Artist's Covered Bridge down the road. Meanwhile, the wedding guests were entertained with lawn games and a true southern-style cocktail hour, complete with sweet potato fries and signature drinks named after the summer club where Heidi and James met.

The couple originally planned to show everyone how to dance like a Texan, but with Heidi's father's passing, they didn't have the opportunity to take dance lessons. "We winged it. James picked me up, spun me around, dipped me, you name it," Heidi says. "We probably looked like a mess, but we had a blast and you could definitely feel the love in the room."   

In Heidi's Words
We asked the bride more about the big day. Here's what Heidi says . . .

I'm so glad that...we decided to hold our wedding at a vacation home. Since we live in Texas and don't get to see our family and friends often, we quickly ruled out having a wedding that lasted only a few hours. We used our wedding as an excuse to give everyone we love a little vacation!

One of my favorite moments was...when the clock hit 4:30 pm. The sun was shining, and it was time to walk down the aisle.

I didn't realize...how dedicated you need to be in order to get some good photos. I had no idea that I would be walking through a forest, over pebbles, and through a stream in my crystal adorned heals to get the best photos. Now, thinking back, our adventures in photography were some of our favorite and most hysterical memories of the day. After seeing the photos, I'm glad we chose to get dirty!

I wish…I could thank my bridesmaids and family every day for helping to make the wedding of my dreams become a reality. I had no idea how much work they would all need to do, and the fact they all did it with a smile melts my heart.

I really liked…being able to spend time with all of our guests since our wedding had only 75 people in attendance.

My advice is…buy a convertible dress. It was amazing to be able to shed the long silk skirt after the games were finished and just be able to let loose on the dance floor.

Maine Vendors

Ceremony & Reception: Ski Esta Mansion, Newry
Caterer: The Good Food Store & Catering Company, Bethel
Florist: Pooh Corner Farm, Bethel
Wedding Cake: Dorene's Creative Cakes, Norway