A Maine Affair With Southern Flair
Kelli & Conrad
Kelli and Conrad created the perfect pairing of northern air and southern flair for their coastal Maine wedding.
Kelli Wong from Bangor, Maine, and Conrad Williams from New Orleans, Louisiana, were thrown together as lab partners at Tulane University’s medical school for one reason: their last names both begin with “W”. They labored through anatomy labs, microscopic slides, and countless presentations for three years before they started dating.
Kelli and Conrad were both working as pediatric residents in South Carolina when Conrad decided to propose. “The hours of a pediatric intern are far from glamorous, and Conrad and I hadn’t had a weekend off together for a few months,” Kelli says. The couple made a plan to do something fun the last weekend of April 2010, which included dinner, mini golf, and a beach day with other interns.
Armed with an engagement ring and a rose made out of a palmetto leaf (a native tree to South Carolina), Conrad brought Kelli to a park overlooking the water and Fort Sumter to “kill time” before dinner. “We sat on a bench and talked about the previous year, laughing at funny stories and reminiscing about our medical mission trips abroad,” Kelli says. “Then he whipped out a palmetto leaf rose that had the most beautiful ring on it! He asked me to be his girlfriend forever and for once in my life, I was speechless,” Kelli says.
After a special five-course dinner, the couple headed to a nearby bar where Conrad arranged for all of their friends to gather and celebrate.
Kelli had always wanted to get married in Maine and, thankfully, Conrad and his family had a special affinity for the state—they evacuated there after Hurricane Katrina. Harpswell was just what they were looking for: a small town with beautiful views of Casco Bay. The couple had their ceremony at St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Chapel with their reception at the Harpswell Inn.
“We wanted it to be near Portland, since many people would be traveling from across the country,” Conrad says. “Harpswell isn’t too touristy and it gave our family and friends the opportunity to have a Maine vacation.”
Finding time to plan a Maine wedding from Charleston, South Carolina, proved to be a challenge for these two physicians. “We had a few intense wedding planning trips north and we booked our key vendors early on, so that took away a lot of stress,” Kelli says. “That allowed us more time to get creative and plan the details, which we loved.”
Kelli and Conrad created a special theme for their wedding: A Maine Affair With Some Southern Flair. “Conrad and I both have big families and come from different backgrounds,” Kelli says. “We wanted to blend some northern and southern traditions as well as my Chinese heritage.”
While Kelli did most of the planning, Conrad did have a few key requests. “I wanted a live band, open bar, and I did not want to have a formal sit down dinner,” he says. “After that I was willing to go with whatever.”
Since the couple wanted their wedding to be a celebration of both of their backgrounds, food was key. Their menu featured the best of north and south: Maine lobster salad and a potato bar alongside New Orleans gumbo and grits with Andouille sausage.
“You can’t find authentic grits just anywhere in Maine, so we spent a lot of energy making sure we picked the right caterer for our party—Michael Gagne from the Robinhood Free Meetinghouse,” Kelli says.
They also offered Maine brews and a signature drink featuring Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka and lemonade. To incorporate Kelli’s Chinese tastes, they gave their guests Chinese take-out boxes to fill with candy from the candy bar or fortune cookies as a parting gift.
Kelli and Conrad also had two special dances performed at their wedding: a Chinese dragon/lion dance and a New Orleans second line dance.
The dragon/lion dance is performed at weddings and the Chinese New Year celebrations. It’s said to scare away evil spirits and summon good luck and fortune for the future. While friends and family members banged away on drums, Kelli’s dad led the dance using a huge lion that has been in her family for generations. The second line dance is a parade dance performed at a variety of celebrations in the south. “We led the second line dance with our homemade parasols and our guests followed behind waving their handkerchiefs,” Kelli says.
Kelli and Conrad managed to do a lot of the planning and DIY projects themselves, but had a wealth of friends and family members who pitched in and helped out. Kelli designed the save the date cards, her stepmother drew them, and her cousin handled all the graphic design for their invitations. Conrad’s uncle performed the ceremony and his aunts created all the floral arrangements. “It was so wonderful to see how everyone helped to make our day beautiful, unique, and perfect,” Kelli says.
In Her Words
We asked the bride more about their special day. Here’s what Kelli says . . .
I’m so glad that . . . everyone had as much fun as we did.
One of my favorite moments was . . . when the church doors opened and I saw Conrad’s face as I walked down the aisle.
I really liked . . . our band! The Wavelength Band helped us create the fun, party feel we wanted all night long. People of all ages were on the dance floor and having a great time.
I didn’t realize . . . how truly special it would be to have our family and friends from different parts of our lives celebrate with us. It was so amazing to see them all have fun together.
My advice to other brides is . . . to take the time to put those special touches, which show your personalities, into your wedding and reception.