A Weekend of Wonderful
Melissa & Christian

This couple’s weekend wedding extravaganza 
had casual elegance written all over it.

Photography by Kivalo Photography

Melissa Gillooly and Christian Allen had been dating for 15 years before he finally popped the question. Despite the many years of prep time, Christian proposed with a temporary ring because the real one was still being made.

The “real ring” is a special diamond ring—one worth waiting for. Years spent living and working with Melissa in Africa influenced Christian’s decision to buy a synthetic diamond. He had been on a waiting list for years with a company to get their very first one-karat diamond. He was also working with a jeweler in their home state of Rhode Island to design the ring. But he couldn’t wait any longer to propose and had a temporary ring made.

On the morning of October 31, 2010, Christian used that temporary ring to ask Melissa to marry him on a beach in Rhode Island.

It would be safe to say that Melissa and Christian’s family and friends had been waiting for this day to come for years—and couldn’t wait to celebrate. The couple turned their wedding day into a wedding weekend, and invited everyone to stay at Camp Wildwood in Bridgton.

“We wanted a place that would inspire outdoor fun and activity, but also that would set a picturesque scene for the memories,” Melissa says. “Out of consideration for our guests, we wanted a place that wasn’t too far away or expensive. And we wanted them to feel as together as possible. Camp Wildwood is simply one of the nicest camps in the northeast and Woods Pond, which it sits on, is one of the most scenic lakes in the region.” And with 175 guests sleeping in cabins strewn around the camp, it was a casual, fun, and intimate gathering that no one will soon forget. “The location really hit on the things that are important to us as a couple, and we couldn’t imagine a better setting,” Melissa says.

The couple planned an amazing weekend for their guests with activities and personal touches galore. They renamed all 30 cabins with the names of places they had lived throughout their lives in order to make Camp Wildwood their own for their stay.

A group of their friends helped plan an Amazing Race activity (like the reality TV show) in which 80 people participated. Teams traversed their way across camp, taking part in activities that had them paddling a canoe with no paddles and recreating a famous historical scene with props but no talking. “There was a lot of fun and laughter,” Melissa says. “We had a great time and think that it mixed together friends from different parts of our lives.”

Their wedding day was just as thoughtful. “We worked together to create a ceremony that reflected us as a couple,” Melissa says.

“A close friend performed the ceremony, which helped make it incredibly personal. Christian and I wrote our own vows and many of our friends and family have told us that sharing these promises with each other was one of the most emotional and memorable parts of the weekend.”

And how do you even orchestrate an entire weekend of fun and food for 175 people? You get help! “Kelly Gendron, the director of events for Kitchen Chicks Catering, helped us with a lot of the planning and oversaw all of the logistics during the weekend,” Melissa says. “We also had endless amounts of help from our family and friends, and have them to thank for much of the great weekend as well.”

Most of that help from family and friends created the special details for Christian and Melissa’s big day. Melissa’s mom and a family friend created 200 lanterns made out of mason jars, wire, sand, and candles. “We used these for seating cards,” Melissa says. “Guests carried them from the lakeside ceremony to the lodge for dinner.” The reception table décor was also a labor of love. A family friend sewed 250 napkins out of vintage fabric that Melissa had bought for the occasion. One friend used moss to create the table numbers and another helped Melissa scour flea markets and antique stores for old medicine bottles for centerpieces. “We’re so lucky to have so many talented friends who were willing to help,” Melissa says.       
In Her Words
We asked the bride more about the special day. whyHere’s what Melissa says . . .

I wish . . . that we could do it again, year after year.

I’m so glad that . . . all the time spent planning and crafting added to the memories of the weekend and make them that much more wonderful.

I really liked . . . that our wedding ceremony and the entire weekend celebration felt like a true reflection of us as a couple.

I didn’t realize . . . that a weekend of celebrating after months of planning would go by so quickly and that I would feel so humbled and honored by everybody wanting to be there on our behalf.

My advice to other brides is . . . to constantly take a step back and ask yourself what is important to you. My husband was great about making us do this about everything and it played a major role in our wedding being a true representation of us and our relationship.

Maine Vendors
Photographer: Kivalo Photography
Ceremony & Reception: Camp Wildwood, Bridgton
Caterer: Kitchen Chicks Catering, Kenenbunk
Bridal Bouquett: Anniebells, Kennebunkport
Salon: Noelle Tanguay, Viola Hair & Day Spa, Westbrook
Desserts: Pies from Valley View Orchard Pies, Hebron; Cookies & Whoopie Pies, Kitchen Chicks Catering, Kennebunk