Photography by Kivalo Photography and Molly Breton & Co.
January 2020 arrived at Real Maine Weddings, and the 10th annual Wedding of the Year contest launched with the usual fanfare. Over the next few weeks, dozens of excited couples created submission videos in hopes that they would win this dream wedding package. The twists and turns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic were just around the corner, and none of us knew it. Just before the of the winning couple, the
world went into complete lock down, and the Real Maine Weddings team had to think fast and come up with a way to keep the contest rolling along even as we navigated the new rules and regulations. For the first time, the winners were announced virtually via zoom. Our three finalists watched from home, and Editor Reuben Bell announced the winners —Rachel and Adam — from his living room. We were officially off and running! It felt odd to us and strangely comforting that we could continue despite the unfamiliar new circumstances.
Rachel remembers the feeling of excitement mixed with apprehension as the contest unfolded as well.
“We had so much fun making our Real Maine Weddings contest entry video together on the days leading up to the announcement on Valentine’s Day. After work, we spent our nights looking through old photos of us and reliving our engagement. After much debate, we found the perfect song and submitted our video. The voting period was very exciting — and stressful — as our friends, families, co-workers, and even strangers rallied for us to win our dream wedding. We never imagined at the beginning of the contest that we would win. As the Freeport wedding Show approached and the contest voting closed, we started to get our hopes up. However, an unexpected heaviness was in the air as the real- ness of the pandemic began to settle in. The wedding show was canceled to keep the public safe, but Real Maine
Weddings did not let that spoil the day. We all joined a Zoom call where third, second, and first place winners were announced. Our loved ones watched from all over the country via Facebook Live as we were announced the winners! We could not believe that we had just won our dream wedding!
And during a pandemic nonetheless! We cannot wait to share this unbelievable story with our future children one day. It is a story for the ages.”
Planning began cautiously at first, via more Zoom meetings. It felt good for everyone involved to be making progress safely and simply proceeding with this exciting project as we were all going stir- crazy at home during quarantine.
Rachel remembers the excitement of those early virtual planning meetings fondly.
“With uncertainty about travel and meeting in person, we had our first unofficial planning day via Zoom with the Real Maine Weddings team. It was so much fun, and they were full of great ideas. We felt an instant connection and knew we were in great hands for our special journey. We loved Fausto’s sense of humor, Reuben’s calming presence, and Christine’s radiating warmth. It was obvious they were industry experts with all the super helpful tips, tricks, and suggestions they provided.”
As the process began, the planning meetings were a first for the Real Maine Weddings team: completely virtual dress shopping experiences.
“The pandemic prevented us from meeting some of the vendors in person, so Real Maine Weddings and the vendors came together to give us a wonderful virtual experience. We met Molly from The Henry’s Bridal Boutique and Formal Wear
and browsed some bridal party attire. It was exciting to
watch her mix and match options on the mannequins right before our eyes. She totally read our minds, which made the experience even more enjoyable.
“We are huge foodies and were excited to meet Sarah of Stone Cove Catering
to craft our rehearsal dinner menu. October is our favorite month, so clearly, it was a must to incorporate local autumn flavors into our dishes. Sarah’s colorful spreads on Instagram and her culinary knowledge blew us
away. We seriously cannot wait to dive into her dishes the night before our wedding.”
An in-depth session followed these meetings to discuss wedding invitations.
“Wedding invitations set the mood of a wedding, so we were looking for something nautical yet elegant. Jessica Thibodeau at Zula Bell
walked us through ideas via Zoom and even mailed us color swatches. She nailed our design on the first draft, and we couldn't’t believe it! We couldn't’t wait for our guests to receive these beautiful invites to our most special day.”
The apprehension caused by the pandemic didn't’t dampen the spirits of Rachel and her bridesmaids and family as they journeyed to Maine to make their first stop on this wedding journey —dress shopping at The Henry’s Bridal Boutique
in Bangor, Maine! The first in-person planning day was finally scheduled after hunkering down for a few months and navigating through travel restrictions. All protocols were followed, and Rachel and her team could gather safely to start the process. Christine Parker, publisher of Real Maine Weddings
, and Molly, owner and photographer, from Molly Breton &Co
. joined the group on this first trip. Rachel remembers that first in-person meeting well!
“The first official in-person planning day was wedding dress shopping at The Henry’s Bridal Boutique and Formal Wear
in Bangor. It was a long drive from Boston, but totally worth it! The drive was scenic and easy because Adam kindly drove us. He’s a keeper! He went sightseeing around Bangor while we girls shopped the entire day. We finally got to meet part of the Real Maine Weddings team on this planning day in person! Christine was so friendly and fun to work with. Molly was ready for us by pulling gowns ahead of time that she thought would look beautiful on me."
This made the process less stressful and kept things more sanitary with the current situation. She even made adorable nautical masks for my bridesmaids and a sophisticated mask with pearls for me.
Those little touches were so appreciated and made the day run smooth. The Henry’s had a gorgeous
collection of wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses. Molly figured out my style quickly after just a few dress changes. She started pulling dress after dress like she was reading my mind. I’m short and can be indecisive, so I was nervous about not finding THE dress. But Molly’s superpowers prevailed, and we found three beautiful gowns worthy of voting. There was one particular dress that stood out, though. I looked beautiful, and it was my style. But how I felt in it was the magical part. All I could think about was Adam whenever I put that dress on. That’s how I knew it was THE one. I cannot thank The Henry's’s enough for a beautiful day and the biggest keepsake of my life. Our wedding began to feel natural after picking out my wedding dress. Adam could feel the excitement radiating off me for days after dress shopping.”
As things finally began to feel more real, Rachel and Adam looked forward to the next planning day. This one promised to be full of excitement as the team met with Farmhouse Florals by Estabrook’s
, toured Sebasco Harbor Resort
in Phippsburg, Maine Maritime Museum
in Bath, and the Church of the New Jerusalem
, also in Bath. Patty Takacs from Kivalo Photography joined the group to document the trip.
“We marked the days on our calendar leading up to the next planning day because we could not wait to see our venue! The day finally arrived, and we had beautiful weather. We pulled up to Sebasco Harbor Resort and took our time admiring the gorgeous land- scaping and sweeping water views. We looked at each other with huge smiles, because we knew this was a very special place. Fausto, our wedding planner from Blue Elephant Events and Catering, was waiting inside for us to begin a fun day filled with food tastings, flowers, and tours. It was our first time meeting him in person, but you wouldn't’t know it. We all instantly clicked, even with masks covering our faces.
“Flower arrangements with Ashley Dyer from Farmhouse Florals by Estabrook’s
were first on the agenda. I grew up in a house exploding with plant life and developed a great love for flowers, so I was excited when I saw pictures of Ashley’s incredible work! Ashley took the time to comb through our Pinterest and make a few storyboards tailored to our style. We both instantly fell in love with her ideas, which were Pinterest- worthy themselves! We couldn't’t wait to see her creations come to life on our big day. Her ideas for the church sound like a fairy tale, and we cannot wait to see how Patty and Molly capture it all on camera.”
Of course, everything was carefully documented by one of the photographers assigned to the wedding.
“Patty from Kivalo Photography
joined us for the day, making us feel extra special. We took some cute photos around the resort and soaked in the beautiful day. Our favorite moment was checking out the vintage bowling alley on the resort and having Patty snap some photos. Our first date was bowling,
so we planned to incorporate the resort’s vintage candlepin bowling alley into our special weekend.An extra perk of having Patty there was all the candid photos she took, and we cannot wait to see the images. The food tasting at Sebasco Harbor Resort
was fun and relaxing. Each course was delicious and came
with a paired wine pour. This was an excellent way to unwind in the middle of a busy planning day, and we really enjoyed it.”
Next on the agenda was a trip to the Maine Maritime Museum
“We drove down the street to check out our rehearsal dinner venue, Maine Maritime Museum
. We could not have been more excited to incorporate a nautical New England vibe into our wedding. The museum and the property are so lovingly cared for, and it shows. Our rehearsal dinner was to be in a cozy room overlooking the water, which we knew would be perfect after an October boat cruise with our guests. Lastly, we stopped at the Church of the New Jerusalem
. This charming, old white church sits pretty on a hill in Bath. It’s a storybook wedding church, and we cannot wait to see it filled with our loved ones. Ashley from Farmhouse Floral by Estabrook’s
had some amazing ideas to make this church even more beautiful.”
Momentum picked up, and things felt a bit more normal as Rachel and Adam moved into the next phase of the planning process. Next on the agenda was a day with Steward and Porter Travel by Dream Vacations
to discuss the honeymoon plans, a meeting and tour at Agora Grand Event Center in Lewiston to talk about the welcome party, and a stop at Affordable Events
in Oxford to choose wedding rentals for the rehearsal dinner and reception. This day was documented by Molly from Molly Breton & Co.
, who even took photos of Rachel and Adam in the former church crypt at Agora Grand
“We met the Real Maine Weddings team at the end of April for our third official planning day. Spring was here, and the long quarantine of winter was finally over! It felt so good to stretch our legs and resume wedding planning. We began the day with a bang by discussing our honeymoon to Saint Lucia! We could not think of a better way to start the day. Marigot Bay Resort
generously gave us a week-long honeymoon!
“We enjoyed coffee and sunshine outside a café with the Real Maine Weddings team. That’s
where they introduced us to Maria from Steward and Porter Travel by Dream Vacations
. Maria is an expert travel agent who kindly donated her time and talent to give us an unforgettable honeymoon. We felt a little nervous about travel due to our inexperience and the ever-changing pandemic rules.However, we felt a connection with Maria and were instantly put at ease. She walked us through little details like flights, food, adventure, and safety. She gave us some great insider tips and recommendations as well.”
From there, the team traveled to Lewiston, to the renovated church that is now Agora Grand Event Center.
Rachel remembers her experience of seeing the venue for the first time.
“Our jaws dropped upon entering the historic neo-Gothic style church with 55- foot ceilings and shimmering stained glass windows. The place is a masterpiece. The owner, Billie, warmly welcomed us with a full tour. After that, we got to business planning the welcome party with Billie and Fausto. We decided on a simple and elegant aesthetic to let the stunning architecture shine. From there, we just needed to find welcome party outfits grand enough for this stunner of a venue!”
Next up was a trip to Oxford to discuss rental equipment at Affordable Events
“Our third stop was Affordable Events
to design our tablescapes. The owners, Scott and Necole, welcomed us enthusiastically. Fausto and Necole jumped right to work and created three beautiful themes. It would have taken us forever to create something half as nice without their guidance. We were excited to have the public vote on their favorite!”
The last stop of the day was one that Rachel and Adam had been looking forward to for a long time:
wedding rings and jewelry at Day’s Jewelers
in South Portland.
“We started the day with honeymoon planning, so we had to end it with an even bigger bang…WEDDING BANDS! We felt like kids in a really nice candy store, but with champagne and diamonds.
Kristin Kennedy of Day’s Jewelers
took great care of us. She was incredibly patient and narrowed down our personal style right away. We were able to find several wedding bands each for public voting, and we cannot wait to see the winners. We also picked out some stunning crystal jewelry — and something blue — to wear for the wedding. Overall, it was a truly wonderful day that even felt a little magical.”
As Rachel and Adam found themselves nearing the end of the planning process, they found time to take advantage of a couple of other fun activities included in the Wedding of the Year package. A trip to the Regency Spa in Portland
was the perfect way to relax, unwind, and get into the wedding mood. They followed this with a fun session at Board and Brush
in Portland, where they created some beautiful DIY wooden signs, including one that would feature prominently at their reception.
The final planning day scheduled with the team was a trip to Saco.
“Our next planning day couldn't’t come fast enough, so we were happy to hit the road for Maine again a few weeks later. We giddily talked about our wedding and played our wedding playlist on the ride up from Boston. All those little touches made us feel special and made an already great day even better!We arrived at the Blue Elephant Events
office to a lovely welcome sign. Fausto is known to gift his clients a little blue elephant keepsake, and we were excited to be given one that day. Our little blue elephant sits lovingly on our desk at home and serves as a reminder for wonderful days ahead.”
Next was a meeting that Rachel and Adam had been looking forward to for a long time. It was finally time to talk about the wedding cake!
“We were so excited when we heard a knock at the door because that meant wedding cake time. We both love
dessert! Owen Dyer, the owner of Confection Art,
arrived with a huge variety of gluten-free and regular cakes for us to taste. We are so appreciative that he can bake a really good gluten- free cake and that he brought us several flavors in gluten-free for tasting. We wanted to offer both gluten-free and regular cakes at our wedding. Owen offers so many mouth- watering flavors, and the combinations are practically endless! We loved that Owen’s recipes are beloved old family recipes that he has perfected. You can just feel the love and enthusiasm when eating Owen’s cake. We felt so energized by Owen’s passion and couldn't’t wait to see how our wedding cake turned out!” Lastly, Rachel and Adam met up with Jason Strycharz from The Music Man DJ Service
and Maine to Boston Photo Booth
to discuss the music and special dances for the reception and the photo booth experience for the guests. Much thought went into creating special playlists for the dance sets and customized photo backgrounds for the photo booth.
After one extra year of engagement and the inevitable postponement from 2020 to 2021 due to the pandemic, Rachel, Adam, and the Real Maine Weddings team found them- selves finally at go time in October of 2021. The weekend started at the Agora Grand in Lewiston for the welcome party. Rachel and Adam gathered for drinks and snacks with their friends and family in the dramatically restored church. It felt good to be back together again, and the anticipation for the weekend ahead was palpable. Everyone enjoyed the food and drinks provided by the venue, and we all made it an early night to prepare for the next day.
After months of waiting patiently, it was finally time for the rehearsal dinner! In the afternoon, Rachel and Adam greeted their guests at the Maine Maritime Museum
for a private sail aboard the museum boat,
Merrymeeting. The group spent an hour enjoying snacks and
drinks while sailing up and down the Kennebec River. When the group returned to the museum, the Chart Room at Maine Maritime Museum
was beautifully prepared by Fausto from Blue Elephant. The tables set with florals from Farmhouse Floral by Estabrook's
and china and glassware from Affordable Events
sparkled in the candlelight. Delicious hors d'’oeuvres were followed by an extraordinary meal prepared by the team at Stone Cove Catering
. The evening was warm and full of love and a fantastic lead-up to the wedding day.
After an extended engagement, months of additional planning, and anticipation, and a full-year postponement, Rachel, Adam, and the Real Maine Weddings team reached the finish line. The wedding day had finally arrived! Friends, family, and wedding professionals gathered from far and wide —freshly pressed dresses came from Pratt Abbott
in Portland, cookies made their way from Flower & Sugar in Saco, and other pieces of the puzzle from all over the state of Maine made their way to Sebasco Harbor Resort
in Phippsburg for the big day. Guests staying at the resort woke to a light fog along the Maine coast that melted away as the sun rose.It was a perfect fall day on the coast for a wedding.
Rachel and Adam got ready in separate areas at the resort, and you could feel the anticipation in the air as it became time to leave for the ceremony. As the morning sun rose on the wedding day, Rachel and her bridesmaids
started by getting their hair done by Kim Doll from A Hair to Remember
. Spirits were high as the two bridal parties got ready. Rachel and Adam finally met for the first time that morning for their first look on the rocky coast overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Photos with the bridal party followed on the coast near the swimming pool on the western edge of the resort campus.
When photos were finished, Northeast Charter and Tour Company
arrived at the resort to take Rachel and Adam and their bridal party to the Church of the New Jerusalem in Bath. The historic church was deco- rated inside and out with florals from Ashley at Farmhouse Florals by Estabrook's
. Outside, long green garlands wound up the railings leading to the church’s front door,welcoming guests into the sanctuary.
As the wedding party arrived, they gathered in the vestibule in the back of the church. Excited whispers echoed throughout the room, and everyone eagerly anticipated the arrival of Rachel and her parents. Finally, after seemingly endless planning, it was time to start the ceremony. The bridal party slowly processed down the aisle to music expertly timed by Jason from The Music Man
. The church’s chancel was lined with arrangements from Farmhouse Florals
that perfectly framed the steps on either side of the alter.
As the officiant led the ceremony, the sanctuary was full of glistening eyes and smiles as the gathered guests watched Rachel and Adam become husband and wife. The church was full of love and hope, and guests erupted in cheers and applause as the ceremony came to a close.
A rush of excitement followed the ceremony as the wedding party and guests boarded the bus and made their way back to Sebasco Harbor Resort
for the reception. Cocktail hour was held on the lawn, and guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and drinks in the cool autumn air overlooking Casco Bay. The Maine-themed jumbo bacon-wrapped diver scallops with Maine maple dipping sauce were particularly popular. Kivalo Photography
and Molly Breton & Co.
took the opportunity to take more photos of the newlyweds with family and friends, including a special photo of the bride and groom wearing one of their favorite things — L.L.Bean Boots — with their wedding attire!
Soon the resort staff invited guests to the ballroom for dinner. Guests entered the building through a beautiful makeshift grotto created by planner Fausto from Blue Elephant Events
, utilizing repurposed greens from the rehearsal dinner the night before, special lighting provided by The Music Man
, and existing resort furniture. This cozy entrance also provided quiet seating during the reception and a perfect nook for guests to take photos throughout the evening.
Introductions of the bridal party followed as soon as guests took their seats in the ball- room, and the resort’s culinary team served an expertly prepared dinner. Guests dined on a seasonal salad and a dual entrée of NY strip steak and salmon with seasonal vegetables.
The place settings sparkled with specially curated pieces from Affordable Events
. Blue water goblets and crisply folded napkins
echoed the colors of Rachel and Adam’s wedding invitation, and candlelight threw dancing shadows on the room. Each guest received a custom anchor cookie from Flower & Sugar
at their setting. The room shimmered and echoed with love and laughter, and guests danced the night away with tunes spun by the Music Man. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. All of the proceedings were lovingly documented by Kivalo Photography
and Molly Breton and Co.
and filmed by Life In Focus Videography
Shortly after their wedding weekend, Rachel and Adam were whisked away to the gorgeous Marigot Bay Resort and Marina
in St. Lucia for a well-deserved break to celebrate their honeymoon!
This 10th Wedding of the Year was a unique experience that we all went through as we planned this wedding during a pandemic. It is all part of the story now, and we are glad to have shared this journey with you! Special thanks to each of our Wedding of the Year partners — you mean the world to us! We send great love and best wishes to Rachel and Adam and their family and friends!
Rachel and Adam summed it up perfectly as they looked back on this unique experience.
“Our wedding day was everything we could have imagined and more. The anticipation while getting ready at Sebasco Harbor Resort
and then our first look on the seacoast was truly amazing. Then our ceremony was literally perfect — full of emotion, love and happiness, setting the stage for a night of fun. The cocktail hour and reception were fantastic, the food was absolutely delicious, and the music was perfect for a fun night of dancing. Finishing the night with a bowling after-party capped our dream Real Maine Wedding.”