Choose a Wedding in Maine's Timeless Beauty

>more on weddings & honeymoons in Maine

To bridal couples, the timeless beauty of Maine, it's sense of space, tradition and simple elegance, is truly a haven. Maine is where people come for the essence of what marriage means: family, commitment, loveliness.

"There's the sound of water, the smell of pine," says wedding planner Anne Stanley of The New England Wedding Company (http://thenewenglandweddingco.com, 800-471-3446). "When you think of forming a lasting bond, you want that connection to nature. It adds to the meaning of the day."

Whether it's a grand wedding at a seaside inn, a small gathering of hikers on the top of Mount Katahdin, or a spiritual moment at the Vesper Hill Children's Chapel in Rockport (207-236-2239), Maine is a place where wedding couples come home to essential values.

It's also where they come when they want to elope, adds planner Sally Bullard of A Maine Wedding (http://maineweddings.com, 877-209-7240). "It's just such a beautiful place to be alone."

Maine has seen weddings on mountain summits and seaside cliffs, on lobster boats, party boats and grand schooners, on grassy islands, garden bowers and snowy ski slopes. But most Maine weddings are set in inns, and many boast a striking water view.

This could be the cherished Asticou Inn of Northeast Harbor, where both lawn and garden reach right to the ocean and the dining room boasts its own dance floor. (800-258-3373, http://www.asticou.com). Likewise, couples may marry beside the water at the sumptuous Black Point Inn on Prouts Neck, but many choose the 1802 Spurwink Church, returning to the inn for a garden party, or a more formal their reception in a room with grand cathedral ceilings and a warm brick fireplace (http://www.blackpointinn.com or 800-258-0003).

For intimacy, the turreted, shingle-style Grey Havens Inn, located on its own cove in Georgetown, is as classic as Maine gets. As in many smaller inns you'd need to rent the entire locale for two days, so it's best to plan well in advance. (800-431-2316 or http://www.greyhavens.com)

Maine's waterside inns are not always on the coast. At Migis Lodge, the ceremony happens beside Sebago Lake, with the bride arriving on a wooden Chris-Craft. Because of its popularity as a summer resort, however, weddings are limited to the late spring and fall. "Typically people think of a wedding weekend with a lobster bake the night before," says Robin Hammond who coordinates weddings for the lodge.

The wedding weekend is quite common in Maine. Everyone needs a lobster bake, so if that's not the wedding fare, it happens the night before, followed by a day that could include a canoe trip, a schooner voyage or a bike ride around Maine's wooded back roads. Then comes the wedding!

For a wedding option that's truly intimate, the Chesuncook Lake House is as good as an island. Located in Maine's great north woods, with striking vistas of Mount Katahdin to the south, guests may come by plane, boat or snowmobile, but not by car. There are no roads. Still, there is a small village and that has an old, nondenominational chapel where many a wedding has been consecrated. (207-745-5330 or http://www.chesuncooklakehouse.com).

While inns are convenient places to hold a wedding, wedding planner Johanna Tutone (207-236-2254) says her ultimate Maine wedding would be held under a tent on one of Maine's many uninhabited islands. But such a wedding means barging everything from silver platters to port-a-potties and this can be costly. So Tutone often sets people up in her own field overlooking the sailboat-trimmed port of Tenant's Harbor.

There are so many options for weddings -- including renting a house for a week or a weekend or sailing away by the light of a silvery moon on one of Maine's many commercial schooners (http://www.sailmainecoast.com or 800-807-WIND) -- that many seek the advice of planners like Tutone. While not all Maine planners are listed on the site, a good place to start looking for a wide range of local services is at http://www.weddingstreetjournal.com.

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