Maine Squeeze
January 23, 2009 11:53 AM   Subscribe

WeddingInMaineFilter: My fiancee and I are looking to throw a really cool wedding in October of '09. It has to be within an hour of Portland (the closer the better). Any ideas? And yeah, money is an object.

Most of the Inns we've looked at require a 'two night room rental fee'. Meaning, every room in the Inn needs to be rented out by the wedding party for two nights. In this economy, we think that's asking a lot of our out of town guests since most Inns seem to have @250/per night room rate.

We'd preferably like to have something on the water. More dramatic scenery, the better.

(She's from Portland. I am not. We both live in Los Angeles.)

We'd love this to happen for around 25k.

posted by ryecatcher to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I assume you've already looked at the Harraseeket?

It might seem a little ... downscale ... but a very Maine experience would be to have your wedding out on Peaks Island, and have the wedding dinner be a Lobster Bake at Greenwood Gardens or . You can also charter a boat for a cruise around the bay or just to have transportation to and from the Island. That way your guests could stay at any of the dozens of hotels in Portland (many within walking distance of the ferry terminal) and you could give them a very unique and "Maine" experience.
posted by anastasiav at 12:27 PM on January 23, 2009

I have no idea about Maine, but how many guests? And for that much money, are you looking at hiring a wedding planner? I forget the exact cost for my wedding (150 people? I think it was much less than $25k, but we were going quirky and fun, which can cost less than dramatic scenery).

Are you planning on going back to see the location(s) first-hand? Online pictures or videos might miss that overwhelming fishy scent from the adjacent fish market, or overlook the fact that the parking lot only has 25 spaces.

It sounds like you want everyone staying in the same place - is this the case? We were lucky enough to find a location that was near a LOT of hotels, so there was a range of amenities available, but everyone was still close together. Google Maps is a good start to find areas with more hotels, but some numbers and addresses might be out-dated (at least, that's what I found).

Maybe you find a nice place for group rates, and then get vans (or a boat!) to take people from the hotel(s) to the wedding location.

As for fun: my wedding was a blast, and everyone enjoyed themselves. We made it personal (zombie/monster themed), with enough of the fluff to make it seem like we weren't just joking. If you can spend time in the area, or maybe even go to a wedding fair out there, you could get some great ideas. If you can't, get lots of pictures from people out there. Some places aren't great at presenting themselves, but can be fantastic in reality.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:40 PM on January 23, 2009

I attended a wedding at Migis Lodge on Sebago Lake in October of 2007. It was really beautiful and cozy. I think the cabins are very pricey in the summer, but less so in late October. It's definitely worth checking out.
posted by jrichards at 1:51 PM on January 23, 2009

BTW: I'm pretty sure we only spent one night there and not all of the cabins were booked. Some of the guests did stay 2 or more nights.
posted by jrichards at 1:54 PM on January 23, 2009

This is probably a stretch, but this summer we camped at Chewonki Campground in Wiscasset, ME. It had the most beautiful views and the family that owns the campground was wonderful. I know they have hosted weddings, perhaps it is possible to put up a heated tent for a day? Have a bonfire? I really have no idea how cold it is there in October though. Wiscasset is between Bath and Boothbay, so lodging is nearby, and only about 45 minutes from Portland.

You could always check out or another house rental site, to see if there are some large houses with views that could accommodate a wedding party.

posted by boulder20something at 2:09 PM on January 23, 2009

My best college buddy is having his at McMenamins Edgefield a month before yours. If that doesn't work for you, one of the other McMenamins properties might. i.e. the Kennedy School.
posted by Roach at 2:24 PM on January 23, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the comments, gang.

We're looking at about 130 guests. Half of them will be from out of town. We (my fiancee and I) are real foodies so that's important to us. We've been finding that to be a huge money-suck.

We'll be going back at the end of February to look at some places. We just wanted to get some ideas before we went to schedule some interviews/tastings/various what-nots.

We're also thinking that outside will be a bit too cold by then. So indoors would be best.

And perhaps I made too much emphasis on the scenery of it all.... I guess 'ambience' is a more preferred word.

btw -- as a horror writer, I am particularly impressed with the zombie/monster themed wedding. That is genius.
posted by ryecatcher at 2:26 PM on January 23, 2009

congratulations! have you looked at bath? lovely old ship-building town which managed to escape without a lot of tacky tourist crap, and home to the maine maritime museum, available to rent for weddings. here's their facilities page. it's not on the ocean, per se, but on the mouth of the kennebec, and only a few miles away from the atlantic.
bath is chock-full of b+bs and inns and is about 45 minutes away from portland.
posted by chickadee at 3:49 PM on January 23, 2009

If you're willing to go a bit outside of Bath, you'll be hitting the edge of your hour limit for slower drivers, but Rock Gardens Inn in Sebasco is gorgeous. There's also the larger Sebasco Lodge (which has a newly wonderful restaurant), but I prefer Rock Gardens. Both places are gorgeous, and right next to each other, so even if you get married at one, some guests will likely stay at the other. The Maritime Museum in Bath (mentioned above) is also a great idea.

And if you're a foodie and in the area, you really ought to have at least one meal at Solo Bistro in Bath. Really remarkable food that I certainly wasn't expecting to find in my wee hometown.

Also, it should be noted that the places Roach mentions above are lovely, but are right outside of Portland, Oregon, not Portland, Maine.
posted by dizziest at 4:12 PM on January 23, 2009

Ooh, foodies. Yes, really good catering can cost a lot. If you're new to dealing with catered things, make sure someone will clean up. My wife and I were about to get the wedding catered by an Indian restaurant, but they weren't used to table settings and their initial price doubled when we clarified we wanted them to do place settings, too. We ended up with another company at the last minute who did everything for a fair price, but the food was far from amazing.

Because you're a horror writer, I'll assume your fiance is cool with that. Why not bring some elements into your wedding? We made the invitations through VistaPrint (their products were great, but if you're on their mailing list, they'll send you daily announcements for gobs of free samples), and tied in a whimsical monster theme. I can blather on, but I'll assume you've researched the rest.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:13 PM on January 23, 2009

I've been researching venues in the Portland area for my own 2009 wedding, and for various reasons we passed on a couple of quite lovely spots. They were:

Camp Ketcha, a spare and charming girls' day camp with lots of space and light. They have no overnight accomodations onsite, but it's a 20-minute drive from Portland, where your guests can find plenty of hotels. For weddings and such, Camp Ketcha rents either their Great Hall or the more rustic Pavilion, which has a barrel grill and a soda machine.

I don't have my notes at hand, but I remember roughly calculating that, even including their (optional) set-up and breakdown fees, the (very reasonable) cleaning fee, and the insurance costs, renting the entire place (Great Hall, Pavilion, conference room, and kitchen) would cost less than $1500 (maybe as little as $1200? can't recall) for a full eight hours, with a very reasonable rate for any additional hours.

One of the nicest points about Camp Ketcha: they have no approved caterer list, so you can bring in any caterer you want, or self-cater if you prefer.

The facilities rental manager was newly assigned to that position when I spoke to her, and though she was still getting a handle on things like prices and policies, she was very pleasant and eager to work with potential clients. They have an impressively clear FAQ pdf on the website, and a contact form for getting more info.

- The Maine Audubon site is a handsome building on a wildlife sanctuary. Wow. (It's 15-20 minutes from Portland, and your guests may find that hotel rooms outside of Portland proper are less expensive.) The webpage quotes $1500 for the building; $2500 for the building and grounds. It's only avaialbe after 5 p.m.

- Broadturn Farm is an organic farm that offers space for weddings. It's a cool idea: put up a tent near their wildflowers and maybe contract with them to provide locally grown organic produce to your caters (or to you -- they allow self-catering).

- One Longfellow Square is sort of a hip, upscale arts venue, and they rent the space for private events, too. I never got as far as a quote for that space, but there's contact info on the page.

- We toyed with the idea of having our wedding at the Children's Museum of Maine in Portland. (There's no direct linking to the rentals page. Instead, click on "birthday parties," then click on "facility rental." That will take you to a scrolling page of all the rooms.) We thought about using the theater and play kitchen (with real kitchen), but that only holds 100; you'd probably need something larger, like the shipyard!

- Southern Maine Community College in South Portland has a decent range of spots in which to hold a party or wedding, including a big field overlooking the water, a small chapel, and --- of most interest if you're looking to house some people on the same site --- the Peter A. McKernan Hospitality Center. It has some dining halls/event spaces, but more importantly, it has eight bedrooms. (It's my understanding that the rooms and dining areas rent separately, but certainly they could tell you more. There's a contact email at the link.)

At the time of my query, the SMCC contact quoted me prices as:
$200/night: standard rate for suites
$175/night: standard rate for other rooms
for a block of five rooms or more: $150/night per room or suite.

Frankly, I thought those prices were too high for what is, after all, a training facility. For that price, you could take a room in a bed & breakfast in Portland's handsome and historic West End. For example, rooms at The West End Inn start at $160 in season (and I'm afraid that they all consider October to be "in season"); The Danforth offers rooms starting at $185; The Inn at Park Street starts at $149; The Percy Inn starts at $129.

Many of these B&bs only have a half-dozen or so rooms, so filling them all isn't such a problem as you might think, and they may well offer a flat rate or a group rate for renting the entire B&B.

(note: I have no connection to any of these venues; I'm just passing along my own preliminary research. The figures may be out of date, and are in some cases fuzzily approximate. Incidentally, my partner and I are planning a wedding under 100 people, so also double-check whether these venues can accomodate your numbers.)
posted by Elsa at 6:36 PM on January 23, 2009

We (my fiancee and I) are real foodies so that's important to us.

I'm back late, so I'm not sure if you're still checking this, but if you're true foodies you should look at the White Barn Inn which is Maine's only 5-star dining experience. They do weddings; their website right now only talks about 35 person indoor weddings (Jan - May) but I know folks who have done larger weddings outdoors at this venue.
posted by anastasiav at 9:17 AM on January 27, 2009

Hi, congrats.

I am a bride getting hitched at Migi's Lodge in October. When we signed up (last fall) there was a Sunday available so you may want to act quickly.

Here are the details.

beautiful location, 125 hidden private acres on Sebago Lake (30-40 drive from Portland)

I've heard amazing things about the food, from some of the top chefs in the Portland Maine area (Husband-to-be and I are big foodies as well).

Can accomodate 120 guests, $95 a night per guest including use of all facilities and breakfast the day after wedding. Guests get a private cabin.

I think the cost per person for use of Migi's (ceremony and reception) is $130 per person, which will also include the wedding cake- therefore fitting your 25k budget. You won't find a better deal, this place is a gem.

If you want to discuss further, let me know. I'd be happy to share info.
posted by jthomas at 1:44 PM on May 27, 2009

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