I'm more of a lurker than a poster, but I always found the vendor reviews to be super helpful and intriguing when planning my wedding. It’s SO important to do the research before signing any contracts, and I learned that the hard way (as you’ll see from my photographer story below). My biggest advice would be to check with the BBB before hiring anyone.
I feel so lucky to have found the people I worked with because most of them were really great. I hope this helps!
Venue - Kingsley Pines Camp, Raymond - A++
We really wanted a wedding that showcased everything we love about Maine (swimming, fishing, hiking, etc.), and KP was the perfect venue for that. Drew and the entire staff were absolutely amazing – I can't say enough about the positive experience we had with them. The camp is located on Panther Pond (gorgeous). During the summer it houses hundreds of kids for summer camp, but they open their doors for private events from September - October. We rented the entire camp Friday-Monday of Labor Day weekend. We had a lot of out of town guests, and it was so convenient for them to be able to come and stay for the whole weekend and really get the most out of their trip to Maine (and it only cost them about $40 per night to stay in a cabin, so it was also very affordable for everyone). Everyone was blown away by the breathtaking scenery and all of the activities the camp had to offer (HUGE beach and dock, kayaks, canoes, tennis court, ping pong, corn hole, baseball diamond, giant rope swing, putting green, soccer field, and many many fire pits). There was something for everyone, and even the most high-maintenance guests said it was the best wedding they had ever been to! Also, it was so great to have the extra time to spend with everyone - I feel like if we only had one day, we would not have been able to make the rounds the way we did. We really got to spend quality time with each and every guest, and it made the entire experience that much more special. One of our guests even said that “Kingsley Pines ruined the real world” for him – it was that awesome!
Caterer – Personal Touch Catering, Buxton/SoPo – B
Kevin and the staff at Personal Touch Catering were excellent to work with. They offer a great selection and will work within your budget. The even handled the linen and table/chair rentals for us, which made things very easy. They were able to accommodate my request for local ingredients and “non-Sysco” meat, as well as vegetarian options for our (many) veg-head friends. We got a lot of compliments on the food, and people are still raving about how amazing the stuffed shells were. Only problem was, my husband and I never got to taste them. We were supposed to have a hostess getting us drinks and food, and although they reserved a nice plate of hors d’oeuvres for us from the cocktail hour, we missed out on a lot of the great things at the buffet because we were out taking sunset pictures. No one attended to us or our family & bridal party when we were taking pics during the cocktail hour as planned. The bar ran out of OJ & cranberry juice within the first hour, and instead of sending someone to the store to re-stock, they asked one of our guests if they could use what we already had in the kitchen. I felt a little under-served by them after everything they had promised, but the snags were not a complete tragedy by any means. Overall – worth the money we paid.
Photographers – Hitched Photography, Portland – A++
I had an unbelievably horrible experience with the first photographer I hired. To make a long story short, I gave her a massive security deposit and travel fee up front and ended up breaking our contract after a friend of mine failed to receive her wedding pics from her (Andrea Runkel of Luminescence Photography, for anyone who’s interested in avoiding the same mistake). She was awful and rude and spiteful about the whole thing, and refused to give me any of my money back even though she booked a new job for my date the very next day (she also made it a point to rub that in my face… super). Anyhow, when I found Becca Wood of Hitched Photography on Craigslist, it was if the clouds had parted. I ended up hiring Becca and her friend/business partner, Aja Stephan, for our wedding and they were absolutely AMAZING. It was such a bonus to have two photographers because they were able to capture moments from multiple angles and the formal pics were done in a snap. They worked so hard and everyone raved about how friendly and professional they both were. Their prices are also extremely competitive, especially for two photographers. I haven’t received the final images or album yet, but you can see a sneak peek on Becca’s blog by clicking on the link above and finding “Laura and Will” under recent posts. Their company is fairly new, but I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a quality, artistic, documentary-style photographer at a great price!
Musician/DJ – Aaron Denny, NH – A+
Aaron was able to give us the best of everything wedding music-related. He played classical guitar for the ceremony, live music during dinner, and DJ’d the cocktail hour and reception. We are HUGE Beatles freaks, and he incorporated Beatles music into every part of the event (under our direction mostly, but he did such an amazing job). When my bridesmaids and I were out on the dock having pics taken, he walked out and serenaded us with my favorite song, Rocky Raccoon. It was so spontaneous and sweet, and it made for a really great photo opp! One of the groomsmen ended up paying him to stay on for another hour because everyone was having so much fun dancing. He was one of those vendors that asked all the right questions and got me to think of details that I never would have thought of on my own. He was great, and I would highly recommend him!
Cupcakes – Cakes by Debbie, Windham – A+
Deb Hall was great to work with – super nice and her cakes are very affordable. Again, everyone raved about our cupcakes. She even made a giant cupcake for us to enjoy on our anniversary. Deb was also very conscientious in dealing with the set-up. We grew our own flowers for the wedding and she brought up the issue of making sure there were no bugs in the petals before using them on the cupcake stand. She hooked us up with a great resource and we found an eco-friendly way to deal with the problem. She really thought of everything that I never would have, and that was super helpful!
Dress – Saja Wedding, NYC – A+
After a few frustrating experiences at some local bridal boutiques, I was starting to feel like I would never find the perfect dress. I had a vision (as most brides do), of an ethereal, breathable gown that I could actually dance in. Everything I had tried on was either too poofy, too scratchy, too restricting, or just uncomfortable and ugly in general. Although I had a great experience at J. Crew, I decided to keep looking. I stumbled upon a Saja dress at Bliss in Portland – a charcoal gray beauty. I thought to myself, “Why can’t they make something like that in white?” So I Googled the company and low and behold, they had started making bridal gowns. On a trip to visit a friend in NYC, I decided to pop in and see if I could try on some dresses – I ended up finding the perfect dress for the right price. I loved EVERY SINGLE dress I tried on there, and it was really hard to make my decision. Thea, the store manager, was so thoughtful in all of her communications with me – she even followed up with a congratulatory e-mail a couple of weeks ago. I’m so in love with my dress – I’m looking forward to having it shortened and wearing it again to future events!
Alterations & Accessories – Maria Antonietta, Portland – A+
Maria previously did all of her work out of a studio in Gorham, but she recently opened a couture bridal & formal wear shop on Free Street in Portland. I happened to walk by one day after unsuccessfully trying to schedule an appointment with another local seamstress (who was just far too busy to take me). I popped in and scoped out her dresses (which are beautiful and extremely well-made, by the way), and decided to ask if she could do my alterations. She happily accepted and the rest is history. I ended up purchasing all of my hand-made accessories from her (necklace, earrings, sash, giant flower pin for my dress and smaller flowers for my hair piece, and a matching necklace for my mother). She was an absolute pleasure to work with, and her work is very high-quality for a good price. I would highly recommend Maria!
Bouquets & Bouts – Studio Flora, Windham – A++
At the last minute, I decided to outsource my bouquets. I took a bouquet-making class with Libby a few months before, but as we were getting down to the wire I decided that it wasn’t something I was willing to stress over. When I came to her a few weeks before the wedding, she was happy to help me out. Libby translated the natural, organic theme of our wedding beautifully into the bouquets and boutonnieres. She even matched our home-grown flowers. I couldn’t have been happier with her work and service!
Headpiece (fascinator) – Queen of Hats, Portland – A+
Dorinda is awesome! I knew I wanted something different for my headpiece, and I went back and forth trying on veils & flowers. Then I remembered a wedding I went to a couple of years ago where the bride had this really fun feathery piece on her head. She told me she got it at Queen of Hats, so off I went with the hair flowers I already had (which Maria hand-stitched with pretty fabric and beads). Dorinda did a quick mock-up with a big alligator clip and some fun feathers – it was fabulous, and she had it ready for me the next day! Everyone commented on how cool and different it was, and my hair dresser was obsessed. I’m scheming ways that I can wear it again!
Hair – Jewls, Naples – A++
I might be biased because this is the salon that I regularly get my hair cut at, but I am of the opinion that there is no better place to get your hair done in the lakes region. The girls at Jewlz are so talented and sweet. There were fresh baked goods, fruit, and mimosas waiting for us when we arrived in the AM, and we were in and out so quickly. I had a massage before my hair appointment, and it really set the relaxed tone for the day. Everyone loved how their hair turned out, including my mother, who has super limp hair and is the pickiest person on the planet! On a side note, my mother’s hair held up for two days (no lie) – it didn’t fall out until she went for a swim in the lake! LOVE them.
Nails – Totally Nails – A++
On a recommendation from a friend, I decided to try the new “Shellac” manicure, which is supposed to hold up for at least two weeks without chipping. Since our wedding was very DIY, I decided this was the best way to go. I got my nails done by Pam on the Wednesday before the wedding, and even after all the flower cutting, packing, moving boxes, and decorating, my nails were still in pristine condition. At $25 for a Shellac manicure in Pam’s shop, you can’t afford NOT to get this done before your wedding. They do it for toes too! I should also mention that I decided to get my toes done somewhere else so I could spend some time with my bridesmaids the day before the wedding, and Pam sent me home with a tiny bottle of regular nail polish to match my nails for free. Great service!