You’re newly engaged and have decided to take your wedding on the road: you’re coming to Downeast Maine! Congratulations! With the breathtaking scenery, friendly people and fantastic wedding options, it’s no secret why more and more people are coming to our beloved state to marry their beloved. While this is a most exciting time for newly engaged couples, it also can prove to be a very stressful one. Planning a wedding close to home can be a taxing part time job, planning one from afar, often from halfway across the country or more can have you contemplating a courthouse elopement before you’ve booked your first vendor.
Having planned hundreds of weddings, many of which are with couples that do not live in Maine, our team at Bar Harbor Catering Company certainly have had a unique perspective on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to planning from afar. There have been tears of joy and tears of other sorts, but we’re here to share some of what we’ve learned to help you create the magical Maine wedding you’ve been dreaming of.
Make a budget and Prioritize
As with any wedding, it’s important to discuss which facets of the day are the most important to you individually and as a couple. Make a list of “must -haves” and allot the budget accordingly. (Yes, you should also have a budget. Sigh.) Are you a big foodie who wants to lavish their guests with a five course sit down meal? A music fan who needs a peppy live band? Been dreaming of an island wedding and the location is set in stone? Whatever your non-negotiables are, be sure to write a list to refer to throughout these initial planning stages. (Keep it handy — you’ll need it later!)
With the growing popularity of Maine as a wedding destination, it’s important to have some degree of flexibility as you are starting to piece together your dream day. If your date is firm, it is helpful to be flexible on some of your vendors, and alternatively, if you are set on your venue (or other high priority vendors), it is helpful to be flexible on dates.
When you are ready to start reaching out to vendors, you are essentially “interviewing" companies for a coveted spot on your wedding’s “A” team. Don’t disregard things like the time it takes a vendor to respond (this sets the stage for how long you’ll be waiting during your entire planning process), the clarity with which they are able to answer your questions and how well they align with your priorities list and budget. Ask about total (or hidden costs), the timeframe within which you are allowed to make changes and if there are fees for doing so. For more detailed look at the total potential costs of your venue, read more here.
Don’t overlook the obvious — be sure to ask about whether or not the vendor is available on your date and how they handle bookings. You are not officially booked with most vendors unless they have a signed contract and deposit in hand, no matter how many times you’ve chatted. Don’t be afraid to ask if there are other clients that have inquired about your date, or if they are willing to give you first refusal on the date. To help avoid disappointment, when you know you’d like to book, let them know ASAP.