Looking for a distinctly unique place to host your wedding? Here’s a look at three central Maine venues that will help you plan the wedding of your dreams.
All Souls Chapel, Poland Spring, Maine
There are only a handful of non-denominational stone chapels in Maine which can serve as a wedding venue. Among the most popular is the All Souls Chapel on the grounds of the Poland Spring Inn off Route 26.
According to Jason Libby, executive director for Poland Spring Preservation Park, this year is a special year for the chapel.
“It will be celebrating its centennial in 2012,” said Libby. “This makes for an exciting time for us as an organization and helps us to grow the visibility for this beautiful building.”
All Souls Chapel offers wedding parties a chance to hold their wedding at a historic location with the use of two buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Brides have the use of a room in the Maine State Building which was the Maine State Pavilion at the World’s Fair of 1893 in Chicago and moved to Poland Spring to serve as a library and art gallery.
“The chapel has a wonderful 1926 Skinner pipe organ which by the beginning of this season will be fully restored,” said Libby. “It also has wonderful handpainted glass windows which add to the grandeur of the chapel.”
While some couples only use the All Souls Chapel for their wedding ceremony, others take advantage of the services of the Poland Spring Resort to host their wedding reception.
An all-inclusive fee provides an array of services including an “All You Can Eat” buffet service for up to 200 guests, bartender service, lavish dessert table, champagne toast, a professional disc jockey, and a complimentary honeymoon suite, deluxe room or cottage for the entire weekend.
Libby notes that the chapel hosts between 35 and 40 weddings each season from April to October. All weddings take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday mornings.
“A recent unique wedding was when the bride and groom left the grounds via helicopter next to the chapel,” said Libby. “We’ve had others in the past where the bride and groom urged their guests to dress in historic attire.” For more information about this location, go to www.polandspringps.org
Franco American Heritage Center at 46 Cedar Street, Lewiston
The Franco American Heritage Center’s website (www.francocenter.org) notes that the Center is the former home of St. Mary’s Church located by the canal and the landmark Simard Payne (Railroad) Park in the area of downtown Lewiston known as Riverfront Island. With its spire counted among the tallest sights in town, you can’t help but notice the elegance and extraordinary architecture of this historic building.
While no longer used as a place of worship, the center boasts an incredible performance space upstairs where congregations used to gather for Mass. In the lower level, there’s plenty of room for wedding receptions and other functions.
“What’s unique about the Center is that it is ‘all-inclusive’ with an ‘all in the same building” feature,” said Richard Martin, program director at the Center. “Couples can have a wedding in our spacious grand hall with comfortable seating and perfect sightlines followed by a reception in the newly renovated Heritage Hall equipped with a commercial kitchen accessible to caterers.”
The Center can provide spacious parking, designer menus, a cash bar, a performing stage, state-of-the-art light and sound systems, new furniture and an entirely remodeled dining hall suitable for large groups of guests.
The Franco American Heritage Center currently hosts about 25 wedding events a year and more couples are considering the space due to its central location and renovated facility.
What advice does Martin offer to future brides and grooms when seeking a wedding or reception venue?
“Be sure to shop around and consider all venue options and what they can offer to ensure all your expectations are met.”
Pineland Farms, New Gloucester, Maine
Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine offers wedding ceremony locations and reception venues to meet any taste and budget.
“The unique aspect of Pineland Farms is the 'farm to table' appeal of having a reception at a working farm in Maine,” said Chris Weber, owner of The Black Tie Company, the exclusive event planner and caterer for Pineland. “We feel strongly about the importance of using local vendors." The various meats, cheeses, dairy and produce that are grown or produced at Pineland Farms contributes to that philosophy.
Weber noted that the beauty of the more than 5,000 acres is striking and the central location and beautiful guests houses that are located on the farm make accommodations convenient and charming. Pineland also boasts spectacular views of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington.
If you are looking for an outside location very near the reception area, consider The Commons Patio. After exchanging vows outside, you are only steps away from the Mount Washington room for your reception with a capacity of 250 guests.
Other Pineland settings include “The Garden” where your ceremony takes place in a one-acre garden filled with thousands of annuals, more than a hundred perennial varieties, fruit trees and bushes and ornamental grasses and conifers. “The Victorian-Style Gazebo” offers spacious outdoor seating for large groups with the backdrop of a pond and footbridge surrounded by evergreens. “The Old World Pergola” is a lattice-work walkway on a granite base that offers a touch of elegance to any ceremony.
Pineland has wedding reception locations that range from indoor, air conditioned rooms to the open air, rain or shine comfort of a tent; both locations available for a choice of buffet or sit-down dining.
A few miles from the main campus at Pineland is Merrill Farmhouse where smaller, more intimates weddings can take place. While the restored barn can host a rustic wedding for up to 75 guests, the farmhouse offers overnight accommodations for 21 guests with a gourmet kitchen, billiard room, and dining area.
For information on rentals and catering at Pineland, contact www.theblacktieco.com.