The

, once the Maine Central Railroad, located on Bates Street in Lewiston, is a historical step back in time, echoing the era of travel by rail. From 1917 to 1960, thousands of travelers embarked on journeys from this very station, hence its romantic appeal for couples beginning the journey of a lifetime together.

Upon entering the grand ballroom, guests are treated to a slice of yesteryear resplendent in cream, gold, and green with the original rich, oak panels of more than a century ago. The renovations were respectful of the building’s architectural integrity: 20-foot-high ceilings, now appointed with elegant chandeliers, and the original, gracefully- arched windows that invite airiness and light by day, and the twinkling of the city by night.

Venturing across the space is a set of doors leading to what was once the station’s platform. Now a bricked, outdoor courtyard serves as an additional room for a ceremony, cocktail hour, or reception. A fence surround and overhead awning provide privacy and protection from rain. Outside the courtyard fencing are the still-active railroad tracks.

Event manager, Laura Kibort, said occasionally the train will pass by during a celebration, stirring delight among the guests.

“The train passed by during a recent wedding while they conducted the receiving line,” said Kibort. “Everyone was so excited. People seem to enjoy the historical significance combined with the uniqueness of the location. There isn’t another venue like this in the state; we have people come from distances to have their event here.”

Kibort said that the venue “makes its own statement, without any other adornment but, it’s fun to see how each couple makes it their own.”

Sitting atop Center Hill Road in Minot is the Maine Wedding Barn, and with its down-home, rustic elegance, it feels like walking into a hug passed down through generations. Formerly the Tripp Crest Farm, the venue is rich in its own community history, having served as a milking and hay barn until 1987.

The barn had weathered 25 years of neglect before Barbara Fogarty and John St. Hilaire, current owners, rescued it. Once preserved, neither knew what they would do with it; storage was a possibility. That is until a wedding planner dropped by and suggested using it for a wedding reception.

The barn’s greatest feature is its “million-dollar view” of one of Maine’s majestic mountain ranges, a purple wedding gift distantly placed beyond 108 country acres of rolling farmland. St. Hilaire and Fogarty described the autumn colors as breathtakingly fantastic, which explains why the barn is booked solid for September and October 2014 and 2015.

Outside, a gazebo overlooks the view and according to St. Hilaire, captivates couples. “Everyone who sees it wants to be married out by the gazebo.”

Capitalizing on its view, the back of the barn boasts a wall of glass and a deck beyond. Inside, soaring, open rafters are swathed in white; chandeliers and starry twinkle lights bathe the space in a warm glow after sunset. While code required some updates, the original wide plank flooring, roof, and trusses are original. Unlike newly-built structures, “this barn is the real deal,” said St. Hilaire.

Forgarty agreed, “This generation appreciates re-purpose, re-use, and recycle. This is a 60-year-old, authentic Maine barn.”

For those searching to capture the traditional spirit of a church in a unique setting, look no further than the Franco Center in Lewiston, formerly St. Mary’s Church. The church’s de-consecration in 2000 left it without function and in need of repairs. Renovations, beginning in 2003, breathed new life into the historically significant space, making it a premiere performance and wedding venue.

The Performance Hall commands royal attention with its 75-foot cathedral ceilings supported by ornate columned arches, original pendant chandeliers, and nearly two dozen, stained-glass windows. Plush seating offers perfect sight lines for guests. Program Director and Event Manager Richard Martin said, “Because we are a production house, both the Performance and Heritage Halls afford our brides and grooms state-of-the-art sound, lighting, audio/visual and Wi-Fi systems as well.”

Non-denominational ceremonies can take place center stage; in the background is the original carving of the Madonna, a historical reminder of the building’s sacred past and its place in the heart of Franco-American history. The bridal party also has the option of preparing for the ceremony onsite; two “green” rooms are available for bride and groom with their parties. Martin said, “These rooms are a flurry of color, sound, and fragrance the day of a wedding.”

Prior to the ceremony, Martin takes his bride and her attendants on a “bridal walk” from the green room through the “sacred” back passages to the back of Performance Hall and the foot of the staircase from which they make their grand entrance. While he said all weddings are beautiful, Martin explained, “This venue can embrace any concept a bride and groom might have for their wedding day. We have even hosted a “steam punk” wedding here; it was outstanding.”

The venue also offers the benefit of an “all-under-one-roof” experience; Heritage Hall boasts a dance floor, stage, full bar service, and catering partnership with DaVinci’s Eatery. 

So, suddenly, old is made new! In the world of weddings, tried and true, with an “up-cycle” kiss for luck, delivers unique venues for brides and grooms in their search for a place to define their new beginning.


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