(1) Ceremony and reception either take place at the same location, or very close to one another
-- We wanted to make things easy for our guests (and for ourselves)
(2) Ceremony location is preferably outdoors
-- What's the point of getting married in the summer on the Maine coast if you can't enjoy the fresh air?
(3) Ceremony and reception venues can accommodate at least 100 guests
-- We were dead set on having approximately 100 guests...although I'm sure you know the tendency of guest lists to balloon out of control
(4) Decoration-wise, the venue should be a blank slate
-- Number 4 is important, yo! The architect and I both have very specific thoughts about design. These thoughts usually include the words "clean lines", "modern", and "minimalist". While ballrooms with crown molding and antique chandeliers are beautiful, they're just not us. We needed a venue that fit in with our design aesthetic, and for this reason we were already thinking along the lines of a tented reception, since you can dress up a tent pretty much any way you want.
Want to see what we came up with? Sure you do...
The Asticou Inn
I actually came across the Asticou very early in the planning process, when we still thought that we would be able to have our wedding ceremony at the Thuya Garden. The Asticou was less than a half a mile away from the Garden, so it would have been a great place to have our reception. The downside to the Asticou? It was a little pricey. But... the upsides were numerous. They had an in-house wedding coordinator and they did all of their own catering. The food was supposed to be pretty good too! To me this meant one thing: Fewer headaches. I haven't discussed this before, but at the same time as we were hunting for venues, the Architect and I were also getting ready for a big cross-country move (more on that in a later post), so we knew we would be doing a lot of our wedding planning from afar. Having an onsite event coordinator would essentially save us from needing to hire a wedding planner, since clearly no matter what, we were going to need some help planning a Maine wedding from California. Another plus for the Asticou -- they have a garden (!) where they hold wedding ceremonies. While it wasn't quite the same as the Thuya Garden, it wasn't too shabby either. Maybe I would be getting my garden wedding afterall...
A garden wedding (!!!) ...and see the view of Northeast Harbor in the distance? Hey, it's not the Thuya Garden, but it ain't too bad.
The Causeway Club
The Causeway Club was our only non-tented wedding option that we looked into. Causeway is a golf and tennis club, but they also have a big beautiful old barn with two decks where they hold events. However, after talking to the Club's manger, I was a little worried that our wedding would be a tad on the large side for what could fit comfortably in the barn. For a wedding at the Causeway Club we would need to hire caterers and bartenders, which is more of a hastle, but would also give us a lot more choices for food. (Did somebody say "tastings"!?)
Fox Fields Farm
This 70-acre farm is available as a rental property during the summer. Essentially, we could rent the house to stay in for a week, and over the weekend we would host the wedding on the expansive lawn. A wedding at Fox Fields Farm would probably involve the most work. We would need to coordinate everything -- caterers, bartenders, and setup and rentals of tents, chairs, tables, and linens. The property is beautiful though, and here we would have the most control over all of the small details, since every single decision would be our own.
This image is pretty low quality, but it shows the back lawn where we could have a tented reception.
So... our venue saga continues. Which one did we choose? I'll let you know soon, I promise. In the meantime, what considerations were important to you in your venue search? Did you also find that there was a trade-off between all-inclusive venues (less work, but also less control over some of the details) versus do-it-yourself venues (lots more work, but you can have every single detail just the way you want it)?