It’s been a while since my last wedding post, so I thought I would give a little bridal update.
B and I have a venue date officially booked! I will be a blushing bride on the 5th of July, 2014. I’ve always wanted a summer wedding, and getting married on the weekend of the 4th seemed like the perfect time to finally introduce B’s British clan to my American family and friends. So on Friday night we will have a 4th of July rehearsal dinner (think sparklers, lobster, s’mores, and fireworks), and on Saturday night, the 5th, we will get married in a big old Maine barn.
I’ve been hunting and hunting for the perfect Maine wedding venue, and it is such a relief to finally have something booked. I’ve seen some truly stunning barns over the past few months, so before I reveal my lovely venue, I wanted to share a short-list of some of my favorite Maine barns.
The Chandler House Bed & Breakfast – The Chandler House Bed & Breakfast is located in New Gloucester, Maine. The barn holds up to 120 people, and has enough room for dinner and dancing. Smaller weddings can be held in the inn and for larger parties a tent can be rented. Pricing is very reasonable and can include accommodation for up to 15 people. Portable toilets need to be rented for parties over 35.
Camp Hammond – This historic Yarmouth home features a tented patio, wedding gazebo, landscaped grounds, off-street parking, a bridal suite and 5 working fireplaces. There is also a rustic, wooden double-story reception hall with a suspended balcony. Although it’s not a barn per-say, this venue has a pleasant, outdoors Maine vibe and was top of my list for a while. It’s serviced exclusively by the Black Tie Company, a name you will hear again and again if you are planning a wedding in Maine. The venue rental itself is fairly inexpensive, but you’re then locked into Black Tie Catering, which can get quite pricy. Personally, Camp Hammond felt a bit too cookie-cutter for me, but would be a lovely option for a bride who wants a pretty, outdoor Maine venue and doesn’t want to have to do all of the leg work.
In addition to Camp Hammond, The Black Tie Company have several other exclusive Maine barn properties, such as Merrill Farmhouse, Josias River Farm and Shady Lane Farms. All are incredibly beautiful barn venues, but are much steeper in price than Camp Hammond. . . . think lots steeper.
When first I started looking at wedding venues, I was surprised to find that is a niche for premium barns. I had previously thought that there was only one kind of barn – the kind that was padded with lots and lots of hay, intended for sheep, horses or cows. I assumed that renting a barn would be fairly inexpensive – it’s a barn, after all! But in reality, renting a barn can be just as pricy as getting married at a swanky hotel. Enter, the Barn on Walnut Hill.
The Barn on Walnut Hill – In addition to having an incredibly adorable name, The Barn on Walnut Hill in North Yarmouth, Maine, is absolutely stunning. The barn brags of wooden posts and beams, wrought-iron chandeliers, and 1,750 square feet of space. They only host one wedding per week, and they only offer one wedding package. This includes the use of the farmhouse which sleeps 12 and the barn from Wednesday to Sunday. Included in the rental are three parking attendants, a beautiful granite patio, an on-site ceremony location, farmhouse tables, an outdoor deck with a gas grill, a property manager, and dinner service for a rehearsal dinner or Sunday brunch. Sounds fabulous, right? The only downside to this venue is the cost. It’s quite steep! That said, the Barn on Walnut Hill is perfect for people from Massachusetts or even New York who have always dreamed of a Maine destination wedding, and want to be in town, taken care of with their guests for a few days before and after the wedding.
The Red Barn at Outlook Farm – Although the Red Barn at Outlook Farm refers to itself as a barn, I can’t bring myself to believe it was actually ever intended to house animals! It’s way too beautiful and pristine. The Red Barn is a farm-style post and beam construction, with a grand entrance, working fireplaces, chandeliers, cozy sitting areas, an outdoor veranda, and a wet bar. The Red Barn is open year-round, providing an elegant setting for 70 – 500 guests. In addition to the barn, there are numerous reception facilities at Outlook Farm, ranging from a 2,000 square foot patio area that overlooks the golf course, a Grand Ballroom, a Wedding Garden, Slate and Fireplace Rooms, and a beautiful bridal suite to boot that comes equipped with a full vanity station, private bathroom, and complimentary bottle of champagne. I have to say, they sure know how to glam a bride! If you’re in the market for something rustic, the Red Barn might not be for you, as it’s more of a golf course than a Farm, but it’s elegantly beautiful none the less.
The Barn on Rocky Hill – When I first reached out to The Barn on Rocky Hill, the venue was brand new and still under construction. I figured the owner would be enthusiastic and eager to please. . . but e-mail response I got was laughable. It was highly impersonal and incredibly boastful, especially considering the barn wasn’t even finished yet! The owner told me all about how Beyonce’s wedding planner had enquired about the space, about how the barn was going to be featured in a national wedding magazine, and how 13 brides had already booked the venue. It definitely didn’t feel ‘Maine’. And here’s the kicker, the venue was not even finished yet . . . and I quote “If a tour is a MUST for you & your fiancé to make your venue decision – this may not be the venue for you.” OK, I get it, the barn isn’t done yet. But she then went on to tell me that the venue fee was $9,000 . . . who are these insane 13 brides that dropped $9,000 on a venue without even seeing it?! It was shudder-worthy sales pitch as opposed to a genuine response, and a poor one at that.
Awful marketing aside, let me tell you what I have heard about the facilities at the Barn on Rocky Hill. The barn opens up to an expansive gathering space with an outdoor patio and full chef’s kitchen. The main barn room features a built-in, wide plank dance floor, spacious bathrooms, a private bar, and an upstairs mezzanine. The barn can comfortably accommodate 150 guests. There is an outdoor deck, space for ceremonies at the foot of the hill, and on-site accommodation that can sleep 20 in a four-bedroom farmhouse and two connecting private homes. There’s also a tanning bed, an on-site chef, and the cherry on top is that they’re only a 10 minute drive from Portland. The facilities at The Barn on Rocky Hill do sound outstanding, but the price definitely reflects that. Although this would be a great venue to consider, do not book anything without visiting the site, speaking to the owner, and signing a contract that you have carefully read. I’m sure this is a wonderful venue, but my initial reaction to the over-sell was to be a bit weary.
Caswell Farm – Tucked away in Gray is the charming and rustic Caswell Farm. It’s perfect for couples who dream of bunting, fairy lights, and dancing under the stars. There is a flat rental fee for the property that gives you access to the grounds from Wednesday to Sunday. The venue includes the bottom floor of the farm-house, equipped with a kitchen, porch, living room and a small bedroom, as well as the barn, a fire pit, and fields for camping. The barn is very rustic and is best suited for the reception and dancing. The owner recommends renting a tent, tables, and chairs if you plan on hosting a sit down meal. You also have to rent portable toilets for your guests. Caswell Farm is a bit more on the rustic side, perfectly suited for a laid back couple who want an authentic, Maine farm wedding.
Clark’s Cove Farm and Inn – Clark’s Cove is a little slice of Maine heaven. If you’re looking for rolling hills, wildflowers, endless orchards, and beautiful water vistas, this is the venue for you. Clark’s Cove, located in Walpole, was B’s favorite venue – and we were very very close to booking it! The barn can fit up to 85 inside, and up to 125 under a canopy outside. There’s a wooden patio and two suites where the bridal party can get ready or family can stay. There is also a carriage house that can easily accommodate additional guests. The property has two cost options, one for the high season and a second for the low season, both of which are fairly reasonable. This is a total do-it-yourself venue – once you rent the property, the options are endless and the venue can be dolled up or served simple based on your own personal taste. While B was quite smitten with Clark’s Cove, they didn’t have our preferred date available. This was also one of the first venues we seriously considered, and I was a bit overwhelmed at the thought of having to manage multiple vendors on my own. Organizing a caterer, renting tables and chairs, and sorting out decorations are responsibilities left to the renter. While we passed on Clark’s Cove, I highly recommend this venue if you’re looking for a serene Maine wedding weekend away from it all.
Marianmade Farm – The only word to describe Marianmade Farm is magical. I stumbled across this dreamy 13-acre farm last winter, and immediately fell in love. Up until this spring, Marianmade Farm specialized solely in flowers, growing everything from sunflowers to hydrangeas to fields and fields of lavender. However, they have just finished up their brand new lavender-drying house – a 2,000 square foot single-floor barn which will double as a reception venue. And oh my gosh, is it stunning! The barn is an airy, timber frame structure with high, arched wooden ceilings, and beautiful stained glass windows. The venue comes fully equipped with long farm tables that can seat up to 120 guests, and if you have a bigger wedding you can always rent a tent. Marianmade Farm also has a beautiful waterfront ceremony site, which is included in the rental price. Additionally, there is a lovely stone patio, a fire-pit area, a cozy bridal changing cottage, and of course fields and fields of lavender, all overlooking the Sheepscott River. B and I were quite smitten with this venue – it had everything we wanted and more, but was just on the edge of what we had wanted to pay for a wedding venue. In the end we sat on it for too long, and when I called up two months later to book, the weekend we had wanted was taken and the prices had gone up. This is one stunning venue that could have been ;) Marianmade Farm is simply wonderful, and is one of my top recommendations.
Mallet Barn – Located on the shores of Casco Bay, Mallet Barn is ideal for couples who want to enjoy the Maine seaside and still have their wedding reception in a big old Maine barn. The Mallet Barn is a rustic wooden structure, draped in twinkling fairy lights. Rental of the barn, which is quite reasonable, includes 20 adorable wooden picnic tables and a portable toilet for your guests. The barn is part of Wolfe’s Neck Farm, which is home to animals, community events, and offers activities such as hiking, biking, and kayaking. If you host a wedding at Mallet Barn, you can take advantage of farm amenities such as hayrides, camping areas, and even traditional Maine lobster bakes. Mallet Barn is perfect for couples who dream of getting hitched in an authentic Maine barn, and want the great outdoors to play a pivotal role on their wedding day.
1824 House – The 1824 House is a country-inspired style inn, with eight cozy rooms for guests. It’s not quite in Maine (ok, it’s definitely in Vermont) but it’s too idyllic not to list! Situated on the property is a beautifully restored 19th Century barn, ideal for hosting weddings. The barn is heated and insulated, and can host weddings all year round. It comfortably accommodates up to 85 guests for a sit down meal, and a tent can be rented for larger parties. The barn is located on 15 beautiful wooded acres, which consist of a private swimming hole, a sledding hill, and numerous spots to host a beautiful outdoor ceremony. Rental of the barn includes reception tables and white wedding chairs, a beautiful tent, a sound system, restrooms, a fire pit, use of the grounds and applicable permits & liability insurance. For all that is included it’s a great price, and it has several rooms for guests in the inn to boot! If you’re looking for a beautiful Vermont barn wedding, this is it :)
If none of these have tickled your fancy, here are a few others beautiful barn venues that piqued my interest at one point or another – Causeway Club, Celebration Barn, Round Barn Farm, Stone Mountain Arts Center, Edgewood Farm, Alden Camps, Clay hill Farm, Cushing Barn, and Round Top Farm. The Rustic Bride is also a great site for brides planning a countryside wedding in Maine.
And now, to reveal my lovely wedding venue!
I had previously put a deposit down on a romantic inn in Hampton, NH, but last week I stumbled across The Barn at Hardy Farm and couldn’t stop thinking about it. So much so that I asked my Mom to take a drive up to Fryeburg and check it out. When she called me, I could hear the smile in her voice, and she urged me to put down a deposit right away.
It’s absolutely everything I’ve ever wanted in a wedding venue. It’s rustic but not too woodsy. It’s chic but not cliché. And it captures all of Maine’s breathtaking countryside charm and simplicity. Truly, I feel so lucky, and can’t wait to get married at Hardy Farm next summer! x
UPDATE: I recently toured Hardy Farm, and you can find my update with photos of the house and the barn here.
*PS. While I take most of the photos on Pressed Words, this post features a compilation of beautiful wedding photos from around the web. Hats off to this lovely photography!