The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.
The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.
We’re lucky to work with some of the best wedding professionals in the business. These experts manage details beautifully and are exceptional at their craft. We wanted to share the thoughts of three of our favorites. What trends do they see in the industry? Why do they love being a part of events here?
How long have you been doing your craft?
What do you love about it?
Since 2005, I have been a part of some pretty special weddings in Maine, New Hampshire, and beyond. One of the best parts of the job is exploring the summer camps, lake house retreats, seaside family compounds, family farms, and historic properties and estates that my couples are considering for their celebrations.
What do you love most about the Wells Reserve at Laudholm?
From the first time I visited, I was struck by how picture-perfect it is and I never tire of being part of weddings on the farm. The setting is unlike any other in the area. The barn and main house have been kept up with love and care. The outbuildings remind you of its New England agricultural and farming history. The sloping fields and surrounding woods allow you to ramble. On a clear day you can see the ocean and on a foggy day it’s equally lovely with mystery and sounds of the sea. When the sun starts to go down over the fields it can be the golden time of summer we all want to hold on to. And when day gives in to night, you can catch your breath from dancing and look up to the open sky filled with stars.
What is special from an event planning perspective?
The barn is fantastic! You’ve got to embrace its dustiness, its wear, and the tools hung on the wall reminding you of its working history. There really aren’t many barns around that are this big where you can dance ‘til midnight under festive lights.
The main house with its view over the woods and its lovely porch with white columns makes for a quiet spot in the shade during cocktails.
The lawns surrounding the buildings are ideal spots to pitch a tent for dinner.
Any other thoughts on why this is such a great spot for a wedding?
The property offers so much flexibility; it is yours for the weekend, so you can dance until midnight, plus you are contributing to the numerous educational, preservation, and outreach efforts it offers. As a bonus, you can always come back to where you said “I do” and share it with future generations!
What’s your experience with the Wells Reserve at Laudholm been like?
Fabulous. The farm and surrounding grounds are beautiful, as is the mission, research, and stewardship that the Reserve and Trust are committed to. Knowing that makes being there and photographing a wedding even more special. I absolutely love documenting a couple's wedding day at Laudholm.
What about it makes it a great place for shooting weddings?
One great facet is that the entire wedding day celebration can take place on site. The couple usually gets ready at a nearby family home, rented property, or local hotel. Guests are typically lodging in nearby hotels or inns and can make the short drive, or some couples will hire shuttles to pick up guests and easily transport them between their hotel and the venue. Once on site, the ceremony, cocktails, dinner, and dancing can all be conveniently hosted on the property. The wedding area is vast, but varied. There are so many different locations on the property, both inside and outside, where you can set up tents, hold the ceremony, and shred the dance floor!
Festivities are not so far that it will take up precious time to move guests from place to place around the property, yet not so close that folks feel cramped. Instead, guests can easily stroll between the barn, the front lawn, the ceremony trees, the back field, the side field, and trail in the field. All of these varied locations in close proximity really help me with photographic options. I can easily move from capturing guests playing lawn games and relaxing on the green, to sneaking in a few portraits with just the couple, to being able to run into the barn to document some dinner details and set up before guests are seated. That is a huge convenience for me as a photographer as I document as much of a wedding day as possible.
Couples enjoy having the lush trees in their wedding photos as well as the old barn and buildings, the tall golden grasses, the distant ocean — there so much to work with. The inside of the barn is often used for dancing during the reception, and while it is dark wood couples often have uplighting added to the space to allow for ambiance. That light really helps to bring the space to life, definitely adds to photos, and really shows off the warm barnboard walls.
The grounds are immaculate and the care and love that the staff puts into the property is evident year-round. I have shot both summer and fall weddings — the sunlight is beautiful as it moves around the property in all seasons and the fall foliage is stunning. Even on an overcast day, I don’t think I’d run out of places to take pictures.
How many weddings have you shot here?
I have shot four weddings and a family portrait session at Laudholm and was lucky enough to be a guest at one of my best friend’s weddings.
Are there any things that make the Wells Reserve special or unique?
I like that the weddings really help to fund the preservation, research, and education of the reserve. Everyone in Maine loves the natural beauty the state has to offer, particularly coastal ecosystems. The reserve works to protect, restore, conserve, and spark dialogue about these precious and critical environmental resources. It’s a cause that most everyone would champion, if they fully realized what this venue has to offer not only for their wedding day, but as a national ecological steward. To top it off, it is located just off Route 1 in Wells and a mere 35 miles from Portland — making it easily accessible for both out-of-state and local wedding guests.
What reasons have couples shared with you for choosing this venue to celebrate their special day?
Most of my couples have made direct comments to me about how the mission of the Wells Reserve was a contributing factor for them choosing to have their wedding there, or they had a family connection to the area and the reserve. They have all enjoyed being able to have the property for the weekend and to have one venue for the entire day’s wedding celebration, including both the ceremony and reception. Without a doubt, they all remark how much they just love the property — being surrounded by the natural beauty and bucolic landscape, the idyllic old yellow barn, farmhouse, and neighboring buildings. Having spent as much time there as I have over the years, I can absolutely understand why couples love this venue for their wedding day. It really is a magical place that is perfect for honoring such a big moment in their lives.
How many weddings would you say you've catered here?
I’m thinking at least 50. Kitchen Chicks has been catering weddings and events at this venue since 2005. On average, we cater four or more weddings each year there.
What do you think attracts couples to this venue?
The iconic barn, farmhouse, and surrounding fields offer a one-of-a-kind spectacular backdrop for a Maine wedding. The landscape provides so many beautiful views that naturally change along with spring, summer, and fall. So, natural beauty has to be the number one attraction, followed by the many possibilities offered for event space. The rustic barn space, picturesque ceremony site with ocean views at the top of the hill, the grand porch of the farmhouse, and the various open areas for tents make the Wells Reserve at Laudholm an ideal wedding venue. Renting it for the entire weekend offers plenty of different options for a rehearsal dinner, wedding, and brunch set up. With ample parking, power resources, and restrooms on site there’s a significant cost savings for clients who choose to use it for multiple events of their wedding weekend.
What are some features that make this a special site for your business?
The team at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm have helped forge a strong business partnership with us over the years. We value this relationship and appreciate the opportunity to work at this beautiful place. Our staff loves doing events at the farm — we’re often working outside on a Maine summer or fall day and it’s refreshing. Even in the rain, the property is majestic. Catering is another term for schlep… it involves a lot of lugging and hauling for setup and tear down. The event spaces are a breeze for load-in compared to other venues we work at and there’s so much clean, available space for us to set up back-of-house operations for an event. The venue’s on-site staff -- Tracy, John, and Mark -- are easy to work with and provide support as needed during pre-event set-up along with help troubleshooting during an event.
What are some of the most recent trends in catering?
Rehearsal dinners are morphing into more casual “welcome parties” for all guests attending the wedding. While many clients still hold a seated rehearsal dinner, some are eschewing the formality of a seated dinner for a “come one / come all, welcome to Maine” evening of cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and dancing.
Late-night menus are really big. Beef sliders, mac & cheese, pizza, French fries, and breakfast sandwiches are all popular after a night of imbibing and dancing. Late-night snacks are the perfect ending to a fun-filled evening of partying and celebration.
Are your couples mostly coming from out-of-state or are they "locals"?
Many of our couples have ties to Maine, whether they grew up summering in the area, went to college here, or have family who live along the coast. Many of our brides and grooms live out-of-state now but return to Maine’s natural beauty as a truly special place for their wedding celebration and the start of their lives as a couple. We have a few couples each season who have no ties to Maine but are captivated by the beautiful natural backdrop that Maine has to offer for wedding festivities with family and friends. We have worked with couples from all over the world including London, Singapore, and Paris, as well as Germany, Canada, and Russia. Maine, and the Wells Reserve at Laudholm in particular, have so much offer to anyone looking for a beautiful, one-of-a-kind, memorable destination wedding experience.
Do you have any unique stories you can share about events or weddings you've catered here?
This is a very special place indeed. We have countless stories from the past 11 years. The best one I can share is that we now throw our annual Staff Halloween Party in the barn. We love working there and we love playing there!