French’s Point Estate is thrilled to continue our series of blog posts spotlighting amazing Maine wedding vendors that help to make weddings at our waterfront wedding venue not only successful but truly the embodiment of the experience our clients strive to craft for their family and friends. This series will showcase some of the best providers from our vibrant, talented, dedicated wedding industry community we are so proud to be a part of here in Maine and New England. This group of professional wedding vendors understands and adheres to our guiding principles for the service we endeavor to provide our clients: Be Responsive, Be Kind, Provide Excellent Customer Service, Provide the Very Best Product/Service. Because of these wonderful people, the celebrations here are French’s Point Estate are the stuff of which dreams are made!
Maria, the owner of A Sweet Start, is truly one of my favorite people on the planet and certainly one of my favorite wedding professionals. Not only is she an incredible officiant and member of a wedding vendor team, she is also incredibly well-spoken, kind, thoughtful, 100% vested in her couples, and a leader in the Maine Wedding vendor community. She is an amazing connector of wedding resources. She has worked hard to make her blog and website a resource of knowledge and information which you can use to plan your wedding and assemble your wedding team. She knows more wedding professionals than anyone else I know. Maria’s clients receive an incredible gift working with her as their officiant. She works with her couples to create a meaningful wedding ceremony. After all, at its core, a wedding is the celebration of two lives joining as one. Maria can help you make this moment in your lives unique to you and unforgettable for you and your guests. I’m very proud to introduce you to my dear friend, Maria from A Sweet Start.
How long have you been operating your business?
I performed my first wedding in 2011. For four years after that I operated A Sweet Start on a part-time basis while still working a full-time “day job.” In 2015 I quit my day job to focus all my love and attention on growing my wedding business. I’m the living embodiment of following your passion. This is the work I’m meant to do!
How would you describe your service?
I collaborate with my couples to craft a totally originally, completely unique wedding ceremony that reflects who they are, their relationship, their family traditions and their hopes and dreams for the future. Together we write a custom ceremony that’s heartfelt and full of love (without being overly sentimental or sappy). I offer advice on the flow of the ceremony, suggestions for meaningful elements to add into the ceremony, a folder full of diverse readings, ideas for including people in the ceremony, feedback on the logistics (processional, pairing of attendants, recessional, etc.) and guidance on getting the marriage license. I’m there for my couples in whatever way they need me to be. So many of my couples know they want a unique and genuine ceremony performed by someone who is warm, maybe even fun-loving, and full of life. I strive to be that officiant for all my couples!
What makes your work unique?
I’m different from a lot of other officiants in that, not only do I collaborate with my couples to craft a totally heartfelt and meaningful wedding ceremony, I also help them envision and then plan all the logistics of the ceremony. I organize their wishes into an agenda and facilitate their rehearsal in order to bring their vision to life. My job is to help my couples feel grounded, relaxed and supported throughout the entire wedding weekend. I try to make the rehearsal fun and festive, while still making sure everyone knows their cue and where they’re supposed to go. On wedding day I try to slow…down…time. I want to pause all the wonderful chaos of wedding day in order to allow my couples to take a few moments to acknowledge the commitment they are about to make; to allow them to take a deep breath, look at each other and reflect upon this significant moment in their lives. I provide so much more than just reading a script. I’m their guide through the process of getting married.
How many hours does it take you to write, plan and perform a ceremony?
Each wedding and each couple is a little different, so the answer is “it depends.” But generally I spend any where from 10 – 20 hours on each couple. That includes the unlimited email communication I offer them, crafting the ceremony, revising it with their feedback, fine-tuning and finalizing it, offering advice on all aspects of the ceremony, the pre-wedding meeting, practicing the ceremony, running the rehearsal, performing the ceremony and filing the marriage license.
What is the cost of your services?
I’m one of the most expensive wedding officiants in the State for a reason: because my entire being is fully invested in each couple I work with. I’ll never say the wrong name during the ceremony or embarrass my couples. I get to know my clients, and not just their names, but who they are as individuals and as a couple. There’s a lovely warm connection between us on wedding day. The best compliment I get is when a guest comes up to me after the ceremony and asks me how long I’ve known the wedding couple (usually it’s a matter of months) thinking that we’re old friends! My prices reflect my complete devotion to my craft, my couples and their guests. You can view my prices on my website.
Do you oversee the ceremony rehearsal?
As part of my service to every client, I facilitate the wedding rehearsal. I collaborate with the wedding planner and site coordinator, but ultimately, I manage the entire rehearsal. I find that the couple and I have spent so much time and energy planning out all the logistics of the rehearsal, down to the smallest detail, that it only makes sense for me to guide the couple, their wedding party and family members through the rehearsal. A fun, relaxed and well organized rehearsal sets the tone for the wedding weekend. It’s really the first part of the weekend’s festivities, therefore I try to make it light and joyful!
What’s your favorite staycation location in Maine?
Last year, for the first time, my husband and I traveled up to Sugarloaf in August. Being up there during the summer was amazing; it was so quiet and peaceful. There are great hiking trails and some of the restaurants stay open during the summer, so it makes for a great, relaxing getaway spot!
All photos by Haven Photography