How Can I Help: Rehearsal Dinner and Welcome Reception

Tips for planning the rehearsal dinner and welcome reception | Mikhail Glabets Lifestyle Photography

Almost every wedding that takes place at French’s Point is a family affair for our clients. Often times parents and other family and friends participate in the wedding planning at various points in the process. Many hands make light work, right? With such a momentous occasion to look forward to, it is very common for family to offer their assistance as wedding plans are being made. We find that many mothers of the bride and mothers of the groom, in particular, really want to help. However, they don’t know exactly what they can do to help the happy couple with their plans, without overstepping the bounds of “helpful.” In this How Can I Help blog series, we will offer some ideas about how you can help your son or daughter and their partner with the planning. In our last post in this series, we offered ways you can assist with the Venue Search. This time, we will discuss how you can provide support relative to the rehearsal dinner.

Rehearsal Dinner and/or Welcome Reception?

Here are a few options to consider for wedding-related events that usually take place the day before a wedding:

  1. Ceremony Rehearsal – Typically takes an hour for the wedding couple, the wedding party and officiant to walk through the ceremony planned for the following day. It is important to keep the wedding rehearsal limited to the people involved in the ceremony to ensure questions are addressed and you can make it to the rehearsal dinner on time.
  2. Rehearsal Dinner – Can be open to just the wedding party and family participating in the wedding ceremony for an intimate affair or can be open to the whole guest list. This event typically takes place around dinner-time the night before the wedding.
  3. Welcome Reception – Typically open to the entire guest list. Allows an open arrival time over the course of 2 – 3 hours. These events often have a bar available and hors d’oeuvres or bite-sized sweet treats and take place sometime between 6 – 10 p.m. Make sure you understand the Maine laws around serving alcohol.

Questions to Ask Before Planning the Pre-Wedding Festivities

Before you begin making plans, we suggest you have a candid conversation with the future married couple and ask them about their vision of the wedding rehearsal dinner and/or welcome reception. Because traditionally the parents of the bride are the major contributors to the wedding day, it has historically been the case that the parents of the groom contribute toward the expense of the events around the rehearsal dinner. But these traditions have changed and are different for each family and circumstance. So, identifying who wishes and is able to contribute toward the cost of these events and who wishes to be in charge of planning the event is an important place to begin before planning this event.

Here are the questions you need to ask:

  • What will it look like?
  • Who will plan it?
  • Who will pay for it?
  • What is the budget?

Once these questions of have been answered, you can now begin the planning process.

Possible Pre-Wedding Day Timeline

We have had a number of clients opt to have the ceremony rehearsal at 5 p.m., and then host an intimate Rehearsal Dinner lobster bake, BBQ, or wood fired pizza party from 6 – 8 p.m. followed by a welcome cocktail reception for the entire guest list from 8 – 10 p.m. where desserts are served. I think this is my favorite combination of experiences. It gives the family and wedding party some quality time together to celebrate before they additional guests are welcomed to the weekend wedding festivities.

You can opt to host these events here at French’s Point, or you can host them at one of the alternative event locations in the area. Regardless of where you have the rehearsal dinner or welcome reception, you will want to talk about the plans with the happy couple to make sure the event is customized in a way that reflects who they are and the tone they want to set for the wedding weekend.

Featured photo by Mikhail Glabets Lifestyle Photography.

5 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Caterer

Maine wedding catering and Maine wedding planning advice

At French’s Point, we understand that our couples are seeking customized, meaningful, personal celebrations. For this reason, we encourage you to assemble your own dream team of wedding vendors to create the event that brings your wedding dream to life. Your wedding caterer is a key member of your wedding team. Food is a very memorable part of the wedding experience for you and your guests. The food and drink for your wedding reception will probably consume a large portion of your wedding budget, so you want to invest this money wisely. Remember, these costs compound with each guest you include in your celebration.

For couples new to planning an event like a wedding, catering costs can be a bit challenging to untangle because each caterer frames their pricing differently and includes different items in the standard pricing.

For couples new to planning an event like a wedding, catering costs can be a bit challenging to untangle because each caterer frames their pricing differently and includes different items in the standard pricing. Many include a cost of food in the “per-person” price of the food and will charge separately for staff/service, tax, gratuity, rentals and administrative fees, while for other caterers the “per-person” cost includes these additional fees. This makes it very difficult to really get a handle on the total costs and make an apples-to-apples comparison between providers.

The top 5 questions you should ask your wedding caterer.

1.  Do you have the necessary licenses required by the State and Town where we’re hosting our celebration?

It is important for you to know if your caterer has the proper permits to provide service at the venue hosting your event. You can also ask the venue for a list of the required licenses and permits. You can get this information at the city hall or town office where you’re getting married. Ask your caterer for a copy of the permits and licenses to keep with your wedding contract.

2.  Do you have full liability insurance and liquor liability insurance if you’re providing alcohol for my events?

As the host of the celebration, making sure that your caterer has sufficient liability coverage is crucial in limiting your own liability exposure. This is an even more significant issue if your caterer is providing alcohol and service for your events. Ask for a copy of their insurance policy for your file and be sure to check effective dates.

3.  What is your specialty and your preferred format of service style? What makes you special?

You want to be sure you are interviewing caterers that can provide your preferred style of service (buffet, sit-down dinner, etc.) effectively and that the quality of the food is in line with your vision as well. Not all caterers provide the same style of service or excel in the same areas of food service. Asking them up front what their specialty is can be a very helpful tool in determining if your principals and vision align with theirs.

4.  Are you a full service caterer?

At venues such as ours, a “Blank Canvas Venue” which allows you to choose you own catering partner, it is a key element of success to be certain that the caterer will not only provide excellent food, but that they will provide the staffing and service to handle set-up of the reception rentals as well as clean-up of the catering and food service rentals at your event. For instance, food trucks are a recent trend at weddings and they can be fun, but some foods truck caterers don’t include set-up, bussing, or break-down of rentals in their services. The same is true of a more traditional caterer. Food is only part of the equation. Service, in my opinion, is equally or more important than the food itself in the overall experience the caterer is providing to you and your guests.

5.  What is the average price range for your service at my venue and does it include food, service, staff, rentals, tax, gratuity, travel and all other fees?

Catering companies all structure their costs differently. As we mentioned above, some caterers will lump related costs (food, beverage, service) together under a per-guest price. Other companies will give you a per-guest price for food and/or beverage and then a flat fee for service/staff and another flat fee for rentals. Almost always, these costs are pre-tax, which is 7% on food and bar products only (service, rentals, or other service charges are not subject to tax) and pre-gratuity, which is typically 15-22% in Maine on the food and beverage costs only (there should not be gratuity on service, rentals, travel fees or other service charges).

Another key element in your overall catering cost is rentals. Will your caterer need to rent service trays, tray jacks, water pitchers, salt and pepper shakers, coffee station supplies, plates, silverware, linens and glassware or other catering equipment to provide your chosen meal in your chosen setting? This can be a significant and key contributing cost for your event so do not overlook it!

To ensure you partner with the very best caterer for your wedding, I cannot stress enough the importance of gathering clear information from the caterers you are considering . You want to avoid surprises, so ask these key questions before hiring your wedding caterer so you know exactly what to expect on wedding day.

By Jessika Brooks-Brewer, French’s Point Owner

Have more questions about this important topic or ready to book your tour? Contact us, we’re here to help!

Featured photo by Darling Photography.

What To Do If It Rains On Your Wedding Day

Rain on Your Wedding Day | Hailey Tash Photography

No matter how extensively you plan, you’ll always be left with one Mother (Nature) of a variable – the weather. If you get married in the spring or summer in Maine, rain is a possibility. The good news is in Hindu tradition, rain, and a lot of it, is considered great luck. That’s because a wet knot is tougher to untie than a dry one (getting married is sometimes referred to as “tying the knot”) and so rain on a wedding day foretells a long, happy, and financially secure marriage.

How to plan for bad weather

  1. The simplest way to ensure a comfortable, successful wedding in spite of rain is to host the ceremony inside. For minimal disruption and maximum enjoyment, choose a venue whose inside option is aesthetically pleasing and is located near the reception space. At French’s Point, we can easily host ceremonies in the conservatory of the estate, which provides broad views of the bay.
  2. If you’re set on staying outside, make sure you have the ceremony area covered and enclosed. At French’s Point, if your ceremony is planned for the ocean front lawn and raindrops threaten, we can easily host your ceremony inside our beautiful sail cloth tent on a full floor, ensuring your guests comfort and zero distraction from the rain drops.
  3. Finally, if there’s a good chance of rain in the forecast, consider embracing it by wearing some fun galoshes and providing umbrellas whose color matches the ceremony aesthetic or have clear tops so they don’t block the view of guests seated in the rear.

make it fun, splash around if you want, take pictures in the rain

Rain has a way of altering the wedding mood and there’s that critical moment where everyone watches the wedding party to see whether the unexpected effect will swing the vibe glass-half-empty or half-full. So make it fun, splash around if you want, take pictures in the rain. Enjoy the weather and all the good luck it brings your love knot.

Jessika Brooks Brewer

Featured image by Hailey & Joel Photography (formerly Hailey Tash Photography). Photo below by Cuppa Photography.

What to do about rain on your wedding day | Cuppa Photography

Let’s Talk About Money: Wedding Budgeting

Let's Talk About Money: Wedding Budgeting | Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

When planning a wedding, money matters. So, let’s talk about money.

I tell all of my clients that before they begin planning their dream wedding, they need to have a common vision of their wedding and a common understanding of their budget. Most couples need to sit down, first and foremost, and talk about how they imagine the celebration down to the details both large and small.

The Reality Inside the Dream

Once you have the reality inside the dream sorted out, you can create a list sorted by priority of the elements and ideas you want to include on wedding day. For some couples, their priority is catering and the wedding venue, for others its entertainment and photography, and still others may prioritize the rentals and florals. It’s totally up to you, but it’s really important to discuss this with your sweetie because you may have different opinions. In fact, you most likely will have different priorities, so it’s a good idea to talk it through and decide together on what matters most to you. Be prepared to compromise!

You can then use this list as you tinker with your budget. I always suggest this list because people are so emotionally inspired when they imagine their dream wedding that it’s sometimes hard to get past that emotion to the nitty-gritty of what you can actually afford. The priorities list allows you to honor your emotions and dreams but also be practical about scale. As you plan your wedding, you can rely heavily on this list to address each item in priority-order and within the budget.

Regarding the Size of the Budget

Regarding the size of the budget, you’ll need to know quite early on who is contributing money to the wedding. Is it all being paid for by you? Or are you getting money from, for example, parents and grandparents? To figure this out, I suggest you sit down with family members over dinner to celebrate the engagement and also to talk about their overall vision and what the family members see as their role in the wedding. Usually from this conversation comes clarity on the relatives’ ability to contribute or not. Now is actually a great time to have that conversation because families are convening for the holidays.

Avoid Budget Sprawl

Finally, to avoid budget sprawl, you should work with worst-case-scenario figures. That means the highest possible cost of the preferred vendor, the highest possible guest count — basically the most everything you are pursuing could cost you. It’s much nicer to have money left over at the end, because then you can apply it towards your honeymoon or put it in a bank to purchase a house.

The Wedding You Love and Can Afford

Your budget will ultimately be determined by your priorities, who’s chipping in, and the vision of your wedding celebration. The best advice I can give is to plan the wedding celebration that you will love and can afford!

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.

How Can I Help: Venue Search

Blog Series for Mothers of the Bride/Groom | Haven Photography

Almost every wedding that takes place at French’s Point is a family affair for our clients. Often times parents and other family and friends participate in the wedding planning at various points in the process. Many hands make light work, right? With such a momentous occasion to look forward to, it is very common for family to offer their assistance as wedding plans are being made. We find that many mothers of the bride and mothers of the groom, in particular, really want to help. However, they don’t know exactly what they can do to help the happy couple with their plans, without overstepping the bounds of “helpful.” In this How Can I Help blog series, we will offer some ideas about how you can help your son or daughter and their partner with the planning.

How Can I Help: Venue Search

If it’s the case that the parents of either the bride or the groom live closer to Maine than the couple getting married, it may be far simpler for them to talk with and tour the wedding venues in that region than it would be for the couple getting married. In many cases, we find that the couple are busy, working professionals who cannot always get time away from work for a long trip. In some instances, their parents are in a better position to travel or have less distance to travel, making them the ideal helper for this often-daunting job. Is this the case for your son or daughter’s wedding? If so, you can help!

Criteria and Priorities

To start this process, my recommendation is for you to have a conversation with the happy couple about their vision for their event and ask the following key questions:

  1. What geographical region are you interested in?
  2. What dates are you considering?
  3. What do you envision as the setting for your celebration (e.g., farm, bar, resort, oceanfront estate, restaurant, hotel, tent?)
  4. What are your priorities (e.g. food, beverage, setting, design, flowers, photography)
  5. How many guests do you envision?
  6. Where are guests traveling from?
  7. What is the wedding budget and who is contributing?

Once you have had this initial conversation, you can begin your research. Start by searching online and reading reviews for venues that meet these criteria. A good Google search for venues in Maine would be: “Maine wedding venues” or “waterfront wedding venues in Maine” or “wedding venues in Maine that can accommodate 300 people.” If you know people in the area, ask friends for personal recommendations. Now that you’ve narrowed your search down to possible venues that meet their criteria, start reaching out to each one asking about available dates, policies, and pricing information.

Once you have compiled this information, have another conversation with the wedding couple, and ask them to make a short list of venues for you to tour in person.

The Tour

Rather than picking a venue for them, you may instead want to give them an objective review of each venue. Consider creating a list of things that you want to see or experience at each venue. Here are just a few ideas we have for what could be on your venue tour checklist:

  • How kind/friendly/helpful was the staff?
  • How responsive was the staff to my questions?
  • How clean was the venue?
  • How many different options are there for ceremony site and reception?
  • Do they have indoor options in case of inclement weather?
  • Is the venue wheelchair accessible?
  • How far away is the nearest lodging?
  • Do they host more than one celebration in a day/weekend?
  • How much customization is allowed? Or, do you have to use their Preferred Vendors?

The idea is that you want to be reviewing each venue based on an objective list of criteria rather than which one you think is the best. It’s fine to offer that information, but remember, you’re on a fact-finding mission and it’s your job to bring those facts back to the wedding couple. Once the short list of favorites has been defined by the couple, determine if the couple would like to tour themselves or if they are ready to proceed with a reservation.

This venue scouting process can take weeks or even months, particularly for couples that do not live near the region in which they are planning to wed. If you are able to pitch in to help with the venue search, this can be very beneficial to the couple because expediting this process can allow them the benefit of having more dates to choose from at their top choice venue. Helping with the venue search will also allow you the opportunity to really understand what lies ahead at the venue they select and to have established a rapport with the venue staff.

Featured image by Haven Photography.

Wedding Hashtag How To

Wedding Hashtag How To | Photo by Darling Photography

Will you be using a wedding hashtag for your Maine wedding? If you don’t have one yet or if you’re not exactly sure why you need one, then keep reading. This post will help you through the process of understanding the value of a wedding hashtag and then how to create one.

A hashtag is a way to categorize images on whichever platform they are posted, be it Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Some of you already know this, but the way a hashtag works is you use the # symbol before the word(s) you’re using to categorize the image. For example, our hashtags are #fpmaine and #frenchspointweddings. When we search Instagram by one of these hashtags, we’ll be able to see all the images posted that were given the hashtag. It can work the same way for your wedding hashtag. If you choose a custom wedding hashtag then you’ll be able to see all the images that were posted of your wedding! And the best part is, you get to see your wedding from the perspective of your guests.

How to Create a Custom Wedding Hashtag

So, how do you go about creating a custom wedding hashtag? There are a few ways to do this.

  1. Use your imagination and come up with something creative and fun.
  2. Ask your friends and family to offer up ideas.
  3. Use a wedding hashtag generator.

The sky is really the limit and you can be as creative as you want. It’s fun to play off of your names or the date or the venue location. Here are some things to think about when creating your wedding hashtag:

  • First names
  • Nick names
  • Last names
  • Wedding date
  • Wedding venue
  • Wedding city
  • Wedding setting (coastal, waterfront, estate, etc.)

Some fun wedding hashtags we’ve seen are:

  • #mathewstakessides (last names are Mathews and Sides)
  • #foreverknissingrichard (last names are Kniss and Richard)
  • #meetthemillersatfp (new last name is Miller and the “fp” is for French’s Point)
  • #stokedtobealopes (new last name is Lopes)
  • #bindthereframethat (last names are Bind and Frame)
  • #whenharrymetcallie (first names are Harry and Callie)

Tell Your Guests to Use Your Hashtag

Once you have your wedding hashtag you have to make sure your guests know what it is. Here are some ideas for how to communicate your hashtag to your guests:

  • Put it discreetly on the invitation
  • Post it prominently on your wedding website
  • Start using it leading up to the wedding
  • Put in on the ceremony program
  • Put it on the welcome board or on other wedding signage

Tell your wedding party to use it and to spread the word about it

We can’t wait to see what you come up with! Post your hashtag in the comments below. And don’t forget to use #fpmaine when posting photos from your French’s Point wedding.

Featured photo by Darling Photography

Drafting Your Best Wedding Vendor Team

Drafting Your Wedding Vendor Team | Photo by Greta Tucker Photography, Catering by Bar Harbor Catering

Planning a wedding is like picking players for an epic game of dodge ball. Did you know that couples will engage six to 18 wedding vendors for their wedding? So, if you are planning a wedding in Maine, you will need to find on average 12 providers for your event. Some of these services are:

  • Venue
  • Catering/Bar
  • Cake/Dessert
  • Wedding Coordinator
  • Photography
  • Videography
  • Floral/Event Design
  • Stationary/Paper Goods
  • Ceremony & Reception Entertainment
  • Officiant
  • Transportation
  • Lodging
  • Attire

Here are the key steps to follow to draft a kick @#% wedding vendor team:

Game Plan

Discuss and define your priorities for your wedding with your intended. My advice is to sit down with a bottle of wine, an open mind, and a stack of index cards. Create two sets of cards with a vendor from the list above written on each card. Independently, rate the vendor categories in order of importance. Place the index cards in order of highest to lowest priority on the table or floor (depending on how much wine you consume during this process). Then share them with your love and discuss. The items that you mutually rank the highest would have the greatest value. These items become your top priority. The remaining items get a value that is determined based on a mutual agreement of priority. Once you have determined your game plan, you can move on to step two.

Do you have Boosters/Sponsors?

Before you are able to start looking for your wedding vendors, do your homework and determine your budget. Typically, there are two budget numbers to identify:

  1. What are you able to spend (your maximum available)?
  2. What are you comfortable spending (what you feel is an acceptable value for the service)?

Likely you and your sweetheart may not agree on both of these numbers, but it’s important that you find common ground. Talk with your partner and look at your finances and discuss what resources you are able and willing to invest in this celebration. If family will be contributing, find out what elements they will pay for and how much they are willing to spend. Occasionally we have had an over-eager family member say “I will pay for the flowers” until they come to understand that, unlike their intimate 80-guest wedding, you plan to have 10 wedding attendants and 250 guests at your event and need bouquets, boutonnieres and centerpieces for all. Ultimately, this will help you save time by ruling out vendors that are not within your means.

Huddle Up

Talk to your family and friends about their own wedding planning experiences. Their wealth of knowledge may help you avoid some pitfalls along the way as you choose your vendors for your event.

Hire a wedding planner that understands your budget and priorities who can refer trusted and experienced professionals. I can’t express how helpful this is!

Talk to your wedding venue. In many cases the venue has a preferred vendor list filled with qualified professionals whom they trust. Just be sure to ask if you are required to use these vendors or if there are any other restrictions from the venue about the vendors your hire.

So, what players have you picked for your wedding day team? If you need help finding wedding vendors, check out our list of preferred wedding vendors who we have worked with and trust or contact us. We’re always happy to help!

Featured photo by Greta Tucker Photography; Catering, cake and bar in photo by Bar Harbor Catering Company; Floral design by Flora Fauna

Vendor Spotlight: Cairn Events

Vendor Spotlight: Cairn Events | Emilie, Inc. Photography

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!

Heather Cuzzi, of Cairn Events, is a treasured friendor (wedding vendor and industry friend) here in our office at French’s Point. Erin, Sarah and I all love collaborating with Heather on any event. We have very high expectations of wedding planners and coordinators, given our own background and experience, and Heather exceeds them every time. I have been blessed to get to know Heather on a personal level, and I have grown very fond of her and admire her greatly both professionally and personally. She is a calm, serene, professional wedding planner that can take on what could be challenging events to anyone else. Not only will she do it with ease, she will thrive and elevate the experience of that event beyond anyone’s hopes or expectations. She recently coordinated a wedding on an island in Casco Bay and had to coordinate a fleet of over 200 ships, barges and boats to provide the services needed for that beautiful celebration. I asked her how she did it and she said that after planning hundreds of political events for thousands of people all over the country, a couple hundred boats in Portland harbor was no big deal.

We hosted a beautiful Maine wedding that Heather brought to French’s Point last year, and I am very hopeful we will have an opportunity to collaborate with her on many more events in the future.   She is one in a million and I can tell you, her clients LOVE her, just as I just love her. Meet Heather, the founder and visionary at Cairn Events!

What made you want to be a wedding planner?

I honestly fell into the business. I had worked in politics raising money and managing logistics both here in Maine and nationally for over 10 years, and when I was pregnant with my first child – those worlds collided. I could not do both anymore. A former campaign contact was looking for a wedding coordinator for an island wedding here in Maine….well, the rest is history.

What is the best part of your job?

Every day, every client and every challenge is different. I continue to learn new methods and new things about myself and my business.

What should I ask a potential planner I’m interviewing?

I think that it is most important to take the time to chat and get to know each other. If it is not a fit personality- and expectation-wise…it is going to make planning a very long process.

What are the advantages of hiring a wedding planner?

The couple, the family and wedding party do not have to worry about anything. Also, I am in the “weeds” on details every day. It will take me and my team less time to get the task done. In the end, I truly believe that the wedding planner pays for themselves.

When should I hire a planner?

The earlier the better. I have seen an increase in helping my clients find their wedding locations. It is amazing to work with someone for so long – you all become equally invested in the result.

What does a wedding planner do?

Anything and everything. I have helped to find locations, book venues, design the event, manage vendors, manage transportation/ travel and housing. Truly, there is not much that I would not be willing to do.

Describe your client.

My client is typically in their early to mid thirties, well education, getting married on or near the water. They always want their event to reflect them. My clients always have a connection to Maine, but rarely live here. I am their eyes, ears and voice through the planning process.

Tell us about your company and how it began.

It began in 2009, when I started consulting doing mostly political events and fundraisers. Then, I did my first wedding….I was hooked. The logistics and rush of the process was exactly what I needed. One of the best parts is that it has allowed me to be home with my kiddos. Now, I have a daughter in 1st grade and a son in preschool. It has created a great work/life balance.

I think that my company niche is water…and islands. Instead of hesitating in any way when it comes to building a custom venue on an island…I am enthusiastic. The logistics, the island feel and the overall challenge of an island makes me tick.

What inspires you?

My clients inspire me. Listening to them, seeing photos of their likes and dislikes, watching their process of picking out paper. These are all jumping off points to make sure that their day is wonderful.

Favorite Place to hike in Maine?

On the border of New Hampshire in Fryeburg.

Favorite place to Eat in Maine?

So hard…Scales.

Favorite Place to Rest in Maine?

Any beach.

Favorite Wedding Month?

September.

 

Heather Cuzzi
Cairn Events
Southern Maine
(207) 650-8486
www.cairnevents.com

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All Photos by Emilie, Inc.

 

Vendor Spotlight: Cairn Events | Emilie, Inc. Photography

Vendor Spotlight: Cairn Events | Emilie, Inc. Photography

Vendor Spotlight: Cairn Events | Emilie, Inc. Photography

Vendor Spotlight: Cairn Events | Emilie, Inc. PhotographyVendor Spotlight: Cairn Events | Emilie, Inc. Photography

Vendor Spotlight: Cairn Events | Emilie, Inc. Photography

Deciding to do a First Look at French’s Point?

Deciding to do a First Look at French's Point | Rebecca Arthurs Photography

Traditionally, many efforts have been made to keep the couple from seeing each other on the wedding day prior to the ceremony. Even though so many wedding traditions have fallen by the wayside, this tradition remained. However, in recent years, we have seen a major trend shift in the approach to wedding photos that has increasingly caused this age-old tradition to loose footing as well. We have seen the emergence of the “First Look” photo session before the wedding ceremony takes place. The “First Look” is a term photographers use to describe when the couple sees each other for the first time before the ceremony in a private setting and it is captured on film for posterity. With a “First Look,” the photographer will stage a moment, usually in a beautiful, scenic, private spot, where they’ll capture you and your sweetie seeing each other for the first time on your wedding day, freshly dressed in your wedding attire. At French’s Point, this usually happens an hour or two before the ceremony and is followed by a series of photos of just you and your intended. Sometimes even the wedding party will be photographed before the ceremony, just after the first look.

There are so many amazing spots here on our property to stage a “First Look,” or a private session like this between just the two of you and the photographer, and then eventually, your immediate family and wedding party. A recent couple chose to have their first look on the Relaxation Room balcony on the second level overlooking Penobscot Bay, while another chose to have it on the beach down by the ocean, and another staged their first look on our overlook terrace at Beach Rose Farm, and another under our wedding tree. When you come for a visit, you’ll see how many stunning options you have to choose from to customize your “First Look” experience.

It is important for each of our couples to decide what is best for them. Everyone has different expectations, personalities, visions of their wedding day, and other wedding day logistics to consider when making the decision about whether or not to have a First Look. In order to help you make the decision that’s right for you, we’re laying out what we see are the pros and cons of a First Look.

4 Pros of a “First Look”

  1. It’s a beautiful, intimate moment for you two to connect before the ceremony without anyone watching. For people who don’t like being the center of attention, this can ease that stress.
  2. It can make you more relaxed during your ceremony because the anxiety of seeing each other for the first time has already elapsed. And a more relaxed ceremony is always a good thing.
  3. In order to prepare for the First Look, you’re in your wedding outfit early, which means the wedding will likely start on time. Most weddings start late due to it taking longer to get dressed than was allotted for, so having a “First Look” means you’ll be all dressed up and ready to go well in advance of the ceremony.
  4. If you get a lot of photos taken before the ceremony, you’ll have fewer to take afterwards, which means you’ll be able to relax with your guests and enjoy the cocktail hour. Cheers!

A “First Look,” is the right choice for some of our clients, but not for all. There are certainly reasons to forgo the “First Look.” Since I was married here in 2008, I can share with you why I felt that not having a “First Look” was the right choice for me.

5 Cons of a “First Look”

  1. There are only so many surprises in life… why not forgo the “First Look” and enjoy the surprise and delight of that first moment when you walk the path toward your beloved… speaking from first-hand experience, that memory will burn brightly for years to come, charged with much excitement, love and anticipation.
  2. Sometimes traditions are wonderfully sweet, as is the case with not seeing your future spouse on the wedding day before the ceremony. I feel that not having a “First Look” is one tradition that is often times, very well suited to clients that choose French’s Point for their wedding. This is because we offer such dramatic ceremony locations and entrances… there is nothing that surpasses the beauty a stroll down our 250 foot promenades.
  3. You have more time to prepare before the ceremony and can actually start this process a bit later in the morning if you forgo the “First Look.” The end result is a more relaxed preparation period and more time to enjoy the company of your wedding party. This is of particular importance for anyone who chooses to have a large number of attendants, as you will need to allow more time for hair and make-up services.
  4. You run a greater risk of your ceremony starting late if your “First Look” starts late which can also make the time before the ceremony more stressful.
  5. There is an increased likelihood that your early-arriving guests will catch a glimpse of you before the ceremony if you have a “First Look.”

Another Option

If you forgo a “First Look” because for you the cons outweigh the pros, consider a “First Touch.” This is when the photographer stages a moment for the two of you to be photographed touching backs, holding hands on either side of a door, or partition between you, or blindfolded and hugging but not actually seeing each other. Fun, right? I have seen some very sweet moments this year where clients have chosen to exchange and read love notes to each other on the opposite side of the door while holding hands. So sweet!

However you choose to embrace these ideas is up to you. We, here at French’s Point, strongly encourage you to personalize your wedding in whatever ways make sense for you and your sweetie.

Featured photo by Rebecca Arthurs Photography

Deciding to do a First Look at French's Point | Cuppa Photography

Cuppa Photography

Deciding to do a First Look at French's Point | Cuppa Photography

Cuppa Photography

Deciding to do a First Look at French's Point | Michele Turner Photography

Michele Turner Photography

Deciding to do a First Look at French's Point | Christy Murray Photography

Christy Murray Photography

Wedding Planning Websites

maine wedding

Congratulations! Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days to pop the question. About 30,000 couples will start their lives together today. Take a deep breathe and enjoy this moment. You are engaged and life feels perfect. But here are a few sites to help you avoid getting overwhelmed as your life starts changing faster than your Facebook relationship status.

Couples today have plenty of online opportunities to hone in on what they need to create their ideal wedding. While there’s no replacing savvy wedding planners like the staff at French’s Point, it’s certainly undeniable that the Internet is a tremendous resource for start-to-finish wedding inspiration. Even a little while spent at quality sites can help a couple realize in detail what they had perhaps only dreamt about in the abstract. Here are a few of my favorite sites to get you brainstorming:


The Knot – This website for the eponymous gold-standard wedding magazine combines the magazine’s punchy, informative articles with simple planning tools covering everything from engagement to honeymoon. At The Knot, you can, for example, look for area vendors; watch a video about how much is too much to pay for a wedding cake; or monitor your budget, guest list, and registry. Be sure to check out the “Real Weddings” section, where you can get a ton of ideas from the slideshow profiles of readers’ ceremonies. To help you compare apples to apples, “Real Weddings” is also divided into categories like fall, winter, summer, and spring; budget; and destination.


Prepare to Wed – PreparetoWed.com is streamlined, stunning online resource that also manages to pack in a wealth of detailed advice on every aspect of the wedding ceremony. Designed by a wedding planner, Prepare to Wed offers tools to manage your guest list, budget, and other important aspects of the ceremony, and also includes an impressive archive of “Expert Advice” from top vendors working in all aspects of the wedding. The archive is searchable by season or wedding style and includes hundreds of posts on everything from whether to invite children to the wedding to what to do if it rains on your wedding day. You can even tap the archives for aesthetic inspiration by searching by the colors you intend to use at your ceremony. Be prepared to lose an afternoon sifting through this impressive resource – this is an easy site to get addicted to.


Wedding Wire – Another excellent resource for couples that includes budget, guest list, and registry planners; WeddingWire.com’s distinction is its database of 200,000 vendor reviews. Searchable by zip code and service, the reviews are done by real newlyweds who rank vendors according to quality of service, responsiveness, professionalism, value, and flexibility. Wedding Wire also gives out annual awards for the best-rated vendors and badges to vendors who received three or more reviews in the past year (which Wedding Wire says means the vendors care about honest feedback). Both of these badges can be found on the vendor’s profile.

maine wedding planning

Maine Wedding Company is an online wedding planning source for destination weddings and for creative couples getting married in Maine. From luxury seaside resorts to casual lobster bakes on the beach, Maine provides a unique experience for Maine destination brides and local Maine brides alike.  Their  featured Maine Wedding Company vendor members are exceptionally talented, setting trends and going above and beyond in service. The MWC’s network of wedding professionals stand for quality and hospitality.

Finally, don’t forget French’s Point’s website. Here you can find information on Maine wedding accommodations and destinations, sample itineraries, a directory of Maine wedding vendors, and a gallery of past weddings at French’s Point to help you picture your own special day here.