It's restaurant week in Maine! So it seems like a fitting time to share some of my favorite places to eat and drink in Maine.
First of all a bunch of important disclaimers!
1. This most definitely isn't the definitive guide to food in this wonderful state - there are still tons of places we have left to explore/restaurants we need to make reservations at!
2. My only qualifications for choosing these restaurants is that I'm local and really enjoy eating and drinking.
3. If I'm out for dinner then I want to eat my food while it's hot and I also don't want to annoy the chef or fellow diners by setting up/lighting my dinner plate/pulling out my big camera. So all of the food pictures are quick cell phone snaps :) Don't judge! My wedding photography skills don't seem to extend to food photography when I'm hungry ;)
4. Sometimes I'm so into the food that I forget to snap a picture until I'm half way through eating. Deal with it :)
Where to start? Hmm, how about our favorite places to eat close to home. We have a house in Casco, ME it's literally minutes from the amazing Maine wedding venue Migis Lodge on the edge of Lake Sebago. I'll be photographing a number of weddings there later this year so hopefully this information will also prove useful to my Migis Lodge wedding clients!
Best Restaurants in Windham, Raymond, Casco, Naples and Bridgton, Maine
Our home is off of the Roosevelt Trail more usually known as US Route 302 on the quiet and charming Thomas Pond. Route 302 runs from Portland, Maine all the way up to Montpelier, Vermont. In Windham you have the usual chain restaurants but I prefer to visit locally-owned places - I'll be honest, Windham isn't really a hot bed of foodie choices but there are some solid choices :)
Best BBQ in Windham, ME - Bucks Naked BBQ
Bucks Naked BBQ - 4 Turning Leaf Dr, Windham, Maine, 04062 - 207 893 0600
Cozy bar and restaurant, great cocktails, excellent ribs and pulled pork. I usually get the grilled Korean short ribs which are the perfect heat (once you add the jalapeños) when wrapped up in a fresh lettuce leaf. There are also restaurants in Freeport (near the outlets) and downtown Portland
Best Cinema Pub in Windham, ME - Smitty's Cinema
Smitty's Cinema - 795 Roosevelt Trail, Windham, Maine 04062 - 207 892 7000
One of our favorite things to do on a lazy winter afternoon is to head over to Smitty's to catch a movie. It's a little different than the usual movie experience as you sit in a sort of stadium style theatre on a big comfy leather chair (on wheels) and enjoy snacks, dinner, dessert and/or a cocktail or beer. Chicken wings are good :)
Best Ice Cream in North Windham, ME - The Dug Out
The Ice Cream Dugout - Rt 302, North Windham
Skip Dairy Queen and drive a little further along Rt 302 to get to the Ice Cream Dugout. Baseball themed flavors and sizes abound and the ice cream tastes amazing. Pick up a loyalty card and you'll soon get a free ice cream.
Leaving Windham and following Rt 302 you'll enter the little town of Raymond and it would be remiss of me not to mention The Good Life Market. Keep going and you'll hit Casco, Naples then Bridgton.
Best Pub for lobster roll and a local beer in Naples, Maine - The Galley
The Galley- 327 Roosevelt Trail, Naples, Maine 04055 - 207 693 1002
This unassuming building in the back of a parking lot near a gas station is amazing. The lemon pepper lobster roll is killer. Man vs. food also declared it one of the best lobster rolls in the area. The mussels are plump and swimming in the perfect wine/garlic/butter sauce along with hunks of crusty grilled bread to mop up the juice. Parmesan fish bites are a tasty little snack if you're just having a pint of locally brewed beer at the bar. Speaking of beer they have an amazing option of local beers on draft and they change weekly - if Baxters is on the list then try a pint with the mussels. If you're a hot sauce nut then check out the insanely hot shrimp and wings challenge - my brother only managed 3 and a half shrimp before admitting defeat. Closed on Mondays, there's trivia on Tuesdays and Karaoke on Fridays.
Also worth mentioning - Bray's Brew Pub in Naples, ME. Great option if you want a beer that's been brewed on site. The food is good and there's a great little beer garden in the back. Try one of the beer samplers - pick 6 different options and get a cute little wooden tray with little beer glasses.
Best Provisions Store in Raymond, ME - The Good Life Market
The Good Life Market - 1297 Roosevelt Trail, Raymond, Maine - 207 655 1196
Part deli, part coffee shop, part liquor store, part specialty market - I love this place. Everything from wine and beer to international foods, prepared foods (make sure to get the brocolli salad, the wild rice and chicken salad and if they ever have quiche you don't want to miss it). Soups are always piping hot and tasty. The perfect spot to pick up picnic supplies, a sandwich for the drive home, a hostess gift if you've been invited to dinner! You can eat in, there's a little dining room in back or picnic tables outside in the summer or take out. They also have a really great selection of Gluten Free products in the freezer. Call ahead to order your sandwiches in the summer as it can be crazy busy - the breakfast sandwiches are delicious with made-to-order egg and veggies (and sausage or bacon) and unless you're ravenous they easily feed two people. In the summer we'll pick up sandwiches and they take them out on the lake for a picnic - I love the Blue Moon Chicken Salad with walnuts and cranberries, Paul usually gets the Lob-Star with a generous helping of lobster meat, pine nuts and mozzarella (sounds weird but really awesome).
Best Ice Cream in Raymond, ME - The Mosquito
The Mosquito - 1333 Roosevelt Trail, Raymond, Maine 04071 - 207 655 2899
Huge portions (the tadpole is the smallest size and it's still huge), a ton of great flavors and milkshakes and frappes.
Best Outdoor Maine Wedding Venue - Migis Lodge on Lake Sebago, South Casco, ME
Best Elegant Camp Vacation Resort - Migis Lodge on Lake Sebago
Migis Lodge - Roosevelt Trail, South Casco, Maine 04077 - 207 655 4524
Yes, I'm giving two awards to Migis Lodge. It's seriously one of the most stunning locations in Maine to get married. You can plan your wedding in May, the first weekends in June and then September through to the first weekend in November. You get exclusive use of the property on your wedding day and your guests can stay in the 35 cottages and 6 lodge rooms. You'll arrive in an antique boat and can exchange vows under the pines overlooking Lake Sebago. I'm so excited to photograph two weddings there later this year and another in 2015! Here's a beautiful Migis Lodge Wedding for you to check out.
If you're not planning a wedding and you're just looking for an amazing vacation in Maine then Migis is such a great option. It's kind of like super elegant camping - you have a private cottage with your own porch, full maid service, fresh flowers, ice and firewood delivered daily and the food - amazing! Lakeside cookouts, picnics on the private island, pancake breakfast down by the lake and lakeside lobster bakes. Jackets are required for dinner. You don't have to stay to enjoy dinner - just make an advance reservation if you're in the area!
Best Winery in Casco, Maine - Blacksmiths Winery
Blacksmiths Winery - Rt 302 Casco, Maine (opposite the turning for Migis Lodge) - 207 655 3292
Stop by this local winery to pick up cute wine theme gifts and to try local Maine wine, crisp apple hard cider and tasty sodas. Hang out at the tasting bar or even sit out on the porch to enjoy your wine.
Best Irish Pub in Naples, Maine - The Black Bear
The Black Bear Cafe - 215 Roosevelt Trail, Naples, Maine 04055 - 207 693 4770
This is our "local" I guess and it's awesome! Oh those breadsticks! You'll walk in and be warmly greeted by John or Susan. The chef is SUPER talented and cooks food that would be at home in any great restaurant in Portland or Boston but hoorah it's in Naples, ME and just a few miles from home. A mug of tall salted/herbed breadsticks warm from the oven will be there for you to munch on while you choose what to eat. Our favorites include the twin filets, fish and chips (ask for malt vinegar for your chips), the margarita pizza with fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil and pretty much everything else on the menu. There's usually live music on a Friday and Saturday and it can get really busy so go early or call ahead. In the summer you can sit outside (bring your bug spray if you'll be out late).
Best Frozen Custard in the World - Raymond's Frozen Custard
Raymond's Frozen Custard - Roosevelt, Casco, ME 04015 - 207 655 1116
The egg yolks are key to the ridiculously creamy and rich ice cream. This little farm stand on the side of road has a little white board which is updated each day with the freshly churned flavors made on site. Vanilla and Black Raspberry are standards and then there are usually 4-6 additional flavors which change every few days. Rum raison, strawberry cheesecake and mint choc chip were all historic flavors. Bring a cooler and some ice and buy a few pints to take home!
If you continue on further along Rt 302 you'll eventually arrive in Bridgton.
Best Pub in a gas station - Standard Gastropub
Standard Gastropub - 233 Main Street, Bridgton, Maine 04009 - 207 647 4100
No it's not a restaurant in an old converted gas station it's actually a working gas station with great beers and the most delicious sandwiches. You walk in and check out the huge selection of craft beers (don't try to open the fridges, they're locked!), make your selection and then order at the bar. The food menu features just a few items and the pulled pork with slaw sandwich is to die for. Perfectly toasted bread pilled high with a generous helping of tasty fall-apart pork.
Best Drive In Movie Theatre - Bridgton Twin Drive-In Movie Theatre
Bridgton Twin Drive In Movie Theatre - 383 Portland Rd, Bridgton, Maine - 207 647 8666
If you want a great drive-in movie theatre experience pack your lawn chairs and radio or plan to stay in the car/truck and head to the twin drive-in movie theatre in Bridgton. There's a nifty little snack shack there (pretty great french fries and candy selection), I also like to stop by The Good Life Market and stock up on some yummy snacks and then have a little movie picnic.
Best Old Fashioned Movie Theatre with a bar - The Magic Lantern
The Magic Lantern - 9 Depot Street, Bridgton, Maine 04009 - 207 647 9326
Yay for the on-site bar and restaurant. Get dinner before a movie and then order an extra round of drinks and the friendly bartenders will carry them through to the theater for you. In the summer there's sometimes a farmers market in the parking lot.
If we're not hanging out near home then we'll sometimes head into Portland which is maybe 25 miles from us. We recently came across the awesome Homerunners service. Better than a taxi company, you can call Homerunners to come pick you up and they'll drive you home in your own car! Really great if you decide to do a 9 course tasting menu paired with wine...
Best Restaurants in Portland and surrounding areas
Best Fine Dining Restaurant with Tasting Menu to Die For - David's Opus Ten
Opus Ten - 22 Monument Square, Portland, Maine 04101 - 207 773 4340
Paul's parents gave us an envelope stuffed with cash for Christmas with one proviso - we had to go out and spend it on a really great dinner. It was a cold Friday night in January when I logged onto Open Table to see what was available. We totally lucked out with an early reservation at the chef's counter table no less at David's Opus Ten in Portland, Maine. I was a little bemused by the "restaurant within a restaurant" concept but once we walked through the main David's restaurant to find this little haven of fine dining I was in love. I won't bore you with a course by course description suffice to say that each course was better than the last. We did the reserve wine pairings and they were matched beautifully with each dish. Standouts include the butter-poached lobster, the "chicken and waffles" which was actually quail, foie gras butter and a tiny little waffles, the gnocchi, pear and mint sorbet - heck, there wasn't a bad course.
One of my favorite things about the experience was that although the food and the service were absolutely exceptional, the atmosphere was fun and relaxed. Chef Bo even encouraged us to pick up the quail and eat off the bone. Fine dining without any stuffiness. It was so good we were there again the next week and I'm already planning my next visit...
Best French Fries in Portland, Maine - Duckfat
Duckfat - 43 Middle Street, Portland, Maine - 207 774 8080
For some reason as soon as they arrive in Portland, EVERYONE seems to head to Duckfat to try the French fries. There's a good reason for that, they're pretty awesome. Portions are generous and you can easily share. Poutine is pretty great with delicious duckfat gravy. If you don't feel like a local beer or wine then the milkshakes are luscious but filling so have one as dessert or maybe take it to go. It can be absolutely packed with a wait line on the street outside in the summer so try to go early or in between lunch and dinner. You're just a few steps away from Shipyard Brewery if you feel like a brew tour afterwards.
Honorable Mention: Chips with curry sauce at Ri Ra
Best Irish Pub in Portland, Maine - Bull Feeney's
Bull Feeney's - 375 Fore Street, Portland, Maine - 207 773 7210
Paul is somewhat of a Guiness afficianado and he informs me that the pour is pretty great here. It's a great cozy pub with excellent food - try the mussels!
Honorable Mention: Ri Ra - yes it's a chain but the bartenders are super friendly, you can get Tato crisps and I highly recommend an order of sausage or chips and curry sauce.
Best Small Plates in Portland, Maine - Central Provisions
Central Provisions - 414 Fore Street, Portland, Maine - 207 805 1085
This interesting space just opened in the Old Port and it's two floors of intriguing small plates and tapas. It's a little pricey but really worth it (in my opinion!). The restaurant definitely has a hipster-ish kind of vibe but the wait staff and cooks are all super friendly. I enjoyed the "bread and butter" which had some kind of cold whipped egg yolk sitting on sit of heavily seasoned butter to smear on crusty bread. The foie gras dish was divine with a crunchy millet and sweet rose hip glaze. I'll be heading back to try the sucking pig and crispy chicken next.
Best place for a glass of wine and and plate of cheese - Vignola
Vignola Cinque Terre - 10 Dana Street, Portland, ME 04101 - 207 772 1330
They have a selection of maybe 20+ cheese with all sorts of little accoutrements like pickled walnuts, mostardes and honeycomb and will happily bring you more crostini to go with your cheese. Nothing better than sitting at the bar with a good glass of wine and some perfectly ripe cheese. There's also a full menu and brunch options at the weekend.
Best Bakery in Portland, Maine - Standard Baking Company
Standard Baking Company - 75 Commercial Street, Portland, ME 04101 - 207 773 2122
Expect a line out the door in tourist season! Imagine every type of delicious little pastry, croissant, brownie you've ever had the pleasure of eating - they're here. Surrounded by foccachia, baguettes and crisp and airy bread rolls. Pick up some bread and dessert and then head over to Browne Trading Co for cheese and wine and you have the makings for the most fabulous picnic.
Also check out: Two fat cats and The Big Sky Baking company
Best Fish Tacos and Mexican food - El Rayo Taqueria
El Rayo Taqueria - 101 York STreet, Portland, Maine 04101 - 207 780 8226
Each time we eat here I look at everything on the menu and then inevitably get the fish tacos. So good. The fish is perfectly cooked with a little dry run with just the right amount of heat. Topped with crunchy cabbage and a spicy cream it's a little bite of heaven. It's super casual and relaxed and you can sit, grab a beer and enjoy a taco or burrito. Haven't tried it yet but sister restaurant El Rayo Cantina is next door and open for dinner.
Best Sushi in Portland, Maine - Miyake (actually Best Sushi in Maine!)
Miyake - 468 Fore Street, Portland, Maine - 207 871 9170
Words don't do this restaurant justice. Tucked away on Fore Street this calm and elegant restaurant serves some of the very best sushi and Japanese food on the whole of the East coast. The hamayachi appetizer has a bed of hot sushi rice nestled in a shell and topped with generous chunks of lobster, crab, scallop and broiled spicy mayo. So good. The super toro roll is another of my favorites. Skip dessert and order a piece of foie gras nigiri - it'll melt in your mouth and tempt you to order another immediately!
Best Ramen Noodles in Portland, Maine - Pai Men Miyake
Pai Men Miyake - 188 State Street, Portland, Maine - 207 541 9204
Sister restaurant to Miyaki, this noodle bar in the Arts District is a cool little hangout. Make sure to get a refreshing Yuzu lemonade cocktail in the warmer months. There are really great lunch specials and it's an awesome late-night hangout. Highlights include the pork buns, hamayaki, sushi rolls but the real standout is the ramen. Paitan with chicken and pork broth is my favorite.
Best Oyster Restaurant in Portland, ME - Eventide
Eventide Oyster Co. - 86 Middle Street, Portland, Maine - 207 774 8538
This light and airy space is a must-stop in place if you want a plump fresh oyster that tastes perfectly like the ocean. There's a little patio outside or a great bar to sit at. You'll get a little paper menu with the current selection of oysters and you can choose all sorts of amazing accoutrements - my favorites's the pickled red onion ice. The crudo is amazing and you would be very foolish not to get at least one of lobster roll. Not your typical lobster roll, they're on little buns reminiscent of Chinese pork buns with lightly dressed lobster and drizzled with a nutty brown butter. Get two or three if you're hungry!
Best Fish, Cheese & Wine Market in Portland, Maine - Brown's Trading Company
Browne's Trading Company, Merrill's Wharf, 260 Commercial Street, Portland, Maine - 207 766 2402
An amazing selection of wines and fish make this a must-stop by store. Bring your cooler and some ice and stock up. All sorts of "caught this morning!" fish along with the best local smoked salmon (smoked on site) and caviar at every price point. Good cheese too!
Best Vietnamese Restaurant - Phoever Maine (just outside Portland in Westbrook)
Phoever Maine - 100 Larrabee Rd, Westbrook, Maine, 04092 - 207 887 9093
Just a few miles outside of Portland in Westbrook, Maine is the hidden gem Phoever Maine.
Mmmm Pho! Just off of exit 47 on I-95 this small little restaurant is fantastically clean, the owners are super friendly and the Pho is just perfect. Huge bowls of fragrant steaming hot broth with generous helpings of meat and noodles with a side of lime, basil, and hot sauces to adjust to your taste. Delicious and really affordable at less than $9 for a great big bowl of tasty soup. I highly recommend #4 which has both brisket and rare roast beef. Paul isn't a big spice/hot food fan so he usually sticks to Pad Thai or a rice bowl.
Best Farmers Market in Portland, ME - Portland Maine Farmers Market
Saturday: Deering Oaks Park & Wednesday: Monument Square
If I'm not photographing a wedding one of my very favorite things to do on a Saturday morning is to head to Deering Oaks Park and check out the farmers market. You can buy a bunch of tokens to make payment easier if you've forgotten a bunch of dollar bills. I love to wander through and pick up all sorts of fabulous local produce and then figure out what to make with it. If I'm photographing a wedding then I'll head to Monument Square on a Wednesday morning to check out the market. Not just vegetable and fruit - herbs, flowers, local meat and more!
Last October we were about to hop on a plane and go somewhere warm for vacation when Paul suggested we stay in Maine and go to all of the places we don't usually go - a "staycation" if you will. Here are some of the highlights:
Best Restaurants in Camden, Rockport & Rockland Maine
Best Fine Dining/Tasting Menu in Camden, Maine - Natalies
Natalie's at the Camden Harbor Inn - 83 Bayview Street, Camden, Maine 04843 - 27 236 7008
I'll be completely honest and say that I chose the Camden Harbor Inn as it was somewhat close to Primo Restaurant (where I've been wanting to go forever) not to mention a Relais & Chateaux property. We had a "fine dining" evening planned for later in the week at the White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport and Paul has a finite amount of patience for fine dining so we hadn't planned to eat at Natalies. We stopped into the (beautiful) bar for a drink one evening planning to go check out Camden and find a casual place for dinner. As we enjoyed our drinks we were brought a complimentary amuse bouche and that one little mouthful was enough to make Paul say "Well, I guess we could eat here if you want to..." BEST DECISION EVER.
We did the tasting menu paired with wines and it was definitely in my top 5 dinners ever. Our waitress was lovely - warm and friendly and the sommelier was knowledgeable yet approachable and gave us just enough information about our wine without intruding on dinner. The food was historic and not at all stuffy - one course was some kind of picnic that we unpacked ourselves to find a local beer with some cheese. We also had the BEST BREAD I'VE EVER EATEN and I don't make that statement lightly. The crisp warm exterior have way to a light fluffy interior and we were offered a choice of 9 flavored salts from The Salt Cellar to accompany it. We've since been to the store and stocked up on white truffles salt and porcini salt. I plan on this being an annual trip/stay/dinner.
Best casual seafood restaurant - The Waterfront Restaurant
The Waterfront Restaurant - 40 Bayview Street, Camden, ME, 04843
After checking into the Camden Harbor Inn (you MUST stay there if you visit Camden!) we wanted to grab a quick lunch, we walked down to The Waterfront mainly because it was one of the few places in town with a TV and the Red Sox were playing. It appeared to be a fairly standard tourist type restaurant but the food blew us away. Maybe we lucked out and it was a delivery day but the mussels were the best we have EVER eaten - plump, fresh, drowning in buttery garlicky juice. My lobster stew was beyond tender, it tasted like they'd poached the lobster meat in butter, it was spoon tender. Don't miss out on this hidden gem for a casual yet super tasty lunch.
Best farm to table restaurant in Rockland, ME - Primo
Primo - 2 South Main Street, Rockland, ME, 04841 - 207 596 0770
Great restaurant with a focus on local produce. Crazy popular so make sure you make reservations. There are also great taxi services in the area to bring you home afterwards (not to mention the parking lot is crammed full).
Best Restaurants in Bangor, Maine
Best Restaurant - The Fiddlehead Restaurant
We only stayed for one night in Bangor so only one restaurant for you but heck, this was a good one. You'll definitely need a reservation so call ahead. Arrive a little early so you can sit at the bar and try one of the cocktails. Get a huckleberry finn cocktail and thank me later - that perfect mix of sweet and bitter at the same time. Everything we ate was delicious, I was feeling kind of foodie'd out after a number of big dinners so went with the light and delicate lobster wonton in lobster broth and it was just what I needed!
Best restaurants in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Ogunquit and Wells, Maine
Best Fine Dining/Tasting Menu - The White Barn Inn, Kennebunkport, ME
The settings is absolutely amazing - truly romantic. The food was good, the atmosphere is definitely more formal than my other recommendations. Jackets are required and we actually saw someone asked to put to put their jacket back on when they took it off ;) I adored staying at the Inn - especially afternoon tea which is available each afternoon in the lounge with the most adorable English tea sandwiches.
Best American Restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine - David's Kennebunkport
Davids KPT - The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel, 21 Ocean Ave, Kennebunkport, ME 04046 - 877 266 1304
We wandered around Kennebunkport looking for somewhere to eat and stumbled across David's KPT. The whole restaurant is newly refurbished and a great spot for lunch or dinner. Great bar, outside patio and romantic dining room. Tuna tartare was fresh and flavorful and lobster pasta had huge chunks of tender lobster meat.
Best Restaurant in Cape Porpoise - Pier 77 and The Ramp
Pier 77 - 77 Pier Road Cape Porpoise Harbor, Kennebunkport, Maine 04014 - 207 967 8500
I photographed a beautiful wedding here a couple of years ago. Not only was I wowed by the views out over the ocean but I thoroughly enjoyed the food. Pier 77 is a more elegant dining room and The Ramp has more of a casual bar feel but both are warm and welcoming.
Best Irish Pub in Kennebunk, Maine - Ryan's
Ryan's Irish Pub - 17 Western Avenue, Kennebunk, MA - 207 967 3564
Yup - you may have noticed a theme here. Anytime we end up in a new place Paul makes a beeline for the local Irish pub. He managed to eat both "sausages and mash" and also a traditional Irish boiled dinner during our stay and raved about them. He actually said that if he had the chance he's probably go to Ryan's over the White Barn Inn but maybe that was the Guiness talking.
Best Slow Food/Farm to Table Restaurant in Wells, ME - Joshua's Restaurant
Joshua's Restaurant - 1637 Post Road, Rt 1, Wells, Maine - 207 646 3355
Full disclosure: I photographed Chef Joshua's wedding last year but regardless, you should totally check out this restaurant if you want to eat ridiculously fresh local food. Joshua sources many of his ingredients from his own farm and bakes all of the bread daily. The restaurant was originally built as a private home in 1774 and has been renovated since including the addition of a cozy bar.
Not a restaurant but check out Fleurant at 173 Port Rd for lush flowers, plants, luxe candles, bath products and artisan jewelry.
Best Restaurants in Belfast, Maine
Best Vegetarian Restaurant in Belfast, Maine - Chase's Daily
Chase's Daily - 96 Main Street, Belfast, Maine 04915 - 207 338 0555
Yelp alerted me to this local vegetarian restaurant and we weren't disappointed. Be prepared to wait, we were there on a cold fall Wednesday and it was crazy busy. If you're in a huge rush head to the back of the store to pick up produce and some ready to go backed goods. I bought a couple of quiches and they were delightful.
Best local pub in Belfast, Maine - Darby's
Darby's Restaurant & Pub - 155 High Street, Belfast, Maine 04915 - 207 338 2339
Good standard pub fare. Excellent fish and chips. The zucchini slider is excellent. Welcoming staff.
If you're in Belfast check out the following interesting little stores:
Fiddlehead Artisan Supply - all sorts of fabrics, ribbons, sewing notions, felts and quilting supplies
Vinolio - artisan olive ils and vinegars and flavored salts
The Good Table - a tardis-style kitchen shop with every gadget you could possibly want along with kitchen supplies and more.
Best restaurants in Bar Harbor, Maine
Best Restaurant in Bar Harbor, Maine - Havana
Havana - 318 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609 - 207 288 2822
Sadly for you, one of the very best things about our dinner can't be experienced again. That's because it was Halloween when we went for dinner and our waiter spent the whole evening in character as a slightly sinister Dracula. Awesome!!! Creepy characters aside, the food was epic! Foie gras topped filet and seafood risotto were perfectly paired with a crisp bottle of Veuve Clicquot for our anniversary dinner. President Obama and first lady Michele even had date night there!
Best Italian Restaurant in Bar Harbor - Guiness & Porcelli's
Guiness & Porcelli's - 191 Main Street, Bar Harbor, Maine 04609 - 207 288 0030
It was the final game of the world series and we didn't want to miss it so we decided to stay in our hotel and get take out. They do half portions of pasta so I totally over-ordered. Beet salad was lovely. Buccatini with arugula, pecorino and a fried egg was perfectly garlicky and tasty. Parpadelle with ragu had tons of meat in the sauce and seafood risotto was a standout. Quality cell phone picture of our hotel picnic:
And I think that's it for now!
I plan on updating this post as we get to more fabulous restaurants in Maine. Up there on my list of places to try out (based on great reviews by friends):
Fore Street, Portland, ME - I can't believe we haven't actually eaten here yet, it's known as one of the very best restaurants in Portland, we've just never managed to get a reservation and Paul won't wait in line ;)
Hugos, Portland, ME
Boda, Portland, ME
Shepherd's Pie, Rockland, ME
Paper 40, Camden, ME
Check out The Maine Mag's 50 Best Restaurants in Maine
and 80 best places to eat in Maine
Friday, March 7, 2014
It's restaurant week in Maine! So it seems like a fitting time to share some of my favorite places to eat and drink in Maine.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Just over a week ago I met up with Amy and John in Portland, Maine. We thought we'd start with a little beer at a new brewery/distillary pub in Portland, Maine - Infiniti
It was a steamy hot day in Ithaca, NY when John was moving out of his upstairs apartment and Amy was moving in to her downstairs apartment. One of the worst possible days to be carrying a ton of heavy boxes. They both had a lot of stuff and kept passing one another on the stairs. John proposed an ice cold beer in an air conditioned bar and Amy accepted.
That cold beer led to a relationship and eventually Amy & John moved back to New England. Spending a hour with these two was all kind of fun. John was a little skeptical of the whole engagement pictures thing but he admitted it wasn't too painful. And I don't think Amy stopped laughing all afternoon :)
Amy and John live in Jamaica Plain. John is a keen sailor and one evening he convinced Amy to go out on the pond for a sail. This time John wasn't proposing a cold beer but marriage!
Winter engagement pictures can be chilly but after a week of 20 degree weather we lucked out with a balmy 35 degree day. And Amy & John had the promise of Dim Sum with friends to keep them warm during the shoot.
Amy and John will be getting married at Migis Lodge in South Casco, Maine in May and I can't wait to be their wedding photographer! Migis Lodge is one of the most beautiful outdoor wedding venues in Maine. A rustic yet elegant camp on the shores of Lake Sebago AND it's less than 2 miles from our home in Maine.
Probably the only thing that I'm sad about is that Taco the dog won't be joining us at the wedding. It seems Amy & John's dog has somewhat of a lifeguard complex and if anyone's swimming he panics and tries to rescue them.
Amy & John - thank you for braving the cold weather and for being so fun to hang out with! I can't wait for your Migis Lodge Wedding in May!
In other news it's Restaurant Week in Maine this week - tune back in tomorrow to hear all about my favorite local restaurants and things to do if you're vacationing or getting married at Migis!
Thursday, February 13, 2014
This week I'm sending out helpful photography timeline planning documents for all of my 2014 couples (yup - 2014 is fully booked!) and I thought it'd be a good time (no pun intended!) to write a blog post about timing on your wedding day in general. It's a long one - but I promise it's worth it - go grab a coffee and settle in. On today's agenda:
>General thoughts on planning your wedding timeline
>Ideal times for specific photography - family formals and couples pictures
>Pros and Cons of doing a first look - which can dramatically change your timeline/overall enjoyment of the day
> Sample timelines
>The 10 most common mistakes made on your wedding day that completely mess up your timeline
As blog posts are always more fun with pictures I'll revisit some of my favorite moments from 2013 weddings along the way!
Disclaimer: you may be working with a fabulous wedding planner (many of my clients do - shout outs to WedBoston, Tangorra Wedding Planning, Wendy Joblon Events, Pink Orchid Events, ELM events, Gracie Lou, plus all sorts of great venue coordinators and more) and they'll put together your timeline for you. Some of the comments and discussion here should still prove useful - especially as they relate to time for photography.
Also - if you're in a big rush and can't face reading pages of stuff here's the CliffsNotes:
It's your wedding day, not a photoshoot! However if you want lots of family/wedding party/couples pictures we need to allow appropriate time usually 30-60 minutes for family pictures, 30 minutes for wedding party pictures, 30 minutes for pictures of the two of you. If we try to cram that all into cocktail hour you probably won't get all of the pictures you want so you can either do a first look, extend cocktail hour or have a break in between your ceremony and reception. Doing a first look means we can do all of the formal pictures early so you can thoroughly relax and enjoy your wedding day! Finally, everything takes longer than expected, things will run late but it's going to be OK!
PS - Pinterest is awesome but you should delete all of your wedding related boards two weeks before your wedding! Continue reading if you want more detail!
General thoughts on planning your wedding timeline
Do you know that song? Time.....is on your side? Yes it is! Well on your wedding day it isn't. It's hard to explain but it's like the hands of the clock speed up and everyone else slows down. Actions that would normally take you 30 seconds now take 10 minutes. A short car ride that would usually take 10 minutes on the highway now takes over half an hour as you have to load a large wedding party onto a trolley, find the missing groomsman who went to to find a restroom and then drive on back roads.
You'll help us plan our day right?
Yes and no! On your wedding day I'm your wedding photographer and NOT your wedding planner! To best document your day I can't be chasing up bridesmaids to get dressed and reminding the groomsmen to be in the lobby for pictures - your wedding planner, a day of coordinator or super helpful Maid of Honor can help you with that. However, PRIOR to your wedding I'm always happy to help with your timeline in terms of photography. With the 2013 wedding season fresh in my mind and heading towards my 7th full wedding season I feel fairly qualified to share with you all sorts of timeline planning tips and mistakes to avoid.
If I'm jumping around in long grass and risking tick bites to get the perfect shot I can't be in the lobby helping the family members to be on time for pictures!
We just don't know where to start with figuring out times? Our florist wants to know what time I need the flowers! I need to tell my hairstylist what time to arrive! Help!
Well, if I'm your wedding photographer you'll fill in a comprehensive wedding homework document and from there we'll put together a personalized photography timeline for you that your other vendors can then back into. In general, you want to start with the events that are fixed in time. Usually:
- Your ceremony
- The start of cocktail hour
- Sunset (here's a helpful site to help you figure out the time of sunset on your wedding day)
- Then you need to think about whether you'll see each other and do pictures before your cermony or if you want to do pictures afterwards
Considering the time of sunset is important as usually the hour or two before sunset has the most beautiful golden flattering light for pictures. A professional wedding photographer can work with all kinds of light but there's something special about the light just before sunset.
Ideal times for specific photography
Well, how much time do you need for pictures?
Me? I need no time for pictures ;) The question is really how much time do you need for pictures?! Do you have small families with parents still together? 30 minutes should do us. Larger extended families with divorced parents, new steparents and siblings? We'll need more time! What I mean to say is it's really up to you how much time we spend taking formal family/wedding party and couples pictures. It's your wedding day and they're your wedding pictures that will fill your album or hang on your wall. The majority of couples that hire me as their wedding photographer really value beautiful pictures and they want to make sure they have enough time to get the images they want. We can bust out an awesome picture of the wedding party in 5 minutes but if you want to do on-location, take pictures individually with each attendant and get more creative we'll need more time!
We only have small families, parents still together and a couple of brothers/sisters, so we can do family pictures in 10 minutes right?
You'd think so but sadly no. 10 minutes just isn't realistic - heck it'll take us 10 minutes to even get started while we wait for your Dad who's always late or for your Grandmother to get out of the car. Each family picture only takes seconds to capture but for each group of family members we need to allow 3-5 minutes to gather and arrange them and then take multiple exposure to make sure we have great expressions and no blinking. Let's have a hypothetical couple - Alex and Sam - in ~30 minutes we'd be able to take the following pictures:
1. Alex & Sam with Alex's parents
2. Alex & Sam with Alex's parents, siblings & significant others, grandparents
3. Alex with Alex's parents and siblings
4. Alex with Alex's parents
5. Alex with siblings
6. Alex & Sam with both sets of parents
7. Alex & Sam with Sam's parents
8. Alex & Sam with Sam's parents, siblings & significant others, grandparents
9. Sam with Sam's parents and siblings
10. Sam with Sam's parents
11. Sam with siblings
If Alex and Sam wanted more family groupings - maybe individual pictures with Mom or Dad, additional pictures with grandparents, maybe adding in Godparents that's cool but we need to allow enough time to do so! For the overall wedding day I won't shoot from a list (I've been doing this long enough to know to take pictures of the vows, the kiss etc and shooting from a list means you miss unscripted real moments) but for family pictures it's essential to have a list of the groups you want (part of the homework document for my couples). I've gotten lists of over 60 different family groups for pictures in the past. In response I always say that I'm happy to take as many family pictures as you like but we have to find the time! 60 pictures at 3 minutes per group = around 3 hours of time.
Here are some happy relaxed family pictures from Christine & Alex's wedding:
Hmm, we have divorced parents who've remarried and they're not friendly, we also have new siblings and there's a little family drama. How will we handle this?
It can be really easy to let your list of family pictures spiral out of control listing out every single combination. Seriously - I've had lists that have included "Couple with Aunt Jane and Uncle Joe, Couple with Aunt Jane, Couple with Uncle Joe, Bride with Aunt Jane, Bride with Uncle Joe". If this starts to happen look at each group on the list and ask:
- Will we include this picture in our wedding album?
- Will somebody print, frame and hang this on their wall?
If the answer to one of these questions is yes then we should definitely take the picture! If it's no and no one will want the picture and it won't be used in your album well, then, that's 3 minutes more to spend at cocktail hour. It's also worth considering if you're only taking a picture to avoid offending/upsetting people.
In the homework document I send out to my couples I ask them to share any family politics/drama with me - no not because I'm nosy - just because I want to be sensitive and avoid causing any offense by asking Great Aunt Jane to stand next to Great Uncle Joe when they can't stand each other.
With divorced parents it's worth thinking about which pictures you'd want in your wedding album - sometimes parents get along great and they're happy to be in a picture together, other times they haven't spoken in years and it would be completely unnatural to have a picture of them together. Also check in with your parents separately and find out which pictures will be important to them. Sometimes to avoid spending hours duplicating every possible picture combination it can make sense to get a large group picture with Mom's side of the family, a large group picture of Dad's side of the family and then individual pictures with Mom, Dad and siblings.
Rest assured I've photographed all sorts of different family dynamics and I'll work with you to figure out the best groups and how to handle any awkwardness as sensitively as possible!
Our families are super disorganized and late for everything
Simple. If family pictures are scheduled for 4pm tell them it'll be 3:30pm or even 3:00pm if they're really really late. Make an announcement at the rehearsal dinner about the start time/location and let the families know how important it is to you as a couple that they're there on time as this will be the only opportunity to get beautiful pictures together. Make sure everyone knows the location and has a plan for transportation. Assign a responsible family member to bringing boutonnieres and other family flowers.
While we're talking about family pictures, can we just mention that we're getting married on the coast so we'd like to take our family pictures on the beach?
Beach pictures are awesome! Super fun of the two of you and even of your wedding party but here's why I don't recommend the beach for family pictures:
- It's inevitably really windy on the beach. If Mom's hair is blowing all over the place she's not going to like any of the pictures
- It's usually very sunny and often humid on the beach. Make up can start to slip and if everyone is squinting due to the sun it means no one is comfortable/looking good
- There might be lots of people in the background and it can be hard to maneuver the sand in heels
- Family pictures are about your families. Looking relaxed and their very best. Not about the epic view over the ocean.
Oceans or lakes - awesome for wedding party pictures or of the two of you, not for family pictures:
A quiet shaded area, preferably with some trees or a plain background makes for the very best family pictures where the focus is on your family members. But let's totally go down to the beach with the two of you and your wedding party! These trees made a perfect backdrop for Jenn & Erik's family pictures:
OK, we're feeling a bit more relaxed about family pictures now, we have about 15 pictures we'd like to take so we'll allow 45 minutes. We'll tell our families to be there 30 minutes ahead of time and we'll let you know about our family drama! What about wedding party pictures?
Again - totally up to you. The minimalist approach would be to take a picture of the couple with the entire wedding party and then maybe one each of both sides. Some couples want to go to multiple locations with their wedding party and they want individual pictures with each attendant, posed formal pictures, relaxed "fun" pictures, additional pictures with ringbearers and flower girls - the more pictures the more time we'll need! A good starting point is 30 minutes with more time added for additional locations (and don't forget travel time!)
What about pictures of the two of us? How much time should we allow?
Seeing as your wedding day is really about celebrating the two of you ideally you want to allow enough time to get some really great pictures without your wedding day feeling like a photoshoot. I've had some weddings where the couple were extremely laid back and just wanted 10 minutes of time to get a small handful of pictures. Other weddings have been in stunning locations where the couple really wanted to reflect the settings in their pictures and so we've had almost 2 hours for pictures.
Before we figure out how much time for couples pictures you have to make a big decision - first look or no first look!
How a first look can dramatically change your timeline/overall enjoyment of your wedding
What? We keep hearing about this first look concept. Isn't it bad luck to see each other before the ceremony? I think we want to be more traditional...
Here's the deal, the whole "don't see each other before the ceremony" comes from the olden days of yore when most weddings were arranged marriages. The wedding day was usually the first time the couple would actually meet! Keeping the bride hidden from the groom prior to the ceremony meant he couldn't back out if her looks weren't to his taste. Nowadays this approach to marriage is luckily fairly outdated with couples dating for years before their wedding, often living together, getting married in non-traditional locations etc etc. Yet for some reason the whole "it's bad luck to see each other" myth remains.
I know because when I got married I was all "Nooo, you can't see me!!!" to Paul. I also had this idea that there would be this "moment", you know, the one where the doors to the chapel open, you glide down the aisle and your beloved is waiting for you gasping for air at the gorgeousness of you in your gown and you have "the moment". So I refused to see Paul and take any pictures before. The reality? The chapel doors opened and I froze. My dad and I looked at each other trying to remember if we were supposed to pause or walk immediately. All I could think was "Everyone's looking at me! I don't want to fall over! Gosh, it's really warm in here!". Walking down the aisle was a complete blur I can't remember. The photos show me looking like a deer in headlights. I approached the altar thinking "Here, we go! It's "the moment!" to realize that Paul and I are standing inches away from the reverend and we're about to get married so we can't talk or even hold hands. I think Paul said "Hi, you look nice!" and I forced out "Thanks! So do you" and then it was time for our ceremony to begin. To make things worse, immediately after our ceremony when we were in that "Yay! We did it!" euphoria we didn't get to drink champagne and eat hors d'oeuvres with everyone else. No, we spent out first hour as newlyweds standing in a line taking family formals.
Why would you want to miss out on hors d'oeuvres like this?!
As we approach our seventh anniversary and as I head into my seventh year of photographing weddings there's one big thing I've realized. That "moment" and any emotion you feel during the ceremony doesn't come because it's the first time you see each other in your wedding outfits. It happens because you're saying your vows - pretty huge vows to each other - surrounded by your closest friends and family. And if you've seen each other before the ceremony and gotten all of the formal pictures out of the way first then not only are you likely to feel more relaxed having had the opportunity to talk to one another but you'll also have way more fun actually enjoying your wedding reception!
OK - this first look idea is sounding like a better idea. Pros and cons please! Does anyone ever regret doing a first look?
Happy to oblige! Not only can I give you the pros and cons but I even did a little survey a few years ago asking couples if they had any regrets or wished they'd waited for the ceremony to see one another.
Pros of doing a first look:
1. You get to spend more time together on your wedding day. You don't have to wait until late in the night if you're having an evening ceremony to see each other.
2. It can be really special to see each other for the first time not surrounded by hundreds of people. It's just the two of you (and me hiding out as far away from you as possible with a long lens to give you some privacy). You'll get to hug, kiss, talk about what's about to happen which you can't do when the person marrying you is just inches away
3. If you're at all nervous or stressed about the ceremony it can be very relaxing to see your intended away from everyone. The initial nerves will be gone and you'll be more "in the moment" for your ceremony.
3. We take all of the formal pictures - family, wedding party, pictures of the two of you - in an unhurried, relaxed way before the ceremony. Hair and make up is freshly done so everyone looks flawless (not always the case if you have a hot humid outdoor ceremony and we take pictures after)
4. Once your married you get to enjoy cocktail hour with your friends and family not standing in a line posing for pictures. Who doesn't love a glass of champagne and a bacon wrapped scallop? Mingling with your guests means you'll be able to greet those who've come to celebrate with you vs. a mad dash around the tables during dinner. AND as all of the formal pictures are out of the way I'll be at cocktail hour to photograph your friends and family and all of your reception detail shots!
Cons of doing a first look:
Umm, none? You don't get the element of surprise as you walk down the aisle I guess?
But don't just take my word from it. Here are comments from actual couples that I surveyed about their first look experience:
DO IT! It is so worth it. Having time to spend with your family and friends during cocktail hour is the best. Plus, your hair and makeup are so fresh! It is such an intimate experience.
Do it!! It's worth it and isn't bad luck (so far...ha!). But really, I think it creates a whole other meaningful moment for you on your wedding day, and one that is just yours. My bridal party and family members were so happy to have the photos done before the ceremony, our hair and makeup still looked great (and that was extra important since it was 100 degrees outside), overall it just took a lot of stress out of the need to fit photos into a really short time frame. Three of my engaged friends have told me that my wedding convinced them to do first looks.
If the bride's reason is wanting to see his reaction as they walk down the aisle, I can assure you he'll be just as enamored after a first look. We are so happy we got to enjoy our pictures beforehand, and then spend the whole cocktail hour with our friends and family. It made me feel so much calmer seeing him before the ceremony. I can't imagine not being together for so much of the wedding day. I still felt so excited during the ceremony, but I was thinking about being in the moment rather than wanting to talk to him or say how handsome he looked (because we already got to do that!).
As the Groom, the first look experience was truly exciting. I knew my wife had spent all day getting ready, and even though I had an idea of what she would look like in the dress, I was still floored when I saw her and I knew that it was all really (finally) happening. It's a great moment to have on film, to say the least.
I would highly recommend it. I think having time before the ceremony to take pictures eliminates some of the stress of worrying about getting back to the reception, keeping your guests waiting, trying to rush family into their positions etc... Seeing your partner for the first time on your wedding day will feel special no matter where you are. To take some time for just the two of us, before the craziness really ramped up, was very memorable. Our wedding ceremony still felt amazing. To see my (future) husband standing at the altar was still a unique and beautiful sight. Our 'first look' didn't take anything away from the drama of the ceremony.
The first look is JUST the bride and groom. It is a time for them to spend a few minutes alone to bask in each others' love. And I remember EVERY second of our first look session. When I turned around my heart started to beat so fast. I felt like I had been gone on a trip for months and was dying to get back. I turned around to see my wife, and I could not believe how beautiful she looked. She was more beautiful than I had ever imagined, and the best part was that I would be marrying her in just an hour. I think the pictures captured that moment of revelation so clearly... there's one shot where I am hugging her with my eyes closed, and I am just about in tears... crying for happiness. I am the luckiest man alive!
I would absolutely recommend that they do it! Seriously, the rest of the wedding day was so busy and crazy, the first look was my favorite moment. And it is so cute to see the look on his face when he first saw me in the first look photos. It makes me smile whenever I see it. Truthfully, it was one of the only calm moments that we got together during the day. It gave us a private moment to enjoy together before all the wedding craziness began. We really enjoyed it and it is one of the happiest memories I have of the day. The rest of the day was extremely fast and busy, and it went by in a blur. I'm so glad we had that private moment just the two of us. I don't think it really affected my feelings during the ceremony. If anything, I think it made me a little calmer walking down the aisle.
OK, well, first look or no first look, how much time should we allow for pictures of the two of us?
If there's no first look then we're usually cramming ALL of the formal pictures into cocktail hour. Cocktail "hour" is an optimistic term because the venue will usually want you lined up for entrances with 10 minutes to go. So we now have just 50 minutes to do the very basic family groups (30 minutes), wedding party pictures (10 minutes) and couples pictures (10 minutes). It's doable but we're not going to have time to take off in that golf cart or go for a walk somewhere. Two things to consider if you don't want to do a first look:
1. Extend cocktail hour to 90 minutes - you'll be less rushed and may even get to join for 5 minutes
2. Have a little extra time/break between your ceremony and the start of cocktail hour. Guests are usually more than happy to take a break, freshen up, get a drink before joining the party
If we're doing a first look then a minimum of 30 minutes is great for pictures, 60 minutes is ideal and you're welcome to schedule more time if you like! Many of my couples book AMAZING wedding film teams (Long Haul Films, Boston Wedding Films, Meg Simone and Brighter Lights Media to name just a few). Unlike the old school wedding videographers who just stood at the back of everything with a tripod, these talented filmmakers product some of the most amazing wedding trailers ever. And they need time with you to get that footage. I'd like to think I work really well with these film team and "share" the time we have with the couple (at least I hope I do!!!) but it's worth checking with your film team to see if they need specific time with you.
Righty-oh! We've talked about how much longer everything will take on your wedding day, how much time to allow for pictures and whether or not you might want to do a first look. Let's post some sample timelines!
Remember you'll want to think about what time sunset is, if you're doing a first look or not, how extensive your family pictures will be, allow for travel, allow extra time for padding...let's have a hypothetical couple - Jamie & Taylor - getting married in the fall in the city next year...
WITH A FIRST LOOK (Sunset at 6:47pm)
Jamie & Taylor with wedding party
Each picture takes just seconds but allow 3-5 minutes per group to gather people, arrange and take multiple exposures for great expressions without blinking! Allow more time for divorced parents or if you want to add additional groupings. Advise families to arrive early if they are likely to be late
WITHOUT A FIRST LOOK (Sunset at 6:47pm)
And there you go - some sample timelines - were they helpful? Yes you can absolutely squish more things in/move times up but if one little thing goes late (hair and make up, trolleys are 10 minutes late arriving, a family member is late to photos then your timeline gets all messed up and it causes stress. Better to have a little spare time in case you need it!) And our final topic in the most lengthy blog post EVER...
Common mistakes made when planning your wedding timeline
Mistake #1 Being too optimistic with your getting ready timeline
Admission - this is kind of aimed at the ladies. I'm generalizing but for the majority of guys the whole getting ready process is fairly easy and fast. Drink some Bud light, watch some TV, put on shirts and vests, google "how to tie bow-tie", get in car. Not so much with the girls.
As you plan your wedding day (with your planner or your day of coordinator or your venue or your photographer) you'll need to have a rough timeline. This is so your vendors such as hair/make up/florist etc know where to be and when. A bride recently sent me this as her proposed timeline for getting ready:
3:00pm Photography starts
3:30pm Hair and make up for bride
4:00pm Bride gets dressed.
4:15pm Limo picks up bride/bridesmaids/parents and photographer
My initial thoughts? We're missing about 90 minutes of time!
#1 You can't do hair and make up simultaneously.
Talk to your hair and make up experts but it's not unusual to allow an hour for hair and then an hour for make up. It's nice to build in a little extra time so you have that option. It's also a good idea not to go last. Hair and make up runs late in 70% of weddings (a bridesmaid is late arriving, another doesn't love her eye make up and it has to be redone etc etc) and it can be quite stressful as your ceremony gets closer and closer). There's just not enough time allocated in the above plan.
#2 If you have a simple zipper then getting dressed in 15 minutes is technically possible. If you have multiple tiny buttons or a corset/lace up style dress then you need to allow at least 45 minutes. The alterations lady might be able to get you into your dress in 15 minutes but your Mom/Maid of Honor will take a LOT longer, I've seen some brides take over 45 minutes to get into their dresses.
My recommendations when thinking about getting ready:
a) Ask each of your vendors how much time they would recommend for their areas of expertise
b) Don't go last for hair and make up, have someone else take the spot after you (but not someone who you want to help you get dressed)
c) Make sure the people you want to help you get dressed (Maid of Honor? Sister? Mom?) will be completely done with hair and make up AND dressed at least 30 minutes before you want to get into your gown. There have been SO many times when I'm watching the bride getting more and more freaked out as Mom is looking for her pantyhose and Sister is wrestling with her Spanx and the bride has to rush getting dressed. More time allocated = Less stress
d) Build in 15 minutes of "extra" time to most activities - eating lunch, hair, make up, getting dressed, getting in the limo. When things run late on your wedding day - and they WILL run late - you'll be so glad to know you have that time. If by some miracle things are running to schedule you can relax with a glass of champagne!
e) Allow 15-30 minutes of extra "getting dressed" time. It takes quite some time to go to the restroom/brush your teeth/put your wedding underwear on/be helped into your dress and you really don't want to feel rushed. In an ideal world I would love to have 15-30 minutes with you once you're dressed to get some beautiful portraits of you.
e) Tell everyone you need them ready a little earlier than you actually do. I'll often see/hear a bride getting all stressed because everyone is supposed to be on the trolley/in the limo and the following is happening:
- Bridesmaid #1 needs to use the restroom
- Bridesmaid #2 is trying to safety pin her bra to her dress
- Bridesmaid #3 wants to put some band-aids on her feet as her shoes are rubbing
- Mom forgot her camera and went back to her hotel room
You get the picture :)
f) Consider hiring a day-of coordinator to keep everyone on track.
It might seem like I'm painting a fairly extreme picture here but I can honestly say out of 150 weddings there have been 2 that ran to time. Yes - 2 out of 150 weddings ran perfectly to time. Both brides were event planners....
You want to relax, enjoy the day, minimize stress and planning enough time helps with this!
Mistake #2 Having a friend do hair and make up/hiring hair and make up professional unused to weddings
Of course there are exceptions to this. Maybe your sister is a pro make up artist - sweet! I mentioned it above but it happens SO often that I'm giving it it's own topic. I'd estimate than non-professional or non-wedding-expert hair and make up people are responsible for at least 40% of timelines running late.
If hair and make up run late your whole day runs late. In addition, if you don't love the way your hair and make up looks, you won't love your pictures and video!
You have to make the time up somewhere and sadly it's often photography time that's cut into. Couples who hire me to photograph their wedding generally place a high importance on wedding photography and we'll usually try to schedule at least 30 minutes of time for pictures just of the two of you. If everything is running late and I end up with 3 minutes to take pictures of you both before introductions need to be made this makes me sad. More importantly it means you have just a handful of pictures of the two of you on your wedding day.
Your regular hair stylist might be awesome but if she isn't used to the fast paced time of the wedding day she's likely going to be primping an tweaking for time that we just don't have! She might also be great at doing a messy bun that'll last for a few hours but not so great at doing a messy bun that can still look amazing 10 hours into your wedding...
I have a very limited number of hair and make up professionals I recommend to my couples and it's based on how they make everyone look and feel beautiful but just as importantly how they always run to time. Ask me for recommendations!
Mistake #3 Not thinking of logistics/traffic when planning travel time between venues
Maybe the drive from your church to your venue in your car on a Wednesday evening only takes 16 minutes. Now try the same journey in rush hour traffic on a Friday evening on the Cape or Saturday afternoon in a popular vacation spot in Maine. And then factor in getting 30+ wedding party and family members onto the party bus. There will ALWAYS be someone go missing for 5 minutes. That 16 minute journey now takes 56 minutes. I'd recommend driving the route at the same time/day of your wedding at rush hour/in peak season and then double it. Also remember that trolleys aren't usually allowed on the highway so we may have to take backroads. AND factor in the 15 minutes that it will take for your trolley/party bus driver to open some champagne for everyone (or tell them that you want to skip this!).
Mistake #4 Not allocating enough time for family/formal/wedding party pictures
See the above section on family pictures. It's important to have your parents on the same page. Otherwise our list of 15 meaningful family groups can be lost as Mom shouts out combination after combination of other family members she'd like in pictures. Remember - I'll take family pictures ALL DAY if that's what you want me to do but you need to allocate them time. 3-5 minutes per family grouping.
Mistake #5 Thinking your wedding is a portrait session for guests/extended family
Although I'm primarily a wedding photographer I occasionally do family portrait sessions. I'll usually schedule a couple of hours, take time to get the family relaxed, especially the kids, spend some time thoughtfully arranging the group and then take multiple pictures to get the very best expressions and smiles.
On your wedding day I'm more than happy to grab a quick image of a family standing together at cocktail hour but it's simply going to be a well-lit snapshot. You've hired me as your wedding photographer and if you request 16 different portraits of your family members I'm going to miss real moments happening at your wedding.
At one of the first weddings I photographed, the mother of the bride requested that I set up a backdrop and lights in a side room and work through a list of maybe 26 family groups (the couple weren't in these pictures. It was kind of like she wanted me to be like one of those terrible studios you see in Walmart). I explained that I'd be missing dancing pictures, little moments between the couple, the fun of the party. When I came to deliver the pictures there were hardly any pictures of the reception as I'd spent most of the evening wandering through the guests looking for "Family Jones? or Family Smith?" Crazy!
A photobooth is a great option to consider if having extra pictures of friends and family is important. Each family can go into the booth, skip the props, hit the button and get a nice family snapshot.
Mistake #6 Wanting to take large group pictures during the reception
As your photographer I will photograph whatever you want me to :) and sometimes couples will email me saying:
- During the reception, can we get a picture of us with our 17 high school friends, our 26 university friends, one with 30 of our closest cousins and one with my 9 kindergarten friends.
I'm more than happy to take these pictures but the following things must happen:
a) You have to designate someone responsible to gather up the people. I can't do this as I don't know who the people are and I'm busy photographing real moments vs. trying to herd drunk people
b) If the groups are over 15-20 people, it's best to have the band/DJ announce it, just be aware this stops the dancing/ flow of a great party
c) You need to be happy that each large group picture will take you away from the party for at least 10 minutes. The actual taking of the photograph is about 60 seconds (I'm going to take multiple frames with a group this large to make sure I get one with everyone's eyes open) but it's going to take time to arrange everyone, make sure everyone's head is in the picture, wait for that one cousin/friend/uncle who went to the bar/restroom. These pictures usually happen late at night and people have usually had a few cocktails so they're less receptive to instructions! I've been at so many weddings where the couple request multiple large group pictures during the reception but then get really frustrated that it's taking forever to gather their friends.
d) It's not going to be the most splendiferous picture ever taken. I recently photographed a corporate session for 12 doctors and I spent close to 45 minutes arranging/posing/lighting the group. At your wedding there will be random guests in the background, that one drunk groomsman, that one friend who keeps pulling silly faces...
In summary, I'll happily take as many large group pictures as you like but it's important to realize that each picture will take up to 10 minutes... you'll be gone from the party for some time.
Mistake #7 Not making time for the two of you.
It's your wedding day. All about the two of you. It's not a photoshoot but it's ideal to have 30 minutes (or more!) of time to get beautiful relaxed pictures of the two of you. If you like, we can also sneak outside for a few minutes at sunset or once it's dark for some nightttime pictures. It can be nice to get a breathe of fresh air after all that dancing and I work really quickly to get you back to the party.
Mistake #8 Having an accidental receiving line
If you want to have a receiving line and greet guests as they leave your ceremony, then you need to plan that time into the day and you'll likely want to move cocktail hour later. The average guest will hug you, exclaim how handsome/beautiful you look, you'll thank them for coming and they'll say congratulations. The more exuberant guests might even insist on a picture. At an average of 15-20 seconds for that exchange to happen with 150 guests that's 45 minutes for your receiving line. Receiving lines are great as long as you allow enough time!
If you don't want to have a receiving line then it's critical that you don't hover at the end of the ceremony. Get straight into your form of transportation and instruct your wedding party and family to do the same! If we're taking pictures in a church afterwards, head straight around the side of the church and hide out to avoid an accidental receiving line. If we're leaving the ceremony to do formal family pictures during cocktail hour it's critical to let parents know they can't linger, they'll want to greet all of their friends but then we won't have them for the family pictures (another good reason to get all of the family pictures done prior to the ceremony so you can greet your guests!)
Mistake #9 Wanting to recreate other people's wedding pictures a.k.a Pinterest-obsession
I love Pinterest as much as you do! I have all kinds of inspiration boards for things for our home and stuff I want to cook. If Pinterest had been around when I was getting married I'm sure I would have had all sorts of wedding pictures pinned. Pinterest is an AMAZING resource for inspiration when you're wedding planning - helping you figure out the overall look and theme, helping up come up with awesome color pallets, giving you ideas for favors and more.
The only issue with Pinterest is that people are pinning the absolute best of the best photos and they may have been taken hours to set up in some cases! Many images are from styled shoots when you have all day to create one beautiful picture and no reception to get to! If you ask your wedding photographer to recreate someone else's wedding picture not only might it take a ton of time (to find a similar location, to try to recreate similar lighting conditions) but it's just not going to be the same. Ideally you should have hired your photographer because you LOVE the kind of pictures they take and you want them to create beautiful and unique images of your wedding day. If we have 30 minutes for couples pictures and you give me a list of 10 Pinterest pictures you'd like to recreate, you're not going to have any real moments or unique images from your own unscripted wedding.
And some popular Pinterest wedding images simply aren't possible! For example there's a frequently pinned image of "the kiss" in a grand Catholic church where you can see all of the wedding guests behind the couple. To get that specific angle I'd have to push the priest out of the way or be literally standing over his shoulder. There's not a single Catholic church in New England (to my knowledge) that even allows me on the altar never mind standing over the priest! I had one couple send me a favorite picture on Pinterest of a couple making out in the back of their limo - I pointed out this would be difficult to do as they were riding on a trolley with the rest of their wedding party :)
As a photographer it's possible to search to see which images I've taken have been pinned to Pinterest, my winter engagement images are always popular as is the image on the bottom with the American Flag flying over the couple. I frequently see it pinned with comments like "Add this to list for photographer!" and "Awesome Patriotic picture - must have for our wedding!" but here's the reality - unless you're getting married at that specific Boston wedding venue on the right kind of day AND the flag is flying AND your photographer has access to the roof AND your second photographer is talking with your main photographer to have you twirl under the flag AND the wind blows the flag the right way then you probably can't get that picture...
So here's what I recommend - two weeks before your wedding, delete all of your wedding related Pinterest boards. Everything wedding related will be booked and finalized and you don't want to have post-wedding remorse when you revisit your Pinterest boards and realize your florist didn't quite mimic the centerpieces you loved. Work with your photographer to get amazing pictures that other people will want to pin!
Mistake #10 Not remembering the big picture
You're here on your wedding day because you're marrying the person you love surrounded by your closest friends and family. Things will run late - that's OK. Things will go wrong - that's OK too. As long as you're having a good time your friends and family will too! Once the day gets here try not to worry about the things you can't control.
One of my very favorite weddings last year had a hiccup when the coach carrying half of their guests went to the wrong venue. They could have freaked out but instead they asked their venue coordinator to make an announcement and serve drinks to their guests for the 45 minute delay so guests could relax and enjoy the ocean view.
Another wedding I photographed took place in the middle of the blizzard of 2013, the rehearsal dinner had to be moved, the make up artist didn't show, the guest count was changing by the minute, the ceremony had to be pushed back 3 hours due to the travel ban - there was nothing that could be done and the couple just went with the flow. They shrugged it off, were flexible and decided to do a first look to make sure we could get the snow in the daylight in their pictures and there was such a sense of camaraderie and joy at the wedding when it happened.
Your guests will look to the two of you all night, if you want people to dance - dance! If you want people to tuck into the late night sliders and fries - eat a slider and dunk your french fries in ketchup! No one will care if your monogram cocktail napkins are the wrong shade of rose pink!
The whole day will fly by, usually the result of months and often years of planning. Putting careful thought and consideration into your wedding day timeline will ensure you get the most possible enjoyment out of your day, have the most time with your future intended and closest friends and family...and of course, get the wedding pictures you want ;)