Finding the perfect Acadia National Park wedding venue is a surprisingly challenging feat. The magic of the island is in the landscape, so venues which are mostly indoors seem to kill the vibe. And of course, most venues are in Bar Harbor as part of hotels. Wendy and Jay sidestepped this by using their private Acadia property as their wedding venue. Agreed, not everyone is lucky enough to have a private residence in Acadia (although by-owner rentals do open up lots of possibilities.)
Our story started with Wendy & Jay only sightly before their wedding. It was a bit of a last minute connection as their original photographer had an unexpected loss. We tend to spend most of July on island, so we’re pretty flexible when faced with the opportunity for a Wednesday wedding.
Given the time crunch, we immediately invited Wendy over to our place so we could connect. Jay was still in NC, but Wendy was spending a good bit of the summer on island to be with family. Within a few hours of her first e-mail, she was sitting in our dining room having tea and vegan cheesecake. And by the time the night ended we were planning her wedding day photography.
A few days before the wedding we met again at their oceanfront camp rental in Pretty Marsh. She and Jay were barefoot, happily feeling the old wooden planks under their toes. It was an instant transport to our childhood, being in family camps with the old wood smells and faint musty undertones. Sitting on the porch looking over the water, and chatting about all things wedding and not, we couldn’t wait for more.
Wendy grew up on Mount Desert Island. In fact, her family has ties to the founding of Acadia National Park. So she is kind of royalty! Anyone who has been to Acadia knows of the magical pull. So it’s no wonder Jay proposed there, at Thuya Garden. And in true character, Wendy turned around and proposed right back further down the trail.
Jay met Wendy in North Carolina during college. They both have a strong love for the outdoors, and not just fly-by National Park check-offs. Whether hiking, kayaking or climbing, they take everything a park has to offer and enjoy it with all they have.
When on island, they lead rock climbing groups for a local Bar Harbor outfitter. Living in North Carolina, rock climbing has been a huge part of their lives. It allows them to explore their love for nature, while also pushing themselves to limits and reaching new goals. We’re fairly confident they’d have chosen to marry on the side of a cliff if given the option.
Wednesday morning began with Wendy and her “bridesmaids” (two ladies, one guy) out rock climbing on the side of Champlain near the Precipice Trail. Wendy had found a white climb-worthy lace top online, and tutus had been provided for everyone. We were the only ones out there, and the thought occurred to Wendy more than once that she could stay there happily all day.
Meanwhile, Jay and his “groomsmen” (two ladies, one guy) were back at the house having deep conversations and mulling over baked goods. Then the day kicked into high gear.
While it wasn’t a huge guest list, it was all hands on deck. Wendy’s mom brought beef from her farm. Friends brought flowers from their farm. Dad provided a staging space. The neighbors hosted the tent in their yard. Two grills were brought out with grillmasters assigned. The kitchen was a flurry with cooks finishing off potluck side dishes. And the bedroom was taken over by a squad of friends doing hair, makeup, ironing, and making the music selections.
Wendy, while confined to her “salon” chair by the first-floor window, was chatting with guests through the screen as they asked setup questions. Jay was on last-minute detail assignment. We ran between the two houses as each bridesmaid made their own bouquet, tables were set up, and food prepped.
We then led the two to meet in the garden for their first look, away from the happy chaos. At their request, we stayed far back giving them the moment in private. Jay handed Wendy a small toy tractor which instantly brought her to smiles. Wendy had told him long before how she wanted a tractor to be part of his proposal. It hadn’t been, so was now a part of the ceremony as she put it on the garden fence behind the alter.
On to a garden ceremony, followed by a backyard tent reception. One of the grills ran out of gas, a borrowed speaker from the historical society fell over, the DIY playlist took a break while buffering. But none of that mattered a bit because there was so much perfection everywhere else. Family and friends all took part in providing the beverages, bowls of BBQ style food, and the amazing spread of cakes. In every way perfect because it was all created by such genuine love and admiration.
We popped behind the tent into the Acadia Farm field for sunset photos. Danced the rest of the night away and agreed that this was a perfect Mount Desert Island backyard wedding. It wasn’t the Rockefeller estate, or an oceanside MDI private residence wedding. But so completely rich in all the ways that matter!