A Maine Love Story: Abby and Jason

Small town wedding hospitality in Deer Isle
Abby Gross and Jason Markham
August 6, 2011 | Deer Isle
Story Debra Bell | Photography Kristina O’Brien

Boston, mutual friends, and a Red Sox game were the prescription that Deer Isle native Abby Gross needed for a sweet romance.

Abby, a middle school science teacher met IT Engineer Jason (Jay) while enjoying the excitement of city life in Boston

“We had a lot of things in common,” Abby said. “We started hanging out together while studying. We both enjoyed day trips out of the city to hike and kayak, but we both also enjoyed the hussle of and bustle of city life.”

As they studied for their respective graduate school entrance exams — the MCAT entrance exam for medical school for Abby and the GMAT exam for Jay who intended to get a MBA — they found their friendship grow as well.

“We had our first date at a Red Sox game,” Abby said. “After that we spent a lot of sunny afternoon at Fenway Park together.  We were comfortable together and enjoyed each other’s company.”

Jay, a native of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, fell as hard for the small island town of Deer Isle as he did for Abby.

And on a beautiful spring day, the couple hiked Blue Hill Mountain for a very important reason.

“We hiked to the top of the mountain and we were all by ourselves,” she said. “He pulled a beautiful ring out of his pocket as we overlooked the panoramic view of Penobscot Bay. That’s when he proposed. He told me later that he had put the ring in his pocket and he was so afraid of losing it on the hike up the mountain.”

Coming down from being on top of the world, the couple enjoyed a long engagement. Both planned to finish graduate school before tying the knot. So they planned on making their wedding be a perfect reflection of their dedication to family and friends.

“We’re both from small families, but we have a large group of friends,” Abby said. “We wanted to make things fun with everything that we did.”

Fun, relaxation, flip flops, and family permeated every wedding detail. And let’s get this straight: Island folks know how to do it up.

Friends and family gathered to hand-make the wedding invitations. Island neighbors came together to delight guests and provide much needed transportation from the mainland to the island. Bouquets were hand made using flowers from the island. The couple even tried their hand at making a special wedding wine, setting aside 10 bottles for their first 10 anniversaries, Abby’s mother Patricia said. Together, they also created a coloring book with their own love story which they handed out to all the young guests at the wedding.

“I definitely think that to have the type of wedding that we had, you have to work together,” she said. “Instead of a three-hour event, we had a whole week of fun, including a boat ride aboard the F/V Jarsulan for the out-of-town guests the night before the wedding to see the local lighthouses.”

On the day of the wedding, Abby and her maid of honor were delivered to the ceremony site by her brother in her father’s bright red 1969 VW Beetle.

“The large field opened up into the Deer Isle thoroughfare in front of us, and in typical fashion, I was late,” she said. “[When we arrived] I could see everyone gathered and Jay was standing just beyond the crowd at the edge of the water. As we drove down the long driveway, everyone cheered. So many people were there, but when our eyes met, it felt like just the two of us.”

In fact, according to photographer Kristina O’Brien, the bride was greeted by cheers and approximately 150 red solo cups. The cups were filled with a refreshing cocktail that the couple had re-created from their vacations in the Caribbean.

The couple exchanged personal vows they wrote and during the recessional, guests tossed birdseed from homemade mini clam hods.

The reception, held under a tent overlooking the water, was an extension of the celebration. To keep the party hopping, the couple hired the Pete Kilpatrick Band, a decision they’re happy they made. Very few things were not done by the family, Abby said, and photography and live music were the most important vendors to hire.

From lobsters caught by the maid-of honor’s father and a pig roast tended by a close family friend, to freshly caught and picked crabmeat and blueberry cobbler baked by the groom’s family using blueberries from GM Allen, the wedding was a culinary tribute to Maine and the couple’s family and friends.

“We’re both outdoorsy people who like to get away,” she said. “We made sure wedding planning wasn’t the center of our life but that our relationship was. Both sides of our families were extremely supportive and were very grounding which made planning the wedding fun and a lot less stressful.“

The Details

Bride’s Gown: J Crew

Engagement Ring: Long’s Jewlery, Boston

Wedding Band:  Pete Kilpatrick Band

Officiant: Stephen York

Event Rentals: Maine Equipment and Party Rental