A Maine Love Story: Handcrafted joy in Brooklin

Story: Debra Bell with photographs by Andree Kehn Photography

What started as a home-renovation project turned into a romance for Bangor residents Michele Prentice and Mark Dwyer.

“A bathroom remodel brought us together,” Michele said, grinning.

But even before she hired him to redo her bathroom, friends were conspiring to bring them together. A mutual friend introduced them after seeing what Mark had done with his own home. He DJ’ed her birthday party. And then they hit it off after the renovation.

As active 30-somethings, Michele and Mark enjoyed getting outside.

So it made sense that he would pop the question on a cross-country ski excursion in the Bangor City Forest.

“We were in the middle of the city forest cross-country skiing, and no one was there,” she said. They started a conversation about children and the future, and then “he got down on one knee while still on skis and asked me. I just sat down, right on the trail. I spent like an hour looking at it. Then I realized we had two miles to ski back.”

While Michele had not given him any indication of what she wanted, he had other things in mind.

“He chose a ring with the best cut that reflected light, a brilliant cut diamond,” she said. “He did months of research. He knows I didn’t want anything huge.”

The couple chose not to rush into planning. Instead they talked about what they wanted.

“When I thought about getting married, all I ever thought about was running away to an island somewhere,” she said. “When I really sat down and thought about it, the last time all my family was together was at my grandmother’s funeral. That’s when we decided we needed to hold a wedding.”

Together they decided on a “Maine” experience hosted in August. Michele’s family, she said, is from out-of-state, and many had never been to Maine before. They knew their ideal location needed to include lodging on site for guests, pretty views, and an opportunity to experience Maine at its best.

Mark discovered the “perfect” spot while working in Brooklin and it was appropriate that what drew him to the property of the Lookout was the “kissing trees.” The location was discovered while he explored the area. The location held a bed and breakfast, rustic cabins, great views and everything the couple wanted in a venue.

With the venue taken care, of the next big “to do” on the planning docket was to hire a wedding planner.

“I felt it was the best money spent to have someone who could help me,” Michele said. She met Megan Lord, owner of Pencil Events in Bowdoinham, through her photographer Andree Kehn. Lord managed the details, helped solidify the couple’s vision, provided guidance and advice, and served as a sounding board.

“Without her I think I might have been lost,” Prentice said.

Over the course of a year, the couple planned, dreamed, and handled little details with the help of a wedding team, including Lord, who had married on Sept. 4, 2011.

Prentice, a graphic designer at the Bangor Daily News, worked hand in hand with Lord to design a theme. Then she designed all of the printed items, including the invitation package, program, table cards and thank yous, printed items for the reception, and coloring books for the children in attendance.

Wedding-day timing was crucial for the wedding. The pair chose to wed beneath two pine trees leaning together on a small rock island, named by locals the “kissing trees,” accessible only at low tide by a sand bar. So they had to keep an eye to the tides in order to get guests from dry land to the ceremony spot.

By the time the wedding day came, the couple was excited. But did Prentice have jitters on her wedding day?

Nope.

“The whole day, I wasn’t stressed out,” she said. “People kept checking my hands [to see if she was shaking]. But I wasn’t.”

As she spent time decompressing with her attendants, guests enjoyed cocktails before the ceremony and ushers used blue-and-orange ceramic balls to prepare the path to the trees.

Guests, Mark, and the rest of the wedding party headed down to the end of the long sandbar. Then it was time for Michele to head there.

“I wanted to tie in family,” she said. “My brother and I are really close, and he’s one of the most important people in my life, so I started [down the aisle] with him. A third of the way down the aisle I met Mark’s dad, and my dad walked me the last part of the way. It was important to me that everyone have a role.”

By the end of the ceremony, the couple was ready to relax and kick back. Guests were met after the ceremony with cocktails of champagne and popsicles infused with blueberries and peaches. Interactive activities helped keep guests busy as photos were being taken, and the reception tent was filled with striking tablescapes featuring peaches, blueberries, and cutting boards wood-burned with Michele and Mark’s wedding logo.

The couple also chose to have a non-traditional dessert: peach cobbler, her favorite dessert.

“I didn’t want cake; I’m not a cake fan,” Prentice said.

The reception continued sans many of the traditional wedding reception activities, such as the bouquet and garter toss.

Kristian, a friend of Mark’s, also served as the DJ and MC in order to make sure the music “didn’t suck.” And, according to Michele, he kept his promise.

Michele and Mark’s choice to buck tradition and instead to focus on a hand-crafted event was a hit with the guests.

“Everyone for months afterward remarked about how we tied everything in together,” she said. [For us,] what was really cool was how much friends and family did want to help, and I’m not good at asking for help.”

The Details

  • Wedding Design and Coordination: Pencil Events, Megan Lord

  • Ceremony and Reception Venue: The Lookout Bed and Breakfast, Brooklin

  • Officiant: Tricia Carver-Watson, Community of Christ

  • Florals: Pencil Events

  • Hair and Makeup: I Do Spas

  • Bridal Gown: Andrea’s Bridal

  • Bridesmaid Dresses: What a Beautiful Life

  • Groomsmen Suits: Men’s Wearhouse

  • Groomsmen Ties: Solid Color Neckties

  • Groomsmen Socks: The Gap

  • Catering: The Lookout Bed and Breakfast

  • Dessert: Laura George, Mariza Taylor + A Moment of Sweetness

  • Disc Jockey: DJ KTF

  • Stationery and printed items: Michele Prentice Dwyer

  • Printer: Jiffy Print

  • Rentals: Granville Party Rental

  • Branding Iron Manufacturer: BrandNew Industries Inc.

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