It was a crisp, beautiful autumn day - just perfect for a wedding at my Maine home on Mount Desert Island.
Last weekend, my gardener at Skylands, Mike Harding, married his fiancee, Christina. Mike asked me some time ago if he could have the wedding at my house. Mike has worked with me for more than 13-years, so I was delighted with the idea.
He and Christina planned a small and intimate event with their immediate families and closest friends. They also planned to do all the arrangements and preparations themselves - everything from cooking the food to making the table centerpieces. It was quite an undertaking, but the results were nothing short of beautiful. Enjoy these photos.
This garden is on the property of an old house I recently bought in Maine right near Skylands. It was the perfect venue for Mike’s wedding.
Mike gathered all the woodland elements for his centerpieces – sphagnum moss, pincushion moss, haircap moss, and reindeer moss. All these were, of course, returned to the woods after the ceremony. He also used willow branches. Mike said while preparing for the wedding, he utilized all the skills he’s learned working for me over the years – they came in very handy.
All the moss, branches and pink granite rocks and stones were placed in galvanized metal planter inserts we had not used for a long time.
Mike also used spruce branches to add more texture and height to the arrangements.
Each of the three centerpieces took about an hour to complete.
They look so beautiful with battery operated fairy lights weaved through the willow branches – one centerpiece for each of the three eight-foot long tables.
Mike also made an arbor out of a felled white cedar tree. The uprights are eight feet tall, and each of these cross bars is about two and half feet long.
He built it in a corner near the garden, so it would be easier to transport to the actual ceremony location.
The arbor weighed more than 100-pounds when it was complete. When it was time to move it, Mike screwed 2x4s on the front and back to use as supports. He didn’t want anything to happen to it during its 150-foot trip to the garden’s center.
Mike borrowed 24 teak chairs from the property, and carefully moved them from storage to the site.
Mike’s friend, Scott LaForge, helped set-up the chairs the evening before the wedding.
That day before the wedding was a little drizzly, but it didn’t last long, and preparations moved very smoothly.
The day of the wedding was perfect – low 60s, dry and sunny. Here is a simple yet beautiful setting overlooking Seal Harbor.
I had recently hosted a gathering in the carriage house of my stable, so it was already suited for a reception. Mike set-up the three tables to make one long one – I love this room with all the wonderful large windows looking out onto my vegetable and flower gardens.
This is a red maple tree that had to be cut down. Mike repurposed the top to decorate the reception space. He and Scott woke up very early on the day of the wedding and “planted” it in a bucket of pink granite pea stone.
Mike and Christina prepared this platter of bites. It included various cheeses, salami, fruit, blackberries, grapes, and nuts. Mike says they are still enjoying the leftovers.
The actual ceremony was casual and non-traditional. Christina’s children, Rylee and Dylan, served as maid of honor and best man.
The officient was Jennifer McWain. She is also the town clerk for the Northeast Harbor. Mike has known her for years and was thrilled to know she was available to perform the ceremony.
The couple planted an azalea in this vessel as part of the wedding.
They kept the rings on the azalea as they added soil to the pot. They then removed the rings and exchanged their personal vows.
Here is a lovely photo taken at the moment Mike and Christina became husband and wife.
Christina baked her own wedding cake – a classic white cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. Mike set up two planting boxes upside down for the cake platform. If you look closely, you can see part of one of my horse carriages on the right. It’s a Bar Harbor buckboard carriage. In the 1900s, these were designed for use by hotels as beach wagons during the holiday season.
Here are Mike, Christina and his parents, Bill and Betty – the first of many family pictures.
Each table sat eight. Christina found all the table setting pieces herself from shopping online and in local shops.
These are Mike’s longtime best friends – Art Gowie, Ryan Corliss, and Scott LaForge.
Here is Scott putting wood under the lobster cooker right outside the garden shop. On top is a large galvanized wash basin that can cook many lobsters at a time.
The table lights were turned on just before the wedding ceremony, so when everyone arrived at the carriage house, this is what all the guests saw first – a beautiful table lit up for the special occasion.
This photo was taken in the pagoda next to the overlook garden. Mike and Christina are looking out over Seal Harbor towards Little Cranberry Island. Christina also created her own bouquet out of dahlias and hydrangeas picked at Skylands.
Congratulations Mike and Christina – I wish you all the very best.