Innkeepers Discover Maine; Set Destination for Elopements
Written by Dan Marios | Photography by Lauryn Hottinger
“We are both technology professionals who as research and development managers and executives have delivered hundreds of new and innovative products to market from speech recognition to video-conferencing to Internet infrastructure to data center operating systems to high performance computing solutions,” state the couple on their website.
“In January of 2013, we made the decision to go in a different direction and Roy left the corporate world. Roy’s mission was to completely remodel our Methuen, Massachusetts home to sell. In June of 2013 we sold the Methuen home and moved to Sugarloaf.”
With their kids through college, Sue Forsberg explained that the time was right to seek out their own business. They didn’t want to wait until retirement to do so. Roy echoes that it was a lunch engagement that sent him in a different direction.
“I was having lunch with a former colleague,” recalls Roy. “He showed me an online article about an entrepreneur in Old Orchard Beach who gave up the corporate world to sell snowboards and become a coach for the sport.” This story inspired him to seek a venture into the unfamiliar.
In December of that same year, the couple found themselves as the new owners of Wolf Cove Inn, a small country inn located on the shores of Tripp Lake on a stretch of Route 11 that runs from the LA Metro area to the Lakes Region in Bridgton, and beyond. Roy become a full time innkeeper while Sue continued her technology career for the next 18 months. In July of 2015, Sue started full time at the Inn.
A NEW MARKET OPENS
With only 12 overnight guest rooms at Wolf Cove, the duo set out to create intimate experiences at the Inn. Weekend getaways, romantic overnights, special occasion events, and corporate or social retreats are standard fare at Wolf Cove. They have also been sought out for weddings and honeymoons. It is the wedding business that has taken a different- and very successful- twist.
“We no longer do event-style weddings,” said Susan, noting that the logistics for set up and food service for larger numbers can be overwhelming. Instead, the Inn has set its sights as an elopement destination for couples.
“We started specializing in elopements in February, 2016,” said Sue. Wolf Cove has hosted 7 elopements through the Fall 2016, and have 11 more scheduled into 2017.
“We help those couples who don’t want the hassle of planning a full wedding, but who want an intimate and special occasion,” said Sue. “Traditional weddings can be very complicated and expensive events.”
The national average for the cost of a wedding in 2016 is estimated at $29,858, according to valuepenguin.com. The same website estimates the average cost for a wedding in Maine at $36,663.
The website goes on to say that a couple could spend more than half of their annual income on the festivities of their wedding day.
“Elopements have become an affordable option,” said Sue, citing that while Maine is a popular wedding destination, in general, it is becoming highly popular for elopements. “We can offer an affordable experience catering to the couple’s wishes on how to make their day special.”
The legal part of getting married in Maine is a simple process.
Marriage licenses are issued at the town or city level. The couple must visit the town office in person, to apply for the marriage license. If the couple are both residents of the state of Maine, they only need to apply at the town office where at least one person is a resident. If neither one of the couple are residents of Maine, they can apply at any Maine town office. It need not be the same town where the couple plans to be married.
Applicants must be over 18 years old. Written parental consent is required for an applicant under 18.
The marriage license is valid for 90 days and can only be used within the State of Maine. Wedding officiants must be ordained ministers, judges, justices, lawyers or Maine notaries.
“All they have to do, really, is go to the town hall for the marriage license,” said Sue. “Most couples who elope want to add something special to the ceremony.”
Sue explains that the Wolf Cove Inn offers a choice of elopement packages that give the soon-to-be-married couple different options and pricing.
A very basic package includes a wedding officiant and witnesses, an indoor or outdoor ceremony location, flowers, candid photos from the event, and sparkling wine for the wedding toast.
“For couples who literally want to ‘take the plunge,’ we even offer the use of our rowboat to go out on the lake,” said Sue.
More elaborate packages include a wedding cake, more photo options, a private candlelight wedding three-course dinner for two with wine, a romantic bed turndown service with rose petals and chocolates, and a private gourmet breakfast for two.
Additional enhancements are available including additional ceremony guests, a violinist, a massage treatment, and a fireworks display over Tripp Lake.
Elopement packages at Wolf Cove run from $699 to $1399 with seasonal adjustments on some selections.
According to costofweddings.com, average elopement packages range from $1,000-$2,500. This constitutes an estimated 90% savings on the cost of a traditional wedding.
“Sue has become quite the wedding planner,” said husband, Roy, who takes on the duties of chef, marketer, food shopper, maintenance and logistics, while Sue handles finances, reservations, housekeeping and operations, and even performs the wedding ceremonies.
“I’m able to create an event that is individualized for each couple that elopes here,” said Sue. “If there is something different that they want, I’m willing to find it.”
THE REVIEWS ARE IN
“When we first got engaged, our original ideal wedding included immediate family only, and we knew we wanted a destination wedding,” said Fury. “We were able to invite about 12 of our closest friends and family which we think made it that much more special. We both have large extended families and they all were very supportive when the news broke on what we had done. But the few who were at the elopement knew how much they meant to us, that we hand-picked them to be a part of our ceremony and it has really tightened our friendships even more.”
The Rogers chose Wolf Cove Inn based on a recommendation from Fury’s brother, who had celebrated an anniversary there. “Since we are from Maine and (from) the country, it just felt like it was us. The property was so peaceful and the lake setting beautiful. We met with Sue. She discussed our options and we couldn’t resist.”
Fury said there were many highlights of the elopement including: the Inn’s five star breakfast, a sit-down meal with a violinist accompaniment, a wedding cake (part of the package) that the couple were able to design themselves.
“I almost forgot. We were able to have a masseuse come in prior to the ceremony,” said Fury. “The whole day was perfect and we never had go anywhere or worry about a thing. We had a gorgeous, sunny, warm day in May that allowed us an amazing waterfront ceremony. That was probably my favorite part.”
– Darren & Fury Rogers
“It was a first marriage for both of us,” said Marion. “But everyone wanted to join in on the plans, asking us to do this date, and not that date. They weren’t excited about our plans. All of their opinions made it even more clear that we should do it on our own.”
Marion believes that finding the Wolf Cove Inn for the elopement was destined to happen.
“My very dear friend, Gary Poland, who lives in Washington state, had a stroke last year. He was my best friend and a Dad I wished could have walked me down the aisle,” explains Marion. “Matt found Wolf Cove Inn and, coincidentally, it was in Poland Maine. I think it was in the stars to be there. We immediately decided that Wolf Cove was good luck and our special location.”
Marion loved the actual ceremony that was held by the dock, where she and Matt exchanged the vows they wrote for each other.
“It was sprinkling a bit and overcast, but it was quiet and peaceful. Sue had the most calming voice and she performed the ceremony perfectly. She made things so perfect for us.”
“It was the best choice we ever made. Traditionally, our families have had big weddings. They were amazing,” admits Marion. “But for us, without all the pressure, the cost, the drama, we had our own amazing wedding day.”
– Matt and Marion
ADVICE ON ELOPEMENTS
While clearly not an option for everyone, the elopements in Maine have been a success for couples at the Wolf Cove Inn. The couples and innkeepers do offer advice for others considering the less-than- traditional marriage.
“Don’t spend so much time planning an elopement or thinking about it. When you let things come naturally, all beauty exposes itself,” said Marion, of her elopement with Matt. “When it’s just the two of you, you really do focus on the most important thing: the two of you, the marriage, one another. It is the hope in your future, wrapped up in one magical day.”
“These days, weddings can become an expensive, commercialized party and the intimacy has been lost. Keep your focus on the reason for the event,” reflects Fury, on her elopement with Darren. “It is just two people promising to be each other’s everything for the rest of your lives. Keep that at the forefront.”
Innkeeper Sue suggests that couples determine what things would make their elopement special: a beautiful setting, special decorations, or creating a special look for the event. She also recommends that couples seek out all-inclusive packages where all details are handled by one person at one price.
“Decide together what you want. Be flexible. Plan to make it a very special day,” said Sue.
She also recommends that if couples are going to truly elope, that they don’t tell anyone until after the event.
“You may risk upsetting some family members and friends when they hear about the marriage after the elopement,” said Sue. “If you tell them in advance, there’s a chance that your elopement plans may be brushed aside.”
“I am so glad we eloped. No stress, or planning, or hours of picking out flowers and centerpieces and trying to make seating charts work. That wasn’t for us,” adds Fury. “We had a beautiful ceremony. We could not have afforded such a ceremony if we had to accommodate 100 or more guests.”