By Alexi Holian
There’s an undeniable splendor to the coastal bluffs of southern Maine—a windswept artistry in the dramatic rock formations and stunning blue waters of the Atlantic.
This summer, that natural beauty will become the focal point of Cliff House weddings as the luxury resort re-opens after a landmark transformation.
The completely re-designed Cliff House highlights the Atlantic from every vantage with expansive floor-to-ceiling windows and contemporary, coastal chic décor. According to Catering Sales Manager Christina DiOrio, there’s simply nothing else like it in all of southern Maine—or in all of Maine, for that matter—and a tour of the property speaks for itself. “Our clients’ comments change from ‘I want to be here,’” she explains, “to ‘I need to be here’ for my wedding.”
From the stately Atlantic Ballroom to the windswept lawns and terraces backed by the sea, Cliff House offers an array of venues for ceremonies, receptions, rehearsal dinners, and more. “It’s a unique wedding venue because not only do we have magnificent indoor spaces with unobstructed ocean views,” DiOrio says, “but we are also set upon 70 acres abutted against the ocean, allowing for a truly memorable Maine experience. We really bring the outside in, and that is what couples are looking for.”
The Atlantic Ballroom provides a contemporary yet elegant setting with its panoramic views of the ocean and beamed ceiling reminiscent of the inside of a ship’s hull, while Cape Neddick Salon offers a more intimate space with spectacular views of the water and Nubble Lighthouse (one of the most photographed lighthouses in the US). So in the case of inclement weather, the ocean will still be the highlight of indoor nuptials.
Outdoors, a vast design of enchanting gardens and oceanfront terraces and patios awaits, and the lush greenery contrasts beautifully with the iconic cliffs.
With the backdrop of the Atlantic, DiOrio notices that couples planning to wed at Cliff House are steering away from excessive décor. The ocean is captivating enough in itself, and the soon-to-be-wed couples are leaning toward more relaxed settings where friends and family can mingle. This holds especially true during the catered portion of the evening, whether your preference is plated dinners, stations, a family-style clambake, or something of your own design.
In any case, the cuisine will undeniably be the centerpiece of the reception. The expert catering specialists at Cliff House create fare that is inspired by both indigenous Maine flavors and the couple’s vision. Brides and grooms can design their own menus to incorporate their culinary experiences as well as the chefs’ favorites—like Ginger Tumeric Salmon Rilette, Line Caught Seared Blue Cod with clam chowder sauce, and Peekytoe Crab Tartines accented with sweet pea puree, lemon, and chives.
Wedding parties and guests can also experience all that Maine has to offer with excursions before or after the wedding, such as a round of golf at the neighboring Cape Neddick Country Club, a day at Cliff House’s world-class spa, a brewery tour in the neighboring villages of Ogunquit and York, or any manner of coastal activities from kayaking to chartered boat cruises along the coastline. And that doesn’t even begin to list the array of winter activities, now that the resort will be open year-round for the first time in 144 years.
With so many activities on-site and nearby, Cliff House is truly the place for a destination wedding. Couples and their guests can even plan for an extended stay because the resort offers preferred guest room and suite pricing for special events.
DiOrio and her team are present for every step of the planning process and event day, whether couples wish to discuss seating arrangements or simply inquire about popular locations to take wedding photos. (She recommends Nubble Lighthouse, Ogunquit Beach, and a charming footbridge over the water in Perkins Cove.)
For couples currently in the wedding planning process, DiOrio advises, “Make the process as simple as possible. I ask all of my couples to give me their top three must-haves, and then I focus on how we can enhance those aspects to make a spectacular event.” She also encourages couples to visit multiple venues, implying that many brides and grooms already have a specific vision in mind, but once they see a venue in person, that vision may change. It makes it easier to understand which aspects are most important for the wedding.
“At the end of the day, the thing I enjoy most is seeing my clients enjoying their event and the smiles and memories that are made,” DiOrio says. “It brings a sense of accomplishment and happiness to see the visions and dreams come true.”
Now that Cliff House is re-opening as a year-round destination, the possibilities are limitless for off-season weddings and events. The most popular time to visit southern Maine is surely during the beautiful days of summer—and DiOrio already has several weddings scheduled this inaugural season—but the potential for winter weddings at Cliff House is completely untapped.