Sweeping coastal bluffs and ocean views define Cape Neddick at any time of year, but it’s the spectacular winter ambiance that truly sets the tone for authentic New England weddings.
When the snow begins to fall on the coastline, the season takes on a splendor that rivals summer in southern Maine. And now that Cliff House has re-opened as a year-round resort, soon-to-be brides and grooms are already planning their winter weddings by the sea.
“Couples are coming to us because they want to experience true New England,” says Christina DiOrio, Catering Sales Manager. “They come for that authentic feel, which for us in the wintertime is snow, the fire pit going, hot chocolate and s’mores, and sleigh rides.”
The grand indoor venues take on a seasonal spirit with floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing the Atlantic and, often, the snow-covered cliffs. (DiOrio says, “You’re getting that wintery wonderland from inside rather than out.”) The Atlantic Ballroom offers unobstructed views of the sea, along with an elegant beamed ceiling inspired by the inside of a ship’s hull, while Cape Neddick Salon features views of the water and Nubble Lighthouse.
Outdoors, 70 acres of expansive lawns and gardens attract couples for both cliffside ceremonies and stunning newlywed photography sessions. As in any season, the weather can be unpredictable – last year, there were golfers at the neighboring Cape Neddick Country Club on Christmas Eve. But DiOrio says of couples, “They will take the leap of faith and come in the wintertime because there is such beautiful scenery.”
Even in snowy or windy weather, The Fire Pit Terrace, located between the resort’s two wings, provides a sheltered outdoor setting for a cocktail hour or an after-party with hot chocolate toasts and marshmallows. There are also several smaller fire pits throughout the property.
On the catering menus, the chef reveals seasonal items like butternut squash bisque and cranberry chutney. The cuisine takes on a distinctly homegrown feel for winter while still keeping in touch with the indigenous Maine flavors that inspire the dining at Cliff House. And as always, couples can choose to incorporate their own culinary experiences into the catering.
“We have menus established, but it’s all flexible,” DiOrio says. “At the end of the day, it’s about the couple. We want it to be what they want throughout from beginning to end.”
Along with the luxury spa at Cliff House, a host of winter excursions are available to couples and their guests. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing take the place of warm-weather favorites like kayaking and fishing, and the local brewery tour of Ogunquit and York is always running. Wedding guests can plan for an extended stay, too, with preferred guest room and suite pricing for special events.
Photography: Dan Aguirre