Alyssa Marquis had one major requirement for her wedding venue: It had to have amazing photo possibilities.
She and her fiance, James Ireland, didn't have to look too hard. Sunday River was their first and last stop.
"I was like, 'I just want the perfect setting,'" Marquis said. "The second I saw it, I was like, 'Yep, this is it, hands down. I don't want to see anything else. This is it.'"
That their photographer could shoot photos of the Auburn couple and their wedding party riding the chairlift on their autumn wedding day, the mountain ablaze in color around them definitely helped.
"We like stuff that's different and to me that stuck out because it's different," Marquis said.
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Ski resort weddings aren't new, especially in Maine. But more and more couples are heading out to the mountains to say "I do."
Sunday River used to host 45 weddings a year, on average. This year, 60 are on the schedule.
One of them will be the October wedding of Marquis and Ireland. The couple plans to say their vows at the base of the mountain, have their reception in a slope-side restaurant and then retire outside with their 100-plus guests to sit around a campfire.
A campfire with a s'mores bar.
"He and I are both extreme s'mores fanatics," Marquis said. "Anything with s'mores, our name is written all over it. I was like, 'Oh my god, we can have s'mores outside!'"
Like many couples, Marquis and Ireland wanted a fall wedding at the mountain, when the weather is cool without being cold and the foliage makes for beautiful views. But every year, at least a couple of die-hards choose a winter wedding on the slopes instead.
"People don't expect it," said Polly Legere, who married Dan Legere at Sunday River in December a couple of years ago. "It's absolutely, stunningly beautiful. It's just fun."
He skied to the outdoor altar in a black suit. She walked down the aisle in a traditional gown and white fur jacket — clutching her brother's arm because the path turned out to be slick with ice. Some of their 55 guests arrived on skis and attended the outside ceremony in snow pants and parkas.
It made perfect sense for the Legeres, who are avid skiers and, though they live in Portland, have a second home in the Newry area. Other people wanted fall foliage for their wedding; the Legeres prayed for snow.
"It looked like 'Doctor Zhivago' because we'd had snow and rain and snow and it got cold, so all the trees were just covered in snow," Legere said. "I would absolutely recommend winter weddings to anybody. Everybody there said it was the best wedding they'd ever been to."
Not that a snowy mountain wedding is for everyone, even those who love to ski.
Bethany and Bret Norton, who live in Massachusetts, initally wanted a winter wedding when they got married at Sunday River last year. But while the snow is beautiful to look at and ski in, the couple quickly realized it could cause a problem for the 190 guests trying to get there.
"I'm not a huge risk-taker," Bethany Norton said.
They put off their ceremony for a few months, getting married in early April instead of late January. It turned out to be a good call. Even in April, their wedding ceremony missed a blizzard by two days.
They said their vows inside at the lodge but took their photos outside — with the mountains in the background and their bridesmaids wearing duck boots.
"It was just unique, especially for people who are from Boston," Norton said. "It's different, getting married in the mountains."
It's unique for people from Maine, too."We wanted something different, something our guests would remember and have fun at," said Brittany Eaton, who lives in South Portland.
She and Ben Eaton married at Sunday River this past October, almost exactly one year before Marquis and Ireland will.
And for the same reason."Our pictures are amazing," Eaton said.
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