A Beach Vacation, An Engagement Party and Our First Venue Visit

Wow, these last two weeks have been crazy! I’m not sure I’ve ever traveled this much in such a short amount of time. So with the second half of my travel extravaganza coming later this week, this post is going to focus on the first—we had a few picture-perfect days in Ogunquit, Maine, culminating with a wonderful engagement party and our first visit to a wedding venue!

My family’s first trip to Ogunquit Beach was when I was in the sixth grade, about 16 years ago. We’ve missed a year here and there in the time since, but not many. My favorite part of Ogunquit is that each year we return and hardly anything has changed. We stay in the same hotel on the beach, the same man makes announcements over the loudspeaker in the morning, the same shops and restaurants continue to line Main Street. Even our actions remain the same: trips uptown for coffee, walks along the beach, floating in the river, dinners at Splash. When I’m there, I feel comfortable, relaxed and home. And this year, we were blessed by the weather gods with three absolutely perfect beach days, sunny and warm but not stifling and sweaty. I swear that even the ocean was a few degrees warmer this year. It rained on the last day when we were to leave, and while I felt bad for the people whose vacations had just begun, it put a tidy bow on our stay in Ogunquit and made it just a little easier to say goodbye to the beach.

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We didn’t say goodbye to the beach, though, without an engagement party on the final night. This trip was planned and booked well before we got engaged, but because so much of my family would be in one place at the same time, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to celebrate.The celebration started joyfully with a float on the river in a giant diamond ring tube. I could feel the beach-goers staring as I walked to the water carrying it, but I didn’t care. It was so much fun to float with and made me feel like a princess.

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As for the party, my parents and relatives went above and beyond, beginning the evening with a champagne toast on the beach and photos by a seashell heart with our initials in it. I had seem my mom and sister collecting shells earlier that afternoon and I had no idea why until I saw the heart.

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From the beach we headed back up to the patio, where snacks, drinks and games were waiting. In addition to champagne, there were ingredients to make one of our favorite cocktails, Dark and Stormys. The decorations were simple, personal and perfect.

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Whoopie pies are my favorite dessert, so I especially loved seeing those with the rings sticks. Everything was beautiful. The food—homemade pulled pork, sweet and sour meatballs and chili—was delicious, and so much better than anything we could have ordered in. There were even props for photos, which were a lot of fun.

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The people, the beach, the food, the fun, the love…everything was wonderful. Because it had only been about a month since our engagement, and because we live here in Maryland, this was the first time I was seeing nearly everyone in my family since we got engaged, and their joy and excitement sent me into a spiral of giddiness that I hadn’t felt since those first few days of being a fiancé. I can only imagine that this is going to keep happening at each event leading up to our wedding and I have to say, I don’t hate it!

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Finally, we used that rainy last day of our trip for our first venue visit, though by the time we arrived it wasn’t raining anymore. I’m not going to say where we went because we didn’t love it, but I do want to touch on a few things I realized after physically seeing a venue for the first time. No matter how many photos you look at, you’re not going to have a true, complete picture of what the venue is like. Spaces are different in person; they might be smaller than you expected, or closer to the road, or anything like that. Something else I noticed because of this visit is that I was so concerned in my research about finding a place where the ceremony could be indoors in case of bad weather, I completely forgot about the cocktail hour. And it turns out, not many venues specify on their website where cocktail hour is held, so I have been sure since then to ask specifically about that. The other thing I realized you can’t tell from a website is where spaces are in relation to one another, whether you have to walk down a hill to get to the ceremony area, or whether the venue space is right next to the facility’s restaurant, which might be open to the public during your event. So while this venue wasn’t the one, I’m so glad we were able to get one visit under our belts; my vision is clearer, and it really helped allow the things that are really important to us to float up to the surface.

So as I mentioned, this was part one of our two weeks of travel. It was relaxing, joyful, helpful and so full of love. And if this was just a taste, I think I’m going to really enjoy this whole pre-wedding festivities thing!

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