May 27 • 2011
If the words “outdoor” or “adventure” describe your wedding plans, there’s a gem of a venue tucked in Maine’s upper reaches that’s well worth the drive.
Northern Outdoors boasts an authentic Maine lodge and scenic location in The Forks, a little town perched at the convergence of the Dead and Kennebec rivers, famous among white-water rafting enthusiasts for their thrilling rapids. We checked in with Stephanie Koetzle, a spokesperson for Northern Outdoors, to learn more about how they blend weddings with the wilderness.
L&L: Please tell us a bit about Northern Outdoors, including its location, history and offerings.
SK: Northern Outdoors is Maine’s premier adventure resort and winner of Yankee Magazine’s 2011 and 2008 Editor’s Choice Award. Established in 1976, Northern Outdoors offers year-round, affordable, Maine adventure vacations and is the first and most experienced rafting adventure company in Maine. Summer season activities include whitewater rafting, river floats, hiking, ATV trails and tours, and fishing. In the winter, adventurers come from all around New England to experience our world-class snowmobile trails. Lodging options include rustic to luxury cabins and riverside camping. The resort includes the Kennebec River Brewery, featured on the Maine Beer Trail. Northern Outdoors is located 4 hours from Boston, on Route 201, the Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway.
L&L: How many wedding-related events do you host each year? What size weddings can you accommodate?
SK: Northern Outdoors hosts anywhere from 5-10 weddings a year, in spring, summer, winter and fall. Fall tends to be a favorite for many couples due to the foliage colors that complement the lakes and mountains. As for bachelorette and bachelor parties, these groups tend to come during the May – October rafting season. Throughout the summer, multiple bachelorette and bachelor parties take place at the resort and often several during the same weekend. Anywhere from 12-20 a year.
We are also lucky enough to witness couples get engaged at the lodge and even a few proposals have occurred on the river during a rafting trip with us.
L&L: Please tell us about your wedding locations.
The Forks Resort Center: The main lodge is a popular gathering place, with a towering stone fireplace, huge timbers, and lots of amenities. It feels like a classic New England ski lodge. Weddings tend to be eclectic small groups (12- 40 people) that meld well with the adventure activities. The ceremony may take place in front of the fieldstone fireplace at the lodge or at a scenic location, such as Moxie Falls, Maine’s highest waterfall (90 ft.) Meals are catered from the Kennebec River Brew Pub or often couples host their own cooking/grilling through one of our many cabin rental options.
Eagle Cove Condominium: Located just a short drive south of The Forks Resort Center, it’s nestled directly on the shore of Wyman Lake. The Eagle Cove Complex includes 6 modern lakeside cabins, 4 luxurious guest houses and the main Osprey Lodge. Guests can snowmobile right from their cabin on smooth trails! Weddings tend to be larger (up to 225 guests) and cater to couples that prefer exclusive use of the entire complex. The ceremony typically takes place outside along the banks of Wyman Lake. Couples will often bring in outside catering companies and entertainment. There is a field located right along the lake providing excellent views and space for a rental tent. There is also an indoor location that can accommodate meals for up to 80 guests.
L&L: Your adventure wedding packages cover everything from the proposal to bachelor/bachelorette parties to the reception. Can you give us a quick rundown?
Multi-day wedding package: Indoor or outdoor ceremony venue, lodging, adventure activities, catering, reception, live music. Typically, these are 3- to 4-day adventure weddings where members of the wedding party, close friends and family will raft on the Kennebec River, hike Pleasant Pond Mountain or snowmobile to Grand Falls either the day before or after the ceremony.
Single-day wedding package: Indoor or outdoor ceremony venue, catering, reception, live music. These weddings tend to be 2-night stays where the rehearsal dinner is the night before and the wedding the next day. Often times, guest will partake in a short half-day adventure such as a hike to Moxie Falls.
Adventure Proposal Getaways: We take care of the flowers and champagne in your cabin, and adventure activities for you, your fiancée-to-be, and any friends you bring along to support you to deliver the “big question”! We work with the couple (or often just the groom-to-be) to arrange something special. This might be on the river or in an intimate setting in their vacation cabin.
Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties: A getaway to Northern Outdoors with adventure activities of your choice, great food and great ales is the perfect antidote to the pre-wedding jitters! This could be rafting on the Kennebec River, a hike or snowmobile trip.
L&L: Please share with us a memorable wedding that’s taken place at Northern Outdoors.
SK: Once we had a couple marry on the beach of our Kennebec River lunch site. The wedding party consisted of 24 people, all rafting with us on the Kennebec River that day. It was the beginning of September, the sun was shining and there were other guests on the trip that were not part of the wedding party.
After rafting the first six miles of the Kennebec River, the trip typically stops for a riverside lunch. It was here, on our riverside beach, that the couple had a brief ceremony while the guides were cooking lunch on an open-fire grill. The entire group of rafters erupted in applause once the couple was pronounced man and wife. As a surprise, the guides packed a dinner table, chairs, tablecloth, flowers and candles to create a romantic place for the bride and groom to enjoy their first lunch together as a married couple.
After lunch, we continued with the rest of the river trip. The wedding party hosted a private dinner back at The Forks Resort Center and the rest of the day and night was filled with celebration, live entertainment and cheer for the couple.