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A Barn Raising to Remember!

Last Thursday was The Opportunity Alliance‘s annual Barn Raising event, a party that brings together various members of their community to celebrate and recognize their Volunteers of the Year, Resident Leads of the Year, and Community Partner of the Year.

This event is held at their Family Center, located in South Portland, Maine.  If you’ve

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The Opportunity Alliance’s Barn Raising, May 10, 2018. Photo credit to Dear Jenna photography.

never been to this space, I highly encourage you to check it out.  It was originally the barn for the boy’s school that became Long Creek Juvenile Detention Center.  The Opportunity Alliance lovingly restored the space, leaving as many of the original beams and flooring as possible.  It’s filled with windows and light, so that original woodwork just seems to glow.

 

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The Opportunity Alliance’s Barn Raising. May 10, 2018. Photo credit: Dear Jenna photography

We also held a portion of the party outside since we were lucky enough to have Mashed in Maine join us! In addition to the BBQ Mashed Potato bowls, we also had empanadas, chips, salsa, and guacamole from Quiero Cafe in Saco.  Moe’s Original BBQ and b. Good, both in South Portland, provided us with our

 

 

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The Opportunity Alliance’s Barn Raising. May 10, 2018. Photo credit: Dear Jenna photography

 

amazing sides: mac and cheese and watermelon cucumber salad from Moe’s Original BBQ and salads from b. Good!  Our evening was rounded out with the most magical cheese board and bar service from Dandelion Catering.  Finally, we had Sweetie’s Ice Cream join us with homemade ice cream sandwiches to go with coffee from Coffee By Design.

Due to some last minute weather scares, we ended up rearranging the whole layout of the party, bringing our amazing musical duo, Susanne Gerry|Seth Warner, inside and shifting our layout around.  However, this opened up a little more space for folks to access the bars, where we had wine donated from Devenish Wine, beer donated from Foulmouthed Brewing, Shipyard Brewing, Baxter Brewing and Rising Tide Brewing, along with ginger beer and root beer donated from Capt. Eli’s!

This event is one of my favorites to plan because everyone who attends is just so happy to be there and see one another!  Everyone is committed to the work that The Opportunity Alliance does of helping folks to build better lives and stronger communities, and that’s what really matters.

I couldn’t include all my favorite photos from the amazing Dear Jenna photography, so please check out more below!

 

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Kelsea’s Five Favorite Things: May Edition

At some point each month, I bring you my five favorite things that month!  Often, they’re local recommendations or products I love, but sometimes they’re just things I’m doing to take care of myself!  Check out my favorite things this month.

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1. Sweetie’s Ice Cream in Steep Falls, ME

Run by the coolest family I know, Sweetie’s Ice Cream in Steep Falls is a staple for my family!  We spend a lot of warmer month weekends making the trek to visit family in Vermont, and Sweetie’s just happens to be on our route! Of course, we always stop since I’m a confirmed ice cream addict.

Open only in the summer, Sweetie’s opened on May 5th!  Check them out at 1 Main Street in Steep Falls, ME (right on the corner of Route 113!).

While you’re there, check out the park across the street – it could be perfect for a Pop Up Wedding, ending in giant ice cream sundaes!

2.  The hammock in my backyard.

My backyard is my sanctuary in the warmer months, especially when my kiddo is having an episode of his chronic illness and getting anywhere else is impossible.  When that happens, I basically move my office into the hammock and work from there.  The dog chases squirrels, I can chat with the birds, and my son can be safely cared for.

3.  The Ceviche Tostada at Terlingua.

So, I have a little confession to make.  Despite being an event planner, I generally hate crowds.  My preferred way to spend time with folks is one on one, or maybe in small groups.

The night of the Portland Pheonix’s Best of Awards, I went to the awards ceremony.  I got all prettied up with a friend of mine, and we were determined to make the best of the crowd.  However, when I got there and realized I didn’t win (they had all the categories laid out because they were still organizing), I knew I couldn’t handle the crowd for long.  That’s when brilliance struck!

Right across the street, on Washington Avenue in Portland, stood Terlingua.  They do a mix of BBQ, tacos, and ceviches.  The smells coming from the building were magical and my friend date is a chef.  We quickly decided to ditch the awards show in favor of dinner and beers.

While we tried nearly everything on the menu, and the smoked meats were incredible, my favorite was the Ceviche Tostada.  The scallops were fresh and ‘cooked’ perfectly in the lime juice and vinegar.  There was a bit of heat, but it was perfectly balanced with some citrus and avocados and I was so into it, I barely shared with my friend!

Finally, a huge shout out to Jessica Candage – Glam Artist, who won the Best of Wedding Services category.  If you need makeup for your big day, she’s the one to call!

4.  Podcasts!

As I transition from working in an office environment to working for myself, I’ve been a bit lonely some days.  Usually, I take those moments to work in a coffee shop or have a friend over, but when that’s not possible, I’ve been really enjoying podcasts.

Disclaimer: my other business is a podcast!

As a person who also produces a podcast, I know how much work goes into it, so I try really hard to check out content made by folks just like me.  I’ve even found a few other Maine-based podcasts, which is so much fun!

My preferred genre of listening is true crime and anything creepy, but I do listen to a few others.  If you’re looking for an awesome podcast about music from some folks who really know their stuff, check out Rock Candy! If you’re into politics, I love Two Broads Talking Politics.  And, finally, if the creepier side of the world is what you love, but you also love to laugh, I suggest any of these fine folks: And That’s Why We Drink, Wine & Punishment, Strangeful Things, Cult of Domesticity, Of Myth and Mercy, and Wine and Crime!

5.  Yard sales!

It’s yard sale season in Maine!  Usually, this means an early morning, coffee in the carafe, and a nice drive.  When we find a yard sale, we pull over, a wad of ones in our pockets, and dig!

Sometimes, you can find some real gems & more often then not, I end up inspired to create some really cool event decor.  I’ve scored vintage luggage that has ended up being used as a card box at an event more than once.  Cake stands are plentiful, as folks find they often don’t have a use for them after that one time.  One of my favorite things to snag is vintage tea sets, no matter how many pieces – they look so cool mixed and matched at events, and can be used to hold way more than food!

 

Why I Started Different Path Events

workathomeI went back to college for attempt number three when I was 27.  Not shockingly, the third time was a charm and I graduated 3 days before my 31st birthday with two bachelor’s degrees in hand (Marketing and Women and Gender Studies) and a job offer to work at my favorite nonprofit!

Perfect!  Or so I thought…

Turns out, my life doesn’t work out so well for traditional office life.  My tweenage son has a rare neurological sleep condition, which means he can’t always attend school and means he needs a grownup around the house more often than not.

Rather than trying to find a work environment that could fit that kind of schedule, I decided to create one!

I’ve long had a passion for event planning.  It started with the activist work that I did while giving it the ol’ college try the third time.  It grew while I worked that nonprofit dream job.  A large portion of my job there was event planning, particularly planning fundraising events.

Fundraising events, unlike weddings, are meant to maximize the budget in every way possible.  We utilize donations and sponsorship in a way that isn’t realistic for weddings, but I learned so much about making that budget stretch as far as possible and what folks really look for in a celebration, that I decided to give it a go with Different Path Events.

My Pop Up Weddings were born out of the idea that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to throw an amazing party.   I also wanted to do something affordable – almost everyone I know that is getting married these days is paying for the majority of it without parental assistance and has a bunch of student loan debt!

This perfect storm of factors – sick kid, right skills, and fun, affordable idea – came together at exactly the right time for me to give this a shot!

Tomorrow evening, I’ll be attending the Portland Pheonix’s Best of… Awards, where I’m a FINALIST for Best of… Wedding Services.  Regardless of if I win or not, I’m so thankful that I’m supported by a great community in Southern Maine!  It’s meant the world, exactly at a moment when I’ve been questioning this idea.

Three Wedding Consultation Myths Debunked

As a wedding planner, I sometimes find that folks are hesitant to book a consultation with me, since they don’t what’s going to happen, or they think they need to know everything about what they want.  Today, I’m here to debunk some of those common misconceptions!

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1.  I have to show up to the consult knowing exactly what I want!

It’s totally okay to come to sit down with a wedding planner for a consult and have no idea what you’re doing, or what you want!

We understand that part of the wedding planning process is that your vision grows and changes, as things fall into place.   Sometimes, folks sit down with me with one idea in their head, and by the time they say, “I do”, the day looks totally different then they imagined, but still totally perfect.

It is helpful to have an idea of what you’re looking for in a wedding planner, though!  Do you need someone to DO everything, once you give the go ahead?   Are you fine managing everything until the month before the wedding and then handing the reins to someone else?  Or, do you want to just show up with your pals, knowing someone has executed your vision?  There’s a planner for all of that!

2.  If I have a consult with this wedding planner, I have to book with them!

No.  Nope.  No way!  You do not have to book with anyone you don’t want to.

As a wedding planner, I meet with lots of couples, but I don’t end up working with all of them.  Sometimes, that’s their decision.  Sometimes, it’s mine.

You want the right wedding planner for you, and you’ll know when you find them!  Similarly, I want to work on weddings for couples I adore!  Sometimes, the fit is perfect, and sometimes, you just gotta go try something else on.  Seriously, no offense.

However, if you do consult with a wedding planner or other professional and decide not to use their services, do me a favor?  Tell them!  I promise they’d rather just know that the answer is no, rather than keep you on their radar.  (It’ll save everyone involved at least a bunch of follow up emails, so there’s that!)

3. If I have a consult, I need to look positively ‘wedding-ish’.

Listen, your wedding planner is a person, too.  We understand long, hard days at work, kids who unexpectedly got sick, and flat tires.  We don’t expect anything from the first meeting with our clients, except to get to know the real them – the best, most fun weddings are authentic!  Sometimes, the real you has a hangover from one too many glasses of wine at dinner.  It’s cool.  It happens to us, too.

Just show up.  It doesn’t matter what you look like.  I’ve met with couples fresh out of work, who are so exhausted they can’t remember why they’re getting married when they show up – usually, a few minutes of good conversation brings them back!  I’ve met with couples who have little ones (and not so little ones) hanging around that they’re determined to make a part of their wedding.  The important thing is that you and your wedding planner click and think you can work together!

If you’re interested in booking a consult with me for your wedding, you can do so here!

Just a reminder that I’m a finalist for the Portland Pheonix’s Best of… Wedding Services award.  You can vote for me (and so many other awesome folks!) every day from now until April 30th!  Vote now!

Kelsea’s Five Favorite Things: April Edition

Every month, I try to bring you five of my favorite things.  These could be wedding related, or not.  But they will always be real recommendations for things that I’m enjoying!

1. Quill Books & Beverage

quill books and beverageQuill Books & Beverage is right on Main Street in Westbrook, ME and just happens to be within walking distance of my house.  Since they opened just last month, they are quickly becoming my home away from home!  I bet, if you ever book a consult with me, I’ll probably suggest meeting at Quill, since they have everything you could want: great coffee, excellent food – my faves are The Farmhouse Sandwich and the berry bar – and beer and prosecco on tap!  I highly recommend popping in on Wednesday evenings for board game night, as well as checking out their calendar – they also host reading hour for kiddos, book groups, podcast groups, poetry readings and live music.

One of the owners of Quill, Alison, and I have been fantasizing about the Pop Up Wedding we’d love to have there.  Could it be yours?

2. Wolfe’s Neck State Park

Now that the weather is trying to get a bit warmer in Maine, the pups and I love to tromp through the woods and along the beach at Wolfe’s Neck State Park!  Located past the hustle and bustle of downtown Freeport, this is one of my favorite state parks.

Maine state parks run in my blood a bit – my grandma worked at Camden Hills State Park for most of my childhood – and I firmly believe in supporting them.  Each year, I invest in a Park Pass, which is so worth the money!  I’d also love to marry a couple standing on the shore, with that gorgeous fairy tale wood behind us!

3.  Podcasts!

For those of you who don’t know, I own two businesses, and my other biz is a podcast with my pal, Dan!  This means that while I’m working on all the stuff I have to do for Different Path Events, I’m usually listening to podcasts, too!  Recently, I’ve been checking out The Cult of Domesticity and Of Myth and Mercy.  They’re both really smart, but can get dark at times, so heads up.  Personally, I’m a huge fan of true crime and history, so you can never go wrong with these!

4. Sea Dogs Biscuits

Last week, I wrapped up the Sea Dogs Welcome Back Dinner for The Opportunity Alliance, which has led to a Sea Dogs Biscuit addiction around this house.  They’re made by Shain’s of Maine, so it’s eating local, which is totally healthy, right?!?

5. My Bullet Journal

IMG_1893Anyone who knows me has met my bullet journal.  If you don’t know what a bullet journal is, I highly suggest you go check out the board on my Pinterest!

I use mine to keep to-do lists, my weekly calendar, check off all the self-care stuff I have to do daily, and take notes from client meetings.  My whole life, in one place!  How convenient!

Just a reminder that I’m still in the running for the Portland Pheonix’s Best of… Wedding Services!  You can vote every day, and the top six in each category will move on to a final round, starting April 18th!  Quill Books & Beverage hs also been nominated in several categories, so be sure to vote for them, too!

Welcome Back, Sea Dogs!

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First of all, let me start by apologizing for the lack of post last week!  I thought I had one set to auto post, and there were technical difficulties, and since I was busy with the above event, I didn’t notice until it was too late!  Let’s just blame it on Mercury retrograde!

In another life, before I started Different Path Events, I worked for The Opportunity Alliance, and one of my primary duties was planning their fundraising events.  Lucky for me, they were my very first clients, and I get to plan all the events that have been near and dear to my heart for the last four years!  As a business that primarily focuses on wedding planning, these events a such a fun break from what I usually focus on!

This event has always been my favorite to plan because baseball runs in my blood – my grandfather, known as Jumpin’ Johnny Colgan, is in the Maine State Baseball Hall of Fame, and I played very competitive softball growing up in Florida.

Last Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to be the event planner for The Opportunity Alliance’s annual Sea Dogs Welcome Back Dinner.  Each year, The Opportunity Alliance teams up with the Portland Sea Dogs the night before their first game.  They get together at the Portland Expo, with about 400 fans, to have a ballpark style meal together, have a ton of fun, and introduce the team.  Shain’s of Maine is so generous and donates Sea Dogs Biscuits for everyone, while Coca-Cola makes sure they’ve donated enough product to keep everyone hydrated while running after those player autographs!

This is one of the few events I get to plan that involves kids, which is so much fun, since I’m basically a big kid at heart.  It also means I get a chance to work with Partypalooga, who create magical balloon animals and creations, as well as super fun glitter tattoos.

The evening went off without a hitch, and this event has really hit a stride after we’ve all worked together for a few years.  A huge thank you to The Opportunity Alliance, the staff of the Portland Expo, and the Portland Sea Dogs for making this one of my favorite events of the year, and the way I truly know it’s spring – by welcoming it with baseball!

Just a reminder, voting is still open for the Portland Pheonix’s Best Of… Portland awards.  I’ve been nominated for Best Wedding Services.  You can vote every day through the end of April!  I’m honored to be nominated and included in such great company.  I can’t imagine what I’d do if I won!
Vote here!

Spring Wedding Dreams

 

They say that inspiration is everywhere.  No, I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but this time, they’re right.

I often find myself thinking random things, and then I get a flash of inspiration for a Pop Up Wedding!  In this case, I was thinking of my niece’s upcoming birthday at the end of April, and how she was visiting last year.  We went to Fessenden Park, that lovely spot near University of Southern Maine in Portland where, for about two weeks every spring, the gardens are absolutely brimming with tulips!  It got me thinking… how would I do a Pop Up Wedding there?

*insert tinkly dream world music here and come along with me to a Saturday morning in late April*

The sweet couple that has trusted me to plan their perfect dream spring wedding would arrive at the tulip garden at 8 am, their nearest and dearest joining us, everything tiny and totally intimate.  Upon arrival, they’d be given their own tulips, along with those standing with them. We’d use the natural aisle for the couple to walk down, escorted by those they love, to where I stand, ready to join their love in a ceremony written just for them.  Our photographer for the event captures the moments that are most important to them – their first kiss, the laughs exchanged as one of them stumbles over their words in excitement, and even the simultaneous tears and smiles of those standing with you, ushering you into the springtime of your marriage.

Immediately after, the newlyweds and their guests would have an amazing breakfast spread, including coffee from one of my personal favorites, Coffee by Design, and savory pastries from Beard nominated bakery, Standard Baking Co.  Depending on everyone’s preferences, we could serve Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s or even fresh squeezed orange juice and flavored seltzer. Dessert would be based on the couple’s favorites, but in this dream Maine wedding, we’d have a fun spread of doughnuts from Holy Donut!

We’d wrap up our morning by sending the love birds off to a night to themselves at an inn where they can breathe for a moment, before going back to the hustle and bustle of life on Monday.

*end twinkly dream music, as we come back to reality*

If this sounds like just the wedding you’d like to make happen this spring – or even next! – without much time or work, please give me a shout!  We can chat about what you dream of and I’ll find a creative way to make it happen affordably.

Also, I’m nominated for the 2018 Portland Pheonix’s Best Of Awards in the Wedding Services Category!  Thanks so much to whoever nominated for me, and if voting in these things is your thing, I’d be really touched if you voted for me.  Here’s how you can help:

  • Now, they’re taking nominees.  Go to the poll and click on Different Path Events.  You can do this once between now and April 3rd.
  • From April 4th through April 17th, you can vote for the nominees once a day!  Set a reminder on your phone and vote for Different Path Events under Wedding Services!
  • From April 18-29, the categories will be whittled down to the top six, and then the winners will be announced at the awards party on May 2, 2018.  During this time period, if I make it to the top six, you still need to vote every day!

I appreciate all the love and support I’m getting!

What is a ‘free use’ venue?!?

When I give my descriptions of Pop Up Weddings, I say that we can have your ceremony in your ‘free use’ venue of choice.  But, like, what does that even mean?

Well, as we all know, Maine is gorgeous, year round!  Regardless of if you’re a local or you’ve decided to travel here for your Maine wedding, you’re making a great choice by getting married here.

Because Pop Up Weddings are so affordable, we don’t have the luxury of getting married in a swanky hotel or one of the many, many Maine barns that are designed just for weddings.  However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful wedding, customized just for you, somewhere else!

All that said, a ‘free use’ venue is defined by me as a space we can use for a Pop Up Wedding for little to no cost, with little to no hassle.  In the Portland area, this may be the East End Beach at sunrise, a couple’s favorite brewery that has generously agreed to let us use their space for an hour or so, or the ferry out to the islands.

Heading out of Southern Maine a bit, this can get really flexible!  If you’re doing the Intimate Circle or Familiar Friends package and we need to accommodate a few more folks, we may be able to rent an Air BNB on a lake and marry y’all right on the lawn or in front of the fireplace.  Do you have an awesome backyard and want to surprise your friends with a wedding and a BBQ?!? Let’s do it!

So, no, when we chat about planning your dream wedding, I’m not going to hand you a list of options.  I’m going to listen to what you and your sweetie say, see who y’all are, and find a creative solution to executing your visions!  My Pop Up Weddings are as unique as you are, and I can’t wait to make your dreams come true.

Intrigued?  Let’s chat!

Kelsea’s Five Favorite Things

March 13 BlogMy goal over here at Different Path Events is always to combine the things I love into events that I plan, blogs that I write, or even the crafts I create!  To that end, each month, I’ll be bringing you a list of my five current favorite things!  Ready?  Go!

1.  Popcorn Seasonings from Spice Barn

I think that every event needs a popcorn bar, and it’s even better when you can customize what goes on it!  At home, I use a big pan, some oil, and popcorn kernels to make stovetop popcorn.  Honestly, it’s basically all I eat.

Spice Barn has both savory and sweet popcorn seasonings, as well as a ton of unique flavors.  When the weather turns cold and snowy the way it has been in Maine recently, I like to pretend I’m in the tropics with their Touch of Lime seasoning.  For those movie nights with my love, we usually reach for something sweeter, and the Maple Butter seasoning really hits that note, and feels close to home!

Protip:  Unique spices and seasonings, bought in bulk, and put into customized packages can make a great gift for guests at your wedding, while still staying affordable!

2.  Personalized tumblers and cups

I love anything that makes sense to me and no one else, so customized tumblers and cups are perfect for this!  I like to make my own so they’re perfect for me, but there are tons of places to order these online!

I encourage my couples to check out Saveacup.com for bulk orders of personalized cups.  These also make great wedding favors!  My personal favorite to customize is the Jubilee cup.  It keeps cold stuff cold, warm stuff warm, has a lid and won’t break when you drop it!  Perfect for when you’re busting a move on the dance floor!

3.  Support Your Local Girl Gang lip balms by Soulshine Soap Co

Soulshine Soap Co is a Maine-based body products company that thinks getting clean should be as much fun as getting dirty.  I swear by their Support Your Local Girl Gang lip balms.  All the flavors are amazing, but my favorite is the Raspberry Rebellion.  The best thing about these lip balms?  25% of each sale is donated to Planned Parenthood, allowing you to feel even better about your purchase!

4.  Vitamin D

March is one of the worst months in Maine for seasonal affective disorder, which can partially be combatted with Vitamin D, which, lucky for us, comes from the sun!

In order to get plenty of Vitamin D and keep my body moving during the cold months, I set a goal of walking my dog, Zelda, at least one intentional mile a day.  We don’t make it out every single day,  but hitting that goal makes sure I’m outside for at least 20 minutes a day.  If you can work a walk into your lunch break or even just sit in the sun for a few minutes, it can be a great way to combat those winter blues.

5.  The Daily Grind in Westbrook, ME

Westbrook finally got an independent sit-down coffee shop, and I’ve basically claimed a seat at the window as my own spot.  The New Daily Grind is right on Main Street and has excellent coffee! Thankfully, I now have a great place to get some work done when I need a change of scenery and to meet with my clients!

What are you super into right now?  I’d love to hear about things I should know about!

 

Top Three Reasons to Have a Pop Up Wedding

Top Three Reasons To Have A Pop Up Wedding

As a wedding planner who specializes in Pop Up Weddings, I get so many questions!  One of the questions I get asked all the time though is, “Why?!?” There are a million reasons a couple may plan a Pop a Pop Up Wedding, but here are the three I’ve heard more than any other!

1. No stress!

Ranging from just four folks, including the couple getting married, all the way up to 25 folks, these weddings are tiny, but they take out all the stress!  Instead of meeting with caterers, florists, photographers, and all the other moving pieces of the puzzle, you meet with me just one time.  The couple and I will sit down, get to know one another, and talk about your hopes and dreams.  From there, I figure out all the details, and all you have to is show up!

2. Pop Up Weddings are incredibly intimate.

Because they’re so small and hand-crafted for each couple, my pop up weddings are incredibly intimate.  You get all the frills of a big wedding – a photographer, an incredible meal, and gorgeous flowers – but with the special touch of it being totally tailored to your needs.  The focus is on you, as a couple, and how you manifest your love.  This is a declaration of your love, with the most special folks in your life bearing witness to that moment, as well as to your past and future together.

3. The price is right!

Did you know that the average wedding in the US costs over $35,000?!?!  Whoa!

With the increasingly more challenging economy, I know that not everyone can afford to spend that much on their wedding.  More and more couples are choosing to pay for their own weddings, rather than rely on family.  As student loan debt and housing costs rise, my goal is to make your wedding not only amazing but affordable.  Priced $7,500 or less, pop up weddings give you an affordable option for a wedding you won’t forget.

Learn more about Pop Up Weddings!