Autumn William Allen Farm Wedding | Abby + Calder

A bride and groom laugh walking together in front of fall foliage and a pile of wood

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An early fall wedding at the William Allen Farm with its sprawling acreage, cozy farmhouse and vibrant autumnal foliage is as idyllic a Maine wedding as you can imagine…. even in the midst of a global pandemic. Abby and Calder pulled off an incredibly beautiful, personal and – most importantly – SAFE celebration for their William Allen Farm wedding.

Even before COVID-19, the groom’s germaphobic tendencies were helping inform their wedding ceremony. When their wedding planner suggested a ring warming before their vows, Calder asked if it would be rude to disinfect the wedding bands after all the guests touched them. So after the outbreak of coronavirus across the globe, and especially after a deadly super-spreading wedding in Maine that hadn’t followed proper protocols, the bride and groom wanted to be as precautious as possible.

Those precautions started with limiting the in-person guest list from originally 120 to just 13 people. They live streamed the ceremony so that close family who were not able to be physically present could still watch and participate from afar For those celebrating in person, Abby and Calder set expectations in a three page GoogleDoc so the couple, guests and vendors would all be protected. Did I mention the bride used to stage manage plays and musicals? Cause that’s big stage manager energy. . In their own words, “to make this work and keep everyone safe, we will need to be extra vigilant and extra proactive.”

They required all those in attendance (including themselves) to get a COVID test prior to the event and quarantine. If anyone felt unwell or could have been exposed in the two weeks prior, they must stay home – no exceptions. The bride and groom strictly enforced “masks will be mandatory for everyone at all times except while eating/drinking, and taking official photos outdoors.”

I was especially grateful for this since I have frequent contact with immunocompromised and at-risk people in my own home. It was a huge relief while shooting that everyone respected social distance with me when taking their masks off for photos. Additionally, guests were assigned their own specific seats on personalized picnic blankets for the outdoor cocktail hour and at dining tables inside the barn for dinner. These assignments were grouped by household or pod and socially distanced at least 6-10 feet away from each other. 

This celebration happened during the pandemic, but was not defined by it. Amidst and as part of all the preparations, the bride and groom infused their own quirkiness and sense of whimsy. At the end, it is a day characterized more by love than limitations. 

Wedding invitations, save the date, vows, and other paper goods rest on a table with bridal accessories and flowers
A wedding dress hangs on a custom hanger next to a chair with wedding rings, converse sneakers, and denim jacket

One of the perks of having a wedding during a global health crisis that nobody anticipates is the opportunity to accessorize! Custom masks for the bride were able to show off some extra lace from her dress, and the groom wore a custom blueberry-designed mask his mother made to celebrate Maine’s most-popular crop. Other lovely details included custom Converse Chuck Taylors for the bride, a sequined face mask for partying, and a vintage denim jacket for the chillier evening festivities. Abby wore earrings her mother and grandmother had donned at their weddings.

A woman holds up a phone showing friend on facetime while embracing another woman wearing a mask
Women hold champagne glasses in a toast in a bridal suite with flowers and dress

Since not everyone felt comfortable traveling given health concerns, Abby made sure to include one of her would-be bridesmaids from afar in preparations. Everyone shared a toast over Zoom, and then she even helped instruct final touches as Abby got dressed.

Groom's details sit on a chair including grey and blue bowtie, R2D2 socks, blueberry print mask, pocket square and bouttoniere
Close up details of boutonniere, pocket square and grey and blue bowtie on a groom wearing blueberry mask
A bride walks toward a groom for their first look in front of a white farm house and orange tree
Groom smiles down at wife during a first look in a field

A delightfully not-quite-traditional couple, Abby and Calder didn’t want to have a very classic first look. Instead of the bride tapping on the groom’s shoulder as a signal of unveiling, Abby instead meowed at her husband from a distance, a sign of greeting and affection they use with each other often. 

A bride and groom embrace and hold hands smiling at each other in front of a trees with changing leaves
A bride with a long train and groom hold hands and look at one another in front of trees and a rock wall
A groom kisses his bride's hand in front of orange, red and green trees
A bride laughs while a groom nuzzles his nose in her ear and holds her waist in front a tree with orange leaves
Bride and groom sit on a bench resting foreheads together with sunset illuminating long grass and leaves around them
A bride and groom smile and walk holding her wedding gown in a wooded pathway with leaves on the ground

After the first look we took our time to explore the sweeping grounds of William Allen Farm, from a small lake to walking paths to open fields. The couple was so excited that their wedding day had finally arrived that I barely had to give them direction. Instead I just got to aim and click my shutter as they scampered around and cuddled in front of the gorgeous changing leaves.

Bride and groom stand in front of red barn with black doors and sign stating William Allen Farm
a bride wearing converse chuck taylors and star wars rebel socks and a groom wearing r2d2 socks stand in front of a compass rose

One of the most iconic aspects of a William Allen Farm wedding – or any farm wedding for that matter – is a big, beautiful red farmhouse. Although it has a capacity of 200, William Allen Farm’s main event space didn’t feel cold at well under 10% capacity given it’s ample lighting from three chandeliers and beautiful natural wood finishes. An especially nice touch is a compass rose just in front of the Maine wedding venue. It was a “must have” on the shotlist, and after Abby described Calder as her “true north” in a meeting, I knew exactly where to position him.

Benches and a camera sit along an aisle leading to a screen and floral arrangement in front of a lake
Pouches with hand sanitizer and the words spread love not germs on a wooden bench

Guests were greeted at their socially distanced benches for the ceremony with individual pouches each containing a spare face mask and hand sanitizer. Adding a bit of levity while always prioritizing safety, the couple added the slogan “Spread Love Not Germs” to the sanitizer bottles.

Groom walks with parents from red barn past colorful fall foliage tree during wedding processional
A bride walks with her parents out of a barn during wedding processional
A wedding ceremony takes place in front of a lake with a red barn and fall foliage reflected in water
Guests sitting on benches spaced apart watch ceremony with red barn in background
Groom wearing bowtie holds booklet while reading vows
Bride reads vows from booklet looking at husband in front of lake and field
Groom places ring on bride's finger during ceremony officiated digitally by pastor on screen
Bride and groom share first kiss in front of lake between two floral arrangement
Bride and groom touch foreheads and smile while holding hands
Bride and groom stand in front of screen showing guests digitally attending wedding

Although he could not be there in person for the ceremony, Abby’s childhood pastor Glenn Seefeldt tele-officiated the ceremony. Having presided over her parent’s wedding and knowing Abby her entire life, he was able to bring a beautifully personal touch to the proceedings from hundreds of miles away. The ceremony went off flawlessly, with cheers from the Zoom audience audible upon first kiss! But I was disappointed nobody dressed up the screen like Marshpillow 2.0 from How I Met Your Mother.

Blanket and picnic basket with wine in garden in front of tree with colorful fall foliage
Guests sit socially distanced under awning of red barn during cocktail hour

I was a particularly huge fan of their personalized food delivery: picnic baskets for cocktail hour with pre-ordered drinks awaiting them on a blanket or at an Adirondack chair to prevent unnecessary social contact. 

Groom smiles looking away with hand in pocket in wooded area
Bride in white gown holds flowers and smiles in garden at sunset
Bride holds bouquet and smiles in golden hour with lens flare
Groom kissing bride holding a bouquet in lens flare during sunset

During the cocktail hour we got some of the most extraordinary golden hour lighting I have EVER seen, and I was lucky to have a reflector catching Abby in the glow. Later she said these photos make her “feel like Taylor Swift in the Love Story music video,” which is high key the best compliment I have ever received?

Group photo of wedding guests wearing masks and socially distances on benches and picnic baskets
Exterior of red barn and large tree with colorful leaves
A wooden sweetheart table table set with navy blue runner and a sign in front stating "love is not canceled"
Deer red florals in mason jar and glassware on navy tablecloths
Bar with wine beer and soda in rustic coolers

Alanna Claire Events provided simple, subtle design throughout the wedding day. I have always loved working with Alanna – I even hired her for my wedding – and she did an amazing job embracing the rustic qualities of William Allen Farm and while punching it up with some of the couple’s personality. Simple navy linens and deep red flowers popped in the space, and Abby and Calder sprinkled touches of their favorite things throughout tablescapes. Trains, robots, a collection of personal mugs, and catana comics all adorned the reception space. Alanna was also the source of many ingenious touches, including a self-serve bar (complete with Maine’s famous soda “Moxie”) with individual portions of drinks so guests could minimize contact with any vendors. 

Bride and groom hold hands while entering barn wedding reception
Bride and groom have first dance inside framed by barn doors
Bride's mother raises glass in toast and smiles excitedly

I cried not once but twice during the reception, which isn’t all too rare for me being a total sap, but is definitely more complicated when you’re wearing a face shield. The bride’s parents got me choked up reciting a series of stories of Abby’s childhood. They proudly ended each story with “that’s my girl,” until they ended the toast acknowledging their new son-in-law saying “that’s my – no his – no, our girl.” I was a puddle. 

Bride and groom raise their glasses in a toast at the sweetheart table in a barn

Then, Abby and Calder pulled off a first, where they made a toast to myself and their planner, Alanna, for our assistance in helping coordinate their wedding. I truly love working with all my couples, and don’t expect much recognition for what I do. Honestly, getting any recognition makes me SUPER uncomfortable, that’s why I wear dark clothes at shoots and try to be a bit of a fly on the wall to hopefully blend in. Capturing authentic moments is enough of a reward, but this incredibly meaningful call out was so sweet that I was just really upset I couldn’t go up and hug them. 

Bride holding pizza box and groom eating slice of pizza look at one another in front of flowers

Abby and Calder customized almost every aspect of their wedding day, down to the pizza boxes their artisanal pies were delivered in. The bride used Canva to make a logo showcasing many aspects of their love story – from the year of their wedding, to their pets and even a pizza-themed farm house. She was very proud of the adorable end result, and Calder was equally pleased with the delicious dinner from Pizza by Fire’s portable oven and food truck. 

A guest surprises and dances with a bride wearing a denim jacket
Bride and groom dance while wearing masks at wedding reception with blurring lights
Bride and groom cut a cinnamon bun instead of cake in wooden barn
A groom feeds his bride after a non-traditional cake cutting .

As folks that hate cake (that’s sacrilege in my eyes, but to each their own), Abby and Calder decided to cut the most gigantic cinnamon bun you’ve ever seen instead. Dessert included individual buns as well as s’mores kits for everybody to toast around the fire pit. 

Bride and guests wear masks while toasting marshmallows at a firepit
Bride and groom stand holding hands in a field at night with stars shining

Abby and Calder wrote that “a 15-person, mostly outdoor event with a virtual officiant, multi-camera Zoom feed, social distancing, testing and masks was not our original plan by any means but with creativity, flexibility, and cooperation we made it work.” 

I feel so honored to have been a part of such an amazing celebration, and am even more excited to be returning to William Allen Farm for Abby and Calder to have a larger wedding celebration in two years when hopefully we can do it all again without the need for COVID-19 precautions. Until then, here’s some shots from the big-little day. I’m super proud of them, especially since I hadn’t shot a full-on wedding celebration in nearly 8 months. I woke up to the most amazing text from Alanna after I delivered teasers. She wrote “Justin!! Those photos. I can’t believe it. I’ve done over 400 weddings. These might be by far my favorite ever. Every single one is incredible.”


Venue: The William Allen Farm. | Photography: Justin McCallum Photography .| Planning, Design, and COVID-19 Adaptations: Alanna Claire Events. | Officiant: Pastor Glenn Seefeldt, Nativity Lutheran Church. | Hair and Makeup: Audreystylez. | Florals: Meadow Ridge Perennial and Cut Flower Farm. | Rentals: One Stop Event Rentals. | Catering: Pizza By Fire. | Dessert: Wild Oats Bakery & Café and Puzzle Mountain Bakery. | Bride’s Dress and Mask: David’s Bridal. | Groom’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse. | Rings: Holden Rings. | Vow Books: Rebecca Green Design. | Wedding Mugs: Lohtu Ceramics. | Invitations Etc: Shutterfly and Snapfish.