Ellie Andrews

Wedding Officiant in Sunday River Valley Area

About Ellie

Nineteen years ago, said notary public Ellie Andrews, “my friend asked me if I would marry her son at her house.”

After the simple ceremony, “I thought, ‘That’s pretty cool, I like doing this,’ Andrews said. “And it just blossomed from there.”

Seven hundred weddings later, she’s still uniting people in matrimony in settings that range from the gazebo on the Bethel Common to a frozen island in the middle of Richardson Lake.

People tell me I should write a book,” said Andrews, who goes by the title “officient.” She is also a minister.

Many of the weddings take place at the popular gazebo or under the Artist’s Covered Bridge in Newry, spots that couples often describe as “amazing” and “breathtaking,” she said.

The gazebo is a great way to show off everyone in the wedding party,” she said.

But it’s the less common places that make the best stories.

I’ve climbed Table Rock [in Grafton Notch State Park] in the fall,” she said. “Six or eight people went up. The bride walked up with her bouquet in her hand. The groom went up the other side [trail] with her gown and his suit. Two of the guests were afraid of heights, so when we did the ceremony, they were in charge of the camera farther back on the rock.”

Weather can also be a challenge. One February, she was scheduled to marry a couple on an island in the South Arm of Richardson Lake, near Andover.

A snowmobiler had arranged to take her for a quarter-mile ride across the ice, for a 1 p.m. wedding.

But his truck that was hauling the snowmobile broke down,” she said. “I had my snowmobile suit on, so I trudged across the lake. It was so cold, and the wind was blowing.”

She made it in time, though. The wedding party had built a campfire. “It was smoky, and the tears were streaming down my face,” she remembers.

But the ceremony was “very nice,” with champagne and a bride wearing a veil over her snowmobile helmet.

That wasn’t the end of the story.

I had to be back in Bethel for a wedding at 3,” said Andrews. “So I trudged back across the lake. When I got to Bethel, I got out of my suit. My face was beet red. I went in with my gown thrown over my shoulder, and my snowmobile boots on. People started laughing. They asked me to go back out and come in again so they could film it.”

At another wedding, Andrews only contribution was a one-liner.

The bride’s father was a notary public, and she wanted him to perform the ceremony, to be held at Sunday River’s Jordan Grand Hotel. But they were from out-of-state, and he did not have jurisdiction.

Andrews had a solution. “All the state requires from a Maine notary is the last sentence,” she said.

So she sat off to one side with the groom’s family as the father led the ceremony.

When her big moment came, she slipped in alongside the father and said, “I now pronounce you man and wife.”

The deed done, she quickly slipped into another role she often plays – Sunday River banquet server. That prompted a quizzical look from one guest, who asked, “Weren’t you just in the wedding?”

Andrews has also seen some unusual family members play a key role in a ceremony.

There have been dogs as ring bearers. There was even one who was best man,” she said. “He stayed right there, in his white shirt with a bow tie.”

Four-legged friends have also brought a wedding to a standstill.

A wedding I did in Otisfield stopped because the cows got loose,” she said.

Some ceremonies happen with only a few hours’ notice.

In many of those cases, said Andrews, “a bride will call and say, ‘My husband is in the military and he’s going to be deployed. Can you come over?’”

Or the call will come, after the couple has obtained a marriage license at the Bethel Town Office, to find a couple of witnesses and hurry over to the gazebo, or to simply stand outside behind the Northeast Bank.

Even in those circumstances, Andrews does what she can to make the moment memorable. “I try to have someone available with a camera to take pictures,” she said. “It’s still their wedding.”

No matter what the challenge, Andrews takes it on with pleasure.

Why wouldn’t you want to be involved in the happiest day of somebody’s life?” she said. “I love it.”

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Weddings - 700 so far, 40 per year

Baptisms - 2 so far

Commitments - 5

Rotary - 7 Years past president

3 Rotoplast Missions

Notary Public since 1990

Member of the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce.