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Planning a Martha’s Vineyard wedding? There’s a coordinator for that

We’re no stranger to the ins and outs of planning a Martha’s Vineyard wedding. With over twenty years of Island experience we’ve contributed to hundreds, possibly thousands of them. While each one is special and unique in its own right, we all know weddings share a common thread–they can get stressful. Couple the typical stress of wedding planning with the nuances of hosting the big day on an island with limited resources, and things can get really complicated, and extra expensive.

There’s no question a Martha’s Vineyard wedding is worth the extra headaches (and costs) that may arise. Where else can you find beautiful beaches, classic New England architecture, and breathtaking remote locations to add to the charm and allure of your special day? The Island makes a perfect backdrop for the most formal to the most casual of weddings, but there’s a lot of things to consider. So how can you best navigate the wedding planning process on Martha’s Vineyard? Enlist a professional of course!

First and foremost the benefits of hiring a wedding planner on Martha’s Vineyard are even greater than they might be off-Island, quite simply because they get it. Our Island can be hard to navigate–geographically, politically, and socially. Just getting here requires extra work so you better believe what happens here does too.

That’s where the help of our local wedding planners really comes into play. They are knowledgeable, well connected and quite literally make it their job to master the ins and outs of executing flawless events on Martha’s Vineyard.

We’ve rounded up some of the best tips from our local wedding planners on how to ensure a seamless event and what they can do to help. Take it from us, if you’re planning a wedding on Martha’s Vineyard their services are worth budgeting. Whether you can spring for a full planning package or a more affordable day of coordinator, their expertise, and connections, are worth it.

KG Events & Design is a Martha’s Vineyard based boutique planning and design firm specializing in private, corporate and destination events throughout the Northeast, and available worldwide. Planning a green wedding? KG Events & Design is also a Certified Green Event company.

Weddings can be challenging to plan, let alone when they are on an island. The bride and groom have to manage a budget, two families (who sometimes have opposing views and traditions), vendors, and the list goes on… Many wedding venues are without power, running water, and bathrooms. A coordinator can help navigate the complexity of the venue and quickly assess its needs. This can allow for a quicker response time, especially in the off-season.

–Meghan Gosselin, Meeting and Events Manager, KG Events & Design

Timeless Event Planning, serves both California and Martha’s Vineyard, creating beautiful event and weddings for the modern bride.

Planning a destination wedding can be tricky as there are so many factors that come into play.

When you have a planner that knows everyone on the Island it will put your mind at ease, as they know who will be the best option for your budget.

In general, planning a wedding on an island is also very different then on the mainland. Transportation isn’t as easy and having music past a certain time isn’t permitted. Having these little insights and tips will help ensure you have smooth sailing throughout the process.

If having a full planner isn’t in your budget it’s so important to hire a day of coordinator. On the big day you are not going to want to worry about little details such as who will be folding your napkins or setting up your escort cards.

You may have family that offer to help out, but remember they are also paying top dollar to attend your wedding. You want to ensure that your guests get to enjoy the day as well and their mini-vacation here on Martha’s Vineyard.

A planner can also spring into action when something goes wrong. What happens when it shows rain in the forecast or when one of your vendors suddenly can’t attend the wedding? Having a professional oversee the event will calm your nerves, as they will be the one handling these difficult situations. Remember–they know everyone on the Island and have plenty of resources they can call for backup.

–Sandy Brooks, owner, Timeless Weddings

Julie Hatt, Martha’s Vineyard based wedding coordinator

I do a large amount of day-of wedding packages. This means the bride and groom hire the vendors themselves, but on the actual day they can enjoy being with family and friends while I help set up the venue, and work with the vendors to make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be.  It takes a lot of the pressure off the couple and their families to know it’s all being taken care of.

It’s nice to have a person they can connect with that knows all the venues on the Island and all the vendors. A planner that has a personal connection with everyone is crucial, several of us have worked together for many years.

Hiring a wedding planner on the Island is even more important than hiring one for an event off-Island. We know the ins and outs of the island, like which roads buses can not get down. What location buses can drop guests off and where they can’t–we know what works and what doesn’t here on the Island.

–Julie Hatt

With Grace is and event coordination and consultation service based on Martha’s Vineyard.

Owner Patrie Grace offers “experience, assurance, excellent vendor rapport, long lasting beauty, personal care, attention, and forever memories.” Personally I’ve worked with Patrie on many events and she’s truly the coolest cat. You wouldn’t even know if the musicians or the chef didn’t show, or if all the lights went out because she would fix it in the calmest way.

Plan It Martha’s Vineyard + Nantucket is a Vineyard based wedding coordination company specializing in local island weddings.

We got started in this industry by working events from the ground up, and before we knew it we were building a business. With over 30 years of combined experience and knowledge-sharing, we have fostered valuable relationships with Island vendors and venues.

During the planning process, we help clients make the best choices based on their needs and budget. On the day of the wedding, we make sure everything goes off without a hitch, just as planned! Surprises always pop up, but it’s a matter of being able to manage and troubleshoot on the fly. We love working with Island vendors; we promote them 100%. We know we can count on them. It can be just a phone call and they will come through to rectify problems for you. Part of being a wedding coordinator is about being resourceful.

–Doriana Klumick & Kate Conde Foster, owners, Plan It Martha’s Vineyard + Nantucket

More than anything hiring a wedding planner on Martha’s Vineyard guarantees peace of mind, and that’s priceless. You’ll stress less and enjoy more of the process, with the help of our local pros.

If you’re currently planning a Martha’s Vineyard wedding make sure to read through our other helpful blog posts on the subject, including It’s all in the details: Special considerations for planning a wedding on Martha’s Vineyard and Making a list and checking it twice: Wedding planning on Martha’s Vineyard. For additional resources on planning a Martha’s Vineyard wedding visit mvy.com, mvislandweddings.com, mvpreservation.org, or mvol.com.

 

The science behind fermented foods, and why we love them

It’s a brand New Year and our friends at Island Grown Schools (IGS) are back with another round of picks for their Harvest of the Month program. Each month, they highlight another locally available crop to feature in Martha’s Vineyard’s local schools, restaurants and grocery stores. This month they’ve set their eyes on fermented foods–and so have we. There’s been a lot of chatter about their health benefits lately, but what exactly are fermented foods and how do they help us? Allow us to divulge.

Fermented foods are just that–fermented. They’re made through the process of natural fermentation which converts carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids using microbes—like yeasts or bacteria. Fermentation might sound like a jazzy new buzzword, but it’s a process that’s been around forever. Ideally, the helpful bacteria from local food and our natural surroundings would make its way to our digestive tract and help us live our best lives. Sadly, a lot of the good stuff is killed off through other cultural habits like antibiotics, pasteurization and sanitization–meaning we can benefit from fermented foods foods now more than ever.

Fermented foods contain the beneficial byproducts of fermentation and create live microbes that boost your gut diversity and support better mental and physical performance. The health benefits of fermented foods are pretty impressive, they can basically improve the function of almost every system in the body.

Have you ever noticed the label on the side of your yogurt that reads “live and active cultures?” It might sound weird but that refers to the living organisms that convert milk to yogurt during fermentation. And that probiotic bacteria that is created is what makes yogurt so good for you. Not only does it improve the health of your digestive system, but it also allows critical nutrients to be more easily utilized by your body. And yogurt isn’t the only winner. Other fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and even sourdough bread can share the same love.

Generally speaking the additional health benefits of fermented foods include strengthening your overall immune system, detoxifying your body from dangerous chemicals and reducing inflammation throughout the body (a common issue often created by many of the sodium rich foods our culture’s diet is so reliant on).

So long story short, eat more fermented foods! On Martha’s Vineyard we’re lucky, yet again, to have access to some truly incredible ones. Make a quick stop at The Larder in Vineyard Haven and you’ll have access to a whole host of locally prepared fermented foods, including sauerkraut, kimchi, and other seasonal specialties prepared by Zephir Plume of Bakehouse Farm. Zephir’s favorite ferment is non-dairy drinking yogurt, which she started bottling herself this year. Look for it under the label Ediblewellness.

Another probiotic rich local favorite is Kulture Club Kombucha, the brainchild of Nina Gordon. Nina uses ethically sourced, locally farmed and foraged organic ingredients whenever possible to create a delicious and nutritious line of kombuchas. Asked how she first started selling it she said “I don’t try to sell the kombucha…I like to share it because kombucha brings me joy, and I’d love it if it brought you joy too. They say there is a gut-brain connection, so maybe all those probiotics are firing off all these good neurotransmitters in me so that I’ll replicate them!” We’ll drink to that.

Maybe you’ve tried kombucha and loved it, or maybe you couldn’t get a taste for it. To that we say, try another flavor. Nina adds “people who are sensitive to acid in general will have trouble with vinegary kombucha, also if you are sensitive to caffeine or have an alcohol allergy you may have trouble. Despite the fact that caffeine levels in kombucha are about one quarter as much as tea, and that there is more alcohol in an overripe banana than in a bottle of kombucha.” If you’re new to drinking kombucha you may want to ease yourself into it, as it effects can be be felt. Nina recommends starting with 2-4oz/day, and increase when you’re more tolerant. She adds “basically listen to your body.”

Need another way to enjoy the benefits of fermented foods? Sink your teeth into a loaf of bread, that’s right–bread. Of course not all breads are created equal, but the fermented sourdough loaves of local baker extraordinaire Olivia Patterson of Cinnamon Starship will do you a lot of favors (while packing a ton of flavor). For starters, Olivia uses local Island grains, from her friend Dan Sternbach of Lost and Found Grain. We asked her, and she explains “there are many benefits to fresh milled wheat, especially the flavor, but because it is so much closer to the source (and minimally processed) it also has more wild yeast present in the grain, providing much more nutrition than commercial flour.” Makes sense, right?

Olivia also uses sourdough starter only and no commercial yeast. Again her method is enlightening. “This means the dough is fermenting with a combination of wild yeast and bacteria, such as lactobacillus (which most people are familiar with as the key ingredient in yogurt). These microscopic friends are found in the air, the flour and on the bakers’ hands. Biodiversity is always beneficial, on farms, in forests and even in bread. Not only does the sourdough make the bread taste better, more complex and rich, but it also has more vitamins than standard bread, a benefit of the digestive process of the starter. The longer fermentation process of sourdough bread also makes in easier to digest because more of the gluten is broken down.” Hungry yet? Olivia’s bread is available at Scottish Bakehouse and Ghost Island Farm every Saturday this time of year. You can also find her at the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market in season.

If you’re inspired and want to get started with more fermented foods in your diet right away look in the refrigerated section of your local grocer for pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir. Check labels for any of the following terms including live, cultured, raw, probiotic, or active. You can also prepare many fermented foods quite easily at home by yourself. IGI recommends checking out Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz as a good DIY reference book for your own creations. Here’s a recipe to get you started.

 

Creamy Miso Dressing

3.5 tbsp white miso paste

3.5 tbsp fresh lemon juice

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled

A few pinches of black pepper

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup avocado oil or regular olive oil

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator.

You’re engaged, now what? Next steps after a holiday proposal

‘Tis the season for engagements! With so much love and good cheer in the air, it’s no surprise that the holidays make for a popular time to pop the question. In fact, more proposals happen between Thanksgiving and New Year’s–making it truly the most wonderful time of the year for thousands of newly engaged couples. If you’re ringing in the New Year with a new ‘ring on it’ congratulations! Next comes planning, preparation and (above all) patience. As soon as people are done congratulating you they’ll want to know the what and when of your wedding plans. Whether you’re thinking about going big or keeping it small, you’ll want to get started with some of the basics. With over thirty years in the wedding business, here’s our tips for getting you on your way to planning your big day.

Insure your engagement ring. First and foremost you need to protect your new sparkler, and with great rings come great responsibilities. It’s likely your ring is now your most prized possession, and should be treated as such. Protect yourself from theft, loss or damage. If you have homeowners’ or renters’ insurance, you can purchase an extension (a.k.a. “rider”) that covers your engagement ring specifically. If you don’t, you can take out a policy through a company that specializes in jewelry insurance, like some of the ones recommended here.

Set a budget. This can get complicated and we’ve all heard how expensive weddings can be. Before you get lost in the fantasy of something you can’t afford, set an overall number that is realistic and comfortable for you and your partner. If your family is contributing to the cost have those conversations now so there are no surprises later. Think about what elements of your event carry the most weight and where you expect to invest most of your money. Here Comes the Guide offers some helpful tips around establishing your wedding budget.

Choose a few possible dates. Whether you plan on having a long engagement or a short one, you’ll want to backup your planning tasks from your prospective wedding date. Depending on your time frame you may want to confer with those closest to you to ensure your immediate family and best friends are available.

Decide on your location. This may also inform your wedding date, given the time of year or seasonality of your location. For example, on Martha’s Vineyard the spring and the fall are typically the most popular times for weddings. It’s easier to navigate around the Island without the heavy crowds and higher prices of the summer, however the weather can be more unpredictable and can create more unforeseen logistical concerns. Do your research on the location you had in mind and what factors may affect the place throughout the year.

Decide on your wedding style or theme. This may be something you’ve thought about over the years, or not. Maybe it’s the ‘vision’ you’ve had since you were a kid or maybe you’re completely lost and overwhelmed with the limitless options. A search on Pinterest is great for inspiration but you need to have a starting point. Your location and time of year may also help inform this. For example you’re not going to host a rustic beach wedding on Martha’s Vineyard in December (at least we wouldn’t recommend it!). Whether you’re thinking more vintage, whimsical, romantic or modern you want to have a theme in mind to help inform the overall look of your day and the choices you make to help curate it. We love this list of wedding themes from BRIDES magazine for every bridal style.

Think about your wedding dress style. This may also be something you’ve envisioned over the years or something that makes your palms sweat. The options are never-ending and there’s a good chance the dress you choose is something you may have never imagined yourself in. Your dress should fit the theme of your wedding and be appropriate for the destination and time of year, but above all you should be comfortable in it and feel amazing when you put it on. Start by researching dresses and finding examples of those you like so you have a better idea once you start shopping. Here’s some helpful tips from Martha Stewart Weddings on how to get started.

Set a planning timetable. Set yourself up for success by staying organized and ahead of the game (or at least start by trying, we know things don’t always go as planned!). A wedding timeline will help you prioritize things and keep your tasks digestible. Trying to do everything all at once is daunting and unrealistic. Plus, as stressful as the process can be it should also be fun, and a wedding timetable can help ease a lot of your anxiety. The Knot has a great timetable tool that you can customize based on the the type of event you are organizing.

Start your guest list. Fair warning, this one can be extremely challenging. Start by thinking big and creating a ‘dream list’ that you can pare down throughout the process. Segment the list based on ‘have to haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ and be realistic about your guest list count. After all, your budget and venue location will dictate how many people you can actually invite. If your family is involved in the process and contributing financially they may have expectations of who they get to invite, so be sure to clearly communicate with them along the way.

Think about your wedding party. Your wedding party (if you’re having one) is intended to be made up of those closest to you. Whether family or best friends, these are the people you hold nearest and dearest. The number of people you select should be proportional to your total number of guests. Don’t worry about ‘being even’ it’s OK if you don’t have the same amount of groomsmen and bridesmaids, you’re pictures will still look great. A lot more couples are mixing it up, and putting men and women on both sides of the altar, so feel free to keep it fluid. It’s all about surrounding yourself with those that will help ease the stress of your day and those you are proud to have stand beside you.

Research venues and vendors in the area. Once you’ve selected your location you’ll want to start researching your local options. If you’re not too familiar with the location we recommend enlisting the help of a local wedding planner that can help you best navigate through vendors and utilize their connections and resources. On Martha’s Vineyard there is a high demand for wedding services and a limited number of vendors so planning ahead is key. Our friends at KG Events & Design, With Grace, and Julie Hatt of Island Weddings can help you make sense of your options here. Check out our recommendations for other wedding vendors on Martha’s Vineyard.

Share your proposal story. This is a fun one, and sharing is caring! You’ve probably already retold your story a hundred times by now and we hope your face still lights up at each one. Take the time to savor your story and share it with everyone you know. The Knot offers you the opportunity to submit your romantic proposal tale and they generate a link that you can share with your family and friends. Plus, you’ll be one step ahead when you get to creating your wedding website, and if it’s an extra good story they’ll even share it on their homepage.

This is all just the beginning and we wish you the best in the wedding planning process. Keep calm, carry on, and remember–the best is yet to come! If you’re planning a Martha’s Vineyard wedding be sure to read through our insider tips, and please be in touch, we’d love to be of service for your big day.

The gift of travel: Getting to know the places I go

As a Martha’s Vineyard based photographer my summers are absolute madness–juggling multiple shoots a day, delivering client proofs, running a business, meeting up with seasonal friends, and taking in all the Island action we wait for all year. At RBP, wedding season is also a blur, which usually takes place over the spring and fall months. That leaves the winter time to finally reflect, catch up, and get inspired for the new season ahead. Fortunately, this quiet time on Martha’s Vineyard affords me the flexibility to travel, experience new places, meet new people and discover unexpected inspiration–this is my mission every time that I travel.

As a photographer I am obviously drawn to the aesthetic of a new place, often struck by its landscape and the differences or similarities it may share with home. More than that though, I am captivated by its people, its culture, its constant or emerging struggles and its rich history. I always make time to explore the roads less traveled, interact with the locals, and appreciate a new location for its true essence, not the postcard version that it’s come to be known for. Living on Martha’s Vineyard, with its own idyllic perceptions, has made me especially aware of how important it is to take the time to truly understand a new place.

I recently returned from a trip to Portugal that both inspired and intrigued me. Our visit included some time in Lisbon, the capital city, both charismatic and energetic, and a city that effortlessly blends cultural heritage with modern thinking. We also visited Nazaré in the Silver Coast, a sleepy village that has recently become a mecca for big wave surfing, and is now faced with its shifting identities as a result. Both locations, unique in their own right, offered a snapshot at the types of lives that have been lived there and the conditions that have informed the country’s collective past.

Portugal is a southern European country on the Iberian Peninsula, bordering Spain. Its location on the Atlantic Ocean has influenced many aspects of its culture, similar to Martha’s Vineyard. In Portugal, grilled sardines are a national dish–something you expect to find everywhere. It’s ubiquitous with the place, much like the lobster roll is to Martha’s Vineyard. Imagine my concern when I learned that there was a recent moratorium on sardine harvesting, meaning that those coveted sardines could not be caught in the place known most for its sardines.

Apparently their stocks in the nearby waters have plummeted in recent years, and the moratorium is an attempt to help replenish the supply. I witnessed the scarcity first hand during my visit, when a trip to the fish market offered only one vendor selling sardines, and they were from Spain. Here I was, in a place known for its seafood, unable to enjoy the native fish and furthermore curious as to what it means for the country, for the local fishing industry and for the men and women who rely on these fish for a living.

Particularly, as a resident of a seaside place, in an ever changing world that is rapidly depleting its natural resources, I have become deeply fascinated with how communities will be forced to evolve with these changing seas. While the sardine moratorium in Portugal has since been lifted, 2018 marks the fourth consecutive year that there has been a restriction, and the threat of the species is not going away. What does that mean for the industry and the fishermen? And the locals and tourists who rely on finding sardines on their plates as has been customary throughout the country’s history?

Many coastal communities like Portugal are now facing hard realities as a result of overfishing, changes in water temperature and global ocean circulation cycles. Unfortunately, these concerns are mounting and they will require the work of many to be thoughtfully addressed. I’m curious what innovations are taking place, or being considered in efforts to thwart the demise of these species we are so reliant on? What new methods of farming are happening to help offset some of the decline? What creative measures are taking place to ensure the sustainability of our oceans and our seafood? And what will people be forced to do when it’s too late to be thinking out of the box?

As an advocate for the environment and food security these are the types of questions I want to explore, and these are the types of issues I concern myself when I visit such places. What can we be learning from the Portuguese, and vice versa, as we encounter our own issues here?

Looking ahead I have plans to visit West Africa and Central America in the coming months. I’ll be in Senegal, another coastal community being affected by overfishing and changing conditions of the sea, and I look forward to learning about how these issues are being addressed there. I’ll also spend time in Nicoya, Costa Rica,  a Blue Zone region, which refers to a part of the world where people commonly live past the age of 100 years, and a phenomenon I’ve become fascinated by. I’m hoping to continue to explore other Blue Zones and gather learnings I can apply to my own life. What is the secret to longevity and how does the place that you live and the resources you consume contribute to happiness and a life well lived. Wouldn’t you like to know? I know I would.

If you’re planning any travel this year please take the time to think about the issues that affect the part of the world that you’re visiting and find out what’s being done about it. You’ll find your experience far more meaningful when you thoughtfully immerse yourself in the culture and become part of the conversation. After all, travel should change you. Anthony Bourdain once said “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

A behind the scenes look at shooting ‘Whole in One’ a new cookbook by author Ellie Krieger

If you’re a health conscious foodie you’ve likely heard of Ellie Krieger. Ellie is a world renowned nutritionist and New York Times bestselling cookbook author, plus she’s host and executive producer of the Public Television cooking series Ellie’s Real Good Food, and host of Food Network’s hit show Healthy Appetite. On top of that she’s also a James Beard Foundation media award winner, and a regular contributor to the Washington Post–needless to say she’s a dominant presence in the food world! I’ve personally known Ellie for years, and I’ve watched her develop an honest, approachable brand, while remaining devoted to educating her fans on great food and good health–two things I hold in high regard.

Ellie and I have been diligently waiting for the right opportunity to work together and it fortunately came earlier this year when she reached out to me to photograph the images for Whole in One, her new cookbook that will be released in 2019. It will make Ellie’s seventh cookbook and my third, and for me the process has been unparalleled. Working with Ellie has truly been an honor. If you follow her work you know she is a consummate professional, who brings a deep passion and palpable energy to every project (and plate!) she takes on.

We recently wrapped an intensive shoot for the book in her New York City test kitchen and I couldn’t be more excited with what we produced. Along with a very strong, professional team we worked tirelessly, sometimes capturing up to 15 different recipes a day. We visited a local prop house where we scoured through a seemingly endless supply of textiles, ceramics, surfaces and backdrops until we found the perfect design aesthetic for the book.

With the help of our talented prop stylist Maeve Sheridan and skilled food stylist Suzanne Lenzer, we pored over each dish, careful to capture the most mouth watering shots, while maintaining a careful balance between our own creativity and the attainable nature of Ellie’s dishes that she’s come to be known for.

With Whole in One, Ellie focuses on delicious, healthy meals that can be made in a single pot, sheet pan or skillet, ensuring a good meal with limited clean up, that can be easily integrated into your dinnertime routine. Our creative challenge was to showcase both the convenience of these singular meals along with the simple, yet dynamic and thoughtful ingredients at play.

Whole in One is Ellie’s modern take on healthy cooking that’s intended to be approachable and inviting, and we worked hard to represent that visually in every shot. As a chef, dietitian and trusted voice in the world of healthy cooking people turn to Ellie for her expertise and I’m deeply fortunate she turned to me for mine.

Stay tuned for updates on the release of Whole in One, currently scheduled to publish Fall 2019.

*Photo of Ellie Krieger and Randi Baird above, plus all black and white production stills taken by Arletta Charter.