Blog Category: Engagements

Plan a zero-waste wedding and the planet will thank you

We all know weddings an get expensive, and excessive. As a wedding photographer on Martha’s Vineyard I see first hand just how lavish these events can be. While your wedding day should be special, beautiful and uniquely yours, it can still be all of those things while being less wasteful. Plus, on top of feeling great about tying the knot you can feel good about lessening your impact too! Executing a “green wedding” doesn’t have to be hard, it just takes some thoughtful consideration.

Here are some of our favorite green wedding ideas that are easy to implement, and won’t take away from the beauty and elegance of your affair. Remember even small details can make a big impact on your big day!

1. Responsible Invitations. I prefer good old snail mail for wedding invitations, especially in this digital age there’s something particularly nice about opening a beautiful piece of mail. Try using 100% sustainable recycled post-consumer paper and minimize it by directing guests to your wedding website for additional information. As for your Save the Dates go paperless–Minted, Paperless Post, evite and Greenvelope offer a ton of templates and options that will still ensure your guests receive high quality invitations they can get excited about. The same goes for your thank you cards!

2. Upcycled dresses and accessories. Consider wearing a previously worn or second hand dress down the aisle or during your rehearsal dinner or brunch. Sites like Tradesy and Nearly Newlwed sell preowned dresses that look brand new (and no one will ever know!). Shoes and accessories can get pricey too, and there’s loads of gently worn versions available more affordably and responsibly. You may also want to ask around your family to see if there is an heirloom piece you can repurpose or redesign. Nothing is more special than sharing in the history of your family during your big day! If you prefer a brand new dress, shop around for a designer that uses sustainable fabrics (like organic cotton, silk or hemp) such as H&Ms eco-friendly wedding line Conscious Exclusive Collection. As for your bridal party why not give them a color palette to select from and have them wear something they already own? We all know most of those bridesmaid dresses we hope to “wear again” just stack up in the back of our closets…

3. Go plastic and paper free. Make sure to tell your vendors that you’re trying to be as zero-waste as possible and they’ll help you! If you’re ordering linens ask that they not be wrapped in plastic for delivery. If you’re serving cocktails ask your bartender to forego the straws. Serve water from pitchers or have a water station with a tap. Look for bar/catering options that offer stainless steel kegs that are reused and avoid buying ice in plastic bags. Use cloth napkins in the bathroom instead of paper towels.

4. DIY Flowers. There’s no denying that flowers are gorgeous but their environmental cost can be high. When selecting fresh flowers be sure your blooms are sustainable as possible by seeking out vendors that are farm-to-table or using local flower growers. By using locally grown in-season flowers you’ll be ensured the freshest, highest quality stems at the best price. On Martha’s Vineyard Tea Lane Farm and Morning Glory Farm grow many varieties of annual and perennial flowers and they design beautiful arrangements. Additionally, Donaroma’s offers floral design, as well as the opportunity for brides and grooms to rent their Island grown plants for their special event–allowing for the look of fresh greenery while knowing it will be thoughtfully repurposed.  

Paper bouquets can also be fabulous, and unique, plus they’re compostable. There’s also the option to plant your own flowers or use a recycled or foraged bouquet. For centerpieces, consider growing or purchase potted plants or fresh herbs that can be reused. Even dried herbs can make beautiful arrangements! I love the idea of clustering several small arrangements together to make one beautiful display that several guests can bring home. Be sure to compost any remaining flowers after the event that can not be reused, your soil will thank you.

5. Less is more. Decorating your venue can be enticing but some of my favorite weddings have been the simpler ones. You can save a lot of waste and money by minimizing your decorations, plus your venue is likely an attractive space in it’s own right, so let it shine! When decorating use organic materials that can be sourced in nature. Things like bark, seeds, rocks, stones, bricks, building materials, and found objects. Also don’t be afraid to ask for donations! You can use or collect jars/glassware that you or your family may already own for centerpieces. Pieces like bird cages, wooden grates, chalkboards etc. are likely lying around at your friends’ homes waiting to be repurposed.

6. Go natural with your place cards and signage.  You can also use plant matter for your place cards and table assignments. Get crafty by writing on things like eucalyptus leaves, flat rocks, and wooden bark or shingles for your signs and display notes. And of course there’s all sorts of green inspiration on Pinterest!

7. Make it family style. When it comes to your catering options consider serving local food family style, reducing the footprint it takes to get to your plates and reducing the dish ware that needs to be used and cleaned. Several Island-based caterers like Smoak BBQ and Kitchen Porch Catering offer farm-to-table menus that will allow your guests to taste the delicious local food available on Martha’s Vineyard, while reducing the resources it takes to feed them.

8. Go green with your gifts. Traditional wedding gifts often require shipping resources to get to you, and come decorated with wasteful wrapping paper. Instead ask your guests to donate to your honeymoon. Sites like honeyfund.com make it easy for guests to safely and securely donate to your dream vacation or new home. If your guests are insisting on giving you a physical gift create an eco-friendly wedding registry.

9. Do the world a favor with your favors. When it comes to giving your guests something special to remember your event by, look into items that come in compostable eco-friendly packages. Soap, reusable totes, plants, seeds or homemade jams all make great thoughtful gifts that are easy on the environment. Or instead of a physical gift make a donation in everyone’s name to a local charity you can feel good about!

10. Compost, and recycle as much as possible. Make sure to do all you can to reuse and compost whatever remaining trash and leftovers remain at the end of your event. As for recycling remember the mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle”? Recycling comes last because it should be a last resort, it’s complicated and not as environmentally friendly as most people think. Composting on the other hand is easy and goes straight back to the earth. You’ll want to make sure to compost your flowers and any other organic matter that can be reused. Paper from your cards and envelopes can also be shredded and composted. Be sure to ask your caterer about composting the prep, scraps, and leftovers from your event, many caterers will do this anyway. You can also hire Island Grown Initiative (IGI) to do it for you as part of their Food Waste Collection initiative. Contact them at (508) 687-9062 or at sophie@igimv.org more more details.

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.

 

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.

It’s all in the details: Special considerations for planning a wedding on Martha’s Vineyard

We once heard that Martha’s Vineyard is only second to Las Vegas as the most popular wedding destination. It’s hard to believe that a seasonal island that is only 100 square miles could support such a booming industry–we are small but mighty! We’re honored to be one of a select number of wedding vendors that are able to successfully tackle and execute some pretty incredible events here.

Given the unique nature of Martha’s Vineyard (we’re surrounded by water after all and the Island gets pretty sleepy for at least 4 months out of the year) there are some extra things that must be taken into consideration to ensure getting hitched goes off without a hitch.

First of all you’ll need to get your guests here and thoroughly communicate the logistics involved, and be specific. Make sure to have a detailed wedding website or information card in your invitation that explains some of the nuances of getting to and around the Island. There is no bridge, no tunnel. It will require a boat or a plane and the various options available depend on the season, not to mention service can be complicated by the weather. Cape Air offers year round air travel from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Delta, JetBlue, and American Airlines offer seasonal service from various locations including New York and Washington D.C. For additional details visit the Martha’s Vineyard airport website here

The airport itself is pretty small and pretty adorable. No long security lines so no need to allot a bunch of extra time when departing, and when arriving your luggage will follow you off the plane shortly thereafter. (Fun fact: the show Wings was set in a fictional Nantucket airport but is similar in size and scope to our own Martha’s Vineyard Airport). Visit our local Chamber of Commerce website for additional information on getting here that could be helpful to your guests.

If your guests are opting for the maritime route they have a number of different ferry liners to choose from, which again is dependent on the season. There are several seasonal ferries available including the Island Queen from Falmouth, Hyline Cruises from Hyannis, Seastreak from New York and New Bedford and the Rhode Island Fast Ferry from North Kingston.

The Steamship Authority bills itself as the ‘lifeline to the Islands’ and is the only ferry that operates year round and transports cars to the Island. It leaves from Woods Hole on Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard several times a day. It’s important to note that if you plan on bringing your car over you must make an advance reservation (via phone or online) with the Steamship Authority, and plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early. Reservations for the summer season often book up months in advance so be sure to make your reservation as soon as possible. If you are a walk on passenger you must allot extra time to park in the designated lots and take a 15-20 minute shuttle ride down to the boat, where you can purchase passenger tickets at the terminal. Car rentals are available on Martha’s Vineyard but note that they can be significantly more expensive than off-Island prices–we have to import a lot of things here including the cars!

Once your guests have successfully arrived to the Island it’s time to help them get to their hotel or rental property. If you’re looking to host a big group and reserve a block of hotel rooms you will want to contact Summercamp in Oak Bluffs, or the Harbor View Hotel, Clarion Inn, the Kelley House, and the Winnetu Oceanside Resort all located in Edgartown. These are some of the Island’s largest hotels that can accommodate your special event, and provide appropriate amenities for a big group. Another popular option for housing big groups is to rent a private home. AirBnb, VRBO and homeaway.com all offer several listings on the Island, as well as local real estate companies like Point B Realty, Sandpiper Realty and Tea Lane Associates.

Be mindful of the accommodations you choose based on where your ceremony and reception are taking place, the Island is actually bigger than many people think. For example the Winnetu is located in Katama in Edgartown. If you have guests stay there and your wedding is taking place at the Beach Plum Inn in Chilmark (a gorgeous venue offering breathtaking views of Menemsha sunsets) your guests will be traveling 20 miles, essentially from one end of the Island to the other. This isn’t a problem but it’s good to understand the geography of the Island as you plan around it. There are various transportation companies that offer private charter service and specialize in weddings and large group transportation including Martha’s Vineyard Sightseeing and Resort Man. There are also several cab companies available including women (and sister!) owned Lighthouse Taxi as well as Uber and Lyft service.

Another important thing to note is that most of your vendors will be small businesses, and given the demand for weddings and limited vendors they may book up far in advance. We recently rounded up our favorite venues, caterers, musicians, florists, bakers, locally inspired favors and trusted beauty professionals that you can read about here.

As for choosing a wedding photographer on Martha’s Vineyard we have decades of experience capturing dream Island weddings and would of course love to assist you with any photography services for your affair. We also recommend working with one of our local wedding planners including With Grace and KG Events to help you best navigate the Island’s resources and make it the momentous affair you’ve always dreamed of.

For additional wedding planning tips check out our wedding related blog posts and visit Martha’s Vineyard Island Weddings for a complete list of vendors, stories and inspiration.

Capture the big ask with a surprise wedding proposal photographer

A “surprise proposal” seems a bit redundant, after all most people don’t expect to be proposed to when it happens, and that’s the idea after all. But the kind of surprise proposals I get most excited about are the ones that take it a step further, and hire me as a photographer to stake out the proposal location and secretly capture the big ask.

There’s something covert about the whole operation, it requires some stealth action on my part, and reminds me of my early days as a photojournalist for Greenpeace, working behind the scenes to snap quickly and efficiently without being seen. Life as a proposal photographer on Martha’s Vineyard is a bit more casual of course, and I often find myself crouched down in a patch of beach plums or quietly lying on my stomach in the sand (sometimes with my arch enemy, poison ivy lurking nearby) waiting for the perfect shot.

Recently, I’ve been contacted by more and more couples to photograph secret proposals and I think it’s a brilliant idea. The raw and honest emotion and excitement that follows the big question make for some of the most endearing moments I capture all year! 

For the couples we work with it’s a time they’ll never forget, and a story that will be told again and again. Having stunning proposal photos is the perfect way to relive the special occasion, plus they provide a meaningful memento to mark the very beginning of the couple’s next chapter together.

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of assisting a client with a surprise proposal to his girlfriend on the beach. It was followed by a thoughtfully executed visit by two alpacas–which he had also secretly organized, given her affection for the friendly farm animals. Not only was I able to capture the initial shock and joy of the proposal, but the second surprise made for even more emotional photos–it’s not everyday you see an alpaca on the beach.

I’ve photographed secret proposals at some of my favorite portrait locations, including South Beach in Edgartown and further up-Island at a private beach in Chilmark, and each one has been a truly touching affair. Many have been followed by a second reveal, like an unexpected after party of friends and family to join in the celebration, making it that much more meaningful.

If you’re planning a secret wedding proposal ask yourself what types of environments and landscapes are important to your partner? Is there a place on Martha’s Vineyard that holds a significant meaning? Or maybe there’s a personal spot that’s totally out of the ordinary–we’ve even seen couples get engaged at the famous Jaws bridge! Wherever and however you’re thinking about proposing I can help you pull off a surprise proposal that you and your partner will be talking about for years.

Need some more inspiration? Check out some of the featured proposal stories on howheasked.com by The Knot.