As a wedding photographer on Martha’s Vineyard one of the most common questions I get from couples is “should we have a first look?” Like any important decision you make about your wedding, it’s a personal one, and a choice that you and your partner should make together, and agree on. After all, you can only take a first look once.
If you’ve always imagined laying eyes on each other at the altar and that’s a vision you share, then that’s what you should do. But, if you’re open to the “big reveal” in a less conventional setting–but one that is still special and romantic–than a first look might be for you. Not to mention it’s an incredibly picturesque opportunity. You’ll both be looking your best, and floating on cloud nine in eager anticipation. No matter where and when it happens it will be one of the most memorable moments of your life.
Personally, we’re big fans of the first look. Practically speaking it allows you to have more time to enjoy your cocktail hour and mingle with guests post-ceremony. But most importantly it offers the two of you some intimate time together before the knot is tied, to quietly feel those feels and take a deep breathe without all of your guests surrounding you.
Obviously, a wedding is an emotional experience, and a first look means your photographer can capture that honesty. Quite frankly, first look photos are some of our favorites. They capture the genuine love, and surprise and delight of our client’s most sentimental moments.
Now, if it’s important to have your squad nearby then you can let them in on the first look too. We’ve had many couples share a first look while they’re parents and bridal party looked on from afar, or showed up several minutes afterward to share a sneak peek of the happy couple. It’s a great segue to taking your family and bridal party portraits beforehand too, meaning more time after the ceremony to devote to celebrating. Again, it’s your day and your decision, and we’d love to help customize a first look that works best for you.
Let’s not forget that having a first look is a great way to help ease you into the emotion of the day. You’re about to promise forever to the love of your life and it can be overwhelming. If you opt for a first look you’re less likely to cry walking down the aisle, avoiding a makeup malfunction (which we all know too well). Then, once you approach the altar you’ll feel more comfortable in front of your guests and can focus on the task at hand–making it official!
But like anything, timing is everything and it must be coordinated appropriately if a first look is for you. If there isn’t time in your timeline to make it happen, don’t force it. A first look should help you ease some of the stress and anxiety of the day, not create it! We recommend that a first look happens at least an hour or more before the ceremony so you can be safely tucked away before your early guests arrive. That also means you’ll need to be ready earlier too, so consider your time wisely.
So there it is, for your thoughtful consideration. Whether you opt for a first look or stick to the more traditional route, the right answer is the one that just feels right to you!
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
Martha’s Vineyard is a popular destination for some of the most elaborate and intimate of affairs, and we’re lucky to be a part of many of them. On any given weekend there could be dozens of weddings happening on-Island, with vendors buzzing about in preparation, and guests traveling in from afar just for the occasion. All of this activity can make for a lot of extra waste, but if you’re careful in the planning process you can seriously reduce what ends up in the garbage.
Planning a green wedding on Martha’s Vineyard, or anywhere else for that matter, just takes asking around and giving some special consideration to the decisions you make for the event. And green weddings can still be just as elegant and chic! Here’s ten ways you can be sure to pull off a beautiful, fun-filled celebration that reflects more kindly on the environment.
Plan an outdoor event during the day. Martha’s Vineyard is home to beautiful beaches, rolling hills and gorgeous wooded areas that make for the perfect backdrop to any occasion. Allow the sun to provide the lighting and reduce your need for electricity in the process. If you’re planning a wedding think about having the ceremony and location in the same place so you can reduce your carbon footprint without the extra transportation.
Ask your caterer about composting. The amount of food wasted every day is staggering, and much of it is unnecessary. According to Island Grown Initiative (IGI) an estimated 11 million pounds of food waste are generated on Martha’s Vineyard each year. Here we ship our trash off-Island where it travels approximately 40 miles before being landfilled or incinerated, using fossil fuels to power the trip (and the return trip). Be sure to ask your caterer about composting the prep, scraps, and leftovers from your event. Many caterers like Kitchen Porch Catering will do this anyway. You can also hire IGI to do it for you as part of their Food Waste Collection initiative. Contact Aaron Lowe at (508) 687-9062 or at email@example.com more more details.
Rent or reuse your plates and glassware. Be sure to avoid disposable items at all cost. Many vendors like Big Sky Tents, offer full linen, china and glassware rentals. If you’re renting ask your vendor about eliminating or reducing the plastic wrap they’re usually packaged in. You can also purchase mason jars to be used as drinking glasses or jamming jars after the fact (they make great containers for canning beach plums). Another option is to sell or donate them to a friend planning an event at a later date. Sites like Wedding Recycle and Bravo Bride make it easy for you to buy and sell wedding decor products online.
When it comes to beverages consider a keg or large jugs of wine to eliminate extra bottles and cans. And if you need to serve straws purchase stainless steel ones that you can use as favors. Reusable water bottles make great gifts too!
Use local vendors. Martha’s Vineyard may be small but there’s vendors here for just about everything you need to pull off the perfect event. Try to reduce the amount of people and automobiles that have to be brought in from off-Island. And if you’re looking for gifts for your guests or bridal party opt for locally made items like Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt and Chilmark Chocolates that are made right here with extra love.
Repurpose your formal wear. There’s a ton of websites where you can shop for used wedding dresses and formal wear like NearlyNewlwed and Tradesy. Ask around in your family to see if there’s a dress you can alter to make yours, and consider allowing your bridesmaids to wear a dress they already own. Shop your closet for things like shoes and accessories, not everything needs to be fresh. If you decide to go new consider re-selling your clothes after the fact so they can be used again.
Ask for organic or locally grown flowers or consider decorating with potted plants. If you’re having fresh cut flowers delivered ask that they be transported in buckets to eliminate plastic waste. Have a friend or family member with a garden on Martha’s Vineyard? Consider asking them to grow them for you as a wedding present. After the event donate your flowers to the hospital or local nursing homes that would especially appreciate the arrangements. You can even ask your caterer about using them for an event the next day.
If you’re using potted plants plan to repurpose them throughout the entire weekend of events, including the rehearsal, wedding, or a Sunday brunch. Then give them away as a favor for repotting (the gift that keeps on giving!), or reuse them at home as a lovely and sentimental addition to your home.
Send e-vites or use recycled paper. It’s still pretty common place to send physical wedding invitations, but you can be mindful of the material they’re printed on. IGI’s Food Equity and Recovery Director Sophie Abrams Mazza recommends plantable wedding invitations that can grow flowers and herbs when you plant them–beautiful, creative and eco-friendly! When it comes to save the dates and RSVPs go digital.
Shop thrift stores and secondhand shops. You can find some really cool and unique pieces second hand. Shop around for previously used items that can be used for your decor and tablescaping, like glasses, jars, vases and baskets. On Martha’s Vineyard be sure to check outChicken Alley Thrift storeand the dozens of estate sales and yard sales happening each weekend. You can mix and match pieces for the perfect rustic chic look!
Express yourself. When talking to all of your vendors simply mention your commitment to going green and ask what they can help you do about it, whether it’s reducing the packaging of their items or repurposing the items they’re assisting you with. Martha’s Vineyard is a very eco-friendly community and vendors here are happy to help you make it happen–not only is it the right thing to do but it can often eliminate extra work in the process too.
For additional assistance with planning a sustainable wedding or special event contact KG Events and Design, a certified Green Event Company on Martha’s Vineyard.