Blog Category: Weddings

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.

Waste not, want not: Greening your wedding or special event on Martha’s Vineyard

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 foodrescue@igimv.org 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 out Chicken Alley Thrift store and 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. 


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.

What spring brings: Life, light and love!

Spring has officially arrived, and I couldn’t be happier–there’s actually a spring in my step. The weather hasn’t quite caught up yet but I’m patiently waiting for the temperatures to rise and the flowers to start blooming. The solitude of winter on Martha’s Vineyard has begun to dissipate, and a noticeable shift in the tempo of the Island is upon us. Spring brings new life and new opportunities, and as far as I’m concerned this is the most wonderful time of the year. Here’s what I’m looking forward to this season:

1. Planting my garden – While the temperatures are still too cold to be planting outside, I’ve been getting things going indoors. Fortunately I have access to an unheated greenhouse, or tunnel, that allows me to begin planting seeds in preparation for moving them outdoors once the weather turns. The tunnel is available to our entire neighborhood and I take full advantage of it, especially during the winter months, by eating kale, mache, chard and arugula.


At the beginning of the month I began by planting spinach, leeks and lettuce–vegetables that can withstand the cooler temperatures. If you’re looking to get your own seeds started I’m a big fan of Johnny Seeds and Fruition Seeds, online retailers of organic, non-GMO seeds that yield beautiful, healthy plants. On Martha’s Vineyard you can also pick up seed packs at our local nurseries including Donaroma’s, SBS, Middletown, and Vineyard Gardens.


Get your own seeds started by referencing Johnny Seeds helpful seed-starting date calculator, which figures out when it’s safe to plant early crops outside based on your area’s last frost date. I’d also recommend picking up a copy of Simple Green Suppers, my cookbook with author Susie Middleton, to get inspired by all of the delicious, veggie based meals she shares. Before you know it the plants will be thriving and I’ll be enjoying a fresh, colorful summer salad with my bounty.

2. Flowers in bloom – I just love when I’m out walking or driving around and bursts of daffodils start to appear, and the purple climbing vines of wisteria, or the arching branches and bright yellow buds of forsythia pop up around town. And the lilac, oh the lilac. It grows like weeds on Martha’s Vineyard and the fragrant, sweet smell is intoxicating.


There’s just something so peaceful and comforting about spring flowers, especially after a harsh New England winter–these natural pops of color simply spread a smile across my face. When I want a real flower fix I head to Polly Hill Arboretum in West Tisbury, one of my favorite places to visit and shoot in the spring. I could spend a whole day just walking the grounds snapping photos of their diverse collection, like their famous North Tisbury azaleas, crabapples, rhododendrons, and magnolias. It’s a great place to breathe deeply, connect with nature, and go to recharge. While the season is still in flux I get my indoor flower fix at Morrice Florist in Vineyard Haven, during their Tulip Tuesday events. Every Tuesday through April they offer fresh bunches of tulips for only $10, a simple pleasure and the price is right! 


3. Shedding some layers – Sure, I love the cozy comforts of winter fashion, but I’ll happily shed my warm sweaters and scarves for lighter, more colorful layers. I’m especially looking forward to the new spring fashion designs from my friend Stina Sayre, a talented, Swedish designer who’s known for the form, function and quality of her versatile pieces. Stina’s spring collections often focus on bright colors and vivid patterns, and after a season of drab, dark colors a few new pieces will be a refreshing addition to my wardrobe.


Another spring fashion treat calls for a scenic drive up to Menemsha to Pandora’s Box, an eclectic boutique of fabulous finds, where beachy meets Vineyard chic and my inner shopaholic let’s loose. Pandora’s Box doesn’t reopen until May but I’m already counting down.


4. Longer days and more light – We can all appreciate the longer days, but as a photographer prolonged, natural light is critical to me and my work. I’m in constant pursuit of the best quality light for my subjects. I love the light in the mornings and late afternoons, as the sun is still rising up and then making its way back down. The added daylight just makes me happier in general, not to mention the warmer temperatures of spring make for tolerable, frequent outdoor shoots.


5. Wedding season – The Island continues to be a sought-after destination for weddings and our popular wedding seasons are typically spring and fall, known as the “shoulder seasons.” As Martha’s Vineyard wedding photographers, our spring wedding season typically gears up in April and this year we’re looking forward to seeing what’s the latest in wedding trends and meeting new couples that are lucky in love. The rebirth of spring corresponds nicely to the new beginnings of the many couples who marry this time of year. Spring is life and life is love!



What’s next? Wedding trends to look out for in 2018

Over the last thirty years we’ve photographed hundreds of weddings both on and off Martha’s Vineyard. Each one is different and uniquely personal and we’re always impressed with the thoughtful, creative details our brides and grooms incorporate into their special day.

We’ve seen a lot of wedding trends come and go (remember disposable cameras at each table, and the introduction of the cupcake tree?) and 2018 weddings will no doubt be marked by their own styles and traits. We’ve been following along with our favorite wedding blogs–The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings, WeddingWire, Junebug Weddings–and have highlighted five trends and predictions we keep seeing pop up for 2018.

  1. Even more personalization. As the traditional wedding has evolved it seems now more than ever couples are embracing personalization and customization over the conventional. Nowadays the wedding planning process begins with the couple determining the overall vibe they want to set and the experience they want to curate for their guests. The Knot offers a helpful Style Quiz we recommend to those in the early planning stages, and if you’re planning a wedding on Martha’s Vineyard get in touch with our friends at KG Events & Design to determine the best theme for you.

 2. Taking it inside. It looks like more people might be opting for indoor venues as a way to safeguard against the unpredictable weather, while embracing architectural details that speak to them. Historic homes, libraries, museums, and industrial lofts will top the list, offering eclectic, romantic touches. On Martha’s Vineyard we love the Old Whaling Church and the Daniel Fisher House in downtown Edgartown. Both can be reserved through the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust for a  (relatively) reasonable tax deductible fee.

3. Flowers, flowers everywhere. Look forward to seeing more flowers in unexpected places, from lush arrangements to living botanical bars, to vertical hanging plants above the tables, potted plants along the aisle and large bohemian statement wreaths. Dogwoods and baby breath are expected to make a comeback, along with a lot of greenery. As far as color goes the trend seems to be dark and moody, and all signs point to purple being the color of the year. Think dramatic hues like wine, lilac, lavender, and mauve. When it comes to wedding flowers on Martha’s Vineyard we trust the thoughtful and creative work of Morrice Florist and Tea Lane Farm to provide the perfect floral designs for any affair.

4. Covering up. Sleeves and capes are likely to adorn a lot of wedding dresses this year. Brides are taking cues from the runway and this year they’re saying that bell sleeves, sheer capes, lace capelets, and kimonos will appear at the altar too. On Martha’s Vineyard the extra fabric will be especially useful to combat the chilly ocean breeze and cooler temperatures of the spring and fall.

5. Embracing the local culture. As the trend of destination weddings continues (and Martha’s Vineyard popularity too) couples are more and more invested in connecting with the local culture and sharing it with their guests. We recommend sourcing locally made wedding favors, like small jars of honey from Island Bee Company of Martha’s Vineyard, or the delectable confectionaries of Chilmark Chocolates. Another great way to embrace the local scene is to plan a pre or post wedding activities that is specific to the wedding destination. On Martha’s Vineyard try hosting a clambake in Menemsha, a bonfire on the beach, or a fishing charter for a rehearsal dinner or special event.

Spring will be here before you know it and our weekends will soon be packed with weddings of all kinds–romantic and whimsical, woodsy but chic, intimate and extravagant–and we can’t wait to see all that’s in store! In the meantime we’ll keep you informed of wedding trends and our favorite ideas for planning the perfect occasion. If you missed our last wedding post be sure to have a read for helpful planning tips and our recommendations for local vendors on Martha’s Vineyard.

Don’t miss the chance to enter to win an engagement photo shoot with us, winners will be featured in the Summer/Fall 2018 issue of Martha’s Vineyard Island Weddings magazine. Deadline to enter is March 16, 2018 at 12:00 PM.