Tis the season for engagements! We all know that the holidays are filled with joy and laughter, and that the holiday spirit is a very real thing. With family and friends gathered, and love in the air, this time of year also yields a lot of heartfelt proposals. In many cases once the ring is received the wedding planning process begins quickly thereafter.

Planning a wedding is an exciting, intimidating, time consuming and often emotional task. Choosing the perfect location and curating the ideal atmosphere that reflects you and your partner is no small feat, and getting ahead of the event is important. Fortunately, we have over twenty years of wedding photography experience on Martha’s Vineyard and have assembled some helpful tips to ease the selection process.

Venue The Vineyard is home to beautiful beaches, rustic homes, historic churches and charming pastoral settings to name a few. If you’re looking for an iconic Island setting near the ocean that’s centrally located try exploring some of our favorite downtown Edgartown wedding venues including the Edgartown Yacht Club, the Harbor View Hotel, the Old Whaling Church, the Federated Church, or the Daniel Fisher House. For a more relaxed, rural setting up-Island, check out the Allen Farm and Beach Plum Inn in Chilmark, or the Duck Inn and Vanderhoop Homestead in Aquinnah. Many couples also create intimate venues from family homes or private estates.

Some will also pick another location (in addition to where the ceremony and reception is being held) to have extra photos taken, allowing you to make the most of several picturesque Island settings.

The rehearsal dinner location is another important consideration, and there are plenty of restaurants from fine dining to casual to beach cantinas that can accomodate a large group. State Road in West Tisbury is a warm and inviting contemporary tavern that serves modern American cuisine. The Winnetu Oceanside Resort in Katama offers an expansive dining room with attached deck, cozy fire pits and a stunning view of South Beach, while Atria in downtown Edgartown boasts a formal dining room set in a charming nineteenth century Captain’s house, a brick cellar bar, a tented patio and an expansive lawn.

Food Your guests are ultimately coming to celebrate you, but they’ve likely made the trip to Martha’s Vineyard and deserve a great meal too. Martha’s Vineyard is home to fresh seafood, locally grown produce and outstanding caterers who have made it their job to provide the perfect culinary compliment to your big day. Some of our favorites include Kitchen Porch, Jamie Hamlin, Buckley’s, and Tea Lane.

The Island also offers two great local breweries Offshore Ale and Bad Martha, that can bring some local flavor to your bar. If you’re looking for a professional, customized bar experience enlist the help of Island Cocktail Co. who can set up a gorgeous, well stocked bar that your guests will swoon over. 

Music Your musical selection sets the mood and tempo for your entire event. The Island may be small but the talent pool for musicians here is big. The Vine Shakers (formerly the Joanne Cassidy Band), the Mike Benjamin Band and the Sultans of Swing, are energetic party bands that will ensure a packed dance floor. If you’d rather go with a disc jockey DJ Ras Toe (of Island Thunder) is a crowd favorite, as well as DJ Smooth B and D.C. Rose of R & B Entertainment of Martha’s Vineyard. For a bluesier vibe have a listen to Jeremy Berlin and Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish.  

Cake On your wedding day you actually can have your cake and eat it too! We’re so impressed with some of our local bakeries and cake artisans including Cakes by Liz, Val Cakes (offering cake pops and macaroons too), Pie Chicks and Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Cafe and Bakery (also home to Back Door Donuts–you may have heard about their famous apple fritters which make a great late night snack).

Flowers There’s thousands of varieties, endless color schemes and all sorts of considerations like season, texture, and fragrance. We’re constantly amazed by the stunning arrangements from Tea Lane Farm (a gorgeous flower farm in Chilmark), North Tabor Farm, Morning Glory Farm, Donaroma’s and Morrice Florist (they’ve got a wonderfully curated retail space in Vineyard Haven with great gift ideas as well).

Party Favors Martha’s Vineyard boasts a wide variety of locally made products that your guests will really appreciate (not to mention a thoughtful Martha’s Vineyard keepsake). Chilmark Chocolates and Murdick’s Fudge are popular for the chocolate lovers and Island Grown Bags, By the Sea Salt, and local honey from Island Bee Company make big hits.

Hair While you’re figuring out how to make everything else look good don’t forget about yourself. The glam squads at Sea Spa Salon, Divine (formerly Enhance MV), Revive by Sarka and Treat Yourself can help you look great and feel even better. As for the groomsmen send them down to Benito’s for haircuts, shaves and pampering.

If it all sounds like too much to tackle on your own we highly recommend enlisting the help of trained professionals, like KG Events and With Grace, our rockstar Martha’s Vineyard wedding planners who have made it their job to make sure your Island wedding is the ultimate affair. Even if you can’t employ a planner for the entire process we urge you to consider a day-of coordinator to help ease the pressure and make the day go more smoothly.

And last but certainly not least–there’s the engagement photo shoot to schedule. This gives you a chance to really celebrate your engagement together, while getting comfortable with our team and the camera, and securing some great photos to use for the save-the-dates, or reception decor to make it more personal. Over the years we’ve seen some couples display their engagement photos alongside framed wedding photos of their parents and grandparents for an extra sentimental touch. We also offer a photo book of your engagement photos that can double as a guest book at your wedding, it’s a great place to show off your engagement photos and encourage personal wishes and sentiments from your guests.

We look forward to working with you throughout your engagement and wedding planning process and we wish you all the best along the way! Please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding your engagement or wedding photography options, or any other general planning questions–we’re happy to help.

For additional resources on planning a Martha’s Vineyard wedding visit mvy.com, mvislandweddings.com, mvpreservation.org, or mvol.com.

www.randibaird.com | 508.696.5335 | studio@randibaird.com