Tips from Pros

A creative, spiritual ceremony.
Reverend Judith (Judy) Campbell, of Oak Bluffs, says the ceremony provides an opportunity to create new traditions while honoring family histories. This really helps when the couple has different religious backgrounds, or, she says, “many couples say they aren’t religious, but they are very spiritual,” which often translates to having a deep reverence for nature. Reverend Campbell, who recently stepped down as the minister at Vineyard Haven’s Unitarian Universalist Church, says it’s okay to borrow from other traditions and religions, citing the Jewish glass-breaking ritual where the couple has sipped from the same glass to symbolize their unity. In a non-Jewish ceremony, she suggests pouring the remaining wine into the ground, to give back to the earth. Jacqueline Hackett and Donald Innocent poured sand from two vessels into one at their July wedding at the Beach Plum Inn in Chilmark, Reverend Campbell says, “to signify how their lives are now mingled. And they added their own touch by dying Jackie’s sand green and Donald’s blue.” She also notes Donald’s mother read a prayer in French to honor his family’s Haitian background.

Choosing a first-dance song.
Jerry Bennett, lead man of the popular wedding band Sultans of Swing, which performs widely on- and off-Island, suggests for their first dance a couple should, of course, choose a song that’s meaningful to them but he emphasizes that it not be too difficult: “Unless you want to be on Dancing with the Stars, keep it simple and short.” He also urges against trying to learn complicated dance steps, because it’s just another thing to worry about. “People work out a dance routine with a teacher, with very specific moves, to the recording,” he says, but on the big day, “the combination of nerves and a slightly different rendition of the song [by their band] confuses the bride and groom.”

A black-tie affair, with no black tie.
Vasska Fondren, manager of the Vineyard Haven department store and tuxedo rental Brickman’s, says the modern bridegroom is trending away from the formal tux and tails: “They want to do a black-tie event, but they want to dress down the black tie.” He says you can achieve just as elegant but a less traditional look by choosing a black vest instead of a cummerbund. Vasska sees a lot of grooms swapping the bow tie for a Windsor band tie, “and they’ll switch the wing-collared shirt for a collar that lays down, so it almost looks like a business suit.” But he suggests staying with a jacket and trousers that have the classic satin stripes to differentiate the look as tuxedo.