Kristen Leigh Conklin


Seasonal Appeal

Martha's Vineyard hosts weddings across the Island landscape all year-round. Summer definitely has its fans, but the calmer shoulder seasons in spring and fall can mean more availability, and the Island winter has a stark, quiet beauty.


There’s something so classic about a wedding in the spring, beginning a new life together at a time when nature itself is emerging renewed and revitalized after its long winter’s nap. There’s a feeling of energy and excitement in the air, and everyone is a bit giddy with it.

Start with tulips, daffodils, and pansies. Consider antique teapots overflowing with flowers and nestled in green moss for centerpieces. Welcome little girls in tea-length dresses with ribbons in their hair. Choose a palette of pastel hues with cheery accents of bold purple and sunny yellow. For passed hors d’oeuvres, try finger sandwiches: cucumbers and cream cheese, canapés topped with tuna salad. Plant your place cards in flats of wheat grass. Should April showers eclipse the sun, remember a little rain is good luck, and embrace the photo op with a colorful umbrella.

Consider setting your wedding and reception in two properties owned by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, so your guests can go straight across the lawn from Edgartown’s landmark Greek revival Old Whaling Church to the Federal-style Dr. Daniel Fisher House. This allows convenient indoor and outdoor options at a time of year when the weather can be unpredictable.


Bare shoulders, shiny highlights, and sun-kissed cheeks – sultry summer is the season of romance. Hydrangeas, roses, and lilies offer a rich profusion of colors. Take inspiration from bold fireworks of bright pink, orange, purple. Or look to the subtle colors of the sea, and nestle creamy pillar candles in glass lanterns surrounded by beach sand and shells. Drape the trees in fairy lights like so many fireflies. Let the ocean feed you. Think raw bar, swordfish kebabs, paella. White cake with lemon curd frosting or angel food cake with fresh strawberries will melt on the tongue.

Stay outside as long as possible and make the most of the summer days. The Beach Plum Inn offers beautiful gardens overlooking Menemsha’s world-famous sunsets. Or how about a lighthouse wedding ( A basket of sun block and bug spray will be much appreciated by guests, as will an ample supply of water on sunny days.

For beach ceremonies and dancing, provide a basket of flip-flops for your well-heeled guests. Don’t forget a pedicure. Your pretty toes will peek out beneath your gown when you kick off your shoes on the dance floor, and they’ll look fantastic in your honeymoon photos.


Let the colors of the changing leaves be your guide: rust, gold, and umber. Use hollowed-out pumpkins full of vibrant chrysanthemums as centerpieces. Or fill a hurricane glass with green apples and red cranberries and surround it with twinkling tea lights. Burlap tablecloths overlaid with antique lace or bright gingham ribbons add country charm.

Think old barns and hay bales. How about West Tisbury’s Agricultural Hall or Grange Hall? Celebrate the harvest on your plate with roasted root vegetables and acorn squash. Island farms offer locally raised lamb, pork, beef, and chicken – perfect for a hearty meal. Warm spiced cider in mason jars makes a great seasonal drink. Forgo the cake for a selection of freshly baked pies such as apple, pumpkin, and pecan.

If you opt for an outdoor celebration, don’t forget a backup plan. Autumn is still hurricane season around here. You could have a day that feels like mid July or it could be a nor’easter. Fill a wicker basket with cozy shawls for guests to use if it gets cool. For a special effect, rent a tent with a clear ceiling so you can see the fall constellations, and perhaps you’ll spy a shooting star.


Everyone talks about winter weddings, but too few couples embrace this festive time of year. It’s a special time for friends and family, brought together in holiday gatherings with camaraderie, celebration, and love. It’s a great foundation on which to build a wedding.

Think rich and decadent. Consider jewel tones of emerald, garnet, and sapphire blue set against crisp white linens as clean as newly fallen snow. Surround white tapered candles in sterling holders with velvety roses in deep colors. Or choose evergreen boughs, adorning your décor with boxwood and holly festooned with satin bows. Tuck place cards into pine cones edged with silver glitter.

Choose a venue with a fireplace for warmth and atmosphere, such as West Tisbury’s Lambert’s Cove Inn or State Road restaurant or the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown. Keep your bridesmaids cozy and classic with fur muffs and cashmere or pashmina wraps. Consider snow-white Casablanca lilies for your bridal bouquet, or red amaryllis.

Think about warm appetizers with a creative seasonal twist, such as spanakopita with a dab of cranberry chutney. And make that wedding cake sinfully chocolate. Accompany with hot toddies and cocoa, and start your marriage with warm hearts and bellies.