Randi Baird


Ask Linley

Choosing the right venue.

Let your personalities set the tone for the first day of the rest of your lives together. Whatever you choose – a circus tent on a bluff with guests rocking out until the break of dawn (noise complaints pending) or a chef’s elegant gourmet tasting set among exposed bricks and antique wood beams – remember there is a setting to suit every couple.

Q: My partner and I want to get married on the Vineyard but want a venue that will allow the reception to last later than midnight. Any suggestions?
    – Late Night Party Animals

You made it to the altar, and what better way to celebrate than throwing down with a few (hundred) of your nearest and dearest with lively marriage feasting and merry-making? Well, I’m sure you’ve researched some of the popular wedding dance bands, such as the Sultans of Swing and the Mike Benjamin Band, to name a couple. But where will they let you ride your raucous revelry late into the night?

Private residences are restricted by noise ordinances, so if you have chosen a backyard wedding site, you will be held to these curfew times, which vary among towns. Likewise, there are several traditional reception venues that have their own rules about how late they will allow noise, specifically amplified music, so if party pants are your chosen attire, make sure you read the fine print.

Try out some of the downtown spots, such as Dreamland in Oak Bluffs, or a restaurant such as Hooked in Oak Bluffs or the Atlantic Fish & ChopHouse in Edgartown. You’ll have to do some research, as some venue rules change depending on the season, but most likely you’ll find a place to cut footloose.

Q: We are not the partying types. What are your ideas for a more low-key celebration?
    – Quiet, Hold the Riot

A happy marriage is not contingent on Uncle Mort slurring his way around the reception while Aunt Martha dances on the tabletops. If you seek a more civilized approach to your civil union, there are plenty of options.

For some couples, music is king on the wedding day, and there are plenty of musicians out there who can lend an elegant note to your celebration. Perhaps there is something you’re both passionate about that could become the focus of your celebration. Are you foodies? I
attended a wedding where the dancing was secondary to the raw bar and charcuterie spread. Arrange something special to reflect your own culinary tastes, and let your guests feel as if they have been invited to the chef’s table with several mouth-watering courses.

Time of day is also a consideration in planning a mellow affair. How about a brunch or afternoon tea? Crisp white linens and silver set in a fragrant garden, with a string quartet, jazz trio, or classical harpist filling the air with soft notes – picturesque and romantic.

Q: We’re looking for a place our guests will never forget. Can you recommend a less traditional setting?
    – Nouveau Duo

With only a handful of hotel banquet halls similar to those off-Island, the Vineyard pretty much insists you think outside the ballroom. From sandy-toed beach nuptials to rustic barns filled with wildflowers, there are as many choices as there are brides and grooms.

If you want to take the setting a step further, why not get married on the water? There are vessels available for charter from small to large – the Seastreak Ferry can accommodate up to four hundred people!

Keep in mind with any Vineyard venue that it’s important to understand up front what you are responsible for beyond the facility rental. Is furniture available? Dishes, glassware, and silverware? Do you need to bring in your own booze? Some places may offer tables but not linens, linens but not dishes – you get the idea – and the rest you’ll have to work out with a party rental company.

Otherwise, consider sealing your vows with some adventure, minus the entire entourage. Bring your betrothed on a biplane ride, a kayak adventure, or a mountain bike trek through the Island’s miles of protected state forest.

Q: We have only fifty guests and need advice on a more intimate reception setting.
                          – Only Nearest and Very Dearest

You’ve found yourself in a position of envy: You can do anything! Besides not having to wrangle hundreds of invitations and myriad possibilities for interpersonal awkwardness, you really have the pick of the litter as far as locations go, from clambakes on the beach to restaurant settings.

There are many cozy bistros and fabulous patios where I sit and think, “This would be such a great place for a small wedding!” Downstairs at Atria in Edgartown, inside Edgartown’s Dr. Daniel Fisher House, the Beach Plum Inn in Chilmark, to name a few.

So I would say the most fun part of your planning should be to get out and explore. Make
it a planning priority to sightsee with your love: a quiet meal here this week, a cocktail there next. Sure beats arguing about where to put your mother’s second cousin once removed who seems to have had her social filter surgically removed.