Briana Moore


Derek & Lauren

Ceremony: Our Lady Star of the Sea Church 
Reception: Sailing Camp Park

Derek Berger was nervous as the clock struck two. It was his wedding day, a glorious late September afternoon on Martha’s Vineyard. As the minute hand continued to move forward, Derek waited with his brother and the Reverend Michael Nagle at the back of Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Oak Bluffs. The bride, Lauren McHugh, had not arrived, and the ceremony was supposed to have started.

This was not unusual, Father Nagle reassured Derek, adding that most brides are approximately twelve minutes late. “Time was moving very slowly,” remembers Derek. He hoped Lauren hadn’t been waylaid putting finishing touches on one of the many craft projects she’d made for their special day.    

Derek’s fears were soon allayed. Lauren arrived at 2:12 p.m., just as Father Nagle had predicted, and for Derek, her late arrival was a sweet echo of their first meeting. “The first time I saw Lauren, she was running late for the initial training for our graduate assistantships at Ball State University [in Indiana]. I always tell her that she was late for work, but right on time for my heart.”

Not only did the ceremony proceed beautifully, the entire weekend went off without a major hitch. “I volunteer as a wedding coordinator at our home parish in Indiana,” Lauren explains. “I knew what I was taking on and what needed to get done. I’m pretty organized.” Lauren knew she wanted a wedding that was warm and filled with distinctive personal touches.

She gave herself six months and roped in family members to help create handmade elements, such as Adirondack chairs for guests to sign in lieu of a guest book. The wedding projects prompted Lauren to transform her home office into a craft area but soon the nuptial preparations had taken over four rooms of their house. “There was always something
happening somewhere in the house,” says Derek.

One of the most important elements for them was the wedding location. Lauren’s father lives on the Vineyard and she feels a profound connection to the Island. “Ever since I was a little girl I was determined this was the place I’d have my wedding.” She brought Derek to visit when they’d been dating for about a year. “She didn’t tell me this was her future wedding site. Maybe she didn’t want to scare me off,” says Derek.

The Vineyard destination wedding was an easy choice. The couple’s family and friends were spread out across the country. “Since we knew most people would have to travel somewhere, we thought why not someplace as special and beautiful as Martha’s Vineyard?” says Lauren. “Inviting everyone we love to a place this special sort of built the anticipation.” During that first visit with Lauren, Derek remembers feeling an immediate connection with “this sense of Island time. And since we knew we wanted our wedding to have a relaxed atmosphere, this seemed like the perfect place. Martha’s Vineyard has a kick-back energy that’s contagious.”

Planning a wedding so far from their home in Muncie, Indiana, might seem daunting to some, but not Lauren and Derek. “Everyone who worked on the wedding came through some sort of personal connection. We trust our family’s opinions,” says Lauren.

Perhaps the biggest challenge was transporting Lauren’s handiwork from Muncie to the Vineyard. Derek recalls packing the couple’s Chevy Malibu: “Every nook and cranny was filled.” But the whimsical hand-painted signage and creative table elements made it safely to the Sailing Camp in Oak Bluffs for the reception.

A highlight of the weekend came when the couple convinced their wedding party to make a photo stop at the historic Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs, with Boston-based wedding photographer Briana Moore cheering them on. “When I was growing up,” says Lauren, “the Flying Horses were me and my sister’s favorite thing to do on the Island. I knew we had to do this quintessential Vineyard thing with our wedding party.” Luckily when they arrived at the carousel there was nobody in line. “We loved seeing all the girls trying to find a ladylike way to sit on their carousel ponies in their short dresses,” Lauren says with a laugh. “Everyone was hesitant at first but we all had so much fun.”

What advice would the couple give to others planning their own Vineyard wedding? “Try to enjoy every second. Enjoy the Island even though the days leading up to the ceremony can feel hectic. After all, it’s still a vacation – and you’re on beautiful Martha’s Vineyard,” advises Lauren. “Trust the process,” adds Derek, “and look for the quiet moments where you can feel the love and the joy.”


Photographer: Briana Moore
Rehearsal Dinner: Wharf Restaurant & Pub
Reception Caterer + Cake: N.B. Catering 
Flowers: Beach Plum Floral Design
Rentals: Tilton Tents and Party Rentals
Transportation: Stagecoach Taxi + Martha’s Vineyard Sightseeing 
Groomsmen Gifts: Vineyard Vines
Hair + Makeup: Tiffany Bioski 
Favors: Donation to Camp Jabberwocky