Kelley DeBettencourt


Fun on the Farm

When it comes to wedding photography, it’s no surprise that the Vineyard’s sweeping seaside views and quaint towns make for stunning backdrops. But the Island’s best-kept scenery secret may be found elsewhere, in settings just as evocative and picturesque, if slightly less pristine.

For their July wedding, Nicole Wilett and Colin Thomas-Jensen took full advantage of the Vineyard’s idyllic outdoor settings. Nicole, whose family spent summers in rented houses near Ice House Pond in West Tisbury, had always dreamed of being married on the Vineyard. And after getting to know the Island with Nicole as his guide, Colin understood the attraction, even waiting until summer to propose here.

The very week they got engaged, Colin, a special adviser to Princeton Lyman, President Obama’s envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, and Nicole, chief of staff at the US Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, began to scout locations here. Knowing how much Nicole cherished childhood memories of walking to Nip ’n Tuck Farm for fresh eggs, Colin knocked on the farm stand door, and asked owner Fred Fisher if they might be married there. “Fortunately,” Colin says, “he said yes.”

Nip ’n Tuck Farm became the hub of the event, planned by the couple with help from planner Julie Hatt of Vineyard Weddings. Guests were shuttled to the ceremony by Fred Fisher himself on his revamped hayride cart. For the reception, Colin and Nicole rode in a vintage red pickup to West Tisbury’s Agricultural Hall, with a stop at Polly Hill Arboretum for photos and a moment of quiet reflection in another natural setting.

With the help of Island photographer Kelley DeBettencourt, the couple also marked their engagement in on-the-farm style. “We wanted the engagement photos to be much less formal than the wedding,” Colin says. “Kelley led us all over the place. We didn’t even know that Fred had pigs until she spotted them!”

For their save-the-date, the couple selected a favorite shot from this session, “to give our guests a preview of the easy atmosphere of West Tisbury.” The idea was to capture, from the very beginning, the character of rural up-Island. “Both [the engagement and wedding] shoots represented all we love about West Tisbury as a hidden Island gem: the natural beauty, down-to-earth people, the simple joys of summer. It feels like a throwback to American farm life.”

 “And of course,” Colin jokes, “we needed tons of photos of ourselves in a canoe in the pond.”