Bob Gothard


Tips from Newlyweds

Some savvy Island-wed couples share their best memories and advice from their own wedding weekends.

How to beat the heat
Though June and September are the most popular months for Island weddings, you can keep from roasting your guests even if you choose a summer date. Suzy Timmel has vacationed here every July, so that’s when she wanted to get married. “We were certainly warned it could be hot, and it really did turn out to be stifling. But we had prepared!” Suzy says. Her husband, Chris, planned ahead and ordered a custom suit in that coolest of summer fabrics, seersucker. Open-air trolleys brought guests to the outdoor venue at the Sailing Camp Park in Oak Bluffs, where they found a big tent with lemonade, sangria, and heart-shaped sunglasses. “We also had really cute custom fans made, and they were out on all the chairs for the ceremony,” Suzy says. “My aunt said it came in handy later when she got off the ferry in the mainland and took the hot shuttle bus to the Steamship parking lot to get her car.”

Keep your friends close
Lots of wedding guests arrive without their own cars, so make it easy for folks to get to all of the wedding venues and find their way around during free time. Jessica and James Larsen kept it simple by picking Edgartown for all of their events. Invitations included maps highlighting venues as well as recommendations based on the couple’s favorite places to go. Most guests stayed at the Harbor View Hotel, where the reception took place, and trolleys took them to the rehearsal dinner and church. The wedding party stayed at the groom’s parents’ house so they could get ready together. Jessica says, “It was nice to have all our closest friends under one roof for the weekend.”

Favorite food for less
More and more couples are asking for locally grown (or caught) food for their events, and nothing says New England like lobster. But it doesn’t have to be the full monty. Chris and Chloe Sundberg served lobster rolls at a Friday-night welcome buffet and lobster-gazpacho shooters as an appetizer at their reception.

Making food a family affair
Michelle Ellwood chose to introduce her own family traditions to her wedding celebration with Joshua Greenstein. Because Michelle’s mother’s family is Lebanese, they wanted to serve baklava for dessert at the rehearsal dinner and Sunday brunch. The Thursday before the wedding, Michelle’s family went to her future in-laws’ house to make the complicated pastry. “Josh’s mother and three-year-old niece helped and the result was amazing,” Michelle says. “Definitely the hit of both Friday night and Sunday morning, and a fun way to bring the families together.”

Turn your phone off
Jennie Riordan lost her phone the night before her wedding and says it “was the best thing that could have happened.” She couldn’t spend any time talking on the phone, or
responding to texts or Facebook posts. “I was able to enjoy everything that was going on around me.”

Something fishy
Tom Noonan has been fishing the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby for about fifteen years. So at his autumn wedding, guests from as far away as Ireland, England, and Italy were introduced to the Vineyard’s relaxed, off-season pace, with free time to cast a line. The groom and his bride, Loriann, ended up making an appearance at the derby weigh-in headquarters in Edgartown just after the wedding. “[We] made a memorable scene with our photographer down there and also had a real bluefish weigh-in,” Tom says. “As you can see from Loriann’s expression on her face, it was not a derby winner.”

Gifts for all ages
Guests love gift bags loaded with helpful information and goodies. Pam and Nick Linder’s take on this tradition detailed the scheduled events and free time, and featured gifts such as “To have and to hold, and keep your drink cold” coozies. Children received their own welcome – plastic beach buckets filled with reusable water bottles, gummy lobster candy, glow sticks, and shovels (of course!).