Holly & SJ

A family-oriented beachfront ceremony and reception.

At first, Holly Smith and SJ Brussard didn’t know if they would have a ceremony at all. They both like to stay out of the spotlight, and while they knew they wanted to get married, they didn't like the thought of standing in front of a crowd.

After going back and forth, the couple decided to hold a ceremony anyway, and were happy that they did. “The joy was palpable. I’ve never felt anything like that,” Holly said of those first few post-ceremony moments. “It felt better knowing everyone was part of the whole process.”

That whole process began years earlier when a friend set up Holly and SJ, who both work in finance in Boston, on a blind date. The pair began to date regularly. Very regularly.

“He’s a very scheduled kind of guy,” Holly said. “We went out every Wednesday.” After a month of Wednesdays, SJ brought Holly to the Vineyard where he has been coming throughout his life. The couple returned for many visits, and eventually came to scout wedding venues. They chose the East Chop Beach Club in Oak Bluffs.

SJ’s organizational skills came in handy while planning. Holly and her friends even affectionately called him “groomzilla,” but noted his attention to detail balanced out her laissez-faire attitude. They scheduled a full weekend, including a rehearsal dinner at The Sweet Life and a welcome party at Farm Neck Golf Club, both in Oak Bluffs.

The day of the wedding began with bridesmaids preparing in one house and the groomsmen in another. Holly’s sister did all the calligraphy and day-of signage. Big Sky draped white fabric across the beams of the beach club's interior. The décor was kept simple to let the ocean air fill the space.

Following the beachfront ceremony, everyone walked a few steps to the clubhouse where the Katama General Store had prepared a family-style meal, a nod to the couple’s priorities. SJ’s mother had recently died and they chose ways to remember her throughout the evening. Holly wore a bracelet that belonged to his mom and the couple passed around peppermint schnapps, her favorite drink. “They were subtle moments, but she was still a presence,” Holly said. “That’s what she would’ve wanted.”

Every aspect went according to plan and, for this, the couple credits their Island vendors. “I never had to worry,” she said. “Everyone had our back.” As for the ceremony that almost didn’t happen? Holly recommends going with the flow. “Just trust the process,” she said.


Ceremony + Reception: East Chop Beach Club
Wedding Planner: Plan It Martha's Vineyard
Photographer: Meredith Jane
Caterer: Katama General Store
Cake: Black Dog Bakery
Music: Phil daRosa
Flowers: Aubrey Maria Designs
Tent + Party Supplies: Big Sky Tent and Party Rentals
Transportation: Adam Cab
Accommodations: Summercamp
Rehearsal Dinner: The Sweet Life
Welcome Party: Farm Neck Golf Club
Their Best Advice: “The Island is a pro at hosting weddings. Most of our vendors had all worked together before in some capacity and having Plan It MV to connect the dots the month of was so helpful.”