Weddings on Martha’s Vineyard: Expertly Planned by Patrie Grace

Patrie Grace is one of those Martha’s Vineyard treasures who marches to the beat of her own drum, is truly gifted in her work and is a character so full of surprises that no author could come up with her heart, hilarity and no-nonsense style of action. For the last 25 years, Patrie has coordinated and planned weddings and other events such as fundraisers, dinner parties, anniversaries and milestone celebrations. I wanted to hear all about wedding on the Vineyard and here’s what she shared:

Anne Mayhew: Why do people want to get married on the Vineyard?
Patrie Grace: After 25 years of being in the wedding and event business here, I still wholeheartedly feel that Martha’s Vineyard is one of the top ten places in the world to have a wedding.

  • Destination wedding. Your guests are truly leaving their life and their world on the main land and traveling to an island. It creates an intimacy within the party because everyone seems to be so present – much more than if they left home for a few hours to attend your wedding and then went back to their lives. Whether you have 6 people or 350, the island brings people tightly together
  • The island is beautiful. It serves and supports romance and taking your breath away visually. The fragrance of the island, the local produce, the local goods that one can access here; the community feel, the real user-friendliness of the island – they all contribute to this holistic beauty.
  • Weddings are an industry here that have been consistently supported by the economy and by the islanders with priceless pieces of land, vacation house rentals, lighthouses, farms (available so that ceremonies can overlook 360 degrees of ocean or wonderfully manicured gardens). Again and again, clients send letters that family and friends continue to remark on the memorable quality of their event on the island.
  • No rules. When you have an island wedding, in my opinion, you can do it anyway you want. Once you get on that ferry boat and cross the water, you can throw the traditional rules overboard or go strictly by the book. You can really create your wedding in whatever your vision is. It’s that crossing over the water that gives you the freedom. We can make it happen here.
  • Finally and personally, my love of the island, sharing it with people and experiencing it as a place that creates lasting unions, memories…my love is sincere, and I represent it wholeheartedly in my work.

I really listen to people – what is your dream wedding or event? I put the pieces together and wave the red flag when ideas will create stress…I’m all about the pleasure of creating something good and not about buying into the idea that it has to be stressful!

Anne: What do you have to know about getting married on the Vineyard that you wouldn’t have to know about elsewhere?
Patrie: The ‘destination’ part, for sure. Because of the travel involved, people need information, rental houses, inns, the ferry – they all book up to 6, 9, 12 months ahead of time. Then you have to ask other questions, because of the travel details, do you invite everyone to the rehearsal dinner or after brunch?
Also, it is expensive here (I don’t believe in sugar-coating this fact!) and everything has to physically get on this island. But there are many ways to keep it simple…one of my specialties!

Anne: Talk to us about timing – because time moves at a different pace on the island! If I were getting married in September of 2009, what would I do and when would I need to do it?
Patrie: May – October is THE wedding season. I say this because it doesn’t matter if you are getting married at the beginning or the end of this season, you have to book ahead of the season because providers are booking for the season one year ahead, one season ahead. This applies to anything that only one wedding per day can have, such as the wedding site, the band, the photographer, the caterer, etc. I have clients who start two years ahead of their wedding date to get everything they want.
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The Flying Horses on Martha’s Vineyard: a Must Do for Kids!

When people ask me to describe Oak Bluffs, I tell them about the Flying Horses because, to me, the carousel illustrates the flavor of the town perfectly. It’s colorful, historic, loud, full of laughter & fun and unlike any other place in the world.

The Oak Bluffs carousel is the nation’s oldest operating platform carousel and a National Historic Landmark cared for by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust. Built by Charles W.F. Dare in 1876, the Flying Horses arrived on Martha’s Vineyard in 1884.

Featuring small and large horses, as well as carriages to ride on, the Flying Horses challenge you to catch the brass ring as your circle round. The lucky rider who captures the brass ring wins a free ride. Rides are $1.50 and you can buy a season pass if you know you’ll be climbing aboard again and again. Around the carousel is an arcade complete with games and snacks and open windows pulling the nearby ocean breeze inside to cool the riders.

The carousel is located at the bottom of Circuit Ave – the town’s main drag featuring great shopping, movies, ice cream, fudge and restaurants ranging from pizza to oysters on the half shell – an extension of the excitement and energy of the Flying Horses.

Cool fact: check out your horse’s eyes…you’ll find a surprise!

Make Your Martha’s Vineyard Vacation Last with Randi Baird’s Life-Capturing Photography

Randi Baird is a celebrated photographer on Martha’s Vineyard who specializes in environmental portraiture, combining two of her, and my, favorite things – people and the landscape of Martha’s Vineyard. The island is a special place and your vacation on the Vineyard is a special time, something to be savored. I asked Randi to do this interview because she’s the one to capture your moment…forever.

Anne: What are your favorite locations on the island for family portraits?
Randi: I always ask clients if they have a favorite spot. I want to find places that are dear to them, places that bring out their best selves. If they don’t know the island well, I have favorite spots all over the island, so I ask them where they’re staying and I try to absorb and then match their mood with a specific island spot. Of course, I love to use the water, the beaches…

Anne: What is the significance of the Vineyard environment in supporting and enhancing the photo shoot?
Randi: The vineyard is about the environment, the visual space, the beauty…and people enjoying the landscape…they are completely linked. The Vineyard is a special place for people. They come back year after year, it’s family time, it’s down time – away from home and regular life and this creates an opportunity for people to really connect with each other…and themselves. I encourage people to wait 4-5 days into their time on the island before we do the shoot so they can really unwind.

Anne: Have you done portraits anywhere else in the world? and if so, what is different about doing them on MV?
Randi: I’ve worked in Asia, Europe, Russia and throughout the United States, traveling the world photographing life in action. What’s different about Martha’s Vineyard is its natural beauty and the indescribable feeling that people have while they’re here.

Anne: What is your technique for getting people to relax and for getting authentic photos?
Randi: I’m a mom, so I really enjoying working with kids, and I’m in-tune with them. I like when kids are kids and I do my best to just let them be kids. I capture them at play and then get some posed portraits. I’m capturing family time, a day in the life – moments within their lives. I do direct and I like direction and I bring fun props. Primarily, I connect with kids and adults in a similar way – by connecting on a personal level, starting conversations, going with the moment and being warm and friendly.

Anne: What is your ultimate goal when shooting portraits?
Randi: I’m the observer. Whether it’s a portrait I’m shooting for an engagement photo, a wedding or just to capture a relationship or family moment, it’s all about them. Oftentimes, the best photos happen when people aren’t looking at the camera – real life is captured.

Anne: What do you love most about living on the Vineyard?
Randi: We’re so lucky to live here! Because of the diversity of people, the sustained traditions, the farming, the fishing (it’s great to be surrounded by fish), the strong sense of community, the fact that you can create real change, that you can have a voice here…and be heard.

Anne: Many of our readers are lucky Vineyard vacationers, can you give us a quick list of things absolutely not to miss?
Randi: There are so many! Let’s see…
Lobsters at Larsen’s
Dinner and sunset on the beach in Menemsha
Chilmark Chocolates
Visiting the farmstand closest to the place you’re staying, and buying whatever’s in season
Aquinnah beaches
Getting on the water – kayaking, sailing, surfing
Swimming every day
Shopping in Vineyard Haven
A walk through the Campground in Oak Bluffs
Black Raspberry ice cream at Mad Martha’s
Breathing deeply in the ocean air!

To contact Randi, visit her website, email her at or call her at 508-696-5335.

Thanks, Randi!!!

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