Living in New England, I get to play Martha’s Vineyard wedding photographer on occasion, and I just adore escaping to this delightful and picture-perfect island. Annelise and Paul had an incredibly emotional celebration at the Tower House in Chilmark, and personal touches were sprinkled throughout, thanks in part to so many of the vendors being family members and close friends.
This gorgeous Martha’s Vineyard wedding was last summer, and it will likely remain one of my favorite weddings of all time. My biggest hope as a photographer is that the couple will trust me to the point of letting their guard down completely, letting me in to the rollercoaster of emotions they experience. Paul and Annelise did just that, and they additionally welcomed me in to their inner circle and made me feel like a part of the family – as did their parents, grandparents, and friends. I was so grateful for this, and it allowed me to photograph with all of my heart. I still get a bit choked up looking back at the photos of Annelise head-to-head with her sweet grandma, of her and Paul bawling though their vows (the best!), and of so many sweet and special moments that took place with their immediate families.
Huge thanks to my dear friend Verna for introducing me to her wonderful family, and a special thank you to my friend and hugely talented colleague Ryan Jensen from NYC who made the long trip up to second shoot with me, and did a spectacular job. A number of the photos included here are his, including the guys getting ready, several of the ceremony photos (including Annelise’s dad crying, one of my very favorite moments), and more.
I’ll let Annelise and Paul tell you more about their Martha’s Vineyard wedding day …
How/why did you choose your wedding venue, the Tower House on Martha’s Vineyard?
We decided to get married on Martha’s Vineyard in part for its sentimental value (Annelise has been vacationing there with her extended family for her whole life, and Paul has been joining in for years – we actually got engaged on the island during one of these family reunions) and in part because it’s really beautiful! Once we saw the view at the Tower House, we were sold. The fact that we actually got to stay at the property for the entire wedding week, and that we were able to hold several wedding weekend events there were definitely added bonuses!
Why did you choose Kate to be your wedding photographer?
My Aunt Verna, who’s a wedding photographer and a friend of Kate’s, put us in touch. We were both initially drawn to her storytelling abilities, and the way that she captured the emotions of her couples’ wedding days. We decided to work with her because we really liked her personally – she’s funny, empathetic, and smart, and we enjoyed every interaction that we had with her. Not only did she take great photographs, but she made our wedding weekend more fun!
What were some of your favorite wedding day moments?
Walking down the aisle with my parents, and seeing our family and friends, and finally Paul, was really powerful – it had been overcast all day, and we were a little worried that a storm might be heading our way, but the sun came out either just before the ceremony or as it began. While taking in the music, and all of the love coming from our friends and family, I honestly wasn’t sure whether it was actually the sun catching the light on the water, or just my imagination! In any case, I was a total mess before the ceremony even began. Paul held it together a little better, and didn’t cry until we exchanged our vows.
At the other end of the emotional spectrum, we had a great dinner followed by a really fun dance party. I was a little worried at first – the bustle on my dress wasn’t holding, so my train kept falling down. I actually considered changing out of my dress into something else, because I wanted to dance! In the end, I just ended up holding onto the train and had a great time! Everyone from my grandmothers to my friend’s 6 month baby joined in, and we ended up dancing until a little bit past the town’s 10pm curfew. Two police departments showed up to tell us to keep it down, but they were really nice about the whole thing.
We had planned to light wish lanterns at the end of the night, but it was really too windy to let them off safely, so we decided to hold one as it inflated so that Kate could get a photo, and then put it out. We absolutely didn’t get the romantic pinterest photo that we had all planned for. The wind was so powerful that the lantern kept blowing into our faces. The photos don’t show it, but there was actually a slightly irritated police officer standing a few feet to our right trying to ensure that we didn’t (illegally) release the lantern. I look absolutely insane in the photos – I thought the whole thing was really funny and was laughing, but I was also holding a burning bag of fire, so the whole thing looks pretty sinister without some context. Even if it didn’t work out as we had planned, I’m glad that we did it – it was a really good reminder that the best things in life aren’t scripted, and that pretty photos aren’t always the ones that you love most!
What were some of your favorite details?
My favorite detail was probably my dress. My mom and I designed it together and she made it(!) by hand. Not only was it beautiful, but it felt so meaningful and special to wear something that had been made with so much love!
Did any of your vendors go above and beyond for you?
Most of our vendors were friends or friends of friends, and all of them were wonderful to work with. My dad was originally in charge of growing the wedding flowers, but ended up hiring Nina Violet to help in the garden and “maybe help out during the wedding weekend.” She helped me pick seeds for my wedding flowers, and put in a few hours every week in my parents’ garden to grow them. During our wedding week, she spent a day tramping through the woods to forage grasses, seed pods and wildflowers to supplement the flowers that she and my dad grew. Then, the day before the wedding, she spent the morning helping me and a group of friends arrange the flowers for the dinner tables before finally putting together the wedding party’s beautiful bouquets and boutonnieres. Throughout the whole process, she made sure that I knew what I was getting myself into (it’s probably not a good idea to arrange your own wedding flowers unless you know what you’re doing – it would take years!), and made suggestions and changes that made this whole part of the wedding a really positive experience for everyone in charge.
Anything else you’d like to share, or any tips for couples currently planning their wedding?
Decide on your big goals for the wedding, and let the rest follow. We knew that we wanted a weekend in our favorite place with our favorite people, and that we wanted to celebrate our relationships with our friends and family at least as much as we wanted to celebrate our relationship with each other. When we had to make decisions, we always chose to do the thing that contributed most to this central goal. If it wasn’t clear which option would contribute most, we just made a choice and moved on, figuring that it probably wasn’t all that important!
What’s up next for you as a couple?
Your timing is actually perfect – we’re about to head out the door for our honeymoon (2 weeks of hiking in Scotland). Reliving our wedding was such a nice way to begin our trip!
If you’re here looking for a Martha’s Vineyard wedding photographer, please get in touch. I adore this island, and would love to return to photograph many more weddings here!