First and foremost, I want to say, "Day of" is a misnomer! We usually work with the couple to be for a year and a half before the big day. That way we are in the know of everything happening with and around the wedding. We can better put together the itinerary for the ‘big day.’ Just about all of my couple’s weddings were destination weddings. It is imperative to have someone to work with that knows the nuances of getting married on Martha’s Vineyard. Whether it be getting your marriage license to noise ordinances in each town to permitting, having someone to bounce your concerns off of is very helpful. You’ll find that you will make fewer trips to the Vineyard in the planning process.
Once I got the call from the couple to be, we got right down to work. I have found using Google Docs works well for everyone involved in putting together your big day. The planner, bride, mother of the bride, maid of honor, etc. All that you share the doc with can make changes that you will see immediately. Make a spreadsheet with all guests names, addresses, emails and all other contact information. You can make headings to track the RSVP’s, the entree choice, table numbers and names at the table and any and all other information you want to keep about the guests. When all docs are finalized, you will be able to sort the information the way each of your vendors needs to have it and then send it to them. The caterer may want the numbers of beef, fish or chicken at each table and the names of who gets what. The florist can have the names sorted of the people and their relationship to you that need a bouquet, boutonniere, corsage, etc. Great tool, use it!
Personally, I think that the wedding website is the first major tool of the planning process. I advised my couples to be to be sure to answer every question that a guest might ask on the site. For Martha’s Vineyard, the getting here piece is the most important. The Steamship Authority’s website has detailed information about parking your car if you are not bringing it over, to when and how to make a reservation to bring your car. Be sure to put in the link to the specific pages that your guests are going to find helpful. Don’t just put the Steamship’s website. Many of your guests will be complete newbies to traveling via ferry. There are even times that you have to have “phone in hand” at midnight on the night that the reservations open, in order to be sure that you get the day and time that you need.
There may be 50 or more weddings on the same day that you chose to get married. The early bird gets the worm. Answer every question on the site, even the mundane ones. The more questions you answer on the site, translates to fewer calls to your cell phone before and after everyone is on the Vineyard. The site is where you hold every guests hand to walk them through getting here to what happens after they arrive.
Be sure to include phone numbers for your planner, emergency number (508-696-5776, or 911), location of the hospital, cell phone numbers for a couple of the folks in your bridal party or family, cabs and we do have Uber here, shuttle buses, things to do, etc., on the site. The last thing you want, when you are here planning for the most emotional day of your life, is to have to talk to all of your guests, from the day you get here, to the day the guests plan to leave, because you didn’t answer their questions beforehand.
Always include the itinerary that involve the guests that you have planned for your wedding, i.e., what time/place everything is, i.e., transportation pick up times and places, yoga on the beach, clambake, boat ride tour of the island, the rehearsal dinner and who is invited to it. Tell guests that are not invited what they can do during. When I was doing weddings, the norm was to invite every guest that was invited to the wedding to the rehearsal dinner. I called it the ‘first wedding.’ It really is a wedding, the only thing missing is the big dress and the actual ceremony. There may be entree choices, signature drinks, fancy desserts. Basically the whole ‘ball of wax.’
Speaking about transportation times and places, be sure to give a copy to all of the lodging establishments that your guests are staying at. That way, if a guest asks the front desk or innkeeper what time the bus leaves, they will have the answer. Other than that, they will call and ask you!!
By now, you have gotten the idea of the type of things that are needed for the wedding website. Just remember, answer every question that a guest might ask and you will have very happy guests. Be sure to put the web address of the wedding website on everything that you send to the guests, i.e., save the dates, invitations and any and all correspondence you send to the guests via digital or snail mail.
Of course there are many, many other things involved in putting together your wedding on Martha’s Vineyard, but I hope I have given you a starting point for you and your planner.
With all of the months that I pull together the pieces of the wedding with my bride on the phone or vendor visits, the absolute best part of the whole process for me, is when the bride puts on the wedding dress the day of the wedding. I cry everytime. It’s like seeing my own daughter on her wedding day.
One of the things that I get a kick out of, is when the couple has planned a brunch on the day after the wedding. All of the guests are planning to go sitting at home marking the RSVP before they arrive. After having four or more days of wedding, wedding, wedding, they have had enough of you! Right after the wedding, they start calling the ferry to change their car reservation to an earlier time for the next day! The brunch ends up to be family and guests that may have decided to add a few extra days on the Vineyard. All other people flee the island like rats deserting a sinking ship! Please excuse the metaphor!
Remember, sit back and relax, something is always going to not be exactly what you have planned, but remember, your guests don’t know that there were supposed to be chartreuse colored napkins and they ended up to be green napkins. At the very least, you will be married to the person that you love at the end of the day!
Enjoy your day. It goes by so fast!