Meredith Heuer takes some of my favorite photos of weddings… she captures beauty and energy and makes you feel as though you were there. And I think she gets some of the most fun clients too! Katie and Jim’s October wedding at The Vanderhoop Homestead on Martha’s Vineyard was not only utterly beautiful – from the oceanside venue to the gorgeous Saipua florals (dahlias! and persimmons!) to the bride’s custom dress – it’s also clear that this was a wedding about family and friends and lots and lots of fun.
Katie wore her mother’s crocheted wedding dress from 1969 to the rehearsal dinner. For the wedding day, she wore a simple flowing sheath dress that she had custom made.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Simplicity, the colors and landscape of Martha’s Vineyard, and Saipua flowers – my friend Sarah’s creations are a reason in and of themselves to have a wedding. I knew that if I was going to do this, I had to have Sarah do the flowers, Johnny Hoy play music, and Meredith take the photos. Dream team.
What was your favorite moment or part of your wedding? I loved the whole day (minus waking up to a serious downpour) – eating pizza with Jim and my family for lunch, getting ready with my girlfriends and my dog, being with both of our families right before the ceremony, walking into the dreamy tent with my parents, having drinks underneath a purple sky, dancing, eating doughnuts at the end of the reception, and sitting in front of the fire at the after-party. Sarah did the most incredible job with the flowers. My huge bouquet in particular was a highlight – I didn’t put it down for hours.
The bride wasn’t the only one to wear vines in her hair: both the bride’s sister and the groom’s sister wore them, as well as the couple’s nieces.
“We originally planned to have the ceremony in the field next door to my parents’ house and have everyone walk up to the reception after, but a downpour made us relocate to the reception tent at the Gay Head Cliffs. I was really upset about this but it turned out to be incredibly cozy with the rain and wind outside and Sarah’s beautiful flowers and candles glowing inside the tent.”
How did you go about planning your ceremony? It was really important to me that our ceremony was personal and that it didn’t feel like we were up on stage acting. We asked our siblings to officiate: Jim’s sister welcomed everyone, my sister did a reading, and my brother gave the sweetest speech about us and did the vows. Our nieces and nephews stood up with them during the ceremony. It felt very true to who we are.
What was your ceremony music? Jim’s cousin, Billy Moody, played the guitar as I walked in. I have no idea what he played!
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? While the ceremony itself was fairly relaxed, I was not. I was incredibly nervous and fidgeted the whole time.
How would you describe your reception? Simple, fun, and beautiful. The rain finally stopped during the ceremony, which allowed for a gorgeous, dramatic late-afternoon sky and a clear, starry night. Lots of Dark and Stormies and sweaty dancing.
Why did you choose this location for your reception? The field where the tent was is just up the road from my parents’ house and right above the Gay Head Cliffs, our favorite place to go to the beach and take our dog for walks. Up-island Martha’s Vineyard is one of the most special spots in the world.
What was your first dance song? The song is about infidelity, which might have been a strange choice, but we danced to “Satellite of Love” by Lou Reed while our nieces and nephews danced around us.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had chocolate tarts and apple crisp made by Olivia at the Beach Plum Inn.
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. The thrilled look on children’s and adults’ faces alike as we handed out headlamps to navigate the very dark trip to the bathrooms and the path home. Also, Winslow, our old pointer, making periodic appearances during the course of the night.
Are there any details you’d like to tell us about? My friend Mallie hand-painted the seating board and my friend Lindsey loaned me the beautiful fur jacket. I designed my wedding dress with a fantastic tailor. I bought the napkins from Fabric Textile Products, which my sister, mom, and sister-in-law helped me fold. We lit the path with old, white kerosene lanterns.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? It really doesn’t matter if everything doesn’t go to plan or something doesn’t go exactly as you envisioned it. There is so much happiness and sweetness surrounding the day that you won’t care or, more likely, won’t even notice.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? If anything that you are planning or doing doesn’t feel like you, don’t do it. Try to refrain from checking the weather obsessively. And make sure that you get to enjoy the same thing your guests do – I forgot to have a single oyster from the raw bar or a glass of champagne!
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? Jim and I were really ambivalent about the idea of having a wedding at all. The tradition, extravagance, and general hoopla that usually surrounds a wedding made us both squirm and was not something either of us ever thought we wanted, but the idea of having all of our close friends and family in one of the places that we love the most for a long weekend was too good of an opportunity to pass up. And while my younger, more non-traditional and feminist self cringes as I write this, it truly was one of the happiest and best times of my life – getting to swim in the Sound before the rehearsal dinner, having all of our family and friends stay at houses right around us, dancing to Johnny Hoy with those we love the most, and eating burgers with an extreme hangover at the picnic the next afternoon.