Get to the church on time
While a wedding on the Vineyard may sound romantic, getting to, from and around the Island can pose logistical hurdles. A number of companies, however, are ready to ease the wedding journeys of couples, their families and friends.The fastest way to get to the Vineyard is by plane. Cape Air offers regularly scheduled flights from Boston, New Bedford, Hyannis and Nantucket, and in season, from Providence, as well as connections with major airlines. In season, US Airways offers flights to and from New York city.
“What people need to know,” says Tim Johnson, Cape Air supervisor at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, “is that even though the Vineyard airport is small, it’s the same as any airport. Exactly the same.”
By that, Mr. Johnson means passengers may not leave luggage unattended and must pass through a metal detector. Just like the big airports, only two bags are allowed per person, up to 50 pounds each, plus a carry-on bag.
Mr. Johnson continues: “Confirm your reservation, have your photo ID available and arrive an hour early to avoid hassles.”
Cape Air planes are small, with a capacity of just nine seats. Mr. Johnson says, “We try to do specific things for individual passengers.” That ranges from hanging a wedding dress properly to helping with baby seats and strollers.
The airline booked 75 Vineyard weddings last year, ranging in size from 10 to 100 participants. They can handle weddings from all over the country.
“The bride or groom gives us a call to register their wedding with Cape Air,” says Collette Shaw, group sales coordinator, whose responsibility includes weddings. “We give them a wedding fare for their guests and it’s good for the week before and after the wedding.”
Ms. Shaw coordinates the weddings and e-mails confirmation of luggage and through connections. Wedding rates apply to all Cape Air destinations. The bride can put this information on her Web site or a reminder card.
“We take excellent care of the wedding dress,” Ms. Shaw says. “We make sure the pilot knows the dress is on board.”
Ms. Shaw works closely with Island wedding planners as well as the Chamber of Commerce for additional services. For further information or to book a wedding flight, call 800-352-0714 or visit flycapeair.com.
Many people travel to and from the Vineyard via the Steamship Authority, which operates year-round service from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven, and in-season service from Woods Hole to Oak Bluffs. Foot passengers can get back and forth easily with no reservations required, but those who want to bring vehicles on and off-Island can face a challenge, especially during the season.
“We look for as much advance notice as possible on car reservations,” said Gina Barboza, the boat line’s reservations and community relations manager. “If you’re unable to get the exact date you want, use our wait list, which is pretty effective.”
Ms. Barboza said weekends usually book up quickly in the summer, so she recommends early decision-making.
“We started taking vehicle reservations for the summer back in January,” she said. “However, we still have available times. Keep in mind everyone likes to travel at the same time (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), so we may not have exactly what they are looking for but [they should] call our reservation office at 508-477-8600 or go on-line at steamshipauthority.com.”
From June 27 through Sept. 1 and on Columbus Day weekend, she said, vehicle reservations are required every Friday through Monday. Travelers on those days also take advantage of day-of-sailing services. The boat line is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on those days to process same-day reservations, which can be obtained by calling 508-477-7447.
Once wedding guests arrive on the Island, a number of companies are available to move them to the various venues. They include Island Transport, which provides private bus transportation on the Vineyard.
“We do at least 25 weddings a summer,” says Chad Metell, the company’s wedding coordinator. Add to that transfers indirectly associated with weddings, and you have a pretty tight schedule. Mr. Metell weathers all the challenges with a calm demeanor. “It can get pretty busy, but we get the job done,” he says with a smile.
With a couple of dozen tour buses at his disposal, he is on top of the situation, provided the bustling bride gives him sufficient time to schedule service. The important ingredient is make the reservation early, get the deposit money up front, then sit back and let it happen. Island Transport’s Web site is mvtour.com. The business can be reached at 508-693-0058.
How about an elopement package? “We specialize in elopements,” says Joanna Fairchild of Vineyard Coach and Concierge, who has arranged elopement packages on the Vineyard. How does it work? A couple comes to the Vineyard, without family, then gets married by a justice of the peace at a lighthouse. “I drive them around, wait while they have dinner. I’ve done half a dozen of them,” Ms. Fairchild says.
Vineyard Coach and Concierge also offers a more conventional engagement package. “I pick them up at the ferry, take them to their hotel, tour the Vineyard,” she says. “One nervous man called me 18 times to get it right. He proposed at the Cliffs.” Fortunately, his intended accepted.
Ms. Fairchild says what sets Vineyard Coach apart is that they make the event special by customizing their offerings. Ms. Fairchild plans the couple’s day with a map and offers a copy of Tommy’s Tour of the Vineyard.
With a typical wedding, she offers a package deal for the bride and bridegroom to have access to her Lincoln Town Car and driver for 18 hours of service for $1,200. In addition to this personalized service, Ms. Fairchild may subcontract work with another limo company or Island Transport to provide bus service for wedding guests. Further information is available by calling Vineyard Coach at 508-693-3006 or by visiting vineyardcoach.com.
Wedding service also is offered on the Island by Vineyard Limousine.
“Our motto is ‘arrive in style’ and that’s what we do,” says Danyon Russell, general manager of Vineyard Limousine, who stresses flexibility with the service he provides. “We want the ‘once in a lifetime experience’ to be perfect. I’m detail-oriented, and I want to see it all go off without a hitch.”
Mr. Russell emphasizes the customized approach of Vineyard Limousine, meeting clients face to face. “We add details, like taking a couple to the right beach for photographs,” he adds. “It’s got to be perfect.”
Vineyard Limousine has a six-car fleet, highlighted by a 1963 Rolls Royce, supported by a Lincoln Town Car, two high-end Suburbans, a luxury bus and a passenger bus. The service also has access to a 1950 classic, cream-colored Chevrolet. For further information, call Vineyard Limousine at 508-693-3996, or visit vineyardlimousine.com.
And for those who prefer a less ornate transportation, there’s always a cab. Vans on the Vineyard are available for weddings all through the busy season from May to October. The key is to call as soon as you know how many people you need to transfer, and let the cab company work out the details. At $75 per hour per van, cabs can transfer up to 400 people to a function. Working in conjunction and in cooperation with other Island vehicle companies, they get the job done. It’s another way the Vineyard charms its patrons by providing a friendly, cooperative program for weddings.
So, as long as you know the options of vehicles available and you make your plans sufficiently far in advance, you will be treated to the luxury of a smooth, personalized transportation system for your wedding. Then you can sit back and enjoy the experience.
[Originally published in the April 25, 2008 issue of the Vineyard Gazette's Wedding Planner; reviewed for updates in 2012.]