Fourteenth: True Love on Martha's Vineyard

There are so many things to love about Martha’s Vineyard. Many fall in love, get engaged and say their vows on this beautiful island just seven miles off the coast of Cape Cod. My dream has always been to shoot on Martha’s Vineyard.

Leslie Hurd, publisher of four destination wedding magazines, including Martha’s Vineyard Wedding, says the Vineyard is among the top five spots in the country. She notes that it was given the highest, “platinum” distinction, by Grace Ormonde Wedding Style magazine, considered by wedding planners to be the last word in elegant weddings.
— Boston Globe
The Steamship Authority Ferry from Woods Hole, Massachusetts is a 45 minute ride and always the start of wonderful times on Martha’s Vineyard.

The Steamship Authority Ferry from Woods Hole, Massachusetts is a 45 minute ride and always the start of wonderful times on Martha’s Vineyard.

In July of 1997, doctors saved my life in the small island hospital. The care I received on this island helped me fall forever in love with Martha’s Vineyard. A few months after my recovery, we bought a home here.
— Marie Hunt
Jeff and I just celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary and the 20th anniversary of Headpiece.com. To achieve such significant milestones in both life and business, there must be love. We both knew the place we wanted to go to reflect on so many beautiful memories—-Martha’s Vineyard.

Jeff and I just celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary and the 20th anniversary of Headpiece.com. To achieve such significant milestones in both life and business, there must be love. We both knew the place we wanted to go to reflect on so many beautiful memories—-Martha’s Vineyard.

My clients know when I get away from the shop, I am heading to Martha’s Vineyard. I find so much energy and inspiration here. I have designed many headpieces on the beach while sipping homemade blueberry or cherry mojitos made with freshly picked mint from Morning Glory Farms. It doesn’t get any better than that!
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From June through October it is common to see bridal parties walking through town, and elaborate tents pitched on breathtaking properties. With our couture designs now located in Paris, Martha's Vineyard might be our next retail location.

I already knew who I wanted to bring to Martha’s Vineyard. If you follow our blog, you may recognize Nicole Hunt. Nicole has made a few appearances in our blog as both a client and a model.

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My “go to” beauty crew hails from New Jersey. Bliss Salon is always up for an adventure and collaboration with Headpiece.com. New Jersey based Erin Usawicz, joined our team as photographer this time around. Erin has family roots in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and adding a Falmouth studio location to her successful business is currently in the works.

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I hoped to incorporate a male model for this photo shoot and wondered if Nicole could persuade Joe, her handsome newlywed hubby, to come along.

In April, Nicole and I traveled to,  Something Bleu Bridal , in Saratoga Springs, NY, to choose gowns for the shoot. Our Instagram followers voted and overwhelmingly chose “Rapture” from the Astrid and Mercedes Collection of Lea-Ann Belter as the top pick!

In April, Nicole and I traveled to, Something Bleu Bridal, in Saratoga Springs, NY, to choose gowns for the shoot. Our Instagram followers voted and overwhelmingly chose “Rapture” from the Astrid and Mercedes Collection of Lea-Ann Belter as the top pick!

Joe agreed to come to Martha’s Vineyard and committed to a short stint as our male model on our final day of shooting. I relied upon the expertise of Anthony Avedisian, owner of  Biltmore Tuxedos  in Ridgewood, NJ, to help with Joe’s wedding attire.

Joe agreed to come to Martha’s Vineyard and committed to a short stint as our male model on our final day of shooting. I relied upon the expertise of Anthony Avedisian, owner of Biltmore Tuxedos in Ridgewood, NJ, to help with Joe’s wedding attire.

I knew this photo shoot would be filled with talent and fun. Lia and Justine, from Bliss, lugged their bags of luggage along with their beauty equipment aboard the ferry. I don’t know how they managed, but they brought this gift basket too.

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Shooting Day at the harbor view hotel

I reached out to Makenzie Wall, the Events Manager at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown and asked if they would be interested in collaborating. Their Instagram page @edgartownweddings is a favorite of mine and I knew the Harbor View was about to reveal an incredible transformation.

The Harbor View Hotel had just completed a seven month long multi-million dollar renovation with the grand reopening scheduled for the beginning of May. Our shoot was scheduled for May 14th and turned out to be perfect timing for a collaboration. We were able to shoot in their elegant space filled with new decor and a fresh color palette pleasing to the senses of any wedding party, guest, or bridal designer!
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The weatherman offered a terrible prediction for the first day of our shoot; rain, 40 mph winds, and 50 chilly degrees. While it was disappointing that we were unable to take advantage of the Harbor View’s meticulous outdoor grounds and spectacular views, we experienced the best hospitality from Makenzie and the Harbor View staff while making us feel like we were their very first guests.

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The success of a photo shoot always begins in the beauty department. Hair and makeup are the essential first steps in creating magic. I know that we are in perfect hands when Lia and Justine are onboard and that the outcome will be better than imagined.

The beauty, detail, and quality of Marie’s designs truly compliment the beauty of the Vineyard. We traveled the island to capture as much as we could in two short days, and I believe the pictures will tell our story perfectly. It was a great pleasure working with such an amazing team!
— Lia and Justine
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I always like to get the idea of a photographer’s view when I am on a shoot. It is always different than what I am seeing.

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Growing up in Massachusetts, the Cape and Islands feel like home. When Marie asked me to photograph this session, of course, I said yes! It was heaven to have the Vineyard as a backdrop, a beautiful model, and gorgeous headpieces and dresses to work with.
— Erin Usawicz
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Photography by Erin Usawicz

Our Instagram followers were spot on with their #1 gown pick for this shoot. “Rapture” is a perfect choice for a Vineyard wedding—pockets and all!

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My biggest pet peeve when I look at wedding photos is when a photographer takes a staged veil photo. Veils look most beautiful in their natural state; when they are blowing, slinking, or puddling. The veil tells a story. I love the photo below. The day was gray, wet, and had a bit of gloom. Nicole’s veil started to blow but wouldn’t take off. It slumped to the side as though it was trying to tell us something about the day. Nicole’s pose and expression with Edgartown Light in the background made this one of my favorites.

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When I dreamed of this shoot, I envisioned how I would dress Jackie Kennedy today if I had the opportunity. I designed accessories with this beautiful and classic First Lady solely in mind. Their rich New England elegance is unmistakeably Jackie-esque!

I knew as soon as Nicole tried on the Miranda silk crepe and lace gown by Lea-Ann Belter it was heading to Martha’s Vineyard. The buttons, the sleeves, the silhouette were precisely the story I wanted to tell.

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Our “Jackie” headpiece can be worn two ways. I wonder which way Jackie would choose to wear it.

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Our “Bregine” veil with hand appliqued Chantilly lace, is a top look for our brides who are ahead of the fashion curve but who still want to look classic and elegant. We also design this veil without the lace in several lengths. The silhouette is so beautiful that this veil style has become number one.

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I couldn’t prepare for this shoot without thinking beach. Seashells, mother-of-pearl, and sand-toned crystals were the direction I wanted to go. I designed this pin collection to be soft, light, airy, and romantic for the Martha’s Vineyard Bride. A bride may choose to wear one pin…or all of them!

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Nicole fell in love with Lea-Ann Belter’s Collette gown the moment she tried it on. The airiness of this blush silk organza gown made this a perfect choice for photos in the newly renovated main lobby of the Harbor View. Hotel guests couldn’t help but to stop and admire its beauty.

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Our “Boho” veil creates a beautiful illusion and compliments the movement of silk organza perfectly. Hand-sewn blush and ivory colored silk organza flower petals with crystal and white opal centers add a couture touch to our imported European fabric.

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Our first day of shooting was at an end! We shot for seven hours and we were ready to go out on the town. Of course Nicole still looked beautiful! My “assistant designer puppy-bunny” (named Chappy after Chappaquiddick) wasn’t so happy to find out we were leaving her behind again. We headed out to a favorite spot, The Atlantic, for a great meal and a bit of wind down.

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We were up early the next day because the other creatives needed to head out on the noon ferry to get back to their NJ businesses. Today ended being one of the best parts of the entire shoot! It was unscripted with only one fashion look. We will call it the “Pop Up Shoot!” Both Joe and Chappy made their debut too!

My idea was to style up our bride and groom, pile the entire team in the car, and stop at all of my favorite places in Edgartown, pop out of the car, snap some shots, and repeat. We had an hour and a half to hit everything and be on our way to the ferry. It was so unstructured that all agreed it worked brilliantly! And to top it all off, it was a gorgeous day!
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Photography by Erin Usawicz

This pond is less than a mile from my home. I bike by it or drive by it just about every day. Each time I pass, it looks different due to the skies, weather, and time of year. With all of the beautiful properties and beaches around, Sweetened Water Pond is one of the most beautiful spots on the island to me.

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When we found the Juliet gown by Watters at Something Bleu Bridal, I knew it would have its day. This dress is perfect for a beach wedding or backyard ceremony on Martha’s Vineyard!

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Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? (Sonnet 18)
— William Shakespeare

The embroidery on the skirt of this Juliet dress is the first line of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18. Interestingly, the embroidery represents a structured poem that we chose to shoot in an unstructured way. What a beautiful writing for this Martha's Vineyard scene!

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While Jeff and I have visited Town Hall to pay our property taxes or get a shellfish license, I have drifted, as I often do, to imagine a bride and groom out front. I was determined to stop at Edgartown Town Hall for a few shots. As Erin positioned Nicole and Joe, the church bells began to ring at St. Elizabeth’s. We found visitors and townspeople lining Main Street to snap cell phone pics and shout well wishes to the newly married couple.

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For those who know Edgartown, how could we not stop at Espresso Love?

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We were running out of time but had two more stops to make, the Town Wharf in Edgartown and ending at the Edgartown Lighthouse.

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Our bride and groom were receiving congratulations from everyone. The captain of the Chappy Ferry spotted our newly married couple and offered for them to come aboard. It is these moments that command your heart to stay in Martha’s Vineyard. At the beginning of this blog, I told you how my life was saved here. What I didn’t tell you was that strangers took my three young children while life-saving surgery was performed. One of those strangers, who we now consider family, is also a captain on the Chappy Ferry. This is life on Martha’s Vineyard and it is filled with good people!

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We wanted to end this blog right where we began with the Edgartown Light in the distance. Oh, what a difference a few hours make. We went from gloom to sunshine, from the comfort and shelter of the Harbor View to experiencing nature at its finest, from formal attire to beach ready.

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We end with our final photo looking to where we began. This blog would not have been possible without the generous welcome of the spectacular Harborview Hotel and Edgartown Weddings. I look forward to the journey ahead as I make my designs known on this heart filled island.

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The Team

This journey wasn’t a matter of assembling a team. It was about finding those who shared a creative vision and stepped towards it. We had so much fun while masterfully sharing our individual crafts. I am humbly grateful to all those who were a part.

  • Erin Usawicz Photography

  • Bliss Salon

  • Harbor View Hotel

  • Edgartown Weddings

  • Something Bleu Bridal

  • Biltmore Tuxedos

  • Nicole Hunt and Joe Jaghab

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This shoot was everything I dreamed of and more. There is a special feeling to the island, and you can feel it when you are there. All of the books I read just came so much more to life. It was an amazing couple of days. It made such an impact on me in ways that I can’t even express. I am an emotional person, and when it was time to say goodbye, I got so choked up.
— Nicole Hunt
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Upon our return from Martha’s Vineyard, Nicole stopped by Headpiece.com dressed in purple bearing purple flowers. What a excellent ending to a perfect photo shoot!

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Next month on the Fourteenth:

Twenty Years of Design at Heapiece.com