Wedding Planning 101


Some weddings are planned 18 months ahead and some are 3-6 months. It sometimes is assumed that we are getting a call in June for an October wedding the following year only to find that actually, it is an inquiry for the upcoming season! Some clients are planners and some just want to jump in. Whatever the plan is, planning is key to a successful wedding or a rehearsal dinner.

The fun begins with setting the date. It may be a couple who is recently engaged or a parent who is beginning the work for their son or daughter, who makes the initial call. Last week I had a father calling because his daughter was just engaged. He was the designated planner of the wedding as his daughter is in law school and his wife is a surgeon and he is the CEO and logistical planner of their household. Sometimes it is a sister, or a grandmother or an auntie who is a former event planner. The initial inquiry of the early phone calls goes way beyond the menu selections. Most inquirers want to know so much more and while the food is of upmost importance, the menu is generally not the priority in the initial planning stages.

For us, it is key to listen and get a sense of what this event is going to transform into.  We hear words like “Down to earth” “romantic” and “outdoorsy” So, we ask; what does that mean? Everyone has a vision and we need to hear the description of that vision.

At the Kitchen Porch, we require a finalized menu within 10 days of the event, while we will discuss options and have the menu generally set 30 days prior to the event. This leaves the early, initial phone calls for gathering general information and pricing. We have been catering weddings for 20 years and we know what makes a successful wedding.  (Kitchen Porch Weddings)

We know we can create a stellar menu and provide excellent service, but it is the details that can really make guests and family feel special and that they have come to very unique event. We are highlighting some of the key ingredients that make for a stellar event:

WEB SITE There are countless reasons for you to invest in a Wedding Website. Below is a list of just a few good reasons:

  • We encourage couples to create a web site that provides all the information guests could possibly need around the logistics of the wedding. On Martha’s Vineyard or any rural destination wedding, it is important that your guests have the information they need to get from one location to another. Martha’s Vineyard is rural. We do not have street lights on the country roads, some of the roads are not even marked. It gets very dark and it is easy to get lost or turned around. There are five towns and the ferry comes in to two different  harbors  If guests opt to fly, they will need information on transportation from the airport.
  • This is a fun place to begin your feel of the wedding. Cute baby pictures of each other with a little history of where you met and how is fun and interesting to your family and out of town relatives and guests to get to know you as a couple. Or maybe it is maps of where you have been together. Or places that have inspired?
  • Provide Travel & Lodging information for out of town guests. List hotels that are close to the wedding ceremony or provide transportation from the hotels to the site. Reserve a block of rooms at several different priced range location that are with a few blocks of each other so guests can make their selections based on the budgets.
  • History of the destination. Provide great facts, history and lore. On Martha’s Vineyard, there is a great bus company that offers fun tours.  Provide information on what to do in the area. Most folks have traveled a great distance, give them something to go and do and a visit that provides them with interesting information. Give them great hiking trails or places to rent bikes with fun and interesting although not very challenging bike routes. Our unique Culinary Experiences offer farm tours, sea excursions and cooking classes, and virtually any custom experience you or we can come up with, that a whole group can participate in.
  • Don’t miss the boat On Martha’s Vineyard it  is VITAL to speak about the logistics of making reservations and the importance of keeping the reservations. (Don’t to miss the boat!)
  • Online R.S.V.P. Your guests are more likely to respond quickly to online RSVPs
  • Wedding Registry. Provide guests with a list of stores or gifts

  Wedding Planning 101

Most folks that make that first call are setting a budget and asking about prices. We can immediately provide a general all-inclusive price that includes just about everything needed to pull off a wedding, but like choosing any large purchase, there are so many variables that can drive the cost up and down. Our proposals include everything that is needed to execute the reception.

What is not included in our price is transportation, liquor, flowers, entertainment and cost of the venue as we are an off site caterer, we offer catering to a location. We provide general budgets for venues which  can range from $2500 to $25,000 on Martha’s Vineyard and often we can offer locations that we have catered events which work well for weddings. On Martha’s Vineyard almost everyone says they want a simple elegant wedding.

One interpretation of simple varies greatly from another’s.

Simple for some is:

“We want platters of room temperature foods like fried chicken and loads of fresh salads.”


“We are looking for a elegant plated meal of local vegetables and the catch of the day.”

The majority of our clients describe a lovely wedding, not over the top with outrageous food, that offers true farm to table experience. When the call comes to us, most want a meal that reflects the bounty of Martha’s Vineyard and the culture of our community. They come to us because they care about knowing where their food comes from and we can tell them the story behind their meal.  It may be about the salad that was picked the morning of their event, the name of the boat that brought in their fish and how it was caught or the name of the farmer that raised their meat. Here are some great ways that we offer the best price with the freshest ingredients:

We offer one selection for a plated meal. There are no wedding response cards with menu choices. Of course we also offer a fantastic vegetarian dinner with this option, but this saves a bundle in time and logistical execution. When a wedding offers the rsvp cards with selection there is much that must be executed to make this happen. The behind the scenes details often include: A planner who draws up a floor plan with every guests with their selections;  A kitchen roadmap with staff confirmations and special requests orders; A chart in the kitchen for delivering to correct selection to each guests. It is all about time and money. Here is a sample selection and keeping it to a true farm to table Menu: regular menu card

Of course we always offer a vegetarian plate that presents and taste as divine as the main course. Our Vegetarian Meals are always gluten free and dairy free to keep it super clean:



Our proposals include the set up and logistics of tables and assignments. We work with you and the flower vendor to plan the table scaping and location layout. Most weddings have a site for the cocktail time and the guests move to the tent or dinner area for the main course.

Gilded accents with modern whimsy and meaningful details The touches that make for a personalized wedding with homespun thought are what make our weddings special. Consider fun name cards that represent meaning:

  • Wine corks for couple that love wine
  • Beach Stones
  • Favors the also include name cards
  • Favors that represent the location. For Martha’s Vineyard: MV Sea Salt, Chilmark Chocolate, Enchanted Chocolates, MV Candles,  Apothecary bottles filled with local honey…
  • Flat Point Farm Soaps, Kitchen Porch Preserved Lemons or spices, Morning Glory Farm Jam, etc…
  • Local flowers are key to making the finishing touch

Themes are carried through from the save the date card through to the dinner menu Here are some recent ideas:

  • Turf and Surf: Ocean tumbler chard and washed ashore charm
  • Vintage and Spice: Purples and oranges and Moroccan Influences
  • Sparkles of Silver: Alabaster, oysters, pearls and Crystal glasses with silver trim

Make late night special On Martha’s Vineyard there is a noise ordinance where most sites need to end the amplified music by 10:00 PM. Many continue the celebration, gathering at a pub in town, a private home or room in a hotel room. We can pack up a mini bar and a cooler of beer and wine for such. We have picked up back door doughnuts, delivered pizzas, prepared grilled cheeses, created a cheese board or served ice cream with sundae toppings for many late night snacks.

Whatever you plan, plan with what is meaningful to you! We have catered the most elaborate over the top weddings for 400 guests and also very intimate gatherings for 20. Whatever brings meaning to you and your loved ones is what we recreate to make your event memorable.

Photo Credit:  Kelley DeBettencourt

Leave a Reply

Kitchen Porch Catering | Martha's Vineyard | 508-645-5000