Planning a successful wedding or event is complicated, from choosing a caterer to finding a skilled seamstress. Whether you live on the Island or just plan to host a party here, there are myriad options. India Rose, 33, a Vineyard native, opened the doors this past summer at Martha’s Vineyard Wedding Studio, a free, one-stop shopping resource for all things festive.
Neither vendor nor event planner, Ms. Rose is a hybrid: her Vineyard Haven studio is a showroom, library, and haven that allows the bride, groom, or event host a comfortable place to relax and review resources – all at no charge. Ms. Rose herself is a warm, welcoming fountain of information. Names of cake bakers, photographers, party favor creators, tailors, musicians, and wedding planners roll off her tongue effortlessly. After all, she’s made it her business to uncover every possible idea that can contribute to a memorable event.
“Even though I grew up here, when I planned my own wedding on the Island I realized how difficult it was to track down all the options,” she says. A Hospitality and Tourism graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Ms. Rose and her husband decided to raise their own family on the Island. Working by day at Farm Neck Golf Club, she hatched the entrepreneurial venture by night and weekend: to create a sanctuary where brides and other hosts can relax in a serene setting and review all the elements that comprise an event.
Today, she sits in her well-appointed, second story studio at 151 Beach Road in Vineyard Haven, surrounded by wedding paraphernalia: photographers’ portfolios, wedding idea books and magazines, sample favors, a faux cake, a china closet filled with delicate crystal and china, and a “inspiration board” laden with fun wedding ideas.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing hostess,” Ms. Rose says, beaming at her bright surroundings. “I love to cook and entertain. But I’m also a good idea person and problem-solver, so the Wedding Studio gives me an opportunity to put it all together.”
Because she doesn’t do on-site event management, Ms. Rose says she’s not a wedding or event planner’s competition. In fact, two wedding planners have already signed on as studio members. While the Martha’s Vineyard Wedding Studio offers complimentary services to clients, there is a charge ranging from $350 to $650 to vendors who wish to become affiliated. Members benefit from Ms. Rose’s referrals and marketing efforts, as well as from the opportunity to showcase their wares and services in the studio space and to utilize it for client meetings.
Kim Garrison, owner of Something Sweet custom cakes in Vineyard Haven, is a studio member and an ardent champion of Ms. Rose’s concept. “Wedding groups and studios are popping up all over the mainland,” she explains. “But as a former Vineyard bride I had a difficult time accessing a variety of vendors to make educated decisions about my own wedding. India has provided a safe place to network and to showcase what we all have to offer.”
Other Island vendors are signing on and weighing in on the experience. Ellen O’Brien, owner of MV Florist & Gifts in Vineyard Haven, provides flowers and Vineyard-sourced gift baskets for weddings and parties. Another enthusiastic proponent of the studio concept, she says: “India is providing a wonderful, first-class service for brides and their families with her library and other wedding-related resources. The studio is also a great source of business for vendors like myself.”
Ms. Rose views the studio as particularly strategic for smaller vendors who lack exposure. “I can connect them to potential clients using a variety of marketing tools,” she says. She relies on a custom website, print advertising, Facebook, the Chamber of Commerce, and other social media sites to promote the studio and its members. It seems to be paying off: Stephanie Christino and her partner, Erin Ruddy, of New Britain, Conn., vacation every summer in Oak Bluffs and plan to be married on the Island next fall. They searched online for vendors and found Ms. Rose’s website.
“We met India this summer at the new studio and she made us feel so relaxed and comfortable,” Ms. Christino says. “We’re planning on a wedding that represents our favorite things about the Island. Her concierge focus is exactly what we were looking for. Given that we are out of state and are basically planning this online and through photos, India has really been a valuable asset.”
Visit the MV Wedding Studio at 151 Beach Road, Vineyard Haven, open weekends and by appointment, or online at mvweddingstudio.com.