This year marks the third year of Perfect Pitch MV, where Island entrepreneurs pitch their ideas “Shark Tank”–style to local businesses in hopes of getting seed money for their ventures. The 2018 second-place winner was My Vineyard Elopement and Weddings, and we thought it would be interesting to follow up and see how they’re doing. Perfect Pitch MV is sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, Seidman Investment Portfolios, Martha’s Vineyard Bank, Cape & Islands SCORE, Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and many individual donors.
Weddings are very big business on this relatively small Island. Jackie Kane, owner of My Vineyard Elopement and Weddings, is an expert, and second-place winner of the Perfect Pitch MV contest in 2018. Her goal is to show the world that the Island is “love-friendly” by increasing the number of intimate and diverse weddings that occur here, such as those for whom an elopement is either desirable or necessary. Kane says she focuses exclusively on the love between two people: “No matter your gender, religious or spiritual orientation, I will tailor a ceremony that celebrates you and your love.”
While her background in the performing arts and marketing was helpful, especially when it came to memorizing what to say and setting a “stage,” Kane welcomed the opportunity to work with several SCORE coaches as part of the Perfect Pitch contest. She especially recalls the help she received from Duncan Cooper, with whom she connected thanks to a referral from the M.V. Chamber of Commerce. Kane says that he helped her promote both her business and the Vineyard as “love-friendly” by focusing on the uniqueness of her intimate elopement and wedding packages.
Kane remembers her Perfect Pitch well, and says she practiced until her 20-minute presentation became second nature. She began her pitch by offering Chilmark Chocolates to the judges, then told them that her “intention is to become the ambassador of love for Martha’s Vineyard.” She then recounted three different stories of love, recent ceremonies at which she officiated.
First was the couple who met in Cuba while walking along the street; connecting when the man asked impulsively to hold the woman’s hand. Second was two women from Texas who had fallen in love despite facing rejection from their pastor and community; they reached out to Kane because Massachusetts was one of the few states at the time that recognized same-sex marriage. Third was a remarriage of the same couple after their divorce; they and their children had worked through the issues that divided them. To celebrate these happy occasions of love, Kane ended with a champagne toast, while local musician Mike Benjamin played the Beatles’ song “All You Need Is Love.” By the end of her pitch, the entire audience was cheering and the judges were enjoying their toast.
Kane says she used her Perfect Pitch winnings in part to design a new logo and apply it to all of her marketing material, in addition to an onscreen sponsorship of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center. The past year has seen a doubling of her business, and she credits her connection to the M.V. Chamber of Commerce, and feeling supported by that team. She has advertised in “Island Weddings,” “The Knot” and on Facebook, but most of the current growth of her business is generated from her website, publicity, and referrals.
Of course, some of the best recommendations come from her past clients. One couple says, “Your expertise and assistance in creating such personal wedding vows touched not only [us] but so many of our guests. You created a one-of-a-kind intimate sunset wedding ceremony that will live in our hearts forever.” Kane also praises the talent of her photographer, Larisa Stinga, with whom she works closely, and with whom she recently celebrated a milestone — working together on their 60th elopement.
In addition to coordinating the entire wedding celebration, one of the features Kane most takes pride in is the writing of the couple’s love story for the ceremony, and personalizing their vows. She meets with the engaged couple and gives each of them a list of a dozen questions to answer separately. Kane uses each set of answers to make the ceremony and vows unique and memorable. For any size wedding, her consultations always begin with a meeting, and her services evolve organically based on the desires of the couple. Her website will shortly get a new look, though it currently showcases ceremonies that vary in size from intimate to large, and the happy couples involved.
Kane’s advice for upcoming Perfect Pitchers is, “Don’t just wing it.” She encourages them to be creative, and add dramatic flair wherever possible. Like others who have participated in the contest, she lauds the M.V. Chamber of Commerce staff and the coaches from SCORE, and cites their value as a resource for any business. In fact, last year she also won the SCORE-sponsored “Build a Better Mousetrap” Award.
Kane finds each and every elopement she plans and ceremony she officiates to be the epitome of love, as she celebrates the couple’s ability to survive almost any obstacle. Like the Beatles song, her service is tribute to the fact that “love is all you need.”
For more information, visit myvineyardelopement.com.