by Dana Powell | Photography by Kelley DeBettencourt
Ashley Michelle Alston and J. Stratford Redding Dennis had just one place in mind for their September 2, 2012 destination wedding: Martha’s Vineyard—the couple’s favorite place on earth. They themed the wedding weekend “Love on the Vineyard,” and put it on everything from the stamps to the menus. Ashley’s mother even had it printed on the cotton tote bags she filled with Vineyard goodies to welcome each guest to the island.
When it came to planning their nuptials, the location wasn’t the only thing that was important to the couple. The vendors they chose were all small businesses—mostly owned by women and minorities. “We believe in being intelligent consumers and that we were not only supporting underrepresented communities by using these businesses, but also receiving better service and attention by using companies with smaller client bases,” Ashley explains. “We had wonderful experiences with each vendor.”
To begin, the couple enlisted help from Doris Clark of Event Day Coordination to plan the wedding, not simply because she is African-American, but as Ashley put it, “She is fabulous. She was incredibly nurturing and so supportive throughout the planning process,” Ashley says. “Not to mention, she has a letter of recommendation from the late Senator Edward ’Ted‘ Kennedy.”