The day was all balmy breeze and blue-sky perfect, and Flat Point Farm and Tisbury Great Pond looked like a canvas painted by Ray Ellis. Island native Ryan Begley, son of Kevin and Patty and brother of Keegan, was about to marry longtime seasonal resident Adriana Stimola, daughter of Michael and Rosemary and sister of Aubrey Stimola Ryan. And as natural as wedding rings and heartfelt declarations, the Vineyard spirit infiltrated the ceremony.
Officiate Dr. Bette Kerr (a longtime friend and associate of the Stimolas from New York) welcomed everyone.
“Adriana and Ryan, you celebrate your union on this beautiful Island where you spent much of your lives. Martha’s Vineyard — its land, rich history, sea, rocks, soil — brought you and your families together, and is the backdrop that nourished your souls as your love for one another grew. The soul of the Island is within you.”
There is something uniquely worthy about a place that generates such personal relevance and adds its spiritual presence to meaningful occasions. Whatever the quirks and inconveniences of living on the Vineyard, most of us are keenly appreciative, even reverent, about its natural features and the sense of community that exists here.
It becomes easier to understand in September when we once again begin to hear the waltz of the place. We exhale. A familiar calm begins making itself felt, and the Island feels a little more like home again.
A violin and cello played Pachelbel’s Canon, and then Shenandoah, as the bridal party, parents and siblings only, appeared from behind the large white tent and began a long, slow, smiling processional that sent sparks across the field.
The bride wore a dress fashioned from 1905 English lace, a dazzling smile and a mask of radiant joy. Her Gatsby-style veil was first worn by her mother 38 years before, and four years ago by her sister Aubrey when she married Peter Kavanaugh Ryan at the Agricultural Hall. The sight of the bride floating toward the gathering while the breeze choreographed her 12-foot-long train of Alençon lace conjured images of a Gene Kelly ballet sequence.
Patty Begley read a Native American blessing, Michael Stimola read an excerpt from Madeline L’Engle’s The International Season, and Rosemary Stimola read a portion from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.
In her remarks, Dr. Kerr said, “It has been said that British explorers named it the Vineyard when they had to trudge through masses of tangled grapevines. Centuries later, Ryan, your parents Kevin and Patty cleared land and put down their roots, building home and family. Years after that, Adriana, your family arrived. Using roots already in the ground, the Stimolas created new runners and joined the community. More branches came forth. New vines grew, pulling Begleys and Stimolas together.
“Let’s gaze for a minute at the magnificent sweep of this birch arbor sheltering Adriana and Ryan, just as they will shelter each other throughout life. Ryan’s dad, Kevin, with your assistance, Ryan crafted the arbor from a tree on the Stimola property. It’s a glorious symbol of Adriana and Ryan’s union and the connection of their two families.
“Adriana and Ryan, you met and you marry amidst the beauty of your beloved Island with its beaches, salt air, sunrises, sunsets and beyond — the horizon. That horizon connects you to the eternal, to grandparents and others who may not be present here today but who are part of the fabric of your life. Each is a piece in the quilt of history and love that warms and supports you.”
Between these comments there were tales of how the couple met here, a recounting of their talents and interests, and the uniting of their families. In a physical gesture of “the many loving relationships that are intertwined in Ryan and Adriana’s union,” six colored ribbons that hung from the arbor built by Ryan and his father were braided together by the families.
The nondenominational ceremony concluded with an Apache blessing, a recessional to Ashokan folk music, and a dinner of locally-grown fare catered by Kitchen Porch Catering. Mrs. Stimola explained that the couple “wanted to convey their connection to the heart of this Island in all aspects of their ceremony.”
It was a memorable tribute, well sent and warmly received.