A beautiful destination wedding held in a private Villa set on the Santorini clifftop, overlooking panoramic views of the jaw-dropping Caldera. With a picture perfect setting and a three day celebration with our 80 guests, you'd never pick the obstacles we had to overcome, but still can't recommend a destination wedding highly enough.
WAS A DESTINATION WEDDING ALWAYS THE PLAN?
It wasn't always the plan, it was however always the dream! I had mentioned it to Basil a couple of times with a huge smile on my face. It was something we would have endless conversations about - 'our dream wedding', but neither of us ever thought it would become a reality for us. We had visited a number of Perth venues, and were very close to signing a contract with Royal Perth Yacht club. When it came to crunch time though, neither of us felt right about it. We should have been over the moon they had our date available and it is one of Perth's most beautiful venues, but we weren't excited at all. We were stressed, we felt pressured, and ultimately wanted to throw in the whole wedding thing all together. We were laying in bed days later when Basil said "lets do it", to which I replied "do what?!", "lets get married in Santorini!" and I suppose the rest was history.
HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THE LOCATION?
We had been to Santorini together a few years earlier. It was our first overseas trip together and when we were in Santorini for five days as the last stop. We felt a special connection to it. Both from Greek heritage, we loved indulging in the Greek culture and there was something in the air there that made us feel like no other place has made us feel before. Those that have visited the island, I'm sure can relate to the magic, and we wanted those who had never been before to feel that, with us, on our wedding day. A huge priority for us was to have the Wedding go long into the night, something we struggled to find back home, so we searched day in and day out to find a venue that would let us hold a celebration past 12pm. My Dad actually first came across Cavo Ventus, a Luxury private Villa in the middle on no where on the old side of the island. Most people who visit Santorini don't even venture to this side of the island, and because it was so secluded we got approval for a very late wrap up, probably a deal breaker for us (Oh and the fact that we were aloud to smash plates and stay in the Villa the day before and the night of were also big positives). We had never been to the venue before, we planned everything for photos and our own mathematical workings on the floor plans we were given!
DID YOU GO WITH LOCAL SUPPLIERS OR DID YOU FLY OVER YOUR VENDORS?
All our suppliers were local - The Wedding Planners, Stylists, Florists, Caterers, Priest, Saxophone Player, DJ, Make Up Artist & Hair Stylists. We also went for a local Photographer and Videographers too. We wanted it to feel authentically Greek and laid back, so we were pretty happy with this decision. We planned everything through email, and I never did any of the make up or hair trials, rehearsals of the ceremony or anything like that - it was nice and relaxed in that way.
HAD YOU BEEN THERE BEFORE?
To Santorini yes, to the church or the reception venue no! We took a huge chance and it was definitely worth it.
DID YOU HAVE A WEDDING PLANNER?
We chose to engage in the assistance of a Wedding Planner on the island to assist us with planning the actual wedding day, however the cocktail party and boat party the day after we planned ourselves. It was great to have someone as a point of contact to measure things for us and to offer advice in terms of weather, wind, transport and suggested vendors, but we also did a lot of our own research on the things that were most important to us.
HOW WAS PLANNING FROM AFAR?
We gave ourselves enough time, it was about a two year planning process, which meant we could take our time with it. Some parts were a little stressful, but overall it was an extremely exciting process for us and Basil put in so much work (maybe more than me) which is unheard of for a groom!
DID ANYTHING NOT GO TO PLAN/DID THINGS GO WRONG?
On the morning of our wedding day the power on the entire island went out for hours - this also meant no water. I couldn't have a shower, brush my teeth, wash my hair... the blow dryers couldn't be used, our phone's roaming wasn't working so we couldn't get into contact with our vendors. I was actually left to get dressed all on my own because we were running a little late! Looking back I think how stressful, but at the time I wasn't stressed at all. I was marrying the love of my life that day and that's all that mattered to me. I went with hair up because I was unable to wash it, and made up mine and the bridesmaids hairstyles on the spot as we couldn't show reference photos on our phones to the hairdresser. A few hours later the power came back on luckily.
Two of our guests luggage got lost, and they didn't receive it until after the wedding.
Because I used nicknames on my seating chart, when we arrived at the reception the names of guests got a little mixed up and were in the wrong position. I went around changing them myself as I was the only one who knew who was who!
YOUR BIGGEST TIP TO OTHERS PLANNING A DESTINATION WEDDING?
Take your time with the planning is my biggest tip. Get your invites out early so guests can get good deals on flights and accommodation and let the beautiful setting be at the forefront, you don't need to go over the top with styling and decor. Keep true to the location and allow your guests to experience the destination they are in to it's maximum - florals will die in high heat locations, decor is expensive to bring in and often unnecessary, so choose a location where the view and the natural beauty is breathtaking, and focus on this. Also make sure you can move in your dress (I changed into a shorter dress with long sleeves for our reception to ensure I could Greek dance easily and I could be comfortable if the wind picked up on the Cliff) and your shoes are appropriate for the environment (I didn't end up wearing my bridal shoes apart from in our photo shoot, because cobble stone on the Island and a pin heal really didn't mix well - fancy that!). Oh and finally, take everything that is vital to the Wedding day in your hand luggage or on board with you when flying (two of our guests lost all their luggage and I couldn't even think what we would have done if that was one of us, or our bridal party!).
THE MOST CHALLENGING MOMENT:
Some people won't be able to make the trip. Basil's Yiayia & Papou wern't with us on the day, along with quite a few other special people in our lives. We made the call knowing this, but you have to ultimately do whats right for you and be okay with the fact that some people won't be present. It's one of the hardest decisions to make, so talking to people prior to locking the wedding is something that I would recommend.
THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:
For me there were three.
The first was when my Dad and I pulled up to the church to meet with the bridesmaids who were already there and he had organised three Greek musicians to walk us all to the church. It's something that truly made the experience for me and so Dad booked them as a surprise as Basil and I had chosen to not lock them in due to budget going over.
Meeting Basil at the end of an 'isle' all our guests had made outside the church for my Dad and I to walk down, when he saw me he gasped (It's on tape so I get to watch this moment over and over again and it was such a special moment).
Basil and I had organised a Greek saxophone player to play over house music at our reception - it was truly amazing. At that point I looked around our reception and everyone was having the time of their lives. I felt like I was in a dream.
LOOKING BACK WOULD YOU CHANGE ANYTHING?
I wouldn't change a thing! The up's the downs, the things that didn't go to plan... and yet to me everything was absolutely perfect. I was on cloud 9, and bursting with happiness, nothing could have popped my bubble that day!
WHERE DID YOU HONEYMOON?
After Santorini we went across to Mykonos with some of our guests and then onto Italy on our own. We visited Sorrento, Capri, Positano and Ravello. We stayed at the Belmond Caruso and Ravello was the most amazing experience. We got a room upgrade to the top suite and were absolutely spoiled rotten. We would return to rose petal baths, champagne and a candle lit room after dinner. I suggest to those planning a honeymoon right after your wedding to stay in one place and not go on an adventure trip! We loved Ravello because we were finally about to kick back, relax and reflect on the amazing week we had just had. We had hours on hours of conversations with each other and wondered and explored the town at our own pace. Ravello is all about slow living, much different from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the Amalfi Coast, so it was a perfect end to our trip.
All Images by Nikos Gogas
See more of our Santorini destination wedding in our Wedded Wonderland feature here