I have to be honest, I felt a major jealousy pang when I came across this destination wedding from Punam Bean Photography. Not only is the setting absolutely divine (take a look at that view!) but the wedding itself is just so lovely with a natural and carefree air. There is no need to fight your surroundings when you are in Santorini, Greece so you might as well make the most out of your location like using olive branches from a neighboring orchard. The results are simple but so breathtaking. Click here for more destination inspiration!
Michael and I decided to get married in Santorini, Greece because we'd never been there before and wanted to honeymoon there. Santorini with a group of 50 of our closest friends and family seemed the perfect compromise between elopement and a traditional wedding celebration. My parents flew in from Taiwan, his family flew in from Austria and Germany. We wanted an intimate celebration so friends and family could really spend quality time together. We basically wanted an unforgettable party. The whole wedding was planned online, with a total of two phone calls. We're pretty proud about that!
We found our amazing hotel, the outdoor chapel, the rehearsal and reception restaurants, everything online and then cross referenced with Trip Advisor. All arrangements were done via email with individual vendors. I was more than a little nervous prior to arrival since I'd never seen these places before, but everything turned out better than I could have hoped for.
We wanted the wedding theme to be simple and focus around the beautiful location, so decorations were kept to a minimum and stayed with a very "natural" vibe. We shipped two large boxes full of supplies from Save-on-Crafts where you can find just about anything you'd need to decorate a giant ballroom, provided you are willing to put a little creative energy into it. Because we shipped our own decorations, we had to keep things light, literally. So we used vintage looking wooden crates as the centerpiece and filled it with Sola wood flowers (very light) and olive leaves. I made the table cards myself from blank Birch cards purchased from Etsy. The theme of olive leaves was heavy throughout the wedding not only for its symbolism of peace and love, not only because we were in Greece, but because it was practical, economical and environmentally friendly! Santorini is a volcanic island, so water is scarce and so are flowers. We found a woman on a neighboring island called Sifnos who owned an olive tree orchard and pressed their own oil. She ferried over a box of freshly clipped olive branches along with 50 small bottles of olive oil that came from those trees. We used these bottles of oil as favors for the guests. The olive leaves not only looked great, they provided a lovely story and the oil tasted divine.
The day before the wedding we rented a boat down at the Old Port from a company called Dakoutros Travel. The boat cruise lasted all day and took us to a nearby island called Thirassia where we stopped for freshly grilled seafood lunch. We also went to the hot springs and a hike up to the volcano. This is a typical itinerary for boat cruises around Santorini and was an excellent way to start the wedding weekend, giving the guests a chance to get to know each other as many came from different states, and different countries and were meeting for the first time.
One very important thing I learned from planning a destination wedding: make friends with the locals, particularly your hotel concierge. Our hotel, Aria Suites, was absolutely incredible. They helped us arrange transportation, helped us locate restaurants (Michael and I rented a car for logistical reasons, but the island does not have street names or addresses!), they basically helped us with anything we hadn't anticipated.
Our friend officiated the ceremony. It was quick and beautiful, with an appropriate reading from Dr. Seuss's "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" Michael and I have wonderful memories of the wedding weekend, we wouldn't do anything different. As for the 244 buttons I sewed onto the back of my dress, I'd do that again, too.