Amid COVID restrictions, cancelled plans and families in different countries – the bride was able to plan their dream wedding weekend on the beautiful island of Santorini in just three short months!! With just a few of their nearest and dearest, today’s darling couple tied the knot surrounded by sparkling views of the Aegean sea, made even more beautiful by Betty Flowers Santorini’s floral creations. Our favorite part? The bride’s sister collected well wishes from their original wedding guests to gift to the couple on their wedding day as a sweet surprise. Don’t leave before seeing all the beauty of the full gallery – captured to perfection by Elias Kordelakos!
From The Bride… Lars and I met at a hostel backpacking in Thailand in August 2016, shortly after I’d graduated from law school and taken the bar exam and before Lars began his last semester of graduate school. Lars was from the Netherlands, and I was from the United States. Our meeting was the most improbable of circumstances. What followed was perhaps even less probable. The night I met Lars was the last night traveling with a close friend, before I was to begin 6 weeks of solo travel. Instead, Lars and I — realizing we planned to head in same direction — decided to travel together. And so we did, throughout Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, falling in love along the way. A month later, Lars traveled to New York City for the first time and enjoyed his first Thanksgiving with my family and friends. For New Years, I flew to the Netherlands to meet all of his loved ones. For three years, we visited one another as often as possible and continued to explore the world together. Finally, in August 2019, Lars was able to relocate to the US.
He proposed on a ski weekend in Killington, Vermont in February 2020. By the end of February 2020, we’d secured our dream venue of Son Marroig in Mallorca, Spain for June 19, 2021. Because half of our guests would be European and half would be American, our wedding was always going to be a destination wedding. Mallorca was the last place we’d traveled to prior to Lars’s relocation to the US, and we were absolutely in love with it. We booked our band, our DJ, our planner, our venue, and our catering. We held out hope that the 100 person wedding of our dreams would be possible in June 2021, even if it was a smaller affair than initially contemplated.
Like so many dealing with the stress of wedding planning in COVID, we hoped for the best but prepared ourselves for the reality of our situation — a situation further complicated by wanting to be sensitive to the differences in vaccination rates, vaccination access, travel restrictions, and event restrictions across multiple countries.
In March, we realized that the wedding we’d originally planned was not possible. While vaccinations were becoming more widely available in the US, the situation was not as optimistic in much of Europe — and Spain had not even announced plans to reopen to American visitors.
The question became: What do we really care about? And what plan can we come up with to still get us there?
The answer to the first question was astonishingly simple — to have a beautiful, really personalized celebration of our love with the people who matter the absolute most to us — our families. At that point, because of travel restrictions, we hadn’t been together with Lars’s family since before the pandemic began. And our entire immediate families had never been together.
Resolving the second question was a lot more difficult. We wanted to still celebrate near our original June 2021 date. But his family from the Netherlands was not allowed into the US. My family from the US was not allowed into the Netherlands or Spain. Then Greece announced it was reopening.
With all the sunk costs of our first wedding plan and with Lars’s support and faith in my planning abilities, I set out to plan our Greek wedding myself in three months. Within two weeks, we had secured our dream wedding photographer (Elias is the warmest and most talented photographer, and he was an immense help with the timeline of our wedding day) and two venues for our celebrations. Using the magic of Instagram, Google, and wedding blogs, I found wonderful hair and makeup artists in Santorini, an incredibly talented singer/guitarist (Louis Vlahakis), a beautiful floral design team who I trusted COMPLETELY with my ideas (Betty Flowers Santorini), transfer services (for family and for just Lars and I), chair rentals and glasses/cutlery/plates (Spicy Bites), and table and lighting rentals (Weddings & Whimsy). Planning and coordinating from overseas was not always the easiest, but our team of vendors was everything I could have hoped for.
I ordered custom napkins/runners from a shop on Etsy and a custom white tablecloth from another shop I found online. We created our own thank you cards/notes from templates we downloaded off Etsy, and we created the place cards, the “Thank you” note for each dinner plate, and the wedding program from templates on Minted. We flew over to Greece with these items and provided them to various vendors the day before our wedding.
The night before the wedding we had dinner and drinks with a live guitarist on the terrace of the suites we had rented out at Fanari Villas. Fanari also catered. Jay Calpin from “FRESH” flew from Mallorca and performed — he would have originally been part of our wedding in Spain. We had the most amazing night and our families instantly clicked. Lars’s mom, Jolanda, read a poem that she had written for us in Dutch, and provided us all with an English translation to follow along.
On the wedding day, we had breakfast together and then separated to get ready. We both wrote our own vows and finished transcribing them into our vow book that day. As a surprise to our families, Lars and I had both written personalized notes to each member of our family. We gave them out one-by-one after we were ready.
My mom had lent me her pearl ring — an old gift from my dad — surrounded by sapphires for my something borrowed/something blue. I also had an old brooch from my great grandmother that was attached to my bridal bouquet.
I walked down the aisle, escorted by both of my parents, to “Hold My Girl” by George Ezra (singing and acoustic guitar by Louis Vlahakis). The ceremony was on the same terrace that we had our welcome dinner the previous night. My sister officiated and made the ceremony so personalized. Lars and I each shared our own vows, and we walked out to Louis Vlahakis performing “You’ve Got the Love” by Florence and the Machine. The group had a toast at Fanari Villas before we took our cars over to El Viento for our reception.
El Viento is this amazing new (I think it opened in 2019??) venue in a different town on the island of Santorini. We walked in to “500 Miles.” Louis Vlahakis had learned our favorite song — “Grow Old with Me” by Tom Odell — for our first dance, which we had as the sun set behind us. Lars danced with his mom, while I simultaneously danced with my dad to “Home” by Phillip Phllips.
After dinner, my dad gave a speech, followed by a speech by Lars’s two brothers.
My sister then surprised us with a huge collection of well wishes from most of our original wedding guests! She had worked with Lars’s family to send out letters to all of our original wedding guests asking them to share some well wishes and advice, knowing how much it would have meant to us to be able to celebrate with them all. She provided them all with cards with stamped return envelopes, and Lars’s family brought theirs from the Netherlands and my sister carried the ones she received from the US. It was the sweetest surprise!!
The next day we had chartered a private catamaran for a 5 hr trip with delicious Greek wine and grilling.
It was the best three days of our lives. And, while it was not the wedding we had initially imagined, it ended up being better than we could have ever hoped for. We have never been so happy in our lives. And our families got to spend more time together than they otherwise ever would have been able to. It was perfect. The pandemic had a way of putting things into perspective. We’re grateful for that.
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Photography: Elias Kordelakos | Floral Design: Betty Flowers Santorini | Wedding Dress: Carolina Herrera | Cake: PetranArt Santorini | Ceremony Venue: Fanari Villas | Reception Venue: El Viento | Catering: PetranArt Santorini | DJ: Louis Vlahakis | DJ: Jay Calpin | Groom's Attire: Suit Supply | Beauty: Marianna Nomikou | Beauty: Renia Bledaki | Rehearsal Dinner Venue: Fanari Villas | Rentals: Spicy Bites | Rentals: Weddings & Whimsy