A Strong Santorini WeddingWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Megan Saul Photography
Taylor and Michael explained it best when they said, “[We] are not traditional people and are always up for an adventure.” After learning about their destination wedding, I would say they’re right! These two followed their own path from the very beginning and what resulted was a beautiful wedding day in Santorini, Greece. “We chose a destination wedding because both Michael and I have a strong desire to travel and see the world,” says the bride. “So, what better way to explore than with the people we love in having our very own destination wedding? Having a destination wedding was a no-brainer for Michael and I.”
While their loved ones weren’t surprised to learn that the couple was opting for a wedding away, Taylor and Michael still had some tricks up their sleeves. “Most of our family responded well and were excited that we chose Greece as our destination,” says Taylor. “However, it did not sit well with all family members, which then lead Michael and I to think outside of the box. We truly wanted everyone included, so we decided before the destination wedding that we would have another wedding at home for everyone to be included.”
Apparently never ones to take the traditional route, these two truly got creative and surprised their friends and family with an at-home wedding. “We threw a surprise backyard wedding at our engagement party,” says the bride. “While everyone was eating, I snuck away and changed into my wedding dress from my white cocktail dress. Michael got on the microphone and announced to everyone that this was not the engagement party they had expected to attend – this was our wedding! He called up his grandpa to marry us (he did know about the surprise, so he could get ordained), followed by calling up our very surprised groomsmen and bridesmaids. We read our Buddhist vows to each other, had our first dance and got away with the partying!”
By getting creative, this couple had their cake and ate it too, in a way. All 200 guests who attended the “engagement party” were also invited on the Grecian adventure. “We told everyone about Greece through our specialized save the date cards. All 200 guests were invited if they wanted to come!”
So, why Greece? Frankly, the answer is simple. “To be honest, it was picked to be the location because Michael and I had always wanted to travel there,” says the bride. “We thought it would make a great backdrop for pictures – we were totally right!” In order to keep things as simple and streamlined as possible, the couple decided a cruise was their best option.
“We decided to keep everyone in one place by organizing a Costa Cruise. This way we were able to have the wedding in Santorini, Greece, but we could maximize our first trip to Europe to see many destinations with our guests. Our itinerary included: Venice and Bari, Italy, Corfu, Mykonos and Santorini, Greece, and Dubvronik, Croatia.”
While the couple opted for a cruise with their 15 guests in order to streamline the planning process, it didn’t come without its ups and downs. “The downside of planning a wedding during a stop on a cruise is time,” says Taylor. “We only had about four hours to get to the location and have a wedding. By the time it was all said and done, we only had time for a photoshoot, wine tasting and wine tour. We were okay with not having the ceremony again because we already had one at our surprise engagement party. It was a race against time, but we enjoyed every second of it.”
Even though the day-of didn’t go as planned, the couple was prepared to go with the flow. “I knew we would have to be flexible with our planning and with our guest list,” says the bride. “All-in-all it was pretty smooth, but I was very thankful to have the cruise director to help book the rooms close to each other and take care of payment. Everyone was in charge of their own airfare and their stay before and after the cruise. So, really it was very little work on our end.”
In terms of vendors, there was really only one: Santo Wines Winery in Santorini. The couple knew they wanted to spend their Grecian wedding day there, but was forced to be flexible yet again. “I did contact them via email before we left and did not receive a response,” explains Taylor. “We were determined to go there, so the day before we arrived in Santorini, I contacted them again at which point they answered, giving me the okay and pricing sheet for 15 people for a wine tasting and tour. So, yeah, I guess you can call me crazy working details out at the very last minute, but I was not worried. Things work a bit differently in Europe anyways and they just happened to work out to our advantage.”
Come their Grecian W-Day, the couple and their guests kept things simple. “We showed up at the winery on the cliffside and let that backdrop speak for itself,” says the bride. “We wanted a very non-traditional wedding so there were no frills. Just family, wine, our photographer, a pretty backdrop and my man.”
When asked about their experience planning a destination wedding, the couple has an honest and informed answer. “Well, since we have both weddings to compare side-by-side, the destination wedding was definitely the way to go! The only thing we had to pay for was the wine tasting and tour in Greece, our outfits, our airfare and our stay. It even allowed us to save a bit of money to then stay and spend a total of five weeks backpacking in Europe for our honeymoon.”
Even though this couple faced more obstacles than most, they remained positive throughout the process and look back on their entire wedding experience with joy. “I am so grateful to have the incredible memories, amazing pictures and unforgettable stories from our destination wedding,” says Taylor. “We often think back to that magical time and wish we were there to experience it again.”
Vendors: Photographer: Megan Saul Photography, Wedding Planner/Cruise Coordinator: Chris Boyer with Costa Cruise, Ceremony/Reception Site: Santo Wines Winery, Gown Designer: Altered Vintage Dress, Groom’s Clothing Designer: J.Crew
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