Are you planning to have a destination wedding in Greece? It is probably a really good choice, since you’ll have many great scenarios to choose for your big day.
Start planning your destination wedding in Greece
- Your venue is the most important choice. “Private estates get booked quite fast, way ahead. Do not insist on Friday, Saturday or Sunday wedding if you do not have to! The prices will be higher and good vendors will charge more for those days since most Greeks like having their Big Greek Weddings around weekends as well. If you plan a wedding for 20-50 people, better look for week days”, recommends Anna Laudanska.
- Be careful with distances. “Wild looking places with natural beauty are positioned quite away from tourist infrastructure where most accommodation can be found. Try to limit your wedding travelling! Although the place can look simple and have good prices, you may end up paying quite a lot for transportation”, alerts Anna Laudanska.
- Sea view locations and villas are always in high demand but there are not so many that allow private weddings. “Any sea side location has usually restrictions concerning how loud the music can be. Usually after midnight the volume must go down. So if you are planning a crazy party till the morning hours, you’d better look for inland place”, says Anna Laudanska.
- Most people want something simple but do not realize all the logistics that stand behind “simple” outdoor events. “They do not realize that placing 100 chairs on the lonely, secluded beach with heat of 40 degrees Celsius has its own particular cost. They think that working without wedding planner will lower their costs if they find all the vendors. Most commonly, they end up having an event where some parts do not work at all since no one took care of their implementation. For example: the photo booths are set up with cameras missing batteries, decoration is placed in the spots that no one sees it, etc”, suggests Anna. Wedding planner: Olympia Giannopoulou
- Like any kind of wedding, it is important to set a budget. “It is wise to have a local wedding planner, and speak with the professional to see if it is realistic. If the answer is yes, think very carefully about what exactly you need. Try to avoid the trap of being excited and start booking vendors. Suddenly, you’ll be surprised that you have already spend a lot of money”, advises Olympia Giannopoulou.
- Contact your local wedding planner and decide about the hotel or hotels that you need to book rooms. “Sometimes couples leave this for the last moment. Since you have a wedding abroad, to block the rooms is a must before you sent out the invitations. The hotels are not keeping the rooms forever. A date is set for your guests and relatives to book the rooms. It is important for you guests to know which hotels you have chosen and maybe you got a better price too. This does not mean that you will be paying for their rooms, your guests will and they are usually asked to pay by credit card”, says Olympia Giannopoulou.
- Think seriously about the number of guests. “Make sure that the guest list and the venues match the capacity . It is wise to have a guest list before contacting your wedding planner as the professional will be looking for venues according to the given number. Since you book your Santorini wedding venue, for example, you pay a deposit which is not refundable. So it is important the numbers to be right. Most Santorini wedding venues can not just add 10 extra tables”, explains Olympia Giannopoulou.
Places to get married in Greece
Olympia Giannopoulou suggests Santorini as it is the most romantic place to get married. “The photography is just amazing with that backdrop of the caldera. There are various venues with stunning views and an amazing sunset. The local food and wine are exceptionally good. The couple can organize a pre-wedding event from a beach tavern to a beach party and post events with traditional boat or a catamaran. Also there are a lot of services available in the island like hair-stylists, make-up artists, DJs, musicians, band, fireworks, saxophone and a lot more. People are very familiar with destination weddings and very proffessional. The island has accommodation for all budgets and that is ideal for a destination wedding”, says Olympia Giannopoulou.
According to Olympia Giannopoulou, another destination can be Naxos. “It is less expensive and it has amazing beaches. It is ideal for a beach wedding. Things in Naxos are more simple, you can not find the glamour of Santorini but still is a very beautiful destination”, indicates Olympia.
The wedding planner Anna Laudanska recommends Western Crete as well as West-Southern parts of Crete. “This area has proper infrastructure but is not commercialized with big hotel complexes. It has many great beaches such as Balos, Falassarna, Elafonissi and many small bays, long lonely costal parts close to the town. There is great food, great wineries. You can combine the atmosphere of sea, winery, mountains, olive groves with historical sides. It is a great area for the wedding but also for many activities around your wedding period. And very important! It is a big island where the prices are very competitive comparing with popular wedding destinations in Greece such as Santorini or Mykonos”, defends Anna Laudanska.
Greek traditions for weddings
Greek weddings are known for their many traditions – as seen on “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. According to Anna Laudanska, Greece is an orthodox country so for orthodox weddings there is a whole procedure imposed by the church. “For the reception in Crete, there is pilafi (special rice made on the broth from boiled meat: usually lamb & chicken) served with natural yoghurt and boiled meat on the side. They also give “koufeta” sweet almonds lose or nicely packed. In Crete they also offer sweets called “xerotigana”. Many traditions especially with food can be easily implemented during civil weddings or destination weddings”, explains Anna Laudanska.
Olympia Giannopoulou also mentions a curious wedding tradition: “Thursday before the wedding, people lay the bed and throw money and rose petals on it. On the altar table, there is a tray all the time with sugar almonds and rose petals”, remembers Olympia.
How much does it cost an average destination wedding in Greece?
Wedding planner: Olympia Giannopoulou
Anna and Olympia say that it really depends on the amount of people invited and the couples’ choices. “You can have flowers with 1.000 euro or 3.000 euro. You can have menu with 50 euro a person or 100 euro and more. To host a nice wedding for 50 people during the summer period, you shall not estimate anything lower than 10.000 euro. That is for sure!”, warns Anna Laudanska.
“It is cheaper to have a wedding just the 2 of you than a wedding of 100 people. It also depends on the location – the less touristic, less expensive, but you will not expect the same service as Santorini”, says Olympia Giannopoulou.
What is the best time of the year to do a destination wedding in Greece?
Olympia believes that the best time of the year is end of May to October. “Season starts form April but my suggestion is not to have a wedding before May, as the weather is getting warmer and it is sunny. During the winter, I don’t recommend to get married here”, advises Olympia Giannopoulou.
Anna Laudanska agrees: “Crete is hot, it is Southern part of Europe. Here any time from May on till October is good, but every period has its pros and cons”.
Legal paperwork needed to get married in Greece
The documentation needed for your destination wedding in Greece will depend on where you are from. “For American citizens, for example, it is required to take copies of the couple’s passports, birth certificates long form only, certificate of no impediment and an affidavit indicating that you are free to marry, sworn by each part. These are the basic papers, we speak with the couple and couple and we see if they need more papers, in case they are divorced or they are adapted etc”, explains Olympia Giannopoulou.
If you are interested about the paperwork for a destination wedding in Greece, you can take a look at more information here:
*First photo credit: Wedding Planner – Olympia Giannopoulou | Photo: My Photographer Greece