Dana Villas is one of our most popular wedding venues in Santorini and it’s easy to see why. The serene setting and breathtaking views over the Caldera make this the perfect wedding location!
Hannah and Marc fell in love with this gorgeous venue and on the 12th of June 2015 were saying their I do’s whilst surrounded by their closest friends and family.
This morning I’m chatting with the bride herself who is sharing with us the details from her wedding day.
Why did you choose to get married in Santorini, Dana Villas in particular?
We identified that we wanted to get married abroad pretty much as soon as we got engaged, as we wanted something small and intimate with minimal fuss and none of the stress associated with the planning of a wedding in the UK. An old boss of mine was married in Santorini several years ago and recommended it to us, so I did some research online. The first image that came up was the Dana Villas terrace and I immediately fell in love!
How long in advance did you book your wedding?
We first made enquiries in September 2013, with a view to getting married exactly a year later on our 9 year anniversary. However, due to the popularity of Dana, the next available opportunity wasn’t until June 2015. We were faced with the dilemma of settling for an alternative venue, or postponing our perfect day until the following year. Despite the amazing other venues on the island, my heart was set on Dana, so we opted to wait!
We also toyed with the idea of having our ceremony at Dana and reception elsewhere, but in the end, and after receiving some valuable pointers from Lisa about the size and capacity of some of the other options, we decided that we’d like to make the most of the spectacular views from Dana and stay there for as long as possible. We are so pleased that we decided on this, as the reception terrace was stunningly beautiful and meant that we could make the most of our day without having to travel between venues.
How many guests did you invite to your wedding and how many accepted and attended?
We invited 16 people in total, all close family and friends. We had a very high acceptance rate, with only two couples unable to attend due to other commitments. We ended up with a total of 12 guests, including my two bridesmaids and both sets of parents.
You look lovely in your dress! What make was it and how many dresses did you try on before finding ‘the one’!?
My dress was a bit of a nightmare to find! I travelled the length of the country, visiting various wedding shops and tried on in the region of 75 dresses before losing count! I thought I’d found ‘the one’, but then a day later visited a wedding fair with my mum and fell in love with a dress that had been custom made by a lady who has a lovely business not five minutes’ walk from my house. I had a consultation, but something just didn’t feel right.
Luckily, a close friend of mine convinced me to spend one last day dress shopping in our nearest town before putting down the deposit on a custom-made dress, as more of a girls’ day out and a last opportunity to try on beautiful dresses, rather than thinking we’d actually find anything! We visited a small boutique and tried on at least 10 dresses (including one HUGE ‘princess’ dress which was amazing but not the sensible choice for Santorini!) before I was handed a beautiful lace, mermaid style gown with a sweetheart neckline. As soon as I had the dress on, I knew it was right for me, It was everything I didn’t want… strapless, lace up back, fitted…. But I just knew that was my dress and I felt amazing in it! It was the Belamie dress by Pure Bridal, and came in at less than a third of the price of the dress I was planning on having made.
What about your shoes and accessories? Where were they from?
After making such a saving on my wedding dress, Marc, my husband-to-be, jokingly suggested that I might want to spend the extra on a pair of Jimmy Choos! The seed was sown, but in the end, I didn’t feel I could justify the £400 for the pair I wanted, and ended up finding a very similar gold sparkly pair from Dune. My other accessories on the day were kept understated, with a rose gold druzy necklace, stamped with our initials which I had custom made in America via Etsy and matching earrings. I purchased some cheap and tacky white heart-shaped sunglasses for me and the bridesmaids as a jokey prop for photos when we were getting ready, but they went down so well that we ended up wearing them for most of the day! My sister even tried to keep hers on as she followed me into the ceremony, and had to be told to take them off!
Marc looks smart in his attire! Where was this purchased?
Marc’s outfit was kept casual on the big day, with a white Ted Baker shirt, dark grey trousers and waistcoat, which we purchased from a shop in our local town.
We love the bridesmaids dresses! Where were these from?
With my bridesmaids being located in Birmingham (3 hours away from home) and The Netherlands, shopping for their dresses was a bit of a nightmare! Luckily, we managed to arrange a weekend where we could get together and travelled to Birmingham to try on some styles and get an idea of what suited the girls. I knew that I wanted a neutral palette, and also that I didn’t want to go for the standard structured bridesmaid dress, but we were unable to find anything on our shopping trip. I ended up buying and sending out several styles of dresses for the girls to try on at home, followed by lots of group WhatsApp conversations and pictures! We finally struck lucky with the Avra dress from Coast in Mink. It looked lovely on both bridesmaids, and is hopefully something they’ll be able to wear again the future.
Your bouquet made up of pink hydrangeas is gorgeous! Why did you choose these flowers in paticular?
I’ve always had a thing for hydrangeas, even growing them as a child in my parents’ garden (one even survives to this day!), so I was delighted to see that there was an option for a hydrangea bouquet and table arrangements when we received the brochure. I was so thrilled with my bouquet on the day; it was better than I ever could have imagined and was absolutely beautiful. Initially, I’d planned to make myself a brooch bouquet, and had been collecting brooches from vintage shops, car boot sales and family members for over three years before the wedding. However, once I’d chosen my dress, I decided that it wasn’t going to look quite right, so decided to use the brooches to make two smaller bouquets for my bridesmaids. They went well with the dresses, but apparently were quite heavy to carry around all day!
Did you theme your wedding?
We didn’t have a theme as such for the big day as we wanted to focus on keeping it casual and relaxed and enjoying the time with those closest to us. One thing we did have plenty of was small, homemade touches – a theme that we carried through to our big reception party when we got home. I spent hours scavenging inspiration from Pinterest, made loads of bits myself, and managed to source lots of lovely, unusual, personalised pieces from Etsy and local independent crafty people, including our ring box, invitations, jewellery, personalised hangers for my dress and the bridesmaids’, and the ‘Bride’ and ‘Groom’ silver cutlery that we used at our wedding breakfast.. My garter was made by my lovely friend Laura at Blu Valentine bridal lingerie, and it was so nice to wear something made by a friend on my special day.
We want to hear all about the smaller details of the day! The favours, tables, menu and cake, did you have any entertainment?
Our favours were CDs which looked like vinyl records, and the track listing consisted of some of the key songs played on the day, such as the music I walked in to, our first dance and some of the party tunes from later on in the evening. These also doubled as place cards on the tables, as I added a hand-written, gold embossed name tag to each, along with a small tube of bubbles for blowing later on.
We decided to have 2 round tables of 7 for the wedding breakfast, which worked out really well on the day. We had mostly family on one table with us, and friends and a bridesmaid on the other table and as the venue was so intimate. The tables were close together and we were able to chat freely between the two, which was lovely.
Our menu was a bit of a mish-mash of the set menus, in order to try to please all of the guests (I can’t imagine the hassle of trying to arrange this at a large wedding!), and it was absolutely beautiful. One of our guests is gluten free, and the chef came to visit us during our pre-wedding visit to the venue to give us various menu options, which we were able to confirm via email later that day. Everything was beautifully presented, and to say the food was plentiful doesn’t even come close – we were all absolutely stuffed and didn’t even manage any wedding cake!
Music is a really big thing to us, and the soundtrack to our day was really important. Luckily, we were able to provide our own music for the entire day, from my entrance, through the champagne reception after the ceremony and the meal, to the party afterwards. We spent many a happy Friday evening at home putting together the perfect playlist with the help of a few beers or glasses of wine, and it really paid off. One of the best moments of the whole day was watching the spectacular sunset, looking over the volcano with Florence and the Machine playing in the background, which has now become the unofficial wedding theme song according to most of the guests!
How did you find the planning experience from booking to the big day?
From start to finish the whole experience was stress-free and seamless. Lisa and the team in the UK made everything crystal clear in terms of what needed to be done and by when, and provided help with the legal elements, which I’ll admit seemed really daunting at first! There were so many lovely options to personalise your day over and above the standard package, but we pretty much stuck with the basics and everything was beautiful. When we arrived in Santorini, the team out there went out of their way to make sure that we were comfortable with everything and that our day was going to run exactly as we wanted it. Their attention to detail was phenomenal, and we were made to feel very special indeed. The staff at Dana were also amazing, considering that weddings are run of the mill for them and happen on a day-to-day basis, they were so attentive and made sure that we felt so important and we were treated like royalty – nothing was too much trouble.
What do you think makes a wedding abroad stand out from a wedding in the UK?
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a wedding abroad to anyone, even more so now after our own fabulous experience. There is no pressure, stress or worry throughout the entire process, and the day itself is so relaxed – I don’t know many other brides who were drinking champagne in the pool and sunbathing a few hours before their ceremony! We were able to enjoy our day with our closest family and friends without worrying about a thing as everything was taken care of for us, and enjoyed a fantastic week in the sun as an added bonus.
We love how Hannah incorporated hand made touches into her special day! Will you be adding any personal touches to your wedding day?
Venue – Dana Villas | Wedding Planner – The Bridal Consultant | Brides dress – Pure Bridal | Brides shoes – Dune | Brides Jewellery – Etsy | Grooms shirt – Ted Baker | Bridesmaid dresses – Coast | Brides Garter – Blue Valentine