What did you choose to marry in Santorini and why in particular the Santorini Gem
Although I have seen many beautiful weddings abroad, as soon I laid eyes on Santorini I just knew it was the place I needed to get married. It ticked all the boxes for us. The white washed architectural background overlooking the most scenic backdrop is a sight everyone needs to experience. It was always between two venues for us. Le Ceil and the Gem. I knew I wanted to stay at whichever venue I chose for both the ceremony and the reception. However, we decided to choose the Gem as although Le Ciel is equally as beautiful, I personally preferred a venue whereby my guests would be outdoors all night. Visiting Santorini Gem for the first time a few years ago, my breath was taken away and I simple froze. It was just perfect. The majestic view of the caldera made it the most perfect setting for both ourselves and our guests.
How far in advance did you book your wedding?
We booked our wedding almost 2 years in advance. This wasn’t necessary intentional, however we visited the venues august 2017, and as soon as I returned back to the UK I was so eager to get a date booked and a venue secured. However, I definitely think I would have booked with at least 18 month’s notice. I wanted to give my guests enough time to save up and give their holiday notice at work.
How many guests came to Santorini for the wedding?
We had 45 guests attend. We knew a lot of family members wouldn’t fly to join us so we didn’t feel as though they ‘declined’ our invite as such. I wanted an intimate wedding with only close friends and family, yet still able to feel party atmosphere on our reception. The number was perfect for us.
Tell us about your amazing dress….
I had dreamed about wearing an Enzoani wedding dress the moment I got engaged! My Pinterest board was covered in brides all wearing Enzoani and I couldn’t wait to start dress shopping! However, I had put off going shopping for my dress for so long as I wanted to feel ‘bride ready’ first. I was really apprehensive at the thought of someone dressing me and potentially telling me the dress of my dreams didn’t suit me. However, after some dutch courage I visited ‘The Harrogate Wedding Lounge’. The boutique is beautiful. I booked an appointment and had the shop to myself.
I originally envisioned I would have straps, lace, low back and a slight plunge, however after trying many on I just don’t think it suited my shape very much. It’s hard to not to feel slightly disheartened when what you thought was your ‘dream dress’ doesn’t suit you, however please give it time, there is a dress for every bride’s shape, I promise!
I then set my eyes on the Larissa dress. I was drawn to the classic appearance of the dress. It’s such an effortlessly sophisticated dress and oh so timeless from top to bottom! I also adored the elegant yet ‘sexy’ strapless look! Not to mention the train, I literally have no words I think the beauty of it speaks for itself. I knew I wanted a statement train, and this definitely delivered. Purely breath-taking. I teamed it up with a custom-made cathedral veil which paired together so beautifully.
Tell us about your accessories
So, due to an ever expanding wedding budget, I settled with some bridal shoes from Asos. Despite originally wanting some Jimmy Choos, they actually turned out to be the comfiest shoes I own! I am so glad I didn’t splash out on my wedding shoes as they don’t stay on all night anyway, and I would have been heartbroken if I damaged them during my photoshoot. The only jewellery (apart from my wedding ring) I wore were a pair of delicate drop down crystal earrings by Swarovski.
We loved the classic looks the groom had, did you decide on this or Chris?
If the groom had it his way, he would have worn shorts and a short-sleeved shirt! I can’t remember the amount of times I heard ‘It will be far too hot in a suit’. However, there was no way I was organising a glam wedding for him to wear that haha. I have always loved the look of a black tux and just thought it would be perfect for Santorini. We bought all the suits from Moss London, and Chris had his custom made. The page boy suits were from Next. These were true to size, however I downsized in the trousers to create the ankle grazer look to wear with their loafers.
Tell us about what the bridesmaids wore.
My bridesmaid dresses were from Jarlo London, and were a subtle rose gold colour. They were elegant and fit my girls beautifully. I especially loved the trains on the back of them.
Tell us about the flowers in your bouquet and why you chose them?
My favourite flowers are white roses so I knew they had to appear in my bouquet, however after searching some Pinterest posts I loved the contrast between the white flowers and greenery. I teamed my bouquet up with some gypsophilia bouquets for my bridesmaids and they looked lovely together.
Tell us about the rest of the décor/flowers you chose.
I didn’t really have a theme as such, but I knew I didn’t want any bold colours. My original idea even for the bridesmaid dresses was for them to wear white but I struggled finding a dress. I love the elegance of white surroundings and simple décor. I wanted classy and I believe sometimes less in more. Despite loving my gazebo flowers as much as my table centre pieces, I wish I had the gazebo plain as it really does look just as beautiful. And plus, it would have saved a few pennies too!
What about the smaller details of the day?
All of our stationary including menus and name tags were made from a lady who I found on Esty. They all had silver foil writing and the font was fancy and sophisticated. I then hired a mirrored seating plan by a company called illuminography which was just a perfect touch to our day.
For our favours, I purchased miniature alcohol bottles and placed them each in an organza clear bag. I teamed them up with some silver chocolate hearts and they went down a treat. I also provided everyone with their own wooden fan which they used throughout the ceremony. My guests still mention this was a great idea and they weren’t expensive either.
Entertainment was a priority for me and something I worked hard to get right. With the majority of my guests being friends all under the age of 30 I knew they would want to be up on the dance floor all night. I had a DJ within my wedding package for 3 hours, however I upgraded this so there was always some music. We also had a singer who was absolutely outstanding and one of the reasons I would visit Santorini in the future is to have him sing for me again. He sang ‘A Thousand Years’ as I walked down the aisle which is a moment none of us will forget. He also sang throughout our dinner which was a great vibe and got all my guests up and singing to the likes of Oasis. Furthermore, he sang and kept my guests entertained whilst myself and my husband went off for our photoshoot.
Lastly, we booked a saxophonist which was also amazing. We provided him with many dance tracks and he created an amazing vibe, we never saw a guest sit down. The Saxophonist in particular was a special moment for me, as I had planned the wedding for so long I really wanted to just relax, laugh and just have fun on my wedding day and by having the sax I did just that.
How did you find the planning process?
Hand on heart I have absolutely loved the planning process. If I could do it at all again I would. I found it helpful staying organised in terms of keeping a record of any suppliers booked or how much you owe someone etc. I made an excel sheet, and although it sounds extremely geeky it helped me visualise the day itself. However, the legal side to getting married abroad can be extremely daunting and I honestly don’t think I would have managed if it wasn’t for Lisa at the Bridal Consultants. Lisa was the first person who I contacted when I enquired about marrying in Santorini and she has been nothing short of amazing. She has answered all of my emails honestly and promptly and always reassured me if I ever had any doubts.
What is your best memory or memories from the day?
OK, so one of the most amazing visions I have from our wedding day is seeing Chris at the end of the aisle. His emotions were pure and his reaction to seeing me was something I had only dreamed of. I guess when people ask the groom if they will cry when they see their bride, the first answer to think of is no. However, seeing him full of emotion, with his best man handing him a tissue really pulled at my heart strings. Especially as in the whole 11 years of been with him I have only seen him cry a handful of times! It was the most surreal and incredible feeling as I had been dreaming of that moment my whole life and seeing his reaction was just something I will remember forever. It really was the most perfect feeling in the world, something only the two of us felt that moment.
The photographer managed to capture the real emotion of the day and I am honestly in awe when I look at the photos. One particular special moment was standing at the altar and exchanging the vows. This moment was just about us and everything felt so calm, as if we had no audience. We gazed into each other’s eyes the whole time and this moment will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Our eldest son also read out a little reading for us. I always wanted my children to play a big role into the wedding, however it was touch and go if our 8-year-old would have the confidence to stand up and read. But he did and it was beyond perfect. Even writing this brings back all of those precious and unforgettable memories. These moments were a few special highlights of what was truly an amazing wedding day.
What do you think makes a wedding abroad stand out from a wedding in the UK?
I have always known I would get married abroad, it is the guaranteed sunshine that sold it to us. Also, I love the fact it a wedding abroad can be spread over more than one day. For us to have our family and best friends on holiday for a week was just magical. We made so many memories which will last a lifetime. I also didn’t feel any pressure to invite certain members of my family, which is something I believe I would feel is I was to marry in the UK.
Do you have any advice to pass onto future brides?
Everyone had told me to make sure we took a moment to step back and take it all in. I didn’t understand what people meant by this at first, however now I totally get it! The day is so structured and a timeline is set in place to help make the day run smoothly, yet this makes it go incredibly fast. Take the time to look at what you’ve made happen!! After all, there’s been a lot of hard work gone in to making the day happen, it would be heart-breaking to think you didn’t take the time to take stock and really appreciate it.
Another bit of advice would be to try not to worry unnecessarily especially on the day (easier said than done I know, but just let me finish). I was so anxious and caught up with worry on the day about whether people would enjoy the wedding.
I felt the pressure with having to entertain my guests in particular, to the point that I wanted reassurance that they were ok.
- Was there enough drink provided for them?
- Was the food ok?
- Will my song list which I spent months organising get people up dancing?
The list goes on, when to be quite frank these things shouldn’t have even been a thing. Don’t get caught up in making sure things are perfect. The planning is over and all you can do is take in the experience and enjoy it.
Did you stick to your original budget?
This is a hard question. We booked a package through The Bridal Consultant which included food, DJ, photographer etc., however we did decide to upgrade these which added more cost. The photographer for example, was a team I had my eyes on since getting engaged, so the extra cost of upgrading to these wasn’t a problem for us. We also added on a few suppliers ourselves such as videographer, and although when money seems tight and it sounds a good idea to remove some suppliers I am so glad we didn’t and I cannot wait to see our video and re live our special day. I think it is important that whilst planning you prioritise exactly what you want. I knew by booking my singer I may not be able to have as many flowers as I originally would have liked. So, in terms of sticking to a budget, I guess I didn’t, however I felt as though I was fully in control and anything over was done intently. Furthermore, I think it’s important to separate your wedding day to your actual ‘holiday’ too. We spent a lot on the days prior to the wedding on boat trips and organising a white party for our guests but this was something we wanted to do and something we had saved for.