How to plan a wedding in Greece, 10 tips from our bride Lindsay on taking the plunge
So you want to get married in Greece? California based bride Lindsay and her Husband Kyle got married in Lake Vouliagmeni Greece- Sight Unseen. We sat down with our bride and talked about the challenges and benefits of having a destination wedding in Europe.
1. Q How did you decide to get married in Greece/ have a destination wedding?
A: Kyle and I love to travel! We have been to many places together and we wanted to keep up with our traveling passion so we decided to get married abroad. We had a few places that we loved on our travels and wanted to return to but thought, with getting married and moving forward with our lives, traveling would get harder for us, so we figured we should pick a place we had never been before to be able to add to our growing list of destinations. In addition to planning on a budget, we knew with our big families it could get quite costly having a local wedding and having a destination wedding would help with cutting costs.
2. Q How was booking the sight unseen?!
A: Booking Lake Vouliagmeni was the best decision we made in our wedding planning. However, booking it unseen was hard. We had seen many lovely pictures and videos of the venue, but you just never really know if they were photo shopped or they just happen to catch the place on a good day, but we were more than pleased when we actually saw the venue. It looked just like the pictures and videos, actually, even more beautiful in person! There was a lot of trust that goes into your wedding planner when it comes to having your wedding at a venue unseen, but as long as you have a good wedding planner, you can keep it a nice surprise for you an your fiance on your special day, which we really enjoyed.
3. Q: What were the biggest challenges in planning a destination wedding in Greece?
A: One of the biggest challenges we faced with planning the destination wedding was not being in control, or having the ability to handle things that we knew needed to get done. You rely solely on your wedding planner to get things done, and hoping your wedding planner to understands the vision you have for everything. Since we planned our wedding destination to be in Europe, we also faced the European way of life, in which, they are very easy going and take their time doing things. We didn’t get the fast responses to our emails or questions like you would here in the US. You also face a time difference, having to stay up late or get up really early in order to reach them during their work hours. Language barriers can also be difficult, but we did get lucky that our wedding planner spoke perfect English.
4. Q : Any advice for future couples planning a destination wedding?
A: If we could give some advice to other couples planning a destination wedding, we would highly suggest doing scheduled FaceTime calls with your wedding planner and having a structured outline of when you would like to get things done with your planner so they dont take their time or procrastinate leading to stress on the future newlyweds when it gets closer to date. Etsy was a great website to order table decor, wedding presents, and other wedding related things as they ship worldwide, but you will incur some hefty tax and shipping charges. Finding the Amazon or other websites that the locals in your destination area purchase from can help save on some of these costs, and having the items for your wedding shipped to your wedding planner directly so you don’t have to fly all of your decor out there with you. Communicating with all of your guests to make sure everyone is on the same page is really important as well, not only so things go as planned but also so everyone is included in all your festivities leading up to the wedding. Last suggestion is to do everything in your power to not check bags when you fly out there. Work with your family members to see how many of them will let you use their carry-on for your items to help you keep your stuff with you, and most importantly, your dress with you! We had the inevitable happen with half of our guests loosing their luggage on their flight out, so its just best, you have all items with you during your transportation to your wedding venue.
5. Q: What legally do you have to do for the wedding documents in a destination wedding?
A: Anyone can have a destination wedding, but for it to be legal, you must make sure to do the research for the area you plan to wed. Every city, state and country has different rules for your wedding to be legal both in their country and yours. Such things as going to city hall to request the certificate a certain amount of days prior to the wedding, having your wedding published in their local paper, being properly wed by a local officiant, and a certain time frame of getting your license back to city hall and then back to your country. There can be many many hoops to jump through for it to be legal in both countries and therefor, some couples choose to wed in the states prior to their destination ceremony. Its all up to personal preference.
6. Q: As your photographer, I really pushed for the day after session in the Athenian Rivera to get wedding images you can’t get on wedding day, how was the experience for you both? Did the salt water really Trash your Dress?
A: Kyle and I had loved the idea of jumping in the water after the wedding. There was a little hesitation on how the Mothers would feel about the so called “trash the dress”, but after a little persuasion, we were back on board! Not only did our pictures come out completely amazing and breathtaking, but it was an experience we really enjoyed with each other as a freshly married couple. You spend so much time being poise and wearing your smile throughout the night, that after some dancing and partying with everyone, it was a great way to really let loose and have some FUN with just each other! If anyone doubts the thoughts of having such an experience and ruining their dress… you have to think of two things; 1. After spending all that money on a dress, are you really ever going to be able to wear it again? Will it just sit in a box at the top of your closet for many years to come, or will you get some amazing pictures to add to your already incredible wedding album? 2. Even if you plan to wear it again, or keeping the dress in the slim hopes that your future daughters or granddaughters would not find it out dated and want to wear it, you can simply take the dress straight to the cleaners and they can clean the dress for you almost to brand new! Your dress already gets so dirty from the ground and the train dragging behind you, and the dirty dance floor, taking a little dip is not going to damage the dress anymore than it already is. I suggest squeezing every ounce of joy out of your expensive dress that you can, and underwater pictures are totally worth it!!
7. Q: Where did you honeymoom in Greece?
A: For our honeymoon, we really wanted to get the most out of Greece, so we toured the local islands after our big day. We took a big boat taxi to Mykonos, Naxos, and Santorini. We were told these were the best islands to visit and we were not disappointed! After seeing the mainland and the 3 islands, we are convinced that any of the Greece islands would have been just as gorgeous. Greece was an incredible place to visit and with some of the most friendly, sweet, and caring people we have come across in our travels. Greece has left a lasting impression on our hearts and we cant wait to go back!
8. Q: Any tips/ must sees when in Greece?
A: To share some tips on traveling to Greece, we highly suggest taking some cash with you and using it more than your credit card as the VAT (Greece Tax) is currently at 24% and can really end up being a costly trip when paying with your credit card every where. If you pay in cash, in some cases, you can avoid the VAT saving you some dough. We also suggest doing your research and knowing where you’re going and how much it cost as there are few taxis and sometimes they can just charge you a flat rate to their liking. If you negotiate or agree ahead of time, it can save you a hefty bill at the end of the ride. They do have their own Uber type app called BEAT that you can download that will charge you by the mile like Uber does, but if you go to the remote islands, you will not be able to use BEAT, that only works on the mainland. If you feel comfortable enough, renting a quad, vespa, or a car is the best option to getting yourself around! Just be aware the roads are very narrow and buses do not pay attention to on coming traffic, so be aware of your surroundings and be smart with your rental choices that you know how to operate. Last piece of advice would be to pay for excursions and fun activities prior to traveling and by reaching out to the companies yourself. There is always a mark up if you use a travel agent, or book through your hotels, etc. Taking a private sailing boat tour on any of the islands is a must! You wont be disappointed with any of the boat tours on any of the islands. Greece is beautiful in all areas and waters!
9. Q: Family and friends getting to Greece- did you have a website, when they had questions about your wedding, how did you get them the answers?
A: Many family and friends had questions about traveling, especially ones that have never traveled before! Best way to get information out to everyone was to have a website where people could go for information and that would be available to them in case they forgot, they could always revert back to the website. Its helpful to guests when you list all of your activities, places that you will be at, addresses and phone numbers, and all wedding details. People will continue to text or call you, but having a website definitely cuts down those calls and texts leaving you with more time to enjoy everything vs being on the phone the whole time.
10. Q How did you find your wedding venue in Lake Vouliagmeni?
10. When Kyle and I started looking into destination weddings, we researched all over the globe for the perfect wedding spot and this beautiful picture popped up on pinterest and we fell in love! We priced out a few other places that were in the running and Greece was not only one of the more affordable options to make sure our families could be able to attend, but we just kept going back to that picture that had our hearts. That’s when we knew, Greece was where we were meant to be and to start our lives as Mr. and Mrs.
Second Photographer: Kip Roof
Video: Sosa Studios (Christian Sosa) – Coto De Caza, CA
Hair Color: Chelsie Weeks – Ambiance, Claremont, CA
Hair Extensions: Jen Park – Studio 486, Newport, CA
Hair/make Up: Aristotelis Gavathas – Athens, GR
Cake: Ruby Cake Custom Desserts – Athens, GR
Planner: Poshum Events – Athens, GR
Venue: Lake Vouliagmeni – Vouliagmeni, GR
Caterer: Lake Vouliagmeni – Vouliagmeni, GR
Lighting/Sound/Photobooth/Violinist: SoundVoice – Vouliagmeni, GR
Florist: Studio 7 Florist – Athens, GR
Dress Shop: Mon Amie Bridal Salon – Costa Mesa, CA