Wedding Bells Are Ringing in Greece: A Destination Wedding GuideBy Helen Iatrou
Peeking into blue and white domed churches. Sharing sunsets that seem to go on forever. Walking barefoot on pebbled beaches past wooden fishing boats bobbing in seas that twinkle in the moonlight. When the time comes to plan your big day, the thought of a destination wedding in Greece is guaranteed to give you and your amore goose bumps.
The first Greek island dream destination that comes to mind when you think about tying the knot is, undoubtedly, Santorini.
Imagine leading your spouse-to-be down cobblestone alleyways amid whitewashed traditional cave houses that open up to reveal staggeringly beautiful vistas of the famed caldera and a cobalt Aegean Sea.
Add Greek tradition to the affair with local lute-playing musicians accompanying you and your beloved to the ceremony. Alternatively, you may prefer having dynamic electric violinist Leida perform a number or two at the afterparty.
After you’ve exchanged vows, spend some you-and-me time relaxing on sun loungers or in your own cabana at Seaside Santorini, one of numerous hip beach bars lining black sand Perivolos Beach. Cool off with an invigorating swim and sample haute Hellenic dishes like octopus carpaccio and Santorinian fava (pureed yellow split pea) with smoked eel.
Santorini Horse Riding will take you and your partner clip-clopping through Megalohori village beneath bell towers and past pastel-colored homes, where life has altered little over the years.
Don’t miss: Make your nuptials especially memorable with a sunset catamaran tour of the caldera. Stretch out on one of the trampolines with a glass of velvety sweet Vinsanto wine and drink in views of Santorini’s cliffside villages painted in twilight hues of lilac, tangerine and canary yellow.
Where to stay: Nestled inland at Megalohori with roots in a 400-year-old winery, Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort, Santorini feels like a plush village within a village. Book the ceremony at the hotel or celebrate with a beach bonfire and barbecue. Surprise your boo with a couples volcanic Hot Stone Ritual at the atmospheric Asian Spa.
Crete may be Greece’s largest island, but there are tiny pockets that are beyond romantic.
In the northeast is the low-key resort town of Elounda, home to exclusive hotels washed by the turquoise waters of the Mirabello Gulf. Royalty and celebrities come here to stay and play in divine seclusion.
Cretans are a passionate, hospitable bunch renowned for their love of festivities, and as in other parts of the country, weddings in Crete customarily lasted for three spirited days; some still do. You, too, can stretch out the fun for that long.
Nourish your bodies with wholesome Cretan cuisine, believed by many to be the foundation of the Mediterranean diet, crafted with produce and herbs grown on this fertile island. Take your wedding party on a food tour or convince your partner to join you in a cooking class and learn how to make local dishes like braised snails with rosemary.
Head to Plaka village to pick up a piece of handmade pottery and savor expertly grilled fish and seafood at one of the many seafront tavernas. Tiny Fourni village, a 10-minute drive from Plaka, is where you’ll find a hidden culinary gem — the plane tree–shaded taverna O Platanos, which specializes in succulent lamb chops and eggs with staka butter.
Spoil yourselves with a tasting of Cretan wines and cheeses aboard an authentic hand-built wooden caique as it sails along Elounda’s coastline.
Don’t miss: Spend a few hours exploring historic Spinalonga islet, which features Roman, Venetian and Ottoman relics. In the early 20th century, it served as a leper colony and later inspired U.K. author Victoria Hislop’s bestselling novel, “The Island.”
Where to Stay: Brides- and grooms-to-be can fan the flames of romance alongside their guests at the island’s spectacular Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection or Domes Noruz Chania, Autograph Collection resorts.
The Cycladic wild child isle of Mykonos is not just an obligatory stop on the Mediterranean party circuit. It also happens to be a brilliant destination to say “I do.”
Schedule your wedding outside the peak summer months of July and August and you’ll have the opportunity to experience the island in a more relaxed light.
Rent a car, grab a sunshade and drive to more isolated beaches like Fokos, where a sole taverna owned by a Canadian serves Lebanese- and Peruvian-inspired dishes like lime-scented sea bass ceviche. Seek out peaceful Houlakia for a swim; then follow the winding dirt road to Fanari, where you’ll find the old Armenistis Lighthouse, a lookout offering remarkable views.
Don’t miss: Connect with your ancient spirit by hopping on a boat to the sacred isle of Delos, once a multicultural utopia of sorts, and wandering through its vast archaeological site.
Where to Stay: Tucked away in a quiet corner of Ornos Bay, Santa Marina, a Luxury Collection Resort, Mykonos, is as chic as they come. While away daylight hours at the hotel’s private sandy beach, and at night, dine in style at Mykonos’ take on Buddha Bar as DJs spin tunes till late.