A wedding or elopement is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and any bride wants their special day to go according to plan as much as possible. The following tips can help you to know what to expect and prepare for if you plan to elope in Santorini, Greece. These recommendations are based on my own experience of getting married at Dana Villas in October 2014.
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1. A good Santorini wedding planner is a must and can be surprisingly affordable
Some wedding venues in Santorini only work with wedding planners and do not accept direct requests from brides. Dana Villas is one of these venues, which forced me to look into the cost of a wedding planner. I was pleasantly surprised that many affordable Santorini wedding packages include the services of a wedding planner.
There are many advantages to having a wedding planner, especially if you are traveling from another country to elope in Santorini, Greece. Wedding planners have a lot of experience with wedding suppliers in Santorini and would choose to only work with reliable ones. Working with a wedding planner saves you the trouble of possibly booking someone unreliable for any vital aspect of your dream wedding, such as your bridal makeup, hair, photos, flowers, or cake.
The peace of mind of having a wedding planner for your Santorini elopement to deal with any issues that may arise throughout the day or leading up to it is also invaluable. The original videographer I wanted for my wedding, for example, got sick just before our wedding day, and thank goodness my wedding planner was able to find a suitable replacement at such short notice through her vast connections.
It’s also risky these days to book services online as many reviews aren’t genuine, and entire websites can be fake, just stealing money from people that think they are paying for a service. Imagine booking the services of a photographer, which can be expensive, only to arrive in Santorini to find out it was a fake website.
I chose Maria Sila from TieTheKnotInSantorini.com to be my wedding planner, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience – she has very high standards and excellent taste. Her customer service leading up to the wedding day and beyond when my photos and wedding video still had to be delivered was fantastic. The suppliers she organized for our elopement were not only professional but kind and thoughtful, which made a big difference to our day as any wedding day can, at times, be very emotional.
Having a wedding planner that is local to Santorini also means you don’t have to deal with language barriers when finding and organizing wedding suppliers. You have access to personalized expertise for island orientation, information, and the legal aspects of getting married in Greece. The wedding planner will also be able to guide you on the local customs and cultural differences that you need to be aware of when getting married in Greece. A wedding planner will also be able to handle your questions professionally, even if they should happen to appear culturally insensitive in any way.
2. Book your Santorini wedding and reception venues in advance
Santorini has become a popular wedding and elopement destination, so book your wedding venue in advance. Don’t be despaired if the wedding venue you have your heart set on is not available; however, the wedding planner will be able to recommend a similar wedding venue for you.
3. You will likely run into other brides on your wedding day
The most beautiful places for photoshoots in Santorini are very popular with tourists and wedding photographers too, so expect to see other brides on your wedding day. I initially thought this would be awkward, but I decided to have fun with it by congratulating the brides walking past me on choosing such a great wedding date! This way, we had a great laugh together, and it was much less awkward.
4. The legal aspects of getting married in Santorini Greece
Our wedding planner advised us of what steps we had to follow and what documents we needed to have a legal wedding in Greece. It could be different for everyone depending on where you are from. As we are South African expats living in Australia, we were required to get a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) from South Africa. A CNI serves as proof to foreign authorities that there are no impediments for you to enter into a marriage.
We then had to have our CNI and birth certificates translated by an official Greek translator in Australia and stamped with an Apostille by a solicitor. We sent scanned copies to our wedding planner, who then had our documents checked by the wedding registrar in Greece, after which we received confirmation that we could proceed with a civil wedding. Getting these documents sorted can take time, and in our case, the CNI had an expiry date of 3 months, so plan accordingly. We took our original documents with us to Greece too.
You will need to go to the City Hall in Santorini after your wedding to obtain your wedding certificate. We didn’t realize this and had planned to leave the island the day after our elopement. Our wedding planner went the extra mile and organized for the celebrant to meet us at the City Hall a bit earlier so that we wouldn’t miss our flight later in the day.Your official marriage certificate will be in Greek when you get married in Greece and sent to you via post after your wedding day. It could take a few weeks to arrive.
When you start changing your name on relevant documents and everywhere else, you may need to have your wedding certificate translated to English or another language depending on the country you are from. As we are from Australia, we were required to have it translated by an official Greek translator in Australia – check the rules in your own country and see if it’s a service your wedding planner provides if needed.
5. Plan enough free days before and after your Santorini wedding day
Extreme weather conditions can arise during the time you need to travel between mainland Athens or other Greek islands to get to Santorini that could delay your transport. It happened to us and caused me to miss some of my essential pre-wedding appointments, such as meeting with the photographer, for example, to discuss what I had in mind. I had emailed him before, though, so he had an idea, but I still wonder what I may have missed in not having that appointment.
Plan to have an extra day or two before the wedding day to meet your wedding planner, inspect the venue, and for speaking to the photographer and videographer. This way you can go over our expectations and wishes for our wedding with them.As mentioned before, you will also need to sign the registry book at the City Hall to get your Marriage Certificate – best to have some spare time after your wedding day to get it done. Check with your wedding planner too, as your wedding date might be during a particularly busy time of the year when there might be longer waiting periods or unexpected delays.
6. It can be very windy in Santorini
If you decide to get married on a rooftop terrace outdoors as I did at Dana Villas, consider the fact that the wind could blow your hair and veil around like crazy! It’s for this reason that I chose a longer, heavier wedding veil and had most of my hair tied up. Standing on the side of the wedding altar where the wind blew towards my face also helped me to avoid possible embarrassing moments such as having hair in my mouth while saying my wedding vows. I saw a photo of another Santorini bride whose veil blew up and looked like a parachute in one of her photos.
Having a windy wedding day can also be a good thing – after the wedding, I played with my veil in the wind, which the photographer and videographer captured beautifully as shown in the photo above. You can also get a good idea of what to expect the wind to be like by watching Santorini wedding videos on Youtube. You will see at 2 minutes and 24 seconds into my wedding video below, you can see the moment I was playing with my veil in the strong wind.
Take likely windy conditions into consideration when choosing table decorations and wedding ceremony table decorations as you don’t want anything to blow off of the tables and break. Your Santorini wedding planner will know to advise you on which of the items you think you would like to have at your wedding might not be suitable for the windy conditions.
7. Expect to do a lot of walking and climbing of stairs
To have your photos taken at the popular photo sights in Santorini often requires a lot of walking and climbing of stairs. Take this into serious consideration when choosing your wedding shoes! There are many videos on YouTube that shows how far you will be walking from Dana Villas to the main street, for example. Click here to see one – you will also see the roads aren’t always smooth.
We had wedding photos taken at popular sites in Oia, which required a lot of walking and climbing of staircases. After our photoshoot in Oia, we got into the wedding car that took us to Dana Villas for our wedding reception. Walking from the car to the ceremony site was quite a walk! I wanted to wear high heels but luckily brought a second pair of more comfortable shoes which I ended up wearing for most of the day. If you are someone that sweats easily and a lot, pack a good antiperspirant in your clutch bag if you have one!
8. What a wedding day run sheet for a sunset elopement at Dana Villas in October looks like
Your wedding planner will put together a wedding day schedule for you according to your wedding plans, but I thought including ours here would be helpful:
11.30-12.00: Hairstyling 1st guest (Bridesmaid)
12.00-12.30: Makeup 1st guest (Bridesmaid)
12.00-12.30: Hairstyling 2nd guest (Mother of the bride)
12.30-13.00: Makeup 2nd guest (Mother of the bride)
13.00-14.00: Bridal hairstyling
14.00-15.00: Bridal makeup
14.15-15.15: 1-hour shoot consisting of bride preparation, portrait and being happy about the day
15.15- 15.35: Transportation to Oia for the bride in the fancy wedding car. My partner caught a ride to our first look location 5 minutes before with our wedding planner.
15.35- 16.00: First look photos & video16.00-17.45: Photos in Oia17.45 – 18.10: Transportation of the bride and groom from Oia to Dana Villas
17.45: Minibus picks up the guests from El Greco (the hotel we stayed in)
18:15 -18.30: Ceremony
18.30 – 19:15: Family photos and couple photos around Dana Villas
19.15- 20.15: Reception – first dance and cutting the cake
20.15: Photographer & videographer leaves, guests enjoy dinner
9. Posting large packages of wedding items to Santorini can be very expensive
You might think you want to bring some things over from your home town to Santorini for the wedding but choose carefully as it can be costly. We posted my wedding gown, my partner’s suit, and a few other bits I had made by hand to our wedding planner through TNT.com in a large package. It came as a surprise just how expensive it was to do so, and I recommend looking for a cheaper way to do so if you need to and thinking twice about any items you have to take with you.
Having a slim dress instead of a full ball gown took up less space in my luggage when I took it home with me, for example. I gave a lot of the other bits and pieces I posted in the large package to my wedding planner to use for other weddings, so I didn’t have to fit that in my luggage too or spend another fortune to post it back to my home town.
10. Consider staying at Dana Villas for your wedding night or more nights if you can afford to
One of the only regrets we have with regards to our wedding is not staying in the fantastic suites at Dana Villas for our wedding night and a few days afterward for a minimoon. Specifically, because some of the luxury Dana Villa suites have cave pools with incredible views of the caldera.
It’s a unique and luxurious experience to enjoy in Santorini with your partner.
If you don’t have the budget to stay there, I can recommend staying at El Greco Resort and Spa in Santorini as it’s a reasonably priced and beautiful hotel that’s close to the wedding venue Dana Villas. Being a wedding venue too, El Greco Resort and Spa has gorgeous backdrops, stunning dressing rooms, and picturesque garden walkways that will all contribute to dreamy wedding photos.
Enjoyed this blog post or have any questions? Let me know in the comments section below 🙂
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Thank you for sharing your feedback Tania! Yes, I couldn’t read our original wedding certificate – it was all Greek to me haha
What a gorgeous place to get married! I’ve always wanted to visit Santorini….maybe I can convince my husband to renew our vows there 😉 hehe
Thanks for sharing all this info!
The guide I never thought I needed, now I want to elope in Santorini haha! Thanks for sharing your experience, honestly looks like an incredible time!
Those views bring back so many memories. I had considered getting married in Greece and Santorini made the list but we went with the UK instead. That first pictures is just so beautiful! Great tips too for those considering eloping on these stunning island.
What an amazing destination for a wedding! That picture of your veil in the wind is truly stunning.
What a marvellous wedding location. Your photos are beautiful. I didn’t realise the wedding certificate would not be in English if you marry in a foreign country, but stands to reason.