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Everything You Need to Know When Planning Your Destination Wedding in Greece

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Sarah Hatjipavlis acts as celebrant for a wedding at the Sheraton Rhodes Resort. Photo courtesy Sarah Hatjipavlis.

Couples are flocking to Greece for their one-of-a-kind destination dream wedding. Greek Reporter spoke with two wedding planners about the latest wedding trends for couples and what to expect when you are planning your destination wedding in Greece.

Boutique wedding planner Olympia Giannopoulou,owner of Marry Me in Greece, started her  wedding planning business nearly ten years ago after spending a quarter of a century in hotel management where one of her many responsibilities was event planning and coordinating.

All of her skills are put to use when planning a destination wedding for one of her clients. She explained to Greek Reporter that she offers “full service” wedding planning.

“Everything from paperwork and documents you need to get married in Greece to hair and makeup, photography, hiring a DJ, transportation, services to refresh the bride’s gown, referrals for wedding cake designers, ordering flowers and decorations – even fireworks – these are the services that I offer,” Olympia explains.

The wedding planning business for destination weddings in Greece has seen a steady increase over the past few years. Many tourists come to Greece, fall in love with the beauty of the country and most of all, feel safe while visiting. They then choose it as their dream destination to get married.

“Greece has beautiful and amazing spots where you can have a wedding. This unique environment cannot be found anywhere else,” Olympia said.

She explained that her destination weddings can be as small as 2-35 people or as large as 125. When asked where the number-one requested place in Greece to get married is, Olympia tells Greek Reporter: “Santorini is still the number-one place in Greece for tying the knot.”

It’s not hard to understand why couples desire to get married on Santorini, with its backdrop of the traditional whitewashed cubic-style houses overlooking the caldera and the sparkling blue waters of the sea below. Talk about a destination wedding that is a dream come true!

Other popular places to get married are Mykonos, Athens and even smaller islands like Kea, located off the coast of the mainland. Couples even choose the neo-classical backdrop of Nafplio, the original capital of Greece.

The majority of destination weddings for Marry Me in Greece are Greek Orthodox weddings for the diaspora which are “very expensive. They treat the wedding like it is a holiday as well,” Olympia explains. “I have also done symbolic weddings, Hindu weddings and one Jewish wedding.”

She adds: “My biggest challenge is to have every bride pleased. And the best reward is when everyone is happy at the end of the wedding and there are kisses and smiles. My goal is to build business on reputation and trust.”

Some advice to couples that are thinking of booking Greece as the destination for their wedding – be sure to book far in advance! More and more couples are choosing Greece as their location to get married and spots are limited for many wedding planning companies.

Why is Greece such a popular destination?

In an interview with Greek Reporter, Sarah Hatjipavlis of Grecian Ceremonies spoke about why people might want to travel and get married in Greece.

A multiple award-nominated wedding planner, Hatjipavlis resides on the island of Rhodes. Her job has taken her across the country, accumulating a great deal of expertise on destination weddings in Greece over the years.

“The experience of traveling to Greece, the culture, the food, the beautiful country, the islands, the blue waters — those are the number one reasons,” Hatjipavlis explains, making it obvious why Greece has almost universal appeal for engaged couples.

“So yes, they choose it for the weather, they choose it for the beautiful sea, and also some of them choose it because it’s cheaper to get married abroad than it is to get married in their own country.

“It’s very expensive to have a wedding in the US and the UK, so some couples choose Greece because they can have a nicer experience. They come to Greece and have their wedding so it often does work out cheaper, even with the flights,” she continues.

There are multiple reasons why just about anyone would love to get married in such a breathtaking country. However, individuals may also specifically choose Greece because it holds sentimental and familial value for them.

“Another reason is that they have heritage in Greece. The couple may come from the States, but they may have a Yiayia in a village in Northern Greece, and they want to come back to the country of their descent and enjoy their wedding there,” says Hatjipavlis.

Getting married… in a pandemic

Last year was very difficult for the wedding industry, with the majority of weddings being cancelled or postponed. Unfortunately, much of 2021 is looking quite the same, with most large weddings having been postponed to 2022.

“The majority of the larger weddings have been moved to 2022. So I have something like 35 weddings next year already all around Greece.”

The pandemic has meant smaller, intimate weddings for most. Especially when choosing to do a destination wedding during this period, couples are likely to opt for weddings that are specially held between the two of them and a celebrant.

The coronavirus situation has also led to perhaps longer-lasting or irreversible changes to the wedding industry in Greece. Because of the pandemic, people have become more likely to explore getting married in other locations beyond the big four locations of Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, and Crete.

“I would say that there is a definitely a trending change towards smaller islands. Smaller islands — a bit more like “Mamma Mia” the movie. So people are obviously looking for little places post-COVID. Recently, people are also not necessarily looking for an all inclusive hotel, because it seems that the all-inclusive hotel is maybe something that’s fading into our past,” confessed Hatjipavlis about recent trends in the wedding industry which may have been influenced by COVID-19.

Due to its stunning beaches, beautiful venues and rich culture, it is no wonder that Greece attracts so many couples who want to have a dream destination wedding!

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