Couples from all over the world are flocking to the Greek island of Santorini for their destination dream wedding following the opening up of travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
As couples tie the knot overlooking the traditional style houses of the famous island and the sparkling blue waters of the sea below, they have found that their destination weddings are a dream come true.
The island provides a vast variety of options for couples with different types of ceremonies, both civil and religious.
According to officials of the municipality of Thera, which is the official name of Santorini, there has been a huge increase in weddings this year.
“Those that were scheduled to take place in 2020 and 2021 were canceled, with the result that this year, from the end of March and the beginning of April, weddings on the island have begun en masse,” a spokesperson told Greek daily Ta Nea.
Every normal year about 1,000 weddings take place on Santorini. Of these, 90 percent concern visitors from abroad while more than 60 percent of couples tying the knot are from Great Britain.
“Although it is early to have total figures, in the months of May and June there has been an impressive increase in weddings—by about 50 percent compared to 2019,” the Santorini spokesperson said.
Destination weddings in Santorini and other Greek islands have become a lucrative market in recent years. As professional photographer Thanos Rivios notes, most of the couples who come to Santorini to get married may bring a party of 50 to 100 people together.
Rivios tells Greek Reporter that after the wedding ceremony that usually takes place in upscale hotel resorts, newlyweds get photographed in their wedding dresses overlooking the Caldera.
Their favorite spots are the Imerovigli village sitting on a clifftop overlooking Santorini’s caldera islands or Oia, the village famous for the best sunsets in the Mediterranean.
Santorini is a wedding destination favorite among British and American couples
The photographer says that although most of the couples who arrive to get married are from Britain, there is a sizeable number from the US, including many Greek Americans. “Before the COVID pandemic, there were lots of Chinese visiting Santorini to get married. However, there is now a significant drop in their numbers.”
Santorini officials says that it is not only the dreamy scenery that attracts brides and grooms but also the comparatively low cost of the process. The island which is very high in the preferences of brides-to-be internationally ranks 36th in terms of cost among the 100 most popular destinations worldwide.
The high demand is also combined with the jumpy increase in international arrivals observed on the island this year. In May alone, there was a 36 percent increase in foreign tourist arrivals compared to 2019, i.e. from the pre-coronavirus era while bookings for the rest of the season portend a surge in visitor numbers.
Other Greek islands become wedding destinations
Although Santorini is the flagship for Greek weddings, there is an increased demand on other Greek islands.
Ioanna Efstathiou, president of the tourist committee of the Municipality of Skopelos. told Ta Nea that there has been an increase of at least 30 percent compared to the pre-pandemic era.
Skopelos is also in great demand for the renewal of vows or for marriage proposal events which take place mainly in the place where the movie Mamma Mia was filmed.
“They come from abroad for this purpose. These are mainly British, but the international airport of Skiathos that serves us also has direct flights from Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Poland and Paris,” Efstathiou says.
Apart from Skopelos and Santorini, Crete, Ios, Folegandros, Rhodes, and Naxos have also begun establishing themselves as wedding dream destinations.
In June, Paros was chosen by actor Alex Pettyfer and supermodel Toni Garrn to renew their wedding vows, while some islands are particularly popular in far-flung markets, such as India.
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.