Hi everyone, it’s Catherine – Julia’s sister – I’ve taken over her blog to share with you how I found booking a wedding in on the Greek island of Santorini.
My Beautiful Santorini Wedding: The Breakdown
Choosing Santorini was an easy choice for us. The stunning sunsets, looking over the caldera, surrounded by white wash buildings and of course, the weather. It’s the stuff of Pinterest dreams, and if you haven’t seen one of the thousands of photos online you’re probably living under a rock. But where does one start? Destination weddings can be daunting and I’m hoping I can make some things clear, on numerous occasions I wanted to talk to a fellow Santorini bride. I had never been, so trusted the beauty that came through on the pictures and I wasn’t disappointed. Here we go.
BOOKING THE WEDDING
So in May 2016 I booked our holiday to Santorini with TUI. They had Dana Villas in their brochure which was the venue of choice. In the store, I was advised that it was a bit more private than Santo Winery. I didn’t actually go, so I cannot confirm this.
The package for Dana Villas included:
– The ceremony venue for 60mins (15mins for the service, 45mins to spend how you wish)
– A bouquet
– Wedding car
– Wedding cake (big enough for 10 people)
– Drinks after ceremony (sparkling wine)
Once booked, we left with contracts to sign to return which took up to 8 weeks to confirm the wedding date. We did receive our first choice of date and time. 20 th September, 18:30. Due to us wanting up to 24 guests and the contract in store being for 8-10, TUI did have to create one catering to our needs, which caused some confusion, but as long as you sign the contracts and return asap, the process will begin!
We received a welcome email from our to be wedding planner, who confirmed our date and time, suggested receptions and gave us a list of extras we could choose from for the big day. If you book your wedding in advance, one must be patient as the planners will focus on weddings they are currently working with. If the wedding date is months away, you may have to wait a short while before getting a response. We booked our reception at Dana villas, after requesting a menu and drinks list with prices. Now we had the base, we took a break from planning. We had a year to go.
Cost for ceremony for 16-24 guests: approx £1600
Through TUI, we booked a bus to take guests to and from the venue. We had 2 pick ups in Perissa and 1 in Kamari. The bus was a comfortable Mercedes. Taxis are expensive in Santorini and are limited. For precise timing getting your guests to and from the venue I highly recommend this. A standard taxi fare from Perissa to our venue was 28 euros each way, and there was no guarantee that they were
available on request. We also added extra cake, 1kg which was supposed to feed an extra 10. We chose a chocolate cake and it was gorgeous.
Cost for chosen extras through TUI: approx £380
We checked out some photographers online and came across Ben Wyatt Photography. A duo with his wife Vesna, worked professionally together to get different angles and perspectives. They took us on a short walk out of Dana Villas to get some different shots, as well as around and in the hotel. They are very prompt with responding to emails, and for 2 experienced photographers, they have very reasonable prices. Contact them direct and they will give you a quote. We paid approx £850 for 3 hours.
HAIR & MAKE-UP
Instead of hiring a make up artist, I did my own. I had a lesson prior to going away and invested the money on make up rather than the artist. I was lucky enough to have a hairdresser bridesmaid and keeping my hair simple also meant I didn’t hire a hairdresser. Hair and beauty is a very personal choice, but had I booked one I would probably resort to Instagram searching #santorinimakeupartist or check out wedding photographers Instagram pages, they usually tag make up artists and hair stylists involved.
We held our reception at Dana Villas. The terrace used is down some more steps (there are lots) and is very private. We sat our guests all on one long table which left plenty of dancing space! The food was perfect, we couldn’t choose from the set menus so customised our own, as well as catering for vegetarian and a severe gluten allergy. We chose the full variety drinks package, which was 52 euros per person. It was a very good option, with choices of beer, wine, sparkling wine, spirits and branded soft drinks, unlimited for 4 hours. Incase of any changes, contact Dana Villas for food and drink packages.
We didn’t hire a DJ, I couldn’t bare the thought of tunes we cringed at or people didn’t want to dance to, so we made an offline playlist (wifi is unreliable) and labelled them clearly so the staff at Dana Villas knew which to play when. They collected my phone a couple of hours before the ceremony, as we stayed at Dana villas so I was there from 2pm. Making your own playlist was a good choice, we
had full control of what we wanted to hear on our big day and evening, we also took requests so our guests weren’t disappointed either.
With us having a late reception, I bought 5 boxes of Primark battery powered fairy lights for the table, very effective! Flowers are beautiful, but in the darkness the lights added a romantic touch to the already bare but beautiful terrace.
The staff were very hard working and polite, they did everything to make sure the night was smooth and enjoyable.
Dana villas also have a bridal suite for use when available.
Reception venue hire, four courses for 22 and bar package: approx £2300
THE LEGAL STUFF
We read that to be legally wed in Santorini, you have to be there for 7 days before the ceremony. We stayed for 2 weeks, ensuring we had plenty of time for last minute wedding changes meeting our planner and then the Town Hall meeting after the wedding. TUI provided a guide of what needs to be done and the documents that are provided. It seems scary, as dates have to be precise and some things written a certain way. It’s actually really straight forward, don’t let it put you off. I decided a back to front time line might seem more clear.
– 26-9- 2017 Return date to the UK
– 26-6- 2017 Collection of certificate of no impediment, 3 months before return date.
– Town hall appointment to start certificate of no impediment, 29 days before, 28 of which certificate will be processing.
After this we sent all required documents to Androulla, whose contact details are provided by Thomson. It made it stress free and fast so we knew everything was done correctly and checked.
Allow £500 for the process of legal documents on top of wedding costs.
2 days after the wedding we met our planner to finalise things in Fira.
We actually stayed in Perissa, for 2 weeks at Meltemi Luxury Suites. Gorgeous small and friendly hotel, with a 3 minutes walk to the beach. On the night of the wedding we had booked a VIP Suite at Dana Villas, so I had somewhere bigger and comfortable nearby to get ready. We were very fortunate to get a room upgrade to the UNREAL Honeymoon villa, complete with cave pool and infinity pool, both private and attached. Just stunning to wake up to. This definitely contributed to our excitement and for a stress free evening, a stay here
is the perfect treat. The cost our the room booked will vary, but book in advance, Dana villas is a very popular choice!
I hope this feature on my sissy’s blog shines some light on the Santorini wedding process, as well as some of the costs it racks up. Weddings don’t come cheap, but I think for the beauty and enjoyment of this wonderful island, it is worth every penny. A lot less pennies compared to an average wedding in the UK anyway!