We initially wanted to do Italy, but the paperwork seemed extremely difficult. It seemed risky to just choose an agency off the internet, so we decided to look at other options. I guess the real answer is that my husband and I met while on a vacation (a cruise to be exact) and we absolutely love to travel, and it just seemed logical to get married somewhere interesting, exotic, or in the case of Santorini, mysterious and breathtaking.
What was your experience in getting together the paperwork and other requirements?
Our paperwork was a little complicated, but it could all be done through the mail. We had to have original copies of birth certificates, Declaration of Marital Status (a notarized statement - proving we were both single), and my husband also required an additional notary on his divorce certificate. These had to be sent from the Secretary of State of the Issuing State. For example, my husband was born in New York, so he had to have an Apostille letter from New York, whereas I had to get one from Ohio. We were fortunate that there is a walk-in office for Illinois in downtown Chicago, so that was the easiest one to get.
These documents were all FedExed to Santorini, Greece, to the wedding planner where they were translated, and brought to our ceremony. The paperwork was kept in Greece (this we were not aware of beforehand), so plan on getting extra original copies of birth/divorce certificates.
How did you arrange the wedding in Greece? Did you use a package service or put it together yourself?
Actually, our wedding was arranged by a company in the US, A Wedding for You. They plan destination weddings, and are located in Davie, Florida. They were really great, and explained the paperwork and the process including picking the colors of the flowers, setting up the time of the ceremony, telling us where to meet the Greek wedding planner, etc. They were such a pleasure to work with, and I liked the fact that it seemed like everyone was very knowledgeable, and the owner Karen was just great.
We came across A Wedding for You through Celebrity Cruise Lines. The fact that they had a relationship with Celebrity was important to us, and made us feel that it would be dependable. When in Greece we dealt with Maria from Kivotos Travel, a Santorini wedding specialist, and she was just amazing. The cake, the flowers, transportation - it was just perfect. I must tell you that the photos were one of the best parts. We finished the ceremony and had a small reception, as we finished eating Maria rushed in with 5x7 prints of all our wedding photos in a nice album, such a surprise, these small touches were great.
Did friends or family join you in Greece?
We decided to get married in a special destination so that we could feel like the wedding was really about us, not about party favors, or limousines. Our families weren't excited, but they were certainly supportive of our unique decision.
Because we cruised to Greece we were involved with a cruise message board. They have roll calls for cruises, and this allowed us to meet about 16 other people and discuss our trip, and ask any questions about the cruise. As such a very nice couple offered to take a video of the wedding, and we had the wedding coordinator arrange for them to be in attendance.
On a sheer stroke of luck four other people that we had befriended were driving along the road where we were getting ready to walk into the church. (This was quite a fluke considering Santorini has about 500 churches!) They were also in attendance, and it was a very nice little ceremony.
We heard really great stories about their adventures. Mostly about the great deals on jewelry, and other souvenirs, as well as the beautiful beaches. They loved Santorini, it's no wonder that everyone on the cruise ship told us it was their favorite port of the whole cruise.
We travelled with a group of six in Athens, and we had a wonderful visit there as well. It was great that the cafes and restaurants were able to accommodate a large group with great food, and excellent service. Also it was very interesting to see the changes in Athens as the city (was) in preparation for the 2004 Olympics.
What was your wedding location like?
The ceremony was held in a church terrace. It was so characteristically Greek, a white church with blue door and trim. It overlooked the sea and we could see our cruise ship off to one side. We walked down a flight of stairs to get to the church. It was so magical, because you could easily drive past it because it was cut into the side of the island. (Note: All of these stairs look so charming, but wearing a big wedding dress and heels made it more of an adventure.)
Read on for more about Tracy's wedding ceremony and Greek travels....