Sarah and Dimitri Wedding Story in St John hotel
The milestones leading up to every couple’s wedding are special, and none more so than Dimitri and Sarah’s engagement the summer before their wedding during a trip to Hawaii, their favorite vacation destination.
Their itinerary included three different islands. Each one held the promise of a perfect proposal, making it difficult for Dimitri to choose a spot because a lot of the planned activities were “dangerous and not conducive to the proposal”. Because he didn’t know exactly where he was going to propose he kept the engagement ring in his backpack, carrying it with him everywhere to be ready when the opportunity presented itself. And while this was necessary, Dimitri also admits it was more than a bit nerve wracking at times and quite funny at others as he tried to avoid arousing Sarah’s suspicions!
Twice Dimitri was ready to propose, but didn’t. He planned to propose first during a sightseeing helicopter tour, but when the pilot warned him the ring could fly off, he opted to wait. Next he planned to propose during a romantic picnic. But just as Dimitri was about to ask Sarah to marry him, a torrential downpour thwarted the proposal and eventually forced them to abandon their romantic interlude when it became apparent that this was one storm that wasn’t going to clear up quickly.
Eventually, Sarah did get a little suspicious when Dimitri insisted on taking the backpack everywhere they went and once dressed up for seemingly no reason. While she suspected he might be planning to propose, when the days passed without incident, she began to think maybe she was wrong.
“When it did actually happen, I was surprised,” Sarah said. Having spent the entire vacation somewhat anticipating a proposal that was never quite forthcoming, she had resigned herself to disappointment, believing he wasn’t going to propose after all.
But as fate would have it, after two failed proposal attempts, the final attempt was pure perfection for the couple. As fitting the anticipation of a new life together, Dimitri proposed to Sarah on the summit of Haleakalā, the highest peak of Maui, as the the new day poetically dawned over the Pacific ocean.
A Destination Wedding in Mykonos, Greece
Despite the fact that Dimitri is Greek and has family and friends in Greece, Sarah and Dimitri only entertained the idea of a destination wedding after a few months into planning their wedding.
The couple was actually looking at places in the inner city of Chicago, where according to Dimitri, Greek weddings end up being “large, with friends and a lot people from the church.” Aware that Sarah preferred a smaller, more private wedding, he knew they were going to have a hard time cutting it down.
“A wedding [in Greece] never crossed my mind,” Dimitri said. Until, that is, he overhead his sister and Sarah talk about a recent wedding in Greece. As he saw them get excited about how “awesome” it would be to have their own wedding in Greece, Dimitri agreed that a wedding in Greece would be smaller and more intimate — exactly what Sarah wanted.
Unlike their surprising pivot from a traditional Greek wedding in inner city Chicago to a destination wedding in exotic Greece, their selection of Mykonos for the ceremony was practically motivated.
An idyllic Cycladic island located to the east of Athens in the glittering blue-green expanse of the Aegean Sea, Mykonos is world-renown for its picturesque beauty, culture and iconic landmarks. Having visited a family friend there once before, Mykonos appealed to Dimitri because “It’s a beautiful island; there’s a lot going on. You get a little bit of everything.”
With a beautiful downtown area, gorgeous beaches and a fun nightlife, Mykonos was an easy choice for them. Not only would it be a beautiful backdrop for their fairytale wedding, but it was a location their guests “would have a great experience with”, which was vitally important to the couple.
Venue at St. John’s Hotel Villas and Spa
With the location determined, Sarah set about scouring the internet to learn all she could about the island and possible venues. She eventually chose St. John’s Hotel Villas and Spa for its beauty and charm as well as the fact that the venue boasts its very own picturesque chapel, ‘Agia Fotini’.
Not only did it promise to be an unforgettable setting for their dream wedding celebration, St. John’s are “specialists at organizing all kinds of events”, something Dimitri and Sarah appreciated as they began planning their destination wedding.
Originally, the planning was done all themselves. As most brides do, Sarah reached out to the hotel to get as much information as she could possibly get. At the hotel’s urging, they engaged Katerina Vogli of Mood Effects as their wedding planner because of her unparalleled experience planning many fantastic weddings at St. John’s.
“Our wedding planner … we consider picking her the best decision we made for the whole wedding. She was awesome!” exclaimed Dimitri. “She was really good, and she gave us recommendations & the best advices for our wedding”
It was Sarah who chose Thanasis for his more “realistic, simplistic and natural looking photos.”
“His style really jumped out at [us]. The photos are gorgeous, so we picked him and we are really glad we did, it was awesome!”
An Emotional First Reveal
The day of the wedding, starting first with Dimitri preparing for the first reveal in the honeymoon suite, Thanasis set about his work of capturing the details of the day, the little things that often get forgotten in the excitement of the day, but that mean so much to the couple as they look back on their treasured photos.
And the photos do say it all … The minutes slipping away, ever moving the expectant Dimitri toward the moment when he will see his bride-to-be for the first time. Sarah, donning her fairytale wedding gown, selected with only Dimitri in mind.
And when they finally do meet on the terrace overlooking the wide, blue expanse of the Mediterranean, just the two of them, she’s more breathtakingly beautiful than he could have ever imagined. So much so they were both overcome with the emotion of the moment, crying tears of joy over a moment they both say is one of their most treasured of the day.
A Tribute and Treasured Wedding Ceremony
The orthodox wedding ceremony took place outside the white-washed chapel of Agia Fotini, with Dimitri and all of the guests waiting for Sarah to walk to the chapel amid Greek Mykonian and Cycladic music announcing the bride’s arrival.
At the sound of the music, which could be heard by the wedding guests long before Sarah came into view, Dimitri’s father ran over to Dimitri in excitement asking “Is that Sarah?” When Dimitri said yes, his dad emotionally asked “Sarah’s walking up with a band? Did you know your mother did that?”
Dimitri did remember his father telling him his mother had walked up to the their wedding to music, which is why he and Sarah were thrilled at the opportunity to pay tribute to his parents, who were married in Greece in just this same manner. It was even more special to live this moment in time with his dad, who said, “It’s so awesome you did that!”
The moment when Sarah came into view was almost as memorable as the first reveal, with just as much emotion as Dimitri teared up again as his bride approached. “Everyone was around us and we were just standing there. We were in front of the priest and all the preparation has kind of reached the point that you want it to reach and I was just happy at that moment,” said Dimitri.
After the memorable “second reveal”, the orthodox ceremony continued. Dimitri and Sarah exchanged first the rings and then the ‘’Stefana’’, a part of the Greek Orthodox wedding where the priest places two crowns above the couples’ heads, symbolizing the glory and honor that is being bestowed on them by God during the sacrament.
An Unforgettable Greek-style Party
No wedding is complete without the party afterward, the reception being a time for the bride and groom, family and friends to savor the day, celebrating and dancing, eating and drinking to the happy life ahead of the beloved couple.
And as Dimitri and Sarah remembered their special day, walking into the party following the wedding ceremony as husband and wife is another one of the vivid memories that will not be forgotten. After the work of planning a wedding, with all that goes into it, nothing could have made the couple happier than the laughing party-goers enjoying themselves to the fullest with the traditional Greek dancing.
“When we realized everyone was having an awesome time it was kind of special,” Dimitri said. “There was a point during the reception that people were having an awesome time, you could tell people were enjoying themselves … Towards the end of the night, I wished it wasn’t over. I wish we still had another five hours!’
And for the blessed couple, the wedding day — with all of it’s sacred moments — will live on in the photos Thanasis took that day. Long after all but the most vivid memories fade, the couple will pour over their wedding album together, exclaiming anew over the handsome groom and gorgeous bride in her exquisite wedding gown traveling the streets of Mykonos together, freezing each moment in time so they can delight all over again in each other, in their union and the day that began their wonderful life together as man and wife.