Let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time there was a little girl with eyes full of stars. She loved fairytales with a happy end and kept dreaming of meeting her prince charming one day: he would gallop into her life on his white horse and sweep her off her feet. And no, they wouldn’t ride off into the sunset, but he would lead her to a majestically decorated church where they would get married in a big, spectacular wedding ceremony. She would wear an ethereal wedding dress and they would both beam with happiness under a fragrant rain of rose petals…
The years went by, the little girl grew up into a lovely young woman and one day she did meet the man of her dreams. She had changed a lot, however, and so had her dreams. She no longer wished to have an extravagant formal wedding; what she really wanted now was an adventurous elopement and an intimate romantic ceremony for two in a faraway idyllic place… like Greece.
My name is Thanasis Kaiafas and I am a professional wedding photographer in Greece. If you have read so far, this means that you have met the love of your life and are now considering the next step. Congratulations! Keep reading to find out how Greece, this little Mediterranean paradise, can help you create memories that will be etched on your heart forever…
Eloping in Greece is the absolute adventure. Greece, with its mild climate, blue skies and warm, hospitable people is an ideal destination throughout the year; nature is always beautiful here, no matter what the season is. The magical sunsets of Santorini will take your breath away. You will fall in love with Paros as you walk hand in hand with your sweetheart on the narrow cobblestone roads. Mykonos will steal your heart away with its iconic windmills, golden beaches and cosmopolitan glamor. And Athens will definitely fascinate you with its timeless charm, rich cultural heritage and plethora of sights and attractions.
In the old days the groom used to “steal” the bride and they usually disappeared for days or even weeks before they sent word to announce their wedding. Times have changed and today elopement is an increasingly popular trend. More and more couples wish to avoid the stress and formal routine of a traditional wedding and choose to defy convention, forget the rest of the world and take their vows in a quiet private ceremony with few –if any– guests. The choice of the right place is therefore a decision of paramount importance.
Greece is now a top wedding destination, with an incredible variety of wedding venues which, with the help, experience and inexhaustible imagination of the numerous talented local wedding planners, can turn your intimate wedding into an unforgettable celebration, an once-in-a-lifetime experience!
The best elopement wedding venues in Greece are in Santorini, Mykonos and Paros. So, if you are thinking of eloping in the country where Eros was worshipped as a god, read below to discover some of the most idyllic Greek places for your ceremony – or should I say your getaway?
To me, elopement in Greece is synonymous with Santorini. And Canaves Oia Suites, in the picturesque village of Oia and a very short distance from Thira, the island’s capital, is a wedding venue that I would absolutely and unconditionally recommend. Canaves Suites, an elegant 5-star property perched on the cliffside that offers all conceivable amenities, including a spa and private plunge pools, along with panoramic views over the legendary volcano and the infinite Aegean blue, is simply wonderful! It is not a coincidence that it was voted as the best resort in the world by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler a few years ago. If you are considering Canaves Suites as a possible option, I would advise you to book early, though, as available dates are rather limited, especially in the summer.
Remezzo, in Imerovigli, 300 meters above the famous caldera, is a restored 150-year old winery with cave-style suites that offers magnificent uninterrupted views as far as the blue horizon, where the sea and the sky become one. Visitors can savor magical moments watching the last rays of the setting sun caress the island. The rooms with the high vaulted ceilings and the stained-glass windows create a particularly relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. Remezzo, like all wedding venues in Santorini, offers ideal circumstances for organizing a perfect wedding ceremony by booking professional DJs, top wedding planners, and international award winning restaurants.
Dana Villas, one of the first and most popular –especially among American couples– elopement venues in Greece, offers 3 different elopement wedding options, known as “panorama balconies”. The hotel, situated in Firostefani, about 4.5 kilometers from the island’s capital, consists of snow-white houses and blue domes typical of the Cycladic architecture and boasts one of the most famous swimming pools in Santorini, while its vaulted suites remind of natural caves. I recommend booking one of the Honeymoon Suites, which are specifically designed for couples about to get married and newlyweds.
Rocabella, one of the largest and most scenic hotels in Santorini, is built on the path leading from Oia to Imerovigli, a journey particularly popular among hikers and ideal for those who want a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city and the chance to enjoy the island’s world-famous sunsets. The refreshing simplicity of the Cycladic architecture, the grace of the boho style decor and the relatively secluded position of the hotel create a blissfully serene and relaxing atmosphere. If you choose to stay at Rocabella, get ready to follow their motto: “Welcome to your bohemian retreat, where slow living and happiness is homemade. A place where you can be your true self, authentic and simple…”
Le Ciel Wedding Venue represents the glamorous side of Santorini. In contrast to the other options suggested here, it is not a hotel but a restaurant and event venue that opened only in 2015 but is evidently here to stay!
It consists of a spacious terrace and multiple elegant indoor spaces that can be decorated according to your tastes and the number of your guests and meet the requirements of any wedding, from small intimate ceremonies to extravagant celebrations and receptions, as it offers a full range of top-notch wedding planning services.
Mykonos Blu, a luxury resort overlooking the turquoise waters of Psarou, the famous Mykonian beach of celebrities, is another exquisite Cycladic destination. The hotel possesses its own private beach, which is only 100 meters away. Some of the best known cafés and restaurants in Mykonos (e.g. Nammos, which also happens to be available for weddings) are within walking distance of Mykonos Blu. The hotel layout, architecture and design remind of a small Cycladic village, with a cobbled path to the entrance and the sculpture of a cute little blue donkey completing the picture. The interior of the hotel is a completely different story, as it is lavishly decorated with works of famous sculptors and other artists.
Cavo Tagoo, an up-and-coming 5-star hotel only 5 kilometers from Fira and 6 kilometers from Oia, is the most recent addition to the wedding venue scene in Santorini. True to its already famous brand name, it offers an environment of chic luxury, an atmosphere of serenity and relaxation, stunning views and top quality personalized services. Its specially designed wooden deck against the spectacular backdrop of the Aegean Sea attracts many couples who wish to elope and look for the ideal location, as it is perfect for romantic elopement weddings.
Elopement in Athens
Another favorite wedding destination for couples is Athens. The Greek capital, one of the oldest cities in Europe, captivates visitors with its rich ancient history, archaeological treasures and sights. In addition, thanks to its intense nightlife and endless variety of entertainment choices, Athens is a top destination for young couples looking for a fascinating place for their elopement. I would strongly recommend a visit to Plaka, the old district that spreads at the foot of the Acropolis and is within walking distance from many major archaeological sites and museums, if you wish to take a glimpse into the glorious past of the city that never sleeps…
More and more couples choose the freedom and intimacy of elopement over a conventional, formal wedding. They travel to an idyllic place of their choice where they can focus on each other, exchange their vows, start their common life together and live their love to the fullest with no stress, pressure and distractions.
Last week I met an adorable young couple who had come to Santorini to elope. They had brought the wedding gown and the groom’s suit with them but had made no wedding arrangements at all! It is said, however, that love conquers all difficulties and surmounts all obstacles, right? Well, it is true.
I must admit I was deeply moved when, after the necessary preparations and the first look pictures, they asked me to suggest a quiet, romantic place where they would read their vows. It was the simplest, sweetest and most beautiful elopement wedding ceremony I have ever witnessed!
Couples from all over the world, from Iceland to Japan and from the United States to Ethiopia, follow their hearts and seek a unique wedding experience through elopement. What about you?
The wedding photographer’s role in elopements
Wedding photography is absolutely vital in elopements, as your photographer will be one of the very few guests –if not the only one– present at your wedding. He will focus exclusively on you, therefore the photoshoot can be an unhurried, stress-free and deeply satisfying experience. You will agree, however, that it is also a huge responsibility to capture the best moments of your big day for you, your family and friends to enjoy forever. So you need to trust him and see him as a friend who is there to narrate your unique story through unique pictures. Leave everything in his hands. You just relax and live your dream!
Where would YOU like to elope? If you are planning your wedding in Greece, there are even more options that I would happily discuss with you. We have never spoken before, but somehow I feel that I already know what you are looking for.
Let us have a little chat then… Who knows? It may be the first step toward realizing your dream elopement wedding in Greece!