I can’t say I’d ever really envisioned my wedding day before Shannan and I started planning our wedding in Santorini. Sure, I knew I wanted to get married someday but as far as Santorini being the destination in which that would take place, I wouldn’t have dreamt it in a million years.
The first thing we did when we got engaged was make a list of who we would want to invite if space or money were no issue, which in hind sight is a pretty funny place to start considering both were going to be highly regulated. In any case, we went on searching for places all over California to have a wedding. The more we searched, the more disheartening it began to feel. The often times through-the-roof pricing left us wanting to run to the courthouse. It felt like we were planning and considering spaces to have an event for our guests, instead of making the focus of our day about our marriage. It was at that point we discussed the idea of a destination wedding. The idea felt exciting but also overwhelming. I started to reach out to people that had had a destination wedding to see what their experience was like and everyone said it was the best decision they had made bar none and they would do it again in a heart beat. We first briefly considered the Caribbean Islands and Mexico before they started to feel forged simply by their proximity to the US. Both have stunning options for a wedding and would be an amazing vacation but still, nothing really felt like us.
One day Shannan said, “Where do we want to honeymoon, maybe we could look there?” If those weren’t words coming from a man after my own heart then I don’t know what is. My mind immediately started racing and then a few short minutes later I started to doubt the idea that we would ever be able to make that happen. How could we afford that? Who would come? What about our family that wouldn’t make it? But my better half husband reminded me of my own motto that the answer is always no until you ask. It didn’t take us long to narrow Italy as a place we would have liked to honeymoon, so I began searching along the Amalfi Coast. I got on Skype three times that week with different event coordinators, sent email requests for quotes and banquet packets and felt completely committed to the idea of getting married in Italy. But again, my heart sank when I saw costs. Shannan and I were going to be paying for whatever kind of wedding we had, so it was important to us to make it unique to us but most importantly, to be able to do something we could afford and not go into debt over a wedding. I started to let go the idea of Italy when my minds eye looked at the place I had held on my travel pedestal for probably ever: Santorini. Surely the million dollar views would also be out of our reach but I hopped online and started sending out inquiries. I was shocked when I learned how affordable it was to get married in Santorini (don’t get me wrong, some places are very expensive as well) and for the first time, it started to feel like we were getting somewhere, and that somewhere was a place that had us both a little weak in the knees.
After a couple of weeks of weighing our options and sorting over our ideas, Shannan looked at me and said, “are we getting married in Santorini?” We shook on it, popped a bottle of champagne and never looked back. The rest of the bigger decisions and details started falling into place rather seamlessly. Everyone always asks me if it was hard to plan our wedding in a place neither of us had been, but if I’m being honest, it wasn’t really that hard or stressful. Planning a destination wedding forces you to let go of obsessing over small details. We got engaged in May 2015 and I would say all of the big decisions were made by that December. Not a day passed that I didn’t think about what September 23, 2016 would look like.
Over the course of 2016, I’m sure I spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours looking at photos of Santorini, reading about the island, looking up restaurants, must sees, comparing hotels, comparing towns, you name it. I felt so familiar with Santorini that it almost felt like I had been there. I would get actual goose bumps and feel the wind in my hair when I thought about looking out onto the caldera for the first time. The closer our vision came to becoming a reality, the more emotional I felt that the course of our lives had lead us to each other and that the universe conspired to make our wildest wedding dream come true. We told everyone over a year in advance about our Santorini nuptial plans and to our incredibly humbling surprise, 60 of our closest friends and family decided to travel to the ends of the earth with us to Meet the Sams.
I remember sitting on the runway at LAX as we were about to take off and tears began streaming down my face. I was overflowing with gratitude. I could hardly believe that all of our guests were in different time zones making their way to Santorini. That we were on our way to Santorini to get married! Who’s life was I living?
Spending the morning getting ready with my girls was time I wish I could trap in a capsule and go back to. It was so much fun and I’ve never felt so loved. Shannan and I stayed apart the night before our wedding and agreed that we did not want to see each other before the ceremony. I thought I was going to be a mess, as my eyes could have easily welled any day of the week just thinking about that moment when we would first see each other, but I felt equal parts calm and excited to finally walk down that isle and see my handsome groom. Santorini was extra beautiful that day, and not only by my biased standards but our photographer said Santorini gets about 10 days a year like our wedding day. There was no humidity in the air and where often times you are unable to see the small islands just off Santorini, you could seemingly see to the end of the earth.
Suffice it to say Santorini will hold the most special place in my heart and thank you will simply never be enough to our friends and family for making the journey to the Greek Islands for our the start of our new life together. They say wherever you go, go with all your heart, but for me it will have to be my whole heart minus one piece, because I left a piece of it in Santorini.
Photography: Vangelis Photography
Ceremony: Santo Winery
Reception: Pyrgos Restaurant
Hotel: Agali Houses
Dress: Atelier Pronovias
Headpiece: Boho Kitty
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Clutch: Gifted and thrifted by my bridesmaid and friend April
Makeup: Kathryn Horen from Bay Area Beautiful
Hair: Tesha Wolf