Destination wedding, what a wonderful way to celebrate your love while going on a nice and memorable vacation. But planning a wedding abroad, comes with some peculiarities. You need to know the mentality on the location you chose for your wedding, their rules and sometimes their laws. Santorini is no exception to this rule. There are some really important aspects you should keep in mind when deciding to have your wedding in Santorini. By following the local rules of “how-to-do-things” you won’t have to face annoying little problems that can end up ruining your whole day. Here are 5 things you should know about Santorini:
1. Ceremony time:
To begin, I would like to write about what is the best time of having the ceremony. Most of you would like to make your wedding day last as long as possible and to achieve that, most couples book their ceremony to start in the early afternoon. When the wedding happens in April, May, or in October, this usually is not a problem as the days are not too warm during that period of time. From the beginning of June till almost the end of September though, it gets really, really hot in Santorini, especially in July and August. By having your wedding at 15:00 or 16:00 it’s quite likely that you and your guests won’t really enjoy the ceremony, as it will be way too hot to pay proper attention to the registrar and the vows. There is no reason to go through such a challenge, so to avoid heat-strokes and to enjoy the whole day and not just the party time, make sure to book your ceremony between 17:00 – 18:00. You will still have enough time to make your wedding day last.
You should also know that it is of absolute importance to start the ceremony on time! If you booked the registrar for 17:00 the ceremony should start at 17:00 and not a minute later! The reason is quite simple - the island has 1 registrar for the ceremonies, which makes him a really busy person. As annoying as it may seem, he won’t be having only your wedding on the day. To avoid any problems, make sure to have all your guests at the venue at least 30 minutes before the ceremony, and be yourself there 10 minutes before the ceremony begins.
In the previous post, I mentioned the importance of transportation for your guests. Why is that? First of all, it is not hard to get lost in Santorini, as funny as it may sound. Yes, Santorini is a small island and it does not have many roads, but it also does not have any road names or indications where the venues are located, so it's quite easy for your guests to pass the wedding venue while driving to your wedding, and as a result arriving too late for the ceremony. If it’s an important guest, you may want to delay the ceremony, which as we have already discussed is not a got thing at all.
Another reason, why transportation is important is the lack of parking spaces. Santorini has way too many cars in the summer, and sometimes finding a parking spot ends up being an impossible task. If it’s hard to find where to leave one car, imagine how hard it will be to park 20 or 30 cars! You’ll need a true miracle! You will probably ask yourself “What about the taxis? The guests can come to the wedding with a taxi”. Yes, they can… but it’s not so easy to find a taxi either. They island does not have sufficient taxis to cover all of its visitors, and your guests may end up arriving late at the wedding simply because they couldn’t find one in time. They can arrange transportation with the hotel where they will be staying, but not all of the hotels have mini busses. It will be much easier for you, your wedding planner, and especially for your guests , to book busses to pick them all up and take them to the correct location. The less you will have to worry about on your wedding day, the most you will enjoy it!
One last thing to consider is how to get back to the hotels when the party is over. Even if all of your guests managed to arrive to the wedding using the local taxis, it will take them way too long to find taxis to get back to the hotel after the wedding. You might end up leaving your guests outside the venue for an hour or more, waiting for whoever will take them home. You will agree that this will leave a really bad impression on your guests. By having a bus waiting for them, waiting outside when the party has ended, your guests will be eternally grateful to you, that you were so thoughtful of them and arranged an easy way to get to their comfortable beds.
3. Noise policy:
Santorini has a crescent shape, making the caldera side look like a bit amphitheater. This results in all the sounds being amplified at the caldera. Moreover, Santorini is filled with hotels which are full with people who want to relax on their holiday… and it also has the locals. To keep everyone happy, Santorini has a strict noise policy.
If you have already done some research for wedding venues in Santorini, you have probably noticed, that most venues are open until around 24:00 – 01:00 am, with the music being lowered at around 23:30 – 24:30. There is no way to amend this rule, because otherwise you will have angry policemen waiting at your door. Definitely not the best way to end your wedding day. When preparing you day schedule, make sure to have everything finished by 24:00, so that you could have the last half an hour or hour just for dancing. If, on the other hand, you wish to spend more time for the party, make sure to plan all your activities until 22:00. Also, you shouldn’t worry that 1 am is too early to end the party. Most of the time, couples and the guests get too tired by midnight, and are more than happy to leave at 01:00 am.
In case you wish to continue the party until morning and want to have it on Santorini, it is achievable. You’ll just have to choose a venue that stays open until late and can have loud music until closing time. Of course, such venues are not located on the caldera. There is no reason to get sad about it. Have a sunset ceremony on the caldera, and party until sunrise on the beach!
This is relatively new nuance to the world of Santorini weddings and it has to do with destination photographers that don’t work in Santorini all the time, but go there for a wedding or two every season. In most countries, that are popular for destination weddings, you can find regulations for destination photographers. If, for example, you will be having your wedding in the US and you decide to bring a photographer from Greece, then you will have fill in some documents and probably pay some sort of a taxe for the photographers (I don’t know the exact US regulations for destination photographers, so I won’t go into more detail. This is just what I’ve heard a couple of times). This will legalize the photographer’s work in the country. Greece does not have any such laws.
Even though any wedding photographer can come to Greece and work here for one wedding without getting into trouble, this does not mean that he or she will be able to work at a wedding venue, especially in Santorini. The main problem is that in case of an audit on the venue during your wedding, when they see a person working there, who is not registered as personnel of the venue, will result in the venue getting a huge fee! No venue wants that of course, this is why more and more venues in Santorini began not allowing foreign photographers, which cannot provide proof that they work legally in Greece, on their premises. This is a problem indeed, especially when you have already booked and paid for a destination photographer or videographer from a different country.
As with everything else, there is a solution for this problem. First of all, before choosing a photographer consult with your wedding planner and/or your wedding venue, if it will be possible to bring your own photographer with you. If this is not possible, worry not as Santorini has plenty of great and professional photographers and videographers to choose from. Ask for recommendations from your wedding planner and choose a photographer from Santorini. When choosing a local photographer, you also have an advantage that he or she knows all the best locations for amazing photos and you will know for sure that they will be able to capture the essence of Santorini.
5. Flowers and other decorations:
Probably everyone knows that Santorini is an island… if not, then you just became a little bit smarter. Being at an island, means that it is not possible to have a huge variety of flowers and wedding decoration shops there, which results in most of the items being brought from the mainland and even from abroad. This exactly what happens in Santorini.
Why is this important, you may ask? When you cannot find everything you need at your local shops, you’ll have to order the items from online shops. Delivery takes time, and in case you need to make returns or exchange items, this doubles or even triples the time of the decoration deliveries. This means, that if you decide on the final decoration items a week before the wedding, you will most probably not have them on time for your wedding.
The same goes with the flowers – they need to be delivered to Santorini. Almost all of the flowers that you see on pictures of weddings in Santorini are brought from abroad. In order for you to be sure that you will have exactly the flowers that wish for, it is best for the florist of your choice to know the latest a month prior to the wedding what floral decoration you will be having on your wedding day. Be sure to make your orders in advance.
This is the main reason I always tell my couples to make their final decision on their decorations two months before the wedding. This way, you will have everything you ever dreamed of without any worries.
In my personal opinion and from my experience, those are the 5 most important things you should know when you decide to have your wedding in Santorini.