Getting Married Abroad- my big fat Greek wedding

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April 13th 2017
Published: April 17th 2017
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A few posts ago I detailed my incredible engagement in Zanzibar, and so I thought I would write a little bit about my overseas wedding. We got married on the 2nd September, 2016, outside a teeny Greek orthodox church in Hersonnisos, Crete. Now, how we came about choosing Crete and the whole getting married abroad thing is a long and convoluted story so I will cut it down as much as possible. So, why Crete? Well originally our plan was to elope and get married, just the two if us, somewhere incredible and far flung and appear back home as a married couple, however, my parents smelled a rat and got very very upset about this as they had envisaged a church wedding at home for me.

I could never image getting married at home in Ireland or in the UK, let alone in a church- neither of us are religious so it would be hypocritical. An overseas wedding is what we wanted but now we had to invite people, the question was where. Us being us contemplated India, Thailand, Bali, Zanzibar, Bora Bora, Mexico, but my mother in law had never flown before and all of these were terrifying for her, so we had to choose somewhere we liked that was close enough to home and somewhat affordable for guests to attend. I love Greece, I adore the weather, scenery, food, people and it has such an interesting and ancient culture and so I find it fascinating. Did I mention my love of the food? Well, Greece was settled on but then in was a case of where- there are so many Greek islands to choose from. We didnt want a big wedding at all, as my husband is quite shy, so we invited a small group of our closet family and friends from Ireland, the UK and further afield like Canada,,but then the question came about accessibility from Ireland and the UK. The UK didn't pose much of an issue but Ireland only flew to Crete and Corfu, so we were limited to there. We assessed the venues and settled on Ktima Paspati in Crete- as I described above, a teeny Greek orthodox church overlooking the sea, that formed part of a larger wedding venue just outside of Hersonnisos. It looked perfect.

I set to planning straight away. A couple of things to note about overseas weddings is in spite of us hiring a wedding planner to cover all bases, it is still hard hard work and also don't believe what they say about weddings abroad being cheaper- obviously it depends what you want but they really aren't! We booked the venue, planner, accommodation and flights, as well as the extras such a Greek musicians, certain decorations, photographer, videographer- all of the usual wedding bits and bobs, but still, there was a feeling it was out of my control. I had to be involved more so ended up researching everything as well as my planner, so may as well have not had the planner in the end! Oh well.

From a legal perspective, and obviously it depends on your country of residence and where you are getting married, but this side of things was a nightmare, and make sure to check and double check absolutely everything you need prior to going ahead with an overseas wedding. A non national couple getting married in Greece is notoriously complicated, so it is worth employing a planner to sort out all of the legal aspects in Greece itself- I have heard horror stories of couples that had prepared their own paperwork abroad only to find they assumed they were married and actually weren't! A nightmare! Another aspect of extreme difficulty that we encountered, oddly enough, was a British Citizen marrying and Irish Citizen and obtaining the certificates of no impediment- for some reason is was an absolute nightmare and would have involved numerous trips to Ireland and also us to obtain special certification in order for us to marry in Greece. Even our wedding planner suggested we married legally in and UK and then have a blessing in Greece. This isn't what we had wanted at all. Thankfully James took the plunge and applied for British citizenship and was granted this, so we managed to sort it all out just in time! Phew!

As we were planning everything from a distance and I am very particular about what I wanted, I had a lot of the decorations, table seating plan, orders of service etc, made here and shipped out. Somehow along the way, as much as I hate themed weddings, my wedding fell into a travel themed wedding, starting with the tables being names after countries we had visited, the orders of service being related to travel, the name cards having teeny maps of the countries that the tables were names after on them, the seating plan was a huge map with postcards detailing who was sitting where, map themed sweet bags for our sweet table, we even had heart shaped map confetti decorating the tables- somehow it just ended up like this, and I absolutely loved it. We still had to ship all of this out there so I brought some extra suitcases and paid for the extra baggage. There also came the issue of getting my wedding dress out there- the airline we were flying with wouldn't facilitate a dress bag in the main cabin, but thankfully I ordered a beautiful dress box to bring on with us, and thankfully the dress for there safe and sound!

Arriving in Crete was strange, knowing we were leaving a country as single people and coming home married was a very odd feeling. We arrived into Crete and checked into our hotel, but guests had already started to arrive so the next few days were a flurry of meeting people, seeing our guests, dinners and meeting with the wedding planners and seeing our venue. The venue itself was gorgeous, so pretty and scenic- I knew straight away I had made the right choice! The entire wedding was held in one place so guests didn't have to worry about getting from A to B at all. Perfect!

The evening before the wedding all of the guests met for dinner in a gorgeous traditional Greek restaurant in Piskopiano, which is a beautiful little Cretan village up a mountain overlooking the bay of Hersonnisos. It was an amazing evening of eating, drinking and as well as that, Greek musicians played around us and so there was plenty of dancing and merriment! An incredible evening and a wonderful pre wedding dinner! Everyone seemed to have such a great time!

The following day was the wedding day... eek! The hairdresser arrived at our hotel at about 10am and had hardly any English! That was fun- I didn't get a chance to have a trial out there so was winging it a little. A mass of communicating through photos and gestures and I ended up with hair from my big fat gypsy wedding- it was horrific! The bridesmaids and my mum didn't fair too much better either- thank god for my very creative niece for saving the day and rescuing my hair from looking horrific! I have to say I was not impressed with this aspect but it was a lesson learned- try and squeeze in a trial and dont trust what your planner advises- tastes are very different from country to country and what we find beautiful another country may find to be horrific- and vice versa! Still, all's well that ends well. Got ourselves ready and the car took us to the venue.

I wont bore you with the ins and outs and all of the details but we had the most perfect wedding in the most perfect place and it was truly a spectacular day to remember- everything- the service, the reception, the music, the food and everything went off perfectly without a hitch! The following Monday we formalised the wedding with another civil service in the city hall in Heraklion, which was absolutely lovely as well. It all went off perfectly and I must say I have no regrets about choosing to get married abroad, it was the right thing for us and went just as we would have liked it to. The only thing I wish I had done is had more time to explore Crete- it is a beautiful island with lots to see and do, however as we were so busy we didn't get the chance to see much aside from the capital, Heraklion, however, this city was lovely to look around and boasts a gorgeous fort and lovely winding streets. I guess that's what we will have to do when we return for our anniversary!

A wedding abroad for us was perfect and amazing, it really was what we wanted (aside from it being a little closer to home than we had absolutely wanted), however I can see that is wouldn't be for everyone. The uncertainty and going into a lot of it 'blind' is hard work and tough to deal with, and there is an extra layer of hard work that comes with it. There is also the issue of a lit of things being lost in translation, which can be tough as what you want may not be what you get, and also a lot of what is readily available at home might not be readily available there, so you might have to go without a lot of what you had dreamed of or else compromise- I wanted a sweet cart but had to make so with a sweet table and carousel that I got shipped over. In addition to this, a lit of things are done differently, so what you may expect at home might be a lot different there. However, if you are happy to go with the flow and wing it, then I would advise go for it- a wedding abroad will be perfect for you 😊 x

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