Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Wedding Photography

When planning your wedding, it is easy to get caught up in choosing your dream dress, the make up the hair, the venue, all the elements that create that one special day, which is all very well, but what will you truly value when your big day is over? Incredible wedding pictures, the capture the emotion, the details, the essence of your day are invaluable. Ensure that you allocate an amount in your budget that will allow for a photographer who's work you really admire! Whether or not you are familiar with different photography techniques or claim to be a photography critic, your wedding album is the one item that will stay with you, after the flowers have been thrown, you are back home, these will stay with you keeping the memories alive. They are also very important to the loved ones that could not make it to your wedding. There are different styles and effects used in wedding photography that you should familiarize yourself with before making a choice of which photographer to use at your wedding: • Traditional photography, these capture that traditional family line ups, posed images and cover the ceremony and reception in quite a formal style. • Reportage photography, a growing trend amongst young couples is to ask the photographer to almost “disappear”, he takes natural shots and looks at your wedding through an almost “journalistic” eye. He captures the events of the day; I always feel that these images capture much more emotion than the traditional ones. • A mix of both the above styles, this is perhaps the best option to go for, as you will have all the traditional posed family photographs, as well as natural ones. Some photographers will not or cannot offer both styles, so you may need to book two photographers to achieve the result that you really want. Once you have decided on the photographer that you would like to book, you should consider the following options when booking them: • Print effects, do you want all color images or a mixture of black and white, color and sepia? • How many printed images do you want? • Do you want to choose the images and album? • Do you want the negatives of the images for future reprints? • What size printed images would you prefer? • Do you want to choose some images to be printed to a larger size or perhaps on a canvas? • Do you want to choose some images to be retouched before printing them? All photographs in this post are by Antonis Giannelis

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Greek Orthodox wedding ceremonies

The Greek Orthodox wedding begins with the Betrothal Service during which the Priest blesses the rings. The rings are then placed on the ring fingers of the right hands (as it symbolizes the “good” hand according to the Bible) of the bride and groom by the best man (Koumbaros) or Maid of Honour (Koumbara), who then exchanges the rings between the couple three times signifying that the two have become one, forever. The Priest then says a prayer to seal the rings upon their fingers and Marriage ceremony begins.

The Marriage ceremony:

This portion of the Greek wedding ceremony has many significant parts. The joining of hands, symbolizes that the couple has been joined as one. The bride and groom remain with their hands held together for the remainder of the ceremony.

The Crowning:

The crowning of the couple with the stefana (two crowns linked together by ribbon), signifies the joining of the couple as one and that the couple is prepared to establish their own kingdom as head of a new family. The Priest crowns the couple and the Koumbaro switches the crowns back and forth three times on the couples’ head.

The Common Cup:

Once the couple is crowned, the Priest recites readings of the Epistle and the Gospel. This Gospel reading is to remember the first miracle which Christ performed during the marriage of Cana at Galilee where he converted water into wine. The Priest presents the couple with a single glass of wine that they must drink from symbolizing that they will share the “cup of life” together.

The Ceremonial Walk:

Next, the couple circles the altar table, three times, while holding hands and joined by the stefana. The Priest recites passages and carries a gilded Book of Gospels which signifies that the couple will follow the word of God as they begin their new lives together. Circling the table signifies the eternity of marriage. At the end of the ceremony, the Priest blesses the couple and lifts the crowns from their heads which indicates the end of the marriage ceremony and the beginning of their new life together.

The Koumbaros or best man, usually the bride and groom’s best friends (2) take this position, they act as the witnesses, exchange the wedding crowns, exchange the wedding rings and accompany the couple around the ceremony table three times. It is customary for the koumbaros to become the godparents to the couple’s first child.

The Koumbaros provide the tall candles for the ceremony, the wedding crowns, favors and pay for all costs incurred in the church (donations, lighting, psalmists, etc.). They sometimes undertake to pay for the decoration (flowers, aisle carpet, candles, etc.)

Contact the Priest performing the ceremony if you would like to ask if a non Greek Orthodox faith or non Christian faith person can be your second Koumbaros (at least one must be Greek Orthodox), sometimes the priest will allow this as long as they don’t partake in the exchange of the wedding crowns or the rings.

Stefana or wedding crowns, these are linked together with a white ribbon symbolizing the link that will connect the couple throughout their married lives.

The crowns sit on a tray of sugared almonds until they are placed on the couple’s heads during the ceremony. According to tradition, single girls can take a sugared almond to place under their pillow that night and will see their future husband in their dream.

At the end of the ceremony, both sets of parents kiss the crowns and the couple after which the priest ties the crowns together with the ribbon and gives them to the couple for safekeeping.

An idea to consider is giving out rice bags to all your guests; this symbolizes the seeding of the couple’s marriage and is thrown as the couple is led around the ceremony table three times. As this is the only time that your guests can partake in the ceremony, I think it is important to acknowledge and encourage this.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A little about me

I thought that it was time to give a little information about myself, who I am, why I am writing this blog!!! I studied fashion design, marketing and PR at university and went on to work for a national company organising their fashions shows and parties, which was loads of fun and great experience, as it's quite similiar to wedding planning. I have been a wedding planner for the last 6 years, I "fell" into this job by mistake, initially working for a travel company who wanted to start offering wedding packages to accompany the travel side of things, eventually after 2 summers offering packages, I realised there was a market out there that was looking for more personal services, more luxurious, people wanted the option to create a fantastic day for their guests while abroad, that would be comparable to the services that are available in their home country. Anyway, the last few years I have been privileged to have organised some beautiful weddings, work with fascinating people and of course come up against some immense challenges. Yes, it's a stressful job, but I adore it, I trail the internet almost daily for inspiration and keep up to date with new trends with all the internation wedding magazines and of course trips abroad! My vice is photography which I consider to be the most important element of a wedding day, I much prefer to downsize the amount of food than cut back on a great photographer! Anyway, I must go!!!! Photograph by Annie Aggelopoulou

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Wedding Dresses

And so to a matter that evokes so many emotions, excitement, stress and distress, spring to mind! Usually an enjoyable, expensive and emotional shopping experience, but also one of the higlights of planning a wedding! The idea of what to choose to wear may be something that has been forming in your mind since you were playing bride with your playmates or a revelation since you have become engaged, it may also be a simple need to dress yourself for this day! However you see your wedding dress, it is a hard decision to make and an important one! I have chosen my top ten favourite dresses for a wedding abroad: ~ Claire Pettibone dress, a beautiful silvery-grey lace dress, intricate, delicate with a modern edge, light enough to wear on a hot day and to dance the night away in! ~ Dolly Couture dress, this short 50's style dress is so "now" with the nod to vintage themed weddings, the simple style, luxurious fabric is perfect for those wanting to step away from a traditional wedding dress and are planning an informal wedding. ~ Jenny Packham dress, now an established name in wedding designers, this is a designer for the modern woman with taste and attention to detail! I love the headress that was shown on the catwalk, although it might look a little out of place on a beach. The dress is almost ethereal and would suit a castle or whimsical wedding very well. ~ Lela Rose dress, this is one of my favourite dresses in the top ten, interesting textured fabric and an easy to wear shape. This is certainly a "heavier" dress than the other ones, but suitable for a church or hotel wedding. ~Unique Vintage dress, I love the gold band on this dress and I also love the price tag, although I think it holds its own among the designer dresses very well! A perfect solution to those looking for an affordable option for their wedding abroad. ~ Divine wear dress, I thought that I should include a Greek designer in the list, the designer is Agni Hatzidaki, who has this gorgeous Grecian gown in her current collection, of course very appropriate for a wedding abroda in Greece, this is light, easy to wear and the draping will complement most body types! ~Lucibella dress, the only off white dress in the top ten, I like this colour, especially on brunettes with a slight tan, I love the shape, this would be perfect to hide a growing bump, but also extremely comfortable to wear during a whole day of festivities. I think the dress could be worn with leather flats for added comfort on the dance floor. ~ Sarah Arnett dress, I have been following Sarah's collections for the past couple of years and really love her designs, she does some slinky numbers that are perfect for a 20's or 30's themed wedding teamed with red lipstick, however I can't see this fitting into a hot summer wedding on a Greek island, instead I have picked the simplest gown, beauitfully cut, with the tiniest hint of a train, this is the dress that I would wear to my wedding if choosing today. ~ Pronovias dress, this company needs no introduction, at the moment it is the leading wedding dress company in the world and rightfully so, great dresses, great stores, good service (probably debatable) and great new ranges every season. Almost every girl wants the Pronovias experience in the run up to her wedding! I have chosen a traditional gown with a lacy edged veil, a true Spanish feel to it. This is for the romantic bride who has dreamt of her wedding since being a little girl. I would remove the veil after the wedding ceremony.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Hotel, restaurant or villa as reception????

A very good question to ask yourself is which option will offer the best quality and value for money, yet retain the atmosphere that you want to create for the evening of your wedding. There are many points to consider when making your decision, some of the most important being:
  • The setting, a busy restaurant or hotel venue may not offer the privacy that you want for your wedding reception. Ask about hiring the restaurant or venue exclusively for your wedding party. If you are having a very small affair, with a small amount of guests, then look at hiring a private part of the restaurant or hotel, which will give you your own space to do as you wish with.
  • A villa of course offers complete privacy, especially when choosing a property with a lush garden, high walls or that is secluded, however this brings with it a large amount of hidden extras that make the set up a little more complicated than the previous options. Hiring furniture, bringing in caterers, lighting and setting up a sound system can prove costly for a small wedding, although the end result is usually worth it's while.
  • Entertainment, if you are particular about the type of music you would like played at your wedding, ensure that you check with your venue what is permitted, especially when hiring a part of a restaurant or hotel grounds.
  • Alcohol, the bonus of choosing an independent wedding venue such as a villa, is that you can choose to bring in your own alcohol from a local warehouse and hire bar staff, thus keeping your bar bill under control. When choosing a 5 star restaurant or exclusive restaurant remember to look at their wine list, as this tends to make a huge difference to the cost of the overall event.
  • Timings, when considering a restaurant and hotel, consider the time required to decorate the venue as most will not offer more than an hour before the starting time of event for the area to be made over, depending on what you may want, the set up may take more than a day.
In general consider all options, weigh up the pros and cons to the type of venue that you would like to choose and ensure that you make an informed decision that will please you and your guests!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Villa Eleni, Patmos

For those of you looking for a secluded villa, where you can enjoy incredible sunsets, great food and simply relax, then look no further than this private property on Patmos island. You can choose to rent the apartment for just the two of you or the entire property if you are concerned about privacy. I feel that the finish on this villa is exceptional and although it doesn't offer a private pool in it's grounds, the view more than makes up for this!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Choosing the location for your wedding in Greece

So, you've swotted over your world map and come to the conclusion that Greece is the place to hold your wedding, what next? How do you choose between the mainland, popular and small islands that all offer varied and attractive options as wedding venues? Sit down and make a plan with your future husband, consider the size of your wedding, your expectations, the setting that you are looking for and how accessible the venue is for your guests. It is not necessary to limit yourself to the popular islands if you are looking for a traditional taverna on a quiet, undiscovered beach, however be prepared to have less choice in accommodation and wedding services available, peonies will not be available in the local florists! The mainland offers the widest variety of services with purpose built outdoor venues with Greek churches within its grounds, photographers, videographers, caterers and bakers can all be found very easily, if you are unfamiliar with Greek, then get yourself an English speaking wedding planner or utilise a local who can translate for you. The larger islands in Greece, Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Corfu and Kefalonia offer varied options, tour operator packages, local wedding planners and hotel planners, of course if you're looking to stay away from packages and "touristy" wedding venues, then you will have to seek out a wedding planner who's work you admire and you identify with to assist you with planning your wedding. As a general guideline, these are the questions that I would suggest that you ask yourself before deciding on the location for your wedding:
  • How large is my wedding going to be?
  • As a general rule, the larger the wedding, the larger the town/island/village that you should choose, in order to give you and your guests more options to choose from in term of the services for your wedding and the entertainment and accommodation options for their visit.
  • What type of wedding do I want?
  • Is it a civil wedding? Do I want it outdoors? Is it a Catholic church wedding? A Greek Orthodox wedding? Investigate which locations offer the type of ceremony that you are looking for and narrow your choices down this way.
  • What setting do I want for my reception?
  • A large hotel poolside set up? An intimate seaside dinner? A large villa garden? A historical setting? If you are looking for a specific setting then look into the options before making a final decision on the location that is right for you.
  • What level of services do I want for my wedding?
  • If you love flowers, are lusting after a photographer with a stylistic approach to his work, would like a hair stylist with international flair or a wedding cake with some wow factor, then choose one of the more cosmopolitan islands or Athens city, where you can find suppliers with an open mind. A small, Greek island is not out of the question, however be prepared to fly or transport all your suppliers from the mainland or nearest large city, which can prove costly.
Happy hunting!!!!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Honeymoon suite in Sifnos

If you're looking for a beautiful hotel suite to spend your first few days as a married couple in, then look no further than the Elies Hotel on Sifnos island, around 3 hour ferry ride from Athens. This small island is known for it's great cuisine, beautiful beaches and tiny white sugar cube houses that are associated with Greek villages. Elies hotel is very minimal in design, a pure white pallette set off against carefully selected artwork and beautiful wood furniture. Ideal for those looking for simplicity and luxury!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Greek Wedding Traditions

Today, I thought I might fill you in on some Greek wedding traditions. You could choose to add some of these elements to your wedding day or you may want to use this as reference when marrying into a Greek family. Greek island weddings, have always been a huge event that all the villagers look forward to. A chance to show your family’s wealth, power and love for the family, until today in some parts of Greece it is considered the norm to build or give your daughter a house as part of her dowry.

A typical Greek wedding can have anything form 200-1500 guests in attendance and will usually follow with a reception for at least half of these! The reception will have a live Greek band playing traditional songs, plenty of food and of course free flowing Greek wine.

The Thursday before the wedding (always on a weekend), there is a gathering at the couples new home to “make the bed”.

Family and friends gather and all the unmarried friends of the bride, make the couples bed, this is accompanied by a live band and a church blessing. It is tradition for people to throw money on the bed for the couple and also seta babies on it to signify fertility for the couple.

That evening each family have their own dinner party, and if the groom comes to see the bride, her mother must douse him in flour.

On the day of the wedding, the best woman will shave the groom and his single friends will dress him.

Over at the bride’s house, the best woman must give the bride’s parents gifts in order to enter the house. As her father puts her shoe on she will attempt to persuade him in to giving her more and more money.

After the wedding, the bride and groom go to their new house where the mother of the bride feeds the groom honey to signify keeping him sweet towards her daughter!

A few of the more traditions are:

  • After the reception the groom used to fry his tie and the bride, groom and the parents had to eat some of it.
  • The bride writes all her single girlfriends names under her shoe in pen, whichever name is legible at the end of the evening is the next in line to marry.
  • During a Greek Orthodox Wedding, there's a tradition for male relatives of the bride to slap the groom on the back, sometimes with force, as a way of welcoming the groom into the family.
  • A Greek bride carries a lump of sugar in her glove on wedding day for a "sweet" life
  • Crowns are placed on the couples' heads; the crowns are usually white or gold or made of orange blossoms or twigs and vine wrapped in silver and gold paper. A ribbon attaches them, and they are switched on the bride's and groom's heads three times. The crowns symbolize that the marriage is noble, and that the couple is becoming a unit, a family.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Weddings in Greece

So, the purpose of this blog, is to give information on my continuing discoveries of possibilities for weddings in Greece!! I hope that I will be able to provide information that people planning a wedding in any part of Greece may find helpful. I will try to avoid the classic "cookie cutter" wedding package information and I feel there is plenty of information on paperwork, hotel weddings and St. Paul's, but what happens if you're looking for something a little different, a little out of the ordinary, I think you'll find that the information is almost non existent! My first thoughts on what is important when planning a wedding in Greece is the perculiar law, as to where civil weddings are allowed and where not. Well, this depends on each and every Town hall's registrar and mayor, meaning that on one island or area, each town can have it's own rules, so extremely confusing and incovenient. Archaeological sites in general are forbidden for photography sessions and of course cannot be used as wedding or reception venues, so unfortunately any dreams of a wedding on the Acropolis of Athens or Lindos, are I'm afraid impossible to fulfill. So, when looking for a great venue in Greece you must first contact a local wedding planner and find out what is and isn't permitted. If weddings are only permitted in the local Town Hall, then consider having your "official" and legal ceremony on a day leading up to your chosen wedding date (or perhaps on the morning of your wedding day), you can choose to have only 2 witnesses present or close family and friends. You are then free to set up your second (unofficial) ceremony as you would like, in some cases we can arrange for the same officiant to be present and perform the wedding or you may prefer for a family member or a friend to read the service to make it more personal and special for you and your guests.