There are lots of weddings on Santorini every year…. that’s looots, as in 3 zeros, as in thousands. People from all over the world come here to get married, each couple having it’s own special reason for choosing this magical island.
The weddings range from the sublime to the ridiculous. There are people that have traditional weddings, others totally non-traditional (read: on the volcano itself). Some do it discreetly….in their own hotel, or even their own balcony over looking the magnificent view… along with half a dozen friends and/or family. Others have more elaborate weddings….hiring an entire hotel and decorating it like a magical kingdom out of a fairytail.
Then there are my Japanese friends. I say this with a big smile on my face….you really have to hand it to these young people. They often come here alone, they get married on a balcony by an official and then proceed to walk through the whole village trying to take their own wedding photos. Now….go with me on this. The bride quickly changes into runners (sneakers) under the wedding dress and she usually carries the tripod. The groom is carrying camera, lenses, his jacket, flowers and any other props they may want to use in their “professionally” taken wedding photos. So off they go… from roof top to roof top, looking for good angles of the caldera….he sets up the camera while she props herself in front, on, or against something. He sets the shot, clicks the timer and runs like hell to get in the shot…. often having to go back and do it again…and again…and again. Meantime the bride has either changed back to her “wedding shoes” or is pulling the wedding dress like hell to cover the sneakers she is wearing. Oh…and this is often done in the middle of the day ( a curious phenomenon seemingly applicable only to the Japanese)…. which means in mid-summer it is at least 35C. They are both perspiring like mad and the Japanese bride usually has a small umbrella to protect her snow-white skin from the harsh sun. But do they care?
Nope…. you often see their faces beaming with happiness that they are doing what they want, in the place of their dreams. You see them kissing under the frilly umbrella, then quietly packing the “set” and moving on to the next location so they can do it all over again and again and again. THAT is romance Santorini style as far as I am concerned ( I also love the way the locals often come out and offer them cool drinks…right there on the roof tops).
On the other end of the scale you have the rich-bitch bridezillas. Our friend Kat, the local hairdresser, tells us stories of women that throw a fit because the flowers look wilted, or they don’t like the suit on the official marrying them (they are lucky he didn’t turn up in his sandals). They complain about the heat, or the cars or the balcony decorations, or or or… I am always amazed how the guys marrying these women can’t take a hint of things to come.
But the large majority of couples getting married on this island are just ordinary people who had a dream (there is that word again). They save their money, bring their family and friends and they get married in the way they have fantasised…often for years. Simple, elegant weddings, usually at sunset overlooking one of the most stunning views in the world. You watch their faces and you know…you know that this is what they have wanted to do ever since they decided to get married. In fact….it often starts long before that. One or the other had visited the island and fell in love with it. Or…they met here, or they saw it in a movie or a poster or a video… and decided THAT was where they wanted to get married. Do you blame them?
Looking out over the caldera view does things to you….even to someone that has been looking at it for more than 25 years. People get mesmerised, their mind drifts and they become lost in their own thoughts. I remember last August I saw a couple get married on a hotel balcony. The bride looked gorgeous and her groom was beaming. They had less than half a dozen people there as they stood side by side. They got married as their friends watched and they kissed…then turned and looked out at the view. I would’ve given anything to read their thoughts at that moment. The next afternoon I was taking photos of the sunset and I saw them sitting on a roof top… alone but together. No words were spoken between them as they watched the red August sun setting. As the last traces of the sun were about to sink into the Aegean horizon… they turned and kissed. They looked at each other…hugged and then sat there looking out to the endless blue below them. No words necessary….their “dream” fulfilled !
There are of course people for whom money is no object. They can afford to do things with a bit more style and if they can afford it… who can blame them. Last night I came out just after sunset…looked down below and saw this:
It’s one of the regular sunset sail boats from Oia…. but this time the sails were lit up and there was a wedding on-board. My picture does not do the image I saw justice. But I can tell you that it looked fantastic. For them…looking up at the village all lit up, it must have looked like a dream. They must have money…sure. But they also have impeccable taste and you’ve got to love that…
It makes no difference how simply elegant or extravagantly people get married here…they are true romantics.
Cheers to them and all the romantics everywhere !