Well, we finally did it!
As you may already know, Lefteris and I had our civil marriage almost a year ago in London. And while we’ve been very much married this year, we never thought of that as the “wedding” – we’ve been planning THIS wedding in Greece ever since. (What we didn’t plan is that I’d be 6 months pregnant for the wedding!)
Photos were done by my photography mentor and great friend, the lovely and talented Emily Wheeler.
So on July 14, we made it even more official, by having back-to-back Greek Orthodox and American ceremonies at the tiny Church of Saint Nikolaos outside of Pamfila, the village where Lefteris’s family has lived for generations. Before the wedding there were some other really fun events (particularly the “Pie-Cutting”, which I’ll explain separately), but the wedding day started at the Hotel Loriet, where we also had the reception later.
I should note that I am in looooove with this dress. It was a real challenge finding a fashionable maternity wedding dress…but Maternity Bride came through, and my tailor did an amazing job making it fit beautifully in short order. I do want to mention that I had a solid backup dress from Seraphine, just in case anyone out there is looking for such a thing…but when I got this dress, I was in LOVE WITH IT. So over the top, so fantastic – perfect for the wedding of a pink-haired woman in Greece (Greeks love the bling).
We did our portraits downstairs in the lobbies of the Loriet. I should say a little more about this place – it’s AMAZING. The people are wonderful, and the building itself is in the classic Lesvos style, but with a beautiful European perspective – it was originally a summer mansion for a wealthy family from the island. It’s been beautifully restored and they’ve added more modern accommodations in the grounds behind the mansion. For us, the rooms in the original mansion (the bridal suite, shown above, and the salon/lobbies), as well as the front steps, made for absolutely gorgeous photos.
Finally, we headed to the church. Greek weddings are different from American weddings…(as you’ll see)…and one important difference is that I walked with my family, led by a band of musicians (!), up the hill to the church where Lefteris was waiting with my bouquet.
The church itself was *tiny*, and it was HOT, so we limited the people in the inner room of the church to family & bridal party only. I was a little paranoid that I might pass out otherwise. Heels + pregnancy + heat was a scary combination. But it worked out great…mostly because we had a team of bridesmaids fanning us and putting cold water bottles on our backs at critical moments.
The Greek Orthodox ceremony has several key moments/symbols that are unfamiliar to Americans. Two of the most important are the stefana (the wedding “crowns”, above) and the point at the end of the wedding when we took our first steps together as man and wife, following the priest around the table three times.
When this ceremony was over, we headed outside for the American ceremony. This area was right next to the church, and our florist Babis – my new favorite person, by the way – put the whole thing together. ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS.
My Swedish brother Anders read the poem “Love” by Billy Collins, and our extremely good friend Peter played the Ben Taylor song “Nothing that I can do”.
Finally we headed back to the Loriet for the reception. We made our grand entrance on the front staircase outside…and I had made these leather luggage tags for everyone with their table numbers – we got ours on our champagne bottle. 🙂
The funny thing, by the way, is that apparently my baseball skills came into play and I threw the bouquet WAY further than expected…far into the crowd…where it was caught by the best man. That alone would be funny enough – but then he told us the next day that in fact he proposed to his girlfriend of seven years shortly beforehand and they’ll be married next summer! Maybe there’s something to this next-to-get-married thing afterall…
The food at this wedding seriously blew my mind. We ate a LOT of great food in Mytilene and this stood out for sure. These, for example, were little morsels of lamb wrapped in eggplant with roasted red peppers. SERIOUSLY.
Lefteris’s father did an amazing dance in lieu of a speech. One of my favorite things about the Greeks I know is the fact that there are so many adults that genuinely want to express themselves through dance.
Afterward, we had our first dance to one of my very favorite recordings: Joe Williams singing “Every Day I’ll Fall in Love” from Ballad & Blues Master. (Sidenote, that whole album is pure perfection and is also one of the very first jazz albums I bought when I was back in high school.)
I think I might actually have been too tired to sleep properly that night. But it was all so worth it! The following day, we took it easy and sat by the pool ALL DAY. Except for the part where we did an underwater-maternity-wedding photo shoot! I found these underwater maternity portraits a few months ago and saw my opportunity – and practiced with Jenna (who was actually back in Hawaii having her baby right about this time). Emily flew out that morning, so I asked Ashley to stand in as photographer. It turns out that she is part fish and must have gills…we learned the hard way that this (seawater-filled) pool is extra-bouyant and it was next to impossible to get all the way underwater. So Ashley took the camera, dove down, and then Aaron literally stood on her shoulders as she shot from below. Ah-mazing. I love the look of these.
I’ll be doing another post about the pie-cutting soon – because that really was an experience all in itself. But the wedding…it was wonderful – absolutely wonderful. It meant more to both of us than I can explain to have all of these important people in our lives together in one place to celebrate with us. And interestingly, I’m incredibly glad that we’ve had almost a year of marriage before our wedding. I feel like this made our vows more meaningful to both of us…like we had some experience and we really knew what we wanted to promise each other. I also love it that our little Robotaki was a part of the whole thing. I really hope he or she looks at these photos years from now and sees how much in love his or her parents were and how happy we were to share the joining of our lives with the people closest to us. 🙂
Photography: the amazing Emily Wheeler
Church: Church of Saint Nikolaos
Reception & catering: Hotel Loriet
Flowers: Babis Palaiologos
Music: Vasilis Panopoulous
Dress: Maternity Bride
Shoes: Vince Camuto (I had heels for the ceremony and matching flats for the reception)
Headpieces: Nordstrom and Bhldn
Bracelets: there were two similar ones – I made the first, and wore the one from Ice.com later
Makeup: I did my own but I owe the success to a lesson from Natalie Erazo
Stefana: Lena Septemvri
Underwater photos: Ashley Warren
I’d also like to add that when we got back to California we were greeted with the best-ever post-wedding-back-of-the-car-shaving-cream-art I have ever seen, from Gabe: