Holly and Neil's destination wedding really proves that the only things you need to have a wonderful wedding are a great venue, good food and each other. And a wonderful photographer to capture it all of course. Jason Mark Harris always does a stellar job, whether he's shooting at home in the UK, or at destination weddings across the world. I feel I should warn you that this wedding may well make you want to pack your bags and head to Santorini - the warm golden sunlight is very appealing right now...enjoy everyone, Holly's words on planning a destination wedding are really helpful too!

Our Story

Holly the Bride: Myself and now husband both work for HM Prison service and met in New York where we were competing at the World Police & Fire games 5yrs ago. After 2 yrs long distance (he is from Manchester and I'm based in Surrey) he made the move 'down south'. We got engaged in Mexico 2yrs ago but he made me work for the ring - the deal was I had catch all bouquets at the 5 weddings we went to that year, then we would talk, being competitive I did exactly that!

Destination Wedding

We knew we wanted to jet off to get married as we didn't want a traditional wedding and did want sunshine! Through following recommendations from friends we decided to check out Santorini. We organised this through Planet Weddings who arranged for us to meet a wedding planner out there. The first venue we visited we fell in love with Santorini Gem is a fairly new purpose built wedding venue set high overlooking the caldera with breath taking views and sunsets. We booked up for September the following year and began the planning.

The Decor

The colour scheme was easily decided, a combination of our two favourite colours orange & purple. We decided to keep the numbers low for a more intimate wedding but invited all 40 guests to be a part of the bridal party by wearing our colours, this looked great for the pictures!

The Bride

She wore- my dress was a 2016 design by an Australian designer Essence which I purchased from the national wedding show in London, Pure Couture Beaconsfield was the bridal shop it came from . I wanted it to have lace detail to be in-keeping with the environment and have the simplicity of Greece with enough detail to feel like a wedding dress. I added a crystal belt to the dress and had the straps made detachable to give me a more sexier style for the evening. The adjustments were made by Helen Susan-Milne who did an exceptional job, short notice with reasonable costs. My shoes were Kurt Geiger 'Carvela' open toes and necklace was a pearl vintage piece brought as a present from my mum during a shopping trip to Winchester. My bracelet was a present from my bridesmaid- an elegant,classic, set diamond piece from Ernest Jones and my hair piece was a simple band of drop pearls & diamanté detail from a bridal shop Diamond Nights & Days in Bagshot, Surrey - also a present from a close friend. I wanted it all to look simple, pretty and in keeping with the Grecian style.

The Wedding Party

My best friend Danielle Holbrooke was my bridesmaid - wearing a floor length cadburys purple Coast gown and our 3yr old niece Berrie Harwood was our flower girl wearing an ivory M&S bridal range, knee length dress with a ring of purple and orange flowers in her hair. My husband Neil, his best man and his Dad; all wore royal blue French Connection 3 piece suits from Moss Bros. The groom accessorised with a Ted Baker crisp white shirt and brown brougues. The tie and hankie were ivory to match my dress with a paisley print which the grooms men also wore but in a lilac shade.

The Party

Most of our guests stayed in Kamari which made the wedding celebrations a week long! For the 'sten' We organised a meal at the sky lounge in Kamari, cocktails in Fira at tango bar with amazing views across the caldera and our post wedding get together started at Theros Wave Bar in Ayredua. Because we had spent a week in Santorini it meant we had done our research and could give our guests a trip taking in some of the best bits of the island. We used the wed pics app to share memories of the week. We laid on complimentary coaches to our venue and back for guests, we hired a black Mercedes to transport the bridal party.

The Photography

When we discussed what was important within the budget we both agreed the photos are what you're left with so this was one of our main priorities. We loved the photos from my best friends wedding and their photographer who had shot many weddings internationally agreed to make the trip for our wedding. Jason Mark Harris not only produced the most amazing account of our perfect day, but exceeded our expectations for capturing such a natural, raw account of us as a couple. It never felt staged, he was like one of the guests and there was never any pressure to 'smile'. His wife Sarah was our videographer, they worked very well together and were very professional but always kept me at ease.

The Ceremony

Our ceremony was read in Greek and English. we had a reading chosen by father of the bride Richard Purves, a quote from our long distance days read out by the grooms sister Jenna Lancaster and a personalised poem written and read by our close friend Alison Chichester. The bouquets were handmade by mother of the groom Wendy Lancaster and transported over with decorations for the tables and venue. We had to really think about what we took over - nothing heavy, large or breakable and nothing of too much value as we had no plans to bring it all back! The favours were mini Molton Brown body wash which everyone could use and the decorations consisted of birdcages and butterflies with tables being named after Greek gods and goddesses. I walked down the aisle to Charlene Soraia 'Wherever You Will Go' and once married we exited with Whitney Houstons 'Your Love Is My Love'.

The Reception

An hour of fresh strawberries and champagne followed the ceremony then we left to have more intimate pictures in the nearby village of pyrgos. The speeches were complimented all night! The groom, bridesmaid, bride and best man all gave funny but heart felt accounts of the lives and relationship of the happy couple.The wedding breakfast was a Greek Mezze of different meats, salads and potatoes followed by fresh local fruits. The cake was organised by our planner Liz - It was 2 tiers of varying sized cupcakes and a tier of chocolate ganache sponge cake with orange & purple colours and detail. We had a disco for the evening which turned into a show performed by some of our talented guests putting on a show with singers and background dancers!
Fern Godfrey

Written by Fern Godfrey

Wedding Planners: Planet Weddings | Venue: Santorini Gem | Bride: Essence of Australia | Bridesmaid: Coast | Flower Girl: M&S | Groom: Moss Bros

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