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The Story Behind our Santorini Wedding Photos

by Roberto
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It’s become the dream of many to have their wedding photos taken on the dreamy isle of Santorini in Greece. Whether the plan is getting married on Santorini in the presence of all your family or friends, or is one of elopement, then the whitewashed buildings and blue domed churches are the perfect backdrop to your Santorini wedding photography session. Or perhaps like us, you want your photos taken on your honeymoon. Pre wedding and proposal photos are now huge business in Santorini too.

Having your wedding photos taken abroad- I mean how hard can it be? Or so we thought… But before I get into all the drama behind a simple photo shoot, perhaps I should begin with how we got into the mindset. I’ll leave the separation from the wedding dress, the debacle taking it with us and the randomness of the day of the shoot for later in the blog.


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Our Wedding Plans

The notion of having our photos taken abroad evolved. We initially planned to elope and marry in Italy. Conventional weddings are not our thing. More on that in a minute. So we contacted a wedding planner in Italy in a destination I had fallen in love with prior. However there was a problem in that the town hall there only took bookings within the calendar year. We were looking at a September Wedding in the year of 2017.

So January came and the first weeks went with no contact. So I followed up. Turns out that same city hall takes holidays in January and half of February. I want a job in that wedding department.

Needless to say we weren’t impressed and more than a little concerned with their competence. Would we turn up to a scenario where something wouldn’t go right? Would they forget the priest? Are we even going to even hear from them in February? Lacking confidence we scrapped the idea.


A Dublin Wedding

And so we settled on a Dublin wedding after all. But we weren’t keen on the traditional wedding that so many of our friends opted for. Beata dreaded the Hungarian traditions, such as the coin dance. The guests gather around and throw coins to the couple and they dance for the money. And I can’t dance to save my life. Don’t get me started on the bride kidnapping tradition.

I on the other hand had worked in a hotel for years and seen so many weddings that I know what can go wrong. I’ve seen fights, renegade DJs, and hospitalised guests on occasions. Another common thing at big weddings – bad food and wine. And that’s not even to mention what it can do to the bride.

So we kept the wedding to close family only. The number we ended up on was…13. We recounted and reconsidered. Can be unlucky for some. But that’s what we invited. And it was perfect. From the good humoured registrar, to the tasty canapés and prosecco in Dublin’s premier hotel the Merrion, to the succulent steak dinner that followed at the very stylish Fire restaurant.


The First Dance

The only thing missing was our first dance. The night in the restaurant ended prematurely at 12am, so we went off in search of a nightclub. Landing in the very alternative Globe Bar, we looked a tad out of place in our wedding clobber. Egged on to get that first dance going, we decided the first song we knew would be it. Then a familiar guitar and keyboard track brought me to my two left feet and we deliberated it was to be the one.

On the dancefloor it turned out the song was Love Will Tear us Apart by Joy Division. How very apt for out rather alternative wedding.

For the record and to relive those who believe in omens, two years on we are still very happily married.


Finding a Santorini Wedding Photographer

We did hold on to one thing from our plan to elope. The dream of having our wedding photos taken in an exotic location. The notion of Amalfi disappeared though, like the town hall staff in January. And it’s place a honeymoon to Santorini grew. Having seen so many Santorini photos on the web, it seemed the perfect place to capture our wedding memories. So we set out to find a photographer for Santorini.

It’s important to book early, and not leave booking a photographer to the last minute. Our search turned up quite a few photographers with the aid of Google. Many are general Greece photographers, while there around ten that are based on Santorini. We decided to book a photographer from the locality we would be in. We presumed they will know the more remote spots, that are perfect for photography.

A listing is available at BestWeddingPhotography.com and from here hunt took us to a Santorini photographer called Ashley. We decided her photographs were the ones that most closely correlated with the idea of what we wanted done. And so after a brief email conversation we booked her for a three hour shoot which would cost €500. This was around the median price for this length of time, with some being a little more expensive who advertise at the top of google. No coincidence there perhaps.

The discussion on the best time for our shoot was one where I was led, as the island explodes to life for sunset, and so is best in those sleepy morning hours. When you have the island all to yourself. I am not a morning person, but I had come this far so one early morning surely wasn’t going to hurt me.


Santorini flights and the wedding dress

Being from Ireland it’s hard to resist the allure (cheap prices) of Ryanair, and our honeymoon proved no exception. Ryanair has direct flights to Athens, and then another to Santorini from there. It was certainly the quickest route and allowed us to spend a few days in Athens. So that was that sorted, book our seats and nothing else to worry about.

Except the wedding dress.

A quick look at Ryanair’s policy on bringing a wedding dress with you on a flight, gives you 3 options.

  1. In the overhead locker. I don’t think so.
  2. In the cargo hold. Where it may be thrown in along with another 100 suitcases, and undergo an unwelcome alteration.
  3. Book an extra seat for your dress.

A new problem

So we booked an extra seat on all four flights for the dress. Costly, but simples. Right? Wrong! No it was never going to be that easy.

I mean for three of the flights it was. The fourth however was where the challenge arose. While booking our three seats together on the flight from Athens to Santorini, Ryanair’s system crashed. Beata ended up the front of the plane, I in the middle and the dress at the back. The system locked us out and there was nothing I could do till the day of the flight.

Parkinson’s law set in and I worried if I might not be able to get beside the dress. What if the person in the seat beside me and the dress refused to move? That would be the longest short flight ever. The day of the flight came and after awkwardly approaching the lady in the seat beside the dress, she was more than happy to move. Relieved I took my place beside the dress. But after all my fussing a member of the cabin crew approached me. The flight was quiet and she could hang the dress at the back of the plane. Damn it, all that worry for nothing.

The day of our Santorini Wedding Shoot

We booked hair and makeup through our hotel, the amazing Lilium Santorini Villa. Perched above the caldera just outside Fira it is the perfect island retreat. Morgan Belleville, Beata’s makeup artist was originally from California and settled in Santorini. Who could blame her. While performing her magic on Beata I took in a Santorini sunrise.


We were due to be collected at 7 am by Ashley who would drive us to the different shooting locations. As it turned out Ashley the photographer was an English Ashley and not an American Ashley. So a guy and not the girl we expected. Ashley is a Geordie living in Greece for some years, and was a sound guy. We filled the 3 hours with conversation. Ashley was accompanied by his Greek assistant. I can’t recall her name, so we shall call her Mary Kate for this blog. Ashley and Mary Kate as it turned out were a couple as well.

Santorini Wedding Photos
Ashley in Action

Mary Kate was quite afraid of heights. Very interesting then that she choose to move to Santorini, an island perched on the edge of the caldera. It also proved more difficult when half our photography locations were sites reached by a series of switchbacks and dangling on the edge of that caldera, or on the end of roads with plummeting drops to the sea below. Of course this made Ashley’s job all the more difficult, and they had a few disagreements over it. I chuckled to listen to them bicker as only couples do.

The road from Fira to Oia
The road from Fira to Oia

The shoot had further complications. Complications such as having to give way to a Santorini traffic jam. I can’t imagine anywhere else where this might happen on your wedding shoot.


The Shoot

We had assumed that the shoot would take us to Fira and other Santorini landmarks such as the Anastasi church, but Ashley had other ideas. He embraced the notion of finding remote places on the island, with views of unique Santorini churches, and of the caldera. And the results were amazing. The complications encountered on the shoot certainly did not manifest in the photographs.

Let me take you on a tour of Ashley’s Santorini photography locations. Arriving in Fira we left the main streets climbing down to Ekklisia Agios Minas, a church off the beaten track. Some convenient flowers and the church provided backdrops for Ashley.

Santorini wedding photos
Santorini wedding photos

The caldera itself was the star of many photos. Besides ourselves of course.

Santorini wedding photos
Santorini wedding photos
Santorini wedding photos

We bundled into Ashley’s car and set off for the church at Profitis Ilias. This church is on the 10 km walking route from from Fira to Oia. Great views en route, but its not for the Mary Kate’s of this world.

Santorini wedding photos
Santorini wedding photos
Santorini wedding photos

No Santorini photo shoot is complete without a visit to a blue domed church, and Ashley found the perfect one in Panagia Tou Kalou. In an obscure part of the islands north-east, we found ourselves as the only ones there.

Santorini wedding photos

No wedding album is complete without some tree hugging pictures. Santorini’s east has a scattering of sandy beaches with Monolithos Beach being perhaps the pick. And it has some nice trees for shade

Santorini wedding photos

Of course we finished with the prerequisite walk on the beach and a romantic kiss against the backdrop of the Aegean Sea.

Santorini wedding photos
Santorini wedding photos
Santorini wedding photos

Conclusion

The world needs a little bit of happiness now, and the story of my Santorini wedding photos is without doubt one of my happy memories. Despite the stumbles along the way.

Looking for more inspiration on Greece? Then a trip to Meteora will blow your socks off. Quite possibly Greece’s most amazing landscape. My Meteora experience.

Amused you? Then please pin or share.

Santorini wedding photos
Santorini Wedding Photos

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