If you do it right, a destination wedding can be so much more than just a one-day affair for you and your guests. It should truly be a vacation! Yes, this does require a bit more planning, but we promise, in the end, it will be well worth it! This inspiration shoot in Greece shows how you can keep the party going! The first step: focus on the destination itself, after all, you're traveling all the way there for a reason, right? Bring elements from the natural landscape and culture into your wedding design. This will not only help the whole event be cohesive, but you and your guests will truly get to know the location instead of just the inside of a resort. Start with a casual cocktail hour where all of your guests can mingle, get to know each other, and sample the local fare. For the second day, maybe a luncheon with a view? Then, of course, the grande finalé where you pull together all of the elements from the previous events into one last over-the-top celebration!
These photos by Elias Kordelakos will have you packing your suitcase for an exotic destination. My Best Wishes Events planned this incredible wedding inspiration and Studio 7 created all of these delicious florals you'll see throughout. This inspiration came to life on the island of Naxos at Ayiopetra Exclusive Getaways. All of the images are in the full gallery, so be sure to click through and read on to hear more from photographer, Elias Kordelakos.
AN ENCHANTED ISLAND
A stone’s throw from mainland Greece, yet largely undisturbed, the enchanting island of Naxos invites seekers of romance and luxury to bask in the beauty of its South Aegean shores. A fertile landscape of ancient ruins, mountain villages, and long stretches of secluded beaches, this untouched retreat presents numerous possibilities for a modern celebration. Even in a year filled with change, Naxos lures lovers from all over the world in search of that special something.
With the increasing popularity of smaller gatherings comes a need for a location that lends itself to intimacy, and this Greek Island gem couldn’t be better suited. Boasting small yet sumptuous accommodations, Naxos plays host to several luxurious hotels, however, none is more captivating and perfectly opportune for petite soireés than the exclusive Ayiopetra.
Situated off the beaten path where the bountiful olive groves meet the historic temple of Demeter, the Goddess of Fertility, this contemporary oasis tucked away in the peaceful wilderness serves as the inspiration for this intimate yet exuberant celebration of love. With its inviting event spaces, nearby ancient monuments, beach proximity, and one-of-a-kind roofless church, Ayiopetra is an extraordinary place to create lasting memories. Designed to demonstrate the magic of the property and everything the island offers for destination I do’s, this carefully curated editorial is comprised of three separate days of events for a micro wedding weekend that begins on the island’s golden sands.
The island’s classic coastal backdrop seemed like a fitting place for the festivities to begin, and so our couple commenced their special occasion with a sunset portrait session on the nearby beach combined with a traditional Greek “ouzaki.” Laid-back and relaxed, our sweet newlyweds-to-be frolicked in the warm waters, enjoying a simple start to this extended celebration. A small sampling of local delicacies kept hunger at bay, including ripe olives, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese followed by a ceremonial toast with every native’s favorite tipple, the esteemed Ouzo. Dusk settled in as the couple created their own entertainment, the lullaby of the guitar and the gentle lapping of the calm water making for a peaceful and romantic end to the evening.
As guests came to celebrate from further afield, the second day of events included a welcome picnic that showcased the island’s bounty and visual charm. Set in a picturesque olive grove, the casual get-together combined views of the nearby modern Ayiopetra resort and the adjacent historic stone church; a captivating contrast of architecture to impress family and friends. Beneath the shadow of an old olive tree, a simple yet elegantly prepared spread of Naxian cheese and fresh produce greeted guests on arrival, including the island’s abundant prickly pear, which inspired the color palette for the entire weekend.
Ever-plentiful throughout the surrounding terrain, the common island cacti fruit traditionally takes on a subtle peachy tone in autumn when it’s ripe for picking. Hues of soft pink and muted purple complemented the local specialty, both in the warm tones of the setting and in the couple’s casual attire. With hay bales and vintage carpets serving as informal and inviting seating, guests were encouraged to enjoy the serenity of the working olive grove while picnicking on modest yet stylish tableware, selected to keep the occasion casual yet classy. Later that afternoon, local farmers gathered to pick the ripening fruit from the peripheral trees, adding an element of surprise and delight to the relaxed fete.
BLESSED BY THE GODS
The main day of events completed the three-day affair with a modern yet thoughtful ceremony and reception that incorporated many of the destination’s key elements. Wearing an ethereal gown of soft pink and delicate florals inspired by the neighboring temple of Demeter, the Bride was a vision of beauty evoking ancient Greek ideals in her flowing layers of chiffon. A bold yet brilliant groom’s ensemble was the perfect complement as the couple shared their vows at the venue’s striking roofless church. Choosing to appreciate the natural backdrop for this ceremonial rite, the unapologetic beauty of Naxos spoke volumes. Subtle decorations included prickly pear leaves adorned with the flowers of the day, which were flanked by customary Greek “tamata” offerings to the Gods, as well as personalized thank you messages from the couple.
KEEPING IT COHESIVE
Later, the intimate reception on the panoramic terrace of Ayiopetra mirrored the luxurious yet minimalist vibe of the property, where a concrete table and an eclectic mix of seating set the tone for a stylish supper beneath a canopy of twinkling lights. Richly colored taper candles and accompanying blooms brought a vibrant pop of coral and once again, the local prickly pear made an appearance with both its gorgeous green leaves and muted fruit featuring in the floral designs. Lush peach garden roses, hypericum berries, and vibrant coral azaleas were a harmonious addition to complete each arrangement.
When viewed alongside one another, the handcrafted paper elements at each place setting displayed a watercolor painting of a prickly pear plant in the same sunset palette as the day prior, with hints of coral for an overall sense of perfect uniformity. On the original invitation, simple sketches of the same flora helped to enhance the inclusion of the fruit as part of the theme, as well as a thoughtfully designed couple’s motif incorporating the island’s cacti.
In keeping with the location of the festivities, the cake blended the Greek wedding tradition of breaking a dish to expel bad vibes with the Japanese technique of restoring broken porcelain, otherwise known as “kintsugi.” The time-honored custom of banishing evil was fittingly evident from the fragmented pieces, yet artfully renewed to create something memorable and unique.
This meticulously crafted celebration is all the proof one needs to appreciate that the lesser-known Greek Island of Naxos offers so much potential for an intimate yet memorable destination event. Combining effortless luxury and contemporary touches that reflected the look and feel of Naxos and its exclusive Ayiopetra resort, this three-day celebration provided guests with an opportunity to discover this charming place and its people, while simultaneously enjoying a traditional yet modern celebration of love.