A small and intimate wedding in Santorini

28 Nov 2019

Marianne Davies and Luke Wilkins chose Imerovigli on the Greek island of Santorini for their wedding abroad

How did you meet?

We met 12 years ago in a local wine bar while studying at university. We kept bumping into each other after the first night we met so it must have been fate.

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Tell us about the proposal

It was during a surprise trip to Paris to celebrate being together 10 years. At the top of the Eiffel Tower Luke got down on one knee and proposed. We spent the next few days exploring the city and celebrating before contacting our friends and family to tell them the news.

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What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?

We wanted to create an elegant, relaxed, vintage yet classy feel to the day. Our main colours were white, ivory and blush pink combined with gold details. The aisle was beautifully lined with glass cylinder vases full of candles and cones filled with rose petals.

Like the flowers, I wanted myself and the bridesmaids to look effortless. My hair is a huge part of my look, so I didn’t want to turn up on my wedding day looking completely different. The same applied to my bridesmaids, so my hair/make-up artist Julia Afanasenko came up with effortless looks incorporating loose tousled waves that lasted all evening. She even added small pearl hair clips to the flowergirls' hair.

Keeping with the theme, I didn’t want to look back at my make-up and regret doing too much so Julia created a look that myself and the bridesmaids loved while still feeling totally like ourselves.

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What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?

We always knew we wanted a small destination wedding and choosing the location was a very important part of the planning for us. We wanted a location that wasn’t just a pretty place but also had activities and somewhere our guests could relax and actually enjoy staying there for the week. We chose Greece because they have the most romantic sunsets in the world and it's a great place for a holiday.

When choosing our venue we knew right away it had to be the Rocabella Boutique. The hotel itself is absolutely stunning with breathtaking views and it did not disappoint our guests who were blown away by the modern yet authentic feel.

We decided to fly over seven months prior to the wedding to finalise everything and that is when we met all of the staff at the Rocabella who supported us through the whole wedding, even staying to party with us into the early hours of the morning. We both agreed we wanted the ceremony and the reception to take place on the infinity terrace, the lowest terrace with an incredible infinity pool offering breathtaking caldera views of the volcano and magical seascape below.

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How did you know you’d found ‘the’ dress?

I found wedding dress shopping the most daunting experience of the whole wedding; there are more designers, styles and silhouettes than I ever imagined and I began to wonder if I’d ever find a dress to suite my personal style.

However once I found the Halfpenny Boutique in London I instantly fell in love with so many of her designs as they made me feel like me. They have such a unique vintage feel to them and they can be worn in so many different ways.

I still wanted to try on every dress so I could to get the full experience of wedding dress shopping but after trying on what felt like hundreds of different dresses, I ended up back at Halfpenny with the dress I fell in love with from the start. My dress is called Iris Rose - a full-length lace dress over an ivory slip. This was my favourite dress from the Halfpenny collection that is quintessentially English with the shaped train of French Levers lace.

I paired the dress with a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes and a simple Tiffany & Co diamond around my neck.

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Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear? 

I had four bridesmaids: Emma, Sophie, Charlotte and Lucinda who have been my closest friends since the age of two. I originally had a fifth bridesmaid who was unable to travel due to carrying her second daughter.

It was so important to me that my bridesmaids were comfortable and happy with every aspect of their looks on the day, so I pretty much gave them free rein. I bought the bridesmaids' dresses a year in advance as I found the perfect dress that was soft and romantic. I love the high street brand Coast and found the Exclusive Corwin multi-tie maxi dress to be perfect in every way. It ticked so many boxes with multiple ways to wear it, mini-length lining with a soft pleated maxi skirt over the top and in a gorgeous blush pink colour that was subtle and flattering.

I also had Luke’s three nieces as my flowergirls and we managed to find a gorgeous dusky pink shade to complement the bridesmaids' dresses.

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What did the mother of the bride wear?

My mum wore a gorgeous Gina Bacconi dress in a peach colour paired with a nude pair of Peter Kaiser shoes. She kept her accessorises minimal and wore the same necklace as me - a single diamond from Tiffany & Co.

Where did you find your suits?

Originally we were going to hire the suits as Luke had six groomsmen but after trying on many different styles and choosing the perfect colour, his father offered to buy bespoke suits for all of the groomsmen. Luke knew exactly what he wanted and went with Slater Bespoke and the Lambretra navy slim-fit three-piece suit. The groomsmen all wore navy blue ties and Luke wore a navy bow tie for an elegant addition.

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Did you hire a wedding planner? How did they help?

Even though we wanted to plan the whole event ourselves we decided to have a wedding planner to help us. We chose The Bridal Consultant and met our wedding planner, Sasha, 19 months before the big day. She was outstanding, taking us through the process and offering advice as we really had no idea.

As we got nearer to the wedding, Lisa and Matt from The Bridal Consultant both worked with us to arrange all of the necessary paperwork that we hadn’t even thought about and they continued to support us after the wedding with having our documents translated as they were in Greek. Email communication was outstanding and every question was answered instantly no matter how silly and insignificant our questions were.

While in Santorini we met with Michael and Maria and who drove us around and stayed with us on the wedding day to check everything ran smoothly. Everything was so well planned and timed, we were so relaxed and almost forgot we were actually getting married.

On top of our own team we were also supported by Katerina and the wedding team at the Rocabella who spoilt us rotten with gifts and they even dry-cleaned my dress the next day. We honestly couldn’t have done it ourselves as we weren’t just planning the wedding, we had to plan a getaway for an entire group of 31 people including a pre-wedding party, transfers, post-wedding boat trip, day trips to town and the wedding itself. Having a fantastic team behind us was the most important part of our wedding. It was better than we could have ever imagined and we wouldn’t change a thing.

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Tell us about your floral arrangements

The flowers were wild and imperfect in shades of quicksand, blush and ivory and we had them cascading down the gazebo and across each table to create a relaxed and elegant feel. My bouquet included ivory and quicksand roses, white buvardia combined with greenery. I also had a couple of burgundy peonies added to create depth and warmth. My bridesmaids had similar bouquets but without the peonies and the flowergirls had a single white rose tied with a bow.

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Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.

The tables for our wedding breakfast were made up of four round tables and a sweetheart table to give us some time together. We wanted everyone to be surrounded by their favourite people and in the end it worked out perfectly. The tables were full of roses, candles and the most beautiful centrepieces in gold vases. The places were set with gold charger plates, our menus printed on napkins in gold foil, personalised wooden heart place settings and a single rose in the middle of each. We also had small bottles of gin personalised for each guest as a favour and for our nieces we filled the bottles with juice.

We took advantage of the fact that we could bring some things with us. We checked in quite a few suitcases filled with things for the wedding day including table numbers, parasols, fans, napkins and Polaroids for the photobooth table which we designed ourselves. We managed to save money and had an idea of what the décor would look like on the day.

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

I had quite a long walk down a slope and onto the infinity pool terrace where we had our wedding and it felt like the longest walk ever. Just before setting off I felt incredibly overwhelmed and didn’t feel like I could move. I was so lucky to have my dad holding my hand and I was able to see all of our wonderful guests watching from below. The bridesmaids and flowergirls looked amazing and it really was a wonderful experience walking down the aisle with your best friends.

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How did you make the ceremony personal to you?

We chose to write our own vows which made it really personal to us as we were able to make promises to each other that meant something. I walked down the aisle to The Wedding Song played by saxophonist Kenny G who is a performer I grew up listening to with my dad. During the speeches one of my bridesmaids, Charlotte, made a speech which was fantastic, witty and had everyone in stitches.

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What was your most memorable moment?

We both have different memories from the day but too many to just choose one. Luke says his best memory was when I said “I do”.

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

By planning a destination wedding we were very aware that we would have to entertain our guests most of the time. We were lucky as nearly all of the guests we invited were able to travel but most importantly we wanted to plan different activities to make sure our guests got to know each other prior to the wedding so that it turned into a fun holiday for all.

We found visiting the island seven months prior to the wedding and meeting the team over there made the whole process a lot more relaxing. We were able to book a beautiful bar in Thira for a pre-wedding party and a catamaran for a post-wedding sunset cruise. This really made the wedding feel like it lasted for a few days and our guests didn’t want to come home.

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What was the most important investment for you? 

Our honeymoon - we wanted to travel to Indonesia and explore Bali which was truly breathtaking and worth every penny.

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What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?

We chose You & I (Nobody in the World) by John Legend as we are both fans of his music and this song is about devotion, love and being the only one for each other.

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Did you have any evening entertainment?

We decided to have a DJ for the evening who set the ambience perfectly, playing anything we requested along with music to keep the atmosphere electric. We both love jazz music and the sound of the saxophone so we were delighted when we were able to book Fotinos Tsakopoulos, a saxophonist in Santorini who came highly recommended on the island. He did not disappoint. He was incredibly talented and played a variety of music from jazz to r'n'b while interacting with our guests. He even stayed to talk to all of our guests and congratulate us through the evening.

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Did you have a wedding cake? 

We chose not to have a wedding cake as I am coeliac and we had already made sure all of the food on the day was gluten-free, so we didn’t want to make our guests eat gluten-free cake too.

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If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

The only thing we would change would be to make the day last longer as we were having too much fun for it to end.

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Did anything go wrong on the day?

While walking down the aisle I had to walk past an infinity pool above and some of the water did splash down and catch the train of my dress. I was so caught up in the moment that it didn’t even bother me however the Rocabella made sure the dress was dry-cleaned the next day.

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Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

Everyone told us how quickly the day goes but I can honestly say you blink and the day is over. We really wanted to do everything ourselves, so I wish we had delegated responsibilities as everyone was really supportive throughout the process.

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Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?

Ultimately, just enjoy the whole process. It is an emotional rollercoaster and the actual day goes so quickly. Find moments when you can just be alone and take in the magical experience together. The process can be stressful but make sure you delegate responsibilities, have a glass of bubbles and remember it is all about you and your partner.

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Steal their style: 

Photography: Studio Phosart
Venue: Rocabella Boutique Santorini
Dress: Halfpenny London    
Design: Wedding Wish Santorini
Wedding planning: The Bridal Consultant  
Hair and make-up: Julia Afanasenko 
Champagne flutes: Rylestyle
Bridesmaids' dresses: Coast           
Bridesmaids' gowns: Le Rose 
Bride's shoes: Jimmy Choo
Suit: Slater Menswear Bespoke
Groom's shoes: Kurt Geiger
Rings: Tiffany & Co 
Saxophonist: Fotinos Tsakopoulos
LEDs: Illuminography
Lighting: Santorini Events 

Click here for more >> destination wedding inspiration

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