To anyone longing for a seaside celebration, vows exchanged among ancient monuments, or your very own Mamma Mia moment, Greece is the ideal wedding location. Even so, planning and hosting a destination wedding can be a source of stress. To be blunt, most wedding planning has an element of anxiety, but we’re firm believers in making the process as smooth and enjoyable as possible. For that reason, we’ve put together a step-by-step overview of how to plan a wedding in Greece. Whether you’re dreaming up locations or are set on a spot, read on for your need-to-knows.
As of May 14th, 2021, Greece has reopened for tourists from countries reporting low COVID-19 infection rates. Currently, restriction-free entry is permitted for travelers from EU and Schengen Area countries, the US, the UK, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, New Zealand, and more (find the full list here). If you have a vaccine passport (or Digital Green Certificate) and a negative test result no older than 72 hours, you aren’t required to quarantine upon arrival. That being said, before heading to the airport or even putting down deposits, we recommend checking for the most updated travel information.
Similar to planning a wedding at home, early in the planning process you’ll want to lock down a few key things—most notably, your location and vendors. However, considering you probably don’t live in Greece, this is going to be a tad more difficult. But with some extra determination (and perhaps a great wedding planner), these steps can be fun and rewarding.
The first thing you’ll want to do is decide where in Greece you’d like to get married. You’ll need this information to not only narrow down your search for vendors, but also obtain your marriage license (more on that below). If you’re unsure of where to begin, consider looking into the following.
Ideally, you’ll visit your vendors or see their work in person before booking them for your wedding. This means, for your Greek wedding, it may be a good idea for you to visit your desired location beforehand. If possible, plan a trip around visiting vendors and exploring the area. This is the best way to gauge potential vendors and get an idea of what your wedding will be like.
However, that won’t always be doable. In which case we highly recommend hiring a destination wedding planner local to the area. Not only will they have the best idea of what’s desirable and available to you, but they can often also provide you with great deals. Rather than keeping tabs on several vendors in another country, your wedding planner can act as your local advocate and go-to. In fact, we suggest hiring one even if you can make it out beforehand. The peace of mind and recommendations are priceless.
Now ask yourself: Do I want to get legally married in Greece? If the answer is yes, expect some extra steps you’ll need to navigate to make that happen. In Greece, there are three kinds of weddings you can have: civil, religious, and symbolic. Each requires different steps and paperwork, so look over each carefully before making a decision.
The easiest route for foreigners planning a wedding in Greece is to have a symbolic wedding. This will involve acquiring a marriage license in your home country before hosting your celebration abroad. If you don’t mind your legal marriage and paperwork taking place at home, this is your best option. This is also the best option for LGBTQ+ couples, who can perform a civil union in Greece, but not yet get legally married.
Nevertheless, it is possible for travelers to get legally married in Greece. Be aware, though, that the process of obtaining a marriage certificate involves several steps and can take weeks. If you’re determined, however, it can be done. The U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Greece state that you must contact the city or town hall local where your venue is located to obtain the local requirements before making any travel plans. That being said, these are the typical documents and steps needed for a civil ceremony.
If both you and your spouse aren’t Greek citizens, both of you will need to submit a separate set of documents (passport, birth certificate, etc.). Your marriage license will be valid for six months, and your civil ceremony can be held anywhere in Greece. As for religious ceremonies, it’s recommended that you contact the clergy directly for additional requirements.
When planning a wedding in Greece, it’s crucial that you consider your guests every step of the way. Whether you’re inviting a large group or an intimate amount of people, your guest will be relying on you for important information and travel assistance.
Giving your wedding guests the right information and enough information is crucial to any destination wedding. There are a few ways you can go about getting the whats, whens, and wheres out there—and although it may be redundant, utilize all of them.
The easiest and most convenient accommodations for guests at a destination wedding, let alone one in Greece, are hotel blocks. Booking a hotel block provides your guests with an easy to book (and frequently discounted) option throughout your wedding weekend. This arrangement is the most stress-free and reassuring for both you and your guests. However, large hotels may be hard to come by in certain Greek islands or cities. If you suspect that’s the case, begin looking into accommodations ASAP. Either way, as soon as you’ve booked or made arrangements, inform your guests. Allow them optimal time to check it out, consider their own situation, and confirm their travel plans.
We highly suggest booking transportation to and from important locations, e.g. the airport to the hotel, the hotel to the wedding venue, and back. Being somewhere completely foreign, many of your guests might not know how to get around. Help them out by booking a bus, car, or (for smaller groups) even a limo. Touch base with your wedding planner or venue and ask what’s available nearby.
As you’ve probably gathered, planning a destination wedding can be overwhelming. To make your planning process as stress-free and enjoyable as possible, Zola has gathered a selection of helpful tools all in one place. By signing up with Zola, you can create a custom wedding website, easy to use registry, and even manage your guest list and RSVPs. And if you just need a little more Expert Advice, we’re always here to help.