How to Plan a Wedding in Greece

Even when your celebration is somewhere as breathtaking as Greece, wedding planning can be stressful. For that reason, we’ve put together a step-by-step overview of how to plan and what not to miss.

By McCall Minnor

How to Plan a Wedding in Greece
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

  • We’ve put together a step-by-step overview of how to plan a wedding in Greece.
  • First thing’s first: Decide on your specific location, and hire a local wedding planner to assist in finding your vendors.
  • Ask yourself whether or not you want to be legally married in Greece and plan the legal process accordingly.
  • Inform your guests of every need-to-know, and assist them with travel when possible (e.g. hotel blocks and transportation).

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.

  • Part One: Lay the Groundwork
  • Part Two: Obtain Your Marriage Licence
  • Part Three: Assist Your Guests

Traveling to Greece During COVID-19

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.

Part One: Lay the Groundwork

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.

Location Scouting

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.

  • Athens: The capital of Greece, Athens boasts breathtaking scenery, culture, and style. The Athenian Riviera, specifically, is a stunning stretch of coast dotted with luxury resorts fitting for a wedding.
  • Mykonos: Popular with jet setters, Mykonos is a Greek island equally packed with places to party and recharge. It’s well known for its white chapels and cobalt blue waters.
  • Santorini: When most people picture a Greek destination wedding, they picture Santorini. The island’s extremely popular and for good reason—the unique architecture and romantic views are hard to beat.
  • Skopelos: The immense popularity of Mamma Mia shot this island into fame, while also creating an immense desire for Greek destination weddings all around. Skopelos offers authentic accommodations, great food, and beautiful scenery, as well as the very mountain top chapel seen in the film.

Finding Vendors

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.

Have a Wedding Planner

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.

Part Two: Obtain Your Marriage Licence

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.

Get Married Symbolically

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.

Get Married Legally

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.

  • A valid passport
  • An apostilled (authenticated) birth certificate with an official translation
  • If relevant, apostilled documentation of divorce with an official translation
  • An affidavit of marriage in Greek and English, signed and sworn by the U.S. citizen(s) before a consular officer in the U.S. Embassy in Athens
  • A $50 USD notarization fee per spouse
  • The affidavit must then be authenticated by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs validation department (fee of 30 euros or $34.80 USD)
  • The above documents must be presented in person at the city hall or president of the community where your marriage will be taking place
  • Once you’ve submitted your documents and received your marriage license, both you and your partner will jointly apply to the mayor or president of the community where you wish to marry. You and the official will then set the date
  • Once married, register your marriage at the Vital Statistics Office in the city where the marriage is performed within 40 days following the ceremony
  • For US citizens, marriages performed abroad are generally considered valid in the states—verify this where you live

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.

Part Three: Assist Your Guests

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.

Provide Important Information

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.

  • Save the Dates: Send these eight to 12 months in advance. Include your destination (e.g. Athens, Greece) along with your date. This allows your guests the adequate time and information needed to decide whether or not they can attend a destination wedding.
  • Wedding Invitations: Send these 12 weeks in advance. Along with your standard invitation elements, include more detailed information on your location, such as your venue and accommodations.
  • Wedding Website: This is where you can go into much more detail. Using Zola’s Wedding Websites, you can neatly and beautifully provide every piece of important information, such as travel logistics, accommodations, weather forecast, and other locational info. Err on the side of “too much” rather than “too little” to avoid any miscommunications. Travel can get complicated, and you don’t want any mishaps.

Accommodations

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.

Transportation

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.

Planning Your Destination Wedding With Zola

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.

Simplify Your Wedding Planning at Zola