Table of Contents:
- About Santorini, Greece
- How to Get Married in Santorini as a Foreigner
- 5 Best Wedding Venues in Santorini, Greece
- Where to Stay in Santorini
- 10 Steps to Planning a Wedding in Santorini
- Pick a time of year/date
- Hire a local Santorini wedding planner
- Choose between a legal or a symbolic ceremony
- Apply for your Greek marriage license
- Pick a Santorini wedding venue
- Hire a Santorini wedding photographer & the rest of your vendors
- Invite your guests
- Book your travel + accommodations
- Plan your activities + timeline
- Santorini Wedding Inspiration at Cavo Ventus
I’ve photographed multiple weddings in Santorini now, and each time I fall more and more in love with this spectacular Greek island. This is a full guide to planning a Santorini wedding, complete with logistical info + the legalities of getting married in Greece, the top Santorini wedding venues, the best places to stay in Santorini, and more. Can’t wait to see what you plan for your unique Santorini wedding after reading this article!
About Santorini, Greece
Where is Santorini located?
First off, where is Santorini?
Santorini is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, around 120 miles southeast from the Greek mainland. It’s one of the most iconic Greek islands that people come to visit from around the world, thanks to its vibrant culture, bright blue waters, stunning cliffs, and luxury resorts + villas. The views of the Caldera (the picturesque, half-moon-shaped bay) are to die for no matter where you go, and there’s so much potential to have an absolutely epic destination wedding with all of your favorite people.
Why get married in Santorini?
There are countless reasons to get married on this breathtaking island, but here are a few of the top reasons why couples get married in Santorini:
- The views, obviously
- Clifftop luxury hotels & villas to stay in
- Spectacular white sand beaches (and even a black sand beach, too)
- Bright blue water to swim in
- Tons of historical sites + culturally-rich places to visit
- Incredible sunrises & sunsets
- Those famous blue domes you always see pictures of
- Lots of beautiful hiking trails
- Small villages to explore
- Delicious traditional cuisine
Trust me – Santorini is one of the best destination wedding locations you could pick for your special day.
How to Get Married in Santorini as a Foreigner
Fortunately, you do not need to be a citizen/resident of Greece to get married there! So foreigners can legally get married in Santorini, but it’s a bit of a process.
Because the process can take several weeks (or even months), it’s really important to get started on it as soon as you can in case you run into any issues. I’d definitely recommend hiring a local wedding planner (such as Tie the Knot Santorini, an awesome Santorini wedding planner) who can start the application process for you early on, and who can guide you through the ins & outs of legally getting married in Greece!
Greek marriage laws
The U.S. Embassy in Athens has a great guide that takes you through all the specific details you need to know about legally getting married in Greece as an American, but I’ll recap the basics for you below, including what documents you need & what to do with them:
- A valid passport or other travel document
- An Apostilled birth certificate with an official translation, obtained in the U.S. – if neither you nor your partner was born in Greece
- An Affidavit of Marriage signed & sworn before a consular officer at the Athens embassy – if required by the city/town hall where you’re getting married
- Authentication of the Affidavit by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs validation department
- A copy of a wedding noticed published in a local Greek newspaper – if one of you is a Greek citizen
How to get your Greek wedding license
There are two different types of marriage ceremonies in Greece: civil & religious. Both are legally recognized in Greece, and you can get married in either type of ceremony (or both) as a foreigner as long as you’re over the age of 18. A Greek civil ceremony typically takes place at a town hall or formal wedding venue, whereas a religious ceremony takes place at a church & is officiated by a priest.
You’ll need to plan on being in Athens for at least two days before your wedding to complete the required paperwork, bringing all of the above documents with you to the city hall where you’ll be having your wedding. If both of you are foreign nationals, you’ll need to each submit your own separate set of documents!
Typically you’ll usually receive your marriage license eight days after you submit your application, so you’ll need to plan to be in Greece at least 2 weeks (to be on the safe side) before your wedding in order to get the whole process finished.
If you don’t want to go through the somewhat complicated and time-consuming process of legally getting married in Greece as a foreigner, you can opt instead for a symbolic ceremony – which I highly recommend. This simply means that you legally get married and say your vows in your home country, either before or after your trip to Greece, and you have a symbolic ceremony in Greece to celebrate. You can say your vows again and still have a full-on, epic ceremony & reception with all your loved ones, but you won’t have to worry about the complex process of getting a Greek marriage license!
And note that at this point in time, same-sex marriage is unfortunately not legally recognized in Greece, so I’d recommend symbolic ceremonies for same-sex couples who want to celebrate in Greece, instead.
5 Best Wedding Venues in Santorini, Greece
There are tons of beautiful wedding venues in Santorini, and it’s almost impossible to narrow them down – so here are 5 of the best Santorini wedding venues to get your venue search started!
2. Grace Hotel
4. El Viento
Where to Stay in Santorini
If you’re visiting Santorini, you’ve gotta find a place to stay where you can enjoy all the incredible views & everything that this magical island has to offer. Whether you choose to stay in a private, romantic Airbnb with just the two of you or you rent out a spacious luxury villa for all your guests to enjoy, here’s a list of some of the most awesome, top places to stay in Santorini.
Top Santorini Hotels & Resorts
- Cavo Ventus
- Grace Hotel
- Andromeda Villas & Spa Resort
- El Viento
- Rocabella Hotel
- Celestia Grand
- Canaves Oia Suites
Top Romantic Santorini Airbnbs for Couples
- Santorini Sky Panoramic Villa | $221/night
- Sunset Cave House | $240/night
- Blue Dome Suite | $300/night
Top Santorini Airbnbs for Weddings & Big Groups
- Villa Murat – sleeps 12 for $1,254/night
- Parathyra Cave Houses – sleeps 9 for $679/night
- Antelmi Villa Caldera – sleeps 10 for $1,074/night
- Canava Villas Winery Estate – sleeps 14 for $743/night
- Ambeli Luxury Villa – sleeps 9 for $585/night
10 Steps to Planning a Wedding in Santorini
Now that you’re more familiar with the logistics that are involved in planning a wedding in Santorini, Greece, here’s a simple list of 10 steps to follow to easily plan your own Santorini wedding!
1. Pick a time of year/date
First, pick what time of year you want to have your wedding. Santorini’s warm, dry season lasts from April-October, and the colder, rainy season lasts from November-March. Summer is definitely the most busy time to visit Santorini, since all the tourists want to experience the beautiful, warm weather, so keep that in mind if you’re considering a summer wedding in Santorini. Travel costs and accommodations will be a lot pricier with the influx of tourists, but it’s absolutely still possible to find a place to stay away from the crowds, and wedding venues in areas with fewer tourists.
2. Hire a local Santorini wedding planner
If you’re going to spend money on anything, spend it on a local wedding planner. Whether or not you’re going to have a legal ceremony and will need guidance from a local who has more knowledge of Greek marriage laws, having a wedding planner who knows the area will help immensely with the planning process.
Especially if you’re having a destination wedding and won’t be able to see your venue after your initial visit (or if you’re choosing your venue based on photos/virtual tours and won’t be visiting at all), it’s incredibly beneficial to have somebody local to help you plan everything out. They can help book activities for you and your guests, find vendors in the area, and really just take a ton of stress off your shoulders when it comes to planning your ideal Santorini wedding experience!
I highly recommend looking into Maria Sila of Tie the Knot – she’s a super awesome Santorini wedding planner that has worked with so many couples to help them plan their dream weddings and does a killer job.
3. Choose between a legal or a symbolic ceremony
Next, choose whether you want to go through the process of having a legal wedding ceremony in Greece or keep it simple with a symbolic ceremony. You can absolutely still say your vows and participate in some sort of unity ceremony if you opt for a symbolic ceremony instead of a legal one!
4. Apply for your Greek marriage license (if you choose a legal ceremony)
If you choose a legal ceremony, start doing research into getting your Greek marriage license ASAP, as the process can take a while. This is where it is super helpful to have a local Greek wedding planner who knows exactly what to do and can walk you through the entire process!
5. Pick a Santorini wedding venue
Now comes the fun part: picking your wedding venue! There are tons and tons of epic Santorini wedding venues that make it really hard to choose just one, haha. I’d recommend looking into all the venues I listed above, especially Cavo Vetus (where I recently photographed the most stunning wedding), and trying to narrow it down from there. Read reviews, ask your wedding planner for advice, and find one that either has accommodations you & your guests can stay in during your trip, or that’s close to some great places to stay.
6. Hire a Santorini wedding photographer & the rest of your vendors
Once you’ve narrowed down your venue selection & have hired a planner, you’ll want to hire the rest of your Santorini wedding vendors, starting with your Santorini wedding photographer! Photographers tend to book out much further in advance than many other vendors, so I recommend hiring one as soon as possible to make sure you get a photographer you love. I’d love to be considered when the time comes to hire your Santorini wedding photographer – I’ve traveled to Santorini multiple times for weddings and every time I swear I fall more in love!
7. Invite your guests
Deciding who to invite can often be one of the hardest parts of wedding planning. But luckily, it’s a little easier with destination weddings, since it’s likely that not all of your friends and family will be able to take time off and fly to Santorini for a week. Invite the friends & family members that would mean the most to you to have at your wedding, and who will be able to make the trip.
8. Book your travel + accommodations
Next, book your travel + accommodations, including flights, a rental car/group transportation for your guests, and overnight lodging. Santorini is packed full of luxurious resorts, stunning hotels, and breathtaking Airbnbs, so you won’t have any trouble finding an amazing place to stay. Bonus points if you book accommodations where you & your guests can all stay together (such as a big villa) and celebrate before + after the official wedding!
9. Plan your activities + timeline
You’re making the trip all the way to Santorini, so you might as well fill it with super fun activities & experiences that you’ll remember forever! Plan some activities (free or paid) that you can do with just the two of you, as well as some that you can participate in with your guests to create a memorable trip for all of you. Book a catamaran cruise for all of you to enjoy together, watch the sunset near Oia Castle on your last night in Santorini, or go wine tasting at one of the many gorgeous wineries on the island.
Once all the hard work is over, it’s time to celebrate! I recommend staying in Santorini as long as you can, at least a week or two, to really get the full experience & be able to celebrate without any rush.
Santorini Wedding Inspiration at Cavo Ventus
This past summer I got to photograph Melissa + Cory’s Santorini wedding at Cavo Ventus, and it was pretty dang epic. They hired an awesome Santorini wedding planner, Julia & Evita, who helped them plan the whole day and bring everything together so flawlessly. Their Santorini wedding florist, Betty Flowers, put together the absolute most stunning floral arrangements for them, including a rad set of boho ceremony arbors made up of pampas grass + roses that stood out against the bright blue waters of Santorini so beautifully. And I’m still not over their insane Santorini wedding venue, Cavo Ventus, that provided the most breathtaking backdrops & views of Santorini for Melissa, Cory, + all their guests to enjoy.
From their day-before session, taking in the spectacular views, all the way to the end of the wedding celebrating with their friends and family, this was truly the most magical wedding experience for everyone involved. Melissa + Cory put a ton of time + effort into every little detail, so I hope you enjoy more of this jaw-dropping Santorini wedding inspiration from their big day!
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