Having our wedding on the island of Hydra was one of the best decisions my husband and I have ever made.
Back in 2013 my husband and I were trying to figure out where we wanted to have our September wedding. We considered Messinia, the Athens area and thought a bit about Aegina because it was an island and close to Athens. Hydra also popped up in conversation, so we booked ferry tickets and went to check it out.
Upon arrival, I was sold.
Planning the Wedding
Let me start out by saying that I am not a frills and fluff wedding type. For me a wedding is about the gathering of family and friends to celebrate and that is it. I was happy having my wedding at a fish taverna on the sea as long as it was charming and all of the right people were there.
Hydra was enough decoration for me. The setting was like a fairytale, a fairytale with yachts.
The fact that I am American, was the biggest hassle in all of the wedding planning. Forget ‘normal’ wedding planning drama, dealing with Greek bureaucracy will bring any bride to tears. The main issue was what documents were needed, we were getting different stories from each person that we spoke with. Hopefully in 4 years, things have changed and 2013 and before can be considered the dark ages.
Since we were going with the traditional Greek Orthodox wedding, we needed to provide documents to the church as well. For all of you foreign girls getting married in Greece, listen up. It all depends on the church. Different churches have different requirements. The one that we chose did not require me to be baptized Greek. (cue My Big Fat Greek Wedding Baptism scene) I just had to provide proof from the US that I was baptized there.
We selected Agios Demetrios in the middle of Hydra Town and met with the priest one time before the wedding. My husband corresponded with him a few times over the phone, but not being present on the island before the big day was not an issue. In fact, we only visited the island 2 times (each for just one night) before the wedding and my in-laws made one trip as well to sort a few things out.
I’d say it was easy to do from Athens.
Now that the paperwork is taken care of, let’s get down to the fun part! We opted to host our dinner and reception at Omilos in the port of Hydra. We were going to have a small wedding by Greek standards so we wanted to make it a very memorable experience for our guests. Approximately half of our guests were flying in from various countries, so it was important for us that they were able to experience a traditional Greek wedding in an unforgettable setting.
Omilos included the DJ, so that was one less thing we had to think about- SCORE!
No frills and fluff, remember? For me, the church was ornate enough that I didn’t think it needed any sort of decoration. Have you seen the inside of a Greek Orthodox church?! There is soooo much going on in there, I didn’t feel it was necessary to add to the conglomeration.
Katerina from Seaside Rose tastefully designed some arrangements for outside of the church.
Thanks to Pinterest, I knew exactly the cake I wanted to have and my mother-in-law made it happen! She also took care of the flowers, so I am not joking when I say that my wedding planning was stress free.
The word on the street in Hydra is that Anna Tsagkari is the one to call. Yδρέικα Αμυγδαλωτά Τσαγκάρη is a historic bakery in Hydra and they made the cake exactly as I had asked for.
I personally arranged hotels for all of our guests on Hydra. It’s like my favorite thing to do. Because we were having a destination wedding, we wanted to keep costs down for our guests as some of them were already paying for airfare from Brazil or the US, just to be here for our special day. Hydra offers very reasonable accommodation, which some people may not associate with the jet-set reputation of the island.
Ippokampos has a central location and a large courtyard which would be nice for your group to congregate.
There are no cars on Hydra, so that was an easy one! No limos, no buses, no parking… our main concerns were if people would step in donkey dung or perhaps get lost in the winding alleyways on their way back home after the reception. #IslandProblems
The time had come. Guests were arriving in Athens from three different continents and we were ready to go! *Sidenote- this whole wedding-guest-planning process is what gave me the idea for Athens Coast. I had people staying in Glyfada before the wedding and I had no information to send them about the area in English.
All of our guests booked their ferry tickets using www.Viva.gr according to their travel schedules. Hydra is very accessible from Athens with various ferry options throughout the day.
We arrived on Friday around noon and everyone got settled in their respective hotels. Hydra is mainly smaller hotels, so most of our guests were spread out around the port town.
I had my nails done and a trial run of hair and make-up with Rosie at Commo Gusto Salon. She was great and created exactly what I had envisioned. I’m so lame in this area, I just kind of told her an idea and she made it happen!
As I was sitting in the chair at the salon, I would randomly see some of our friends stroll by. They were absolutely in love with Hydra and couldn’t get enough of it. We had about a dozen guests who had never been to Europe before, so the old world, classical European charm of Hydra, set on a Greek island was absolutely perfect. We couldn’t have chosen a better island.
In the evening, my parents-in-law invited everyone who was on the island already for a Greek family-style meal of mezedes and traditional dishes at Xeri Elia. The dishes kept coming and the wine was flowing! Really a true Greek feast. At one point there was even a man with a guitar serenading me. Our guests from abroad were absolutely loving it!
I stayed with 2 friends on Friday night to play by the rules. Saturday during the day was pretty funny trying to avoid my groom in the small harbor town where we were all staying.
I dropped off a few things at the church and then was honestly kind of bored. All of my friends were in Kamini at the beach. They were having the time of their lives swimming in the Mediterranean in the end of September and I was sitting in a hotel room waiting for my hair appointment.
I went for lunch at Spilia with my mom and had their amazing chicken sandwich. It is still on the menu, so I suggest that you go there now and order it.
Hair and makeup and all of that jazz. Everyone rushing around to get ready. Phone calls, “they are late” “you will be late”… true wedding chaos for a little bit.
I walked to the church with both of my parents and a gaggle of followers behind me along with strolling minstrels singing a traditional wedding song.
The wedding went off without a hitch (I think). It was all in Greek, so I had no idea what was going on. I just followed the lead of my hubby who was following the lead of the priest. The rice throwing was something that surprised me. It was like a full on assault of rice inside the church!
After the ceremony it was picture time. Ugh, I hate pictures. I feel like such a jackass standing there and holding a smile. Our photographer came over from Athens to do our wedding and I am so grateful that she did. De Montserrat Photography, thank you so much!
On the way to the reception at Omilos I did in fact ride a donkey through the port. It was something I had been
threatening saying that I would do, and there happened to be a man with a donkey and someone had 10euros and it happened.
Everything at Omilos was simple and perfect. No frills nor fluff, just a gorgeous seaside restaurant with a few olive branches and bougainvillea scattered about.
We were very lucky with the weather and everyone was able to eat outside and enjoy dining and partying next to some mega yachts in the harbor.
The celebration went on until the early hours of the morning and there was all sorts of music and dancing. Below is the only photographic evidence we have of our friends Greek dancing.
Omilos was a fabulous choice for a wedding and with our low number of guests, the bill was nothing crazy. Quality over Quantity, people!
After the Wedding
Sunday was the perfect day of sleeping in and then chilling at Spilia all day with our international guests who were still on the island. Swimming in the Med, sipping daiquiris and laughing about stories from the night before.
We stayed on Hydra until Tuesday morning, so we spent the next few days with friends just relaxing and enjoying wonderful food and the hospitality of the island.
The beauty of dining in Greece with a group of people in a taverna is the shockingly low total on the bill at the end of the meal. Endless food and free flowing wine and the bill ends up being something like 12 euros a person!
A few recommendations
- Paito/Πιάτο Nice for group dinners on the port
- Caprice Cozy spot for some wine (and pizza!)
- Il Casta Excellent Italian food – chef and kitchen staff are all from Naples
Hydra is deceptive with her glamorous shops and yacht filled harbor. As with most places in the world, if you are smart about what you are doing, you can still enjoy yourself without spending a lot of money. Our friends all commented on how reasonable they found the prices on the island.
The weather at the end of September is not guaranteed sunshine and warm temperatures. Luckily summer held out for us just long enough for some of our friends to get in some cliff jumping near Sunset Restaurant. #YOLO
If you are considering having a wedding on Hydra, I am happy to answer any questions you may have about it or even the legal process of getting married in Greece (I know a great lawyer). Contact me!
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