Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Destination Wedding Locations: Greece

From ancient ruins to beach resorts, Greece offers a European destination wedding and reception with an added advantage: prices here are comparatively less- than other nearby countries. And the country's relatively lax marriage laws make tying the knot much easier than in, say, France or Italy.

Wedding Logistics
Greece has no residency requirements or waiting-periods to get a marriage license. For a civil ceremony, you apply to the mayor (or "president") of the community where you plan to get married. Greece requires couples desiring a religious ceremony to get a marriage license from the parish priest of that town.

The process of getting a marriage license in Greece is a little complicated—documents like, birth certificates must be translated, notices in Greek must be placed in local newspapers and there is a short "filing period" (processing time). Religious ceremonies have other restrictions and requirements. Despite the red tape, Greece is still easier than other European countries. You may want to seek the help of a professional wedding planner (see the end of this section), however, to wade through all the requirements and rules.

Here's another nice option: for a civil ceremony in Greece, you can actually use a U.S. marriage license to tie the knot in Greece, as long as it is authenticated by a Greek consulate in the United States and translated.

Local Bridal Customs
Witnesses, who also serve as interpreters, are considered "spiritual" relatives to assist the priest in bringing the couple to holy matrimony. In addition, the Unique Tours wedding package we describe below incorporates other Greek wedding traditions into the ceremonies, flowers, music, and so on.

Best Time to Go
Greece has a bewildering series' of high and low seasons, depending on where you are. As you might expect, beach-front resorts have a high season in the summer months (June through August). Meanwhile, Athens and other mainland cities have discounts at those times. Islands also have their own high and low seasons. For example, Petassos Beach Hotel on Mykonos island has a low season from April through mid-May and in October—rates are nearly 40 percent less than high season, which runs mid-June through September. The bottom line: check carefully for the best deals at each location.

Costs, Accommodations, and Getting Around
Unique Tours is the foremost authority on Greek nuptials. Company's wedding and honeymoon packages are priced on an a la carte basis.
For example, a Christian wedding ceremony in Athens runs $555 (the same ceremony on an island is $615). This fee covers processing of all documents for a marriage license, a priest, and two witnesses. Extras include document translations ($7 per page), flowers ($112 for a bride's bouquet and groom's boutonniere), and photography ($343 in Athens, the islands are $375) which yields fifty photographs. Video services run $380 in Athens to $440 on the islands. Add it all up and a basic wedding on a Greek island with flowers, photographer, and video is about $1600.

A ten-day honeymoon package that includes time on two islands plus a stay in Athens runs $2639 per couple in high season or $2228 in low season. That price includes airfare between the islands, but not international airfares. We should note that Unique Tours wedding packages require a ten-day stay.

The company also has other theme tours including an "Early Christian Experience" package, which mirrors travels by the apostles, and a "Cruises with Epirotiki" plan with classical Greek themes plus an excursion to Turkey. One of the more interesting honeymoon accommodations in Greece is a replica of a windmill that is actually a three-story luxury villa overlooking the Mediterranean. Three nights here run $948 per couple.

Overall, we liked the way you can mix and match various destinations and outings instead of being locked into a rigid schedule.

What Makes it Special
Greece offers a wide variety of things to do for a destination wedding and honeymoon: cruises between the islands, sightseeing at ancient ruins, a history that dates back several thousand years, both early Greek and early Christian heritage, museums in Athens, island hopping, and more.

Insider Travel Tips
If you plan to wed in Greece on a Unique Tours package, all your documents must be to the company's office at least two months prior to departure. As a result, you may need to begin planning a Greek wedding and honeymoon a good three to six months in advance.

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