Going to Villa Delenia in Evia for a wedding ceremony is always a treat for the nature lover in me. So it naturally follows that I always love the couples who choose it and Ted and Tori were no exception!
Tori (Victoria) contacted me a good 18 months before their wedding and I was excited to see that they were from New York. As it happened, I was going to be visiting New York for a short holiday so I suggested we might be able to meet in person – a rare occurrence for me as a destination wedding Celebrant! I was let down gently by Tori as they were in the state of New York, not actually New York, New York. Hey, what do I know?! I’m living on an island! Never mind, we met the usual way in the end over a skype call.
The Venue and location
“Evia is a magical, beautiful place. Where better to spend a week with your closest friends and family” said Tori. And Villa Delenia really does tick all the boxes for an ideal destination wedding venue. You can accommodate all your family and friends (which they did!) in the handful of stone cottages and the converted barn, enjoy the pool, the sea, the hot tub, the tennis/basketball court AND hold your wedding ceremony there too! And no neighbours are going to tell you to turn the music down if you party into the night because you haven’t got any!
Ted and Tori (ok, mostly Tori) started off the planning themselves – they found me, the venue, the florist and photographer though the geo function search in Instagram. I asked Ted if he was involved much in the planning: “I learned really, really early on in my life that if someone is really passionate about something, just support them and everything will turn out fine. So Tory was very passionate about this. And it was one of those things, and we’ve laughed about it since, but she was like ‘I want your input, I want you to help me’, so I said ‘well, that’s what I want’ and she’d say, ‘well that’s NOT what we’re doing. So, you know…” A man who knows when to stand down!
Tori did a great job of sourcing everything she knew she wanted from the wedding. She invested some time in getting the right suppliers, like myself, people who they both felt they had a connection with. But let’s be honest here, organising and coordinating such an important, milestone event with 80 guests in an unknown location from the other side of the world is going to have it’s challenges. That’s when Tori sought out a wedding planner to take the burden from her shoulders!
“Before I had Joanna (Loukaki) our wedding planner it was a lot more overwhelming and she kind of just said ‘ok, give me the things, I’ll make this fine’ and I just completely blindly trusted her and it worked out.”
It most certainly did – everything about their wedding ceremony at the Villa Delenia was just perfect!
The ceremony was quite traditional in format, but of course, with Ted and Tori’s personal story interwoven between the traditional elements. We also incorporated the Greek wedding crowns as a nod to Ted’s Greek heritage and their gorgeous location, and a multiple handfasting to involve the big bridal party of 12 (yes 12!) bridesmaids and groomsmen, AND the parents, and Tori’s Nana!
Here’s how it rolled:
Ted and and his best man, Shane and the rest of the groomsmen, were waiting in the ceremony space for Tori to enter with her father after the bridesmaids had entered one by one. They all looked gorgeous in flowing shiffon gowns!
The couple had already done a ‘first look’, but Ted still had something in his eye when Tori appeared…
Tori chose to walk down the steps and the aisle with her Dad, Michael. But because this was no ‘giving away’ we acknowledged the significance of this tradition in the opening words of the ceremony:
“One of the most understated, but deepest relationships in human life is between a father and a daughter. One of the rare occasions when this relationship is publicly acknowledged is at a wedding ceremony.
As an independent woman, we understand the significance of your presence by Tori’s side as one of pride and great affection, and that by being by her side in this moment you show to everyone gathered here today that you give this wedding your greatest blessing.”
And then we got to the fun part – Ted and Tori’s love story!
“We are gathered here today because of chemistry. Not just the fizzy thing between two people who fancy each other, but actual, real chemistry. You two met over a bunsen burner when you were lab partners in your first year at college. It was a slow burn…”excerpt from ted and Tori’s ceremony by ECK – A Wedding Celebrant in Greece
I mean, it practically wrote itself! I told the story of how their lives unfolded after that first fateful meeting at the periodic table up to the moment of the proposal, and then of their hopes and aspirations for the future. After I shared the details of what they love about each we moved onto the Greek Wedding crowns. Tori had sourced these herself on the internet and they were just perfect! They were gold coloured metal and when you put them together they fitted together like a jigsaw, not unlike Ted and Tori themselves! Ted’s sisters and Tori’s brother had the honour of crowning them as King and Queen of their marriage, a kingdom they must rule with ‘wisdom, justice and integrity’.
They kept the crowns on, the white ribbon visually and symbolically uniting them, whilst they exchanged their wedding vows (they went with the traditional ‘I do’s) and the exchange of rings. Oh, and we also asked all the family and guests to give their vow to support the couple and their marriage, to which we received a resounding ‘we do!’
To close the ceremony we incorporated a really special multiple handfasting that involved ALL the bridesmaids and groomsmen (that’s all 12 of them!) and the parents, and Tori’s Nana. Each of them took it, in turn, to take a white ribbon (white being the colour of all new beginnings) and tie a simple loop around the joined hands of the couple. Whilst they were tieing it, they gave the couple their best wishes and advice for the future. This was really moving to watch, and even though only the couple could here the wishes there was not a dry eye among the guests! Then it was the turn of the parents and Nana. They had red ribbons to symbolize family ties and instead of tying their ribbons, they wove them in and out of the white ones so that when we took them off, the red ribbons held them all together. It was a very special moment <sigh>
When the handfasting was completed, I read the lovely poem ‘A love knot’ by Frances Nagle:
And then Ted and Tori were gloriously presented to their family and friends as Mr & Mrs before they went off for some photos. Villa Delenia’s gardens had been transformed into a big open air dining room and the celebrations continued!
I got some lovely feedback from Tori and Ted about their ceremony, here’s what they said in their own words:
What they loved about the ceremony
Tori: “The entire ceremony was so beautiful and so personal. It could not have been better. The hand fasting, the crowns, the monologue about chemistry.
It was very special and even when people talk about our wedding now they say ‘your wedding ceremony was so beautiful, I loved it, her accent!” (I’m British, in case you wondered!
Ted: “The stories about each other. I thought like the Stefana (greek wedding crowns) and the hand weaving and all that stuff was cool, but I think what made it personal, and I don’t think there was a person there that wasn’t crying, was the shared stories of each other, I think that that is what distinguishes what you do versus what other wedding celebrants do.”
Why would someone book me
Tori: “If you want someone who’s personable and who’s going to make your wedding ceremony special and memorable. You just made the process very easy. Your questionnaires were very helpful in pulling out the information and then you made a beautiful ceremony for us.”
Ted: “it was more than we both thought it was going to be. We thought it was beautiful, we thought the wedding was going to be nice, no matter what, but we thought that given the minimal information that you had, we got more, it was more than we expected it to be”
Tori – You’re very organised, you make things very quick and easy and you are efficient. You have great attention to detail and you follow through with what you say you will, which is important.”
Ah, the pleasure was all mine, but thank you!
Here’s just some of the hard working team that pulled it off this beaut of a wedding ceremony at Villa Delenia:
Celebrant: me! ECK – A Wedding Celebrant in Greece
Venue: Villa Delenia, Evia
Photographer : loveinaframe.gr
Wedding planner: Joanna Loukakis
Florist and catering: you’ll have to ask Joanna!
Villa Delenia is located on Evia, the second largest island in Greece. You can read all about it very soon in my dedicated blog post. How to get there, what you will find and why it’s so great for a destination wedding!