GETTING MARRIED IN CRETE, MY WEDDING IN CRETE
Name: Caroline Scott
In July 1986 I was sitting in a Taverna in Patras on mainland
Greece with my best friend. It was a hot evening, and we
were happy to be on dry land after a twenty-four hour ferry journey
across the Sea from Brindisi. Two Greek men came to sit with
us and we chatted about the usual things, where we were from, where
we were going etc. Out of the blue one of them said to me,
when I got to Crete, I would fall in love. I seem to remember
laughing at this ridiculous suggestion.
How right he was. On arrival at Chania, the cabin crew dutifully
opened the doors and passengers began shuffling down the aisle
between the seats. As I stood at the top of the steps, I
looked at the view, breathed in the air, squinted in the sunlight,
and something changed inside me forever.
Eighteen years later, I am returning to Crete, again, to get married. Because
I am not marrying a Greek National the planning of this wedding
is very different to planning a wedding here.
I began by scouring the Internet and Travel Brochures of Companies
such as Argo Holidays, Olympic, Thomas Cook to name but a few but
each time I was put off by the cost of the planning a wedding through
them, and the fact that I was unable to get married in the part
of Crete I wanted.
was also looking for somewhere really special to stay. On
a previous visit to Crete, my fiancé, Andy and I had stayed
at a beautiful Hotel in old town of Chania. It was lovely
but I had felt a claustrophobic on account of the fact we could
see little sky from our ground floor room and I started to look
for something suitable close to Chania, but not in the town itself.
For many years the attraction of Greece for holidaymakers was
its simplicity. Holidays were cheap and cheerful with Greece
earning a reputation for good value for money but pretty basic
accommodation. I can only assume that this has changed along
with the requirements of holiday makers who want to still enjoy
the Greek experience but also want to have a few of life's luxuries
thrown in. Just East of Chania
I found a hotel I liked. We
decided to go for one week in September, just to check it out.
At around the same time, I found a web site for a travel agency
in London who were offering their services as wedding organisers
at a very reasonable rate. Fortunately, we did not want a
big fat Greek wedding, just a small civil ceremony at Chania Town
Hall would suffice.
Our Hotel is situated only fifteen minutes from the airport I
was concerned there might be aircraft noise. There was none. The
hotel was just perfect. It was right on the coast, with no
immediate beach but two beautiful outdoor swimming pools.
The facilities within the Health Spa at the hotel dealt with issues
such as hair and beauty treatments, so having those on site was
going to be a big bonus. At forty years of age I was going
to have to get all the help I could get! The town Hall in
Chania though, presented us with a dilemma.
the old part of Chania around the Venetian harbour is without doubt
one of the most picturesque places in Crete, the new part of the
town is a modern bustling city with all the traffic problems to
go with it. When we found the Town Hall, we soon realised,
this was not really the kind of venue we had in mind. We
had a rethink, and decided our dream scenario would be, to get
married on the hotel terrace as the sun was setting over the sea.
We put this suggestion to the hotel who could not have been more
supportive of the idea. So with this in mind we returned
to the UK and put our idea forward to our wedding planners.
Lengthy negations followed whilst they tried to obtain the permission
from the Chania Registrar to perform the ceremony at the hotel. It
was not forthcoming. The authorities would only consider
conducting a marriage ceremony at a Civic location. We had
seen a 'City Hall' about fifteen minutes drive from the hotel,
which turned out to be the City Hall of Akrotiri. Built in
true Hellenic style, we thought this venue was an acceptable compromise. We
decided to get married in June and the date was fixed for the ceremony
at 2.00pm on Friday 25 th . We were advised us that the authorities
are only prepared to perform civic wedding ceremonies between Noon
and 2.00pm Monday to Friday. I still don't understand why
they will only perform marriages at the hottest time of the day!
So it was booked. One of the conditions to getting married
in Crete is you have to be there for at least one week before your
wedding day. Flights from the UK are only on Tuesdays, so
to get around several problems, we decided to stay in Crete for
a total of three weeks. This meant our wedding fell right
in the middle of the holiday. So the itinerary was Andy and
I flew out on the 15 June, any guests who wished to join us could
then come out the following Tuesday, we got married on the Friday,
guests flew home on the following Tuesday and then we would have
another week to ourselves.
The next hurdle to overcome was the paperwork.
All paperwork had to be translated into Greek. We were required
to produce our documents, each one had to be authorised by the
Legalisation Department at The Foreign Office in London. Again
the internet proved to be a very useful source of information.
We were required to produce photocopies of each of our passports,
copies of both full birth certificates, as Andy and I had both
been married before we then had to send copies of our decrees absolute,
and two certificates of no impediment of marriage. This certificate
was available from our local registrars office, and then authorised
by a Public Official. They were then posted to the Legalisation
Office in London and returned about two weeks later along with
an Apostle of The Hague certificate attached to each one. These
documents were then sent on to the Wedding Planners.
There was then a dip in the level of contact from the. We
waited and waited for an e-mail confirming the name and details
of our contact in Crete. Two days before our departure we
had still not heard anything. I rang and was told me she
I would be advised of these details. Nothing arrived by letter
or by e-mail. Eventually, the day before we departed, I was
given a telephone number, and a name. I rang the number from
England and confirmed I would be in touch when we got to Crete.
flights have got to be the worst, but that early morning departure,
when its dark and usually raining have got to be a very close second. However,
it was all so definitely worth it. When you land on Crete
and you're greeted with the sights, smells and noise of this wonderful
The hotel and health spa was every bit as wonderful as we had
remembered. We checked in and we allocated a room with a
view of the sunset and the sea to die for. I could go on
and on about how fabulous the staff at this hotel are and still
not do it justice, so I will try and stick to the point of the
story of how to get married in Crete. One of the ways anyway.
The following day I received a telephone call from a young lady
acting on behalf of the Wedding organiser in Crete. She told
me not to worry, that everything was okay with our plans and someone
else would be in touch with us very soon. We received another
call at about 6.15pm, and we were told everything was okay, that
I would have to bring my hair appointment forward to 10.00am. The
day would start with some photos at the hotel, then at the City
Hall and finally in the Harbour at Chania. This all sounded
fine to us.
Two days later we had another phone call from 'the wedding planner'. This
time it was to tell us that it was not going to be possible to
get married at 2.00pm at the City Hall because it was closed at
this time. So it had to be at 11.30am at the City Hall in
Chania. I rang London, as it was they who had said it had
been arranged at the City Hall of Akrotiri at 2.00pm. I was
assured there was just a mix up and they would soon sort it out.
On the 21 June our Greek wedding planner rang again and advised
us, it was not possible to get married at 2.00pm. He rang
again the following day and confirmed, the best the Greek authorities
could do, would be to have the wedding at 12.00 at the City Hall
of Akrotiri. This meant we would have to be ready for 11.00
for photos. My only problem now was how I was going to get
ready in time. On the afternoon of the 24 June I went down
to the Health Spa and had the best Manicure and Pedicure of my
life. Anna and Alexandra worked a miracle and I left about
an hour and half later with very happy feet and hands. We
chatted about the wedding and then Anna said she could do my hair,
and she would come to work early to make sure it was done on time. What
a wonderful girl. We had a look at what could be done with
it. Whilst we were trying out a few styles, the Beauty Salon
Manager Natasha came and asked if I would like them to get their
make up artist to do my make up. I've never had a professional
make up artist do my make up before, and it seemed like a great
idea to me.
Friday 25 th June 2004. Our wedding day is here at last. We
woke at 7.00am. I was tired because I had been dreaming about
it raining on our big day! After breakfast I went down to
the Spa where Anna was waiting for me. She styled my hair
and then put on the tiara. When she was done Joanne did my
make up, ably assisted by everyone else in the Salon. They
wouldn't allow me to see what they were doing until they were finished. When
I looked in the mirror, I could hardly recognise myself!!!
It was like having my best girlfriends with me. Anna wrote
the names of the single girls at the Salon on the bottom of my
shoes, which is apparently a traditional Greek thing.
Whoever's name is left on the sole of my shoe at the end of the
wedding day, would remain unmarried. I think that's what
she was explaining. They all helped me to get dressed and
after a few photos I presented myself to my waiting parents and
an emotional fiancé.
Twenty minutes later, the wedding organiser, the car, the lovely
bouquet and the photographer arrived. They were so very very
sweet. We took some pictures at the front of the hotel, around
the pool and on the terrace.
Then we went off in the car to the City Hall. It took about
twenty minutes to get there. It was not at all how I expected
it would be. I knew it was modern, but to say there were
no allowances for ceremony would be an understatement. We
waited for a few minutes and we were then shown through to the
room. The Registrar read out some vows in Crete and the Greek
Wedding Planner read out the English version. This was a very touching
moment, because the way he read it out was just lovely. We
signed the register and then made our way to the Harbour for more
pictures. This was possibly the best part of the day for
Andy and myself. As we walked around the harbour and in and
around the Venetian streets posing for pictures, we had so much
warmth and good wishes from people all over the world who were
just walking along and sitting in the harbour bars and restaurants. At
one point there was even a bit of a Mexican wave going on as waiters
and customers in the waterside restaurants were clapping and cheering
us on with their good wishes. On the way back to the hotel
we were by some traffic lights and some workmen were making a new
garage forecourt. When the saw our car, the downed tools
and gave us such a round of applause!
Back at the hotel we opened our cards and presents and then spent
what was left of the afternoon by the pool. When we returned
to our room there was a bunch of roses, fresh fruit, honey and
walnuts and a bottle of Champagne generously given to us by the
hotel. I cannot praise the hotel highly enough. All
the staff were just amazing, and their generosity was outstanding. At
the end of our meal, they brought us wedding cake which we were
able to share with all the guests and staff, as we watched Greece
beat France 1 - 0 in Euro 2004.
We were absolutely delighted with our wedding day and if you like
the sound of my story, and the thought of getting married in Crete
appeals to you, I would love to hear from you. If you have
any questions you would like to ask, advice or information from
someone who has been through the process please do not hesitate
to email me at: