Weddings in Greece: where to say 'I do' in Skiathos

by hellomagazine.com

The term "destination wedding" has been taking the bridal world by storm, and with the promise of near-eternal sunshine, sandy beaches and aquamarine seas, it's no wonder that Greece is the go-to choice for couples wanting to marry abroad.

Celebrities such as the Kardashians, Sofia Vergara, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, have all declared their love for the paradisiacal islands, but one relatively untouched gem is the stunning Skiathos.

Just last month Kate Hudson was pictured holidaying on the small island, but the area first rose to fame with the release of Mamma Mia in 2008. The blockbuster, featuring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Amanda Seyfried, was partly filmed in Skiathos and helped put the island on the map.

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Celebrities including Kate Hudson have holidayed in Skiathos, Greece

Unlike the film, which is famously centred around a muddled and haphazard wedding, couples at Kassandra Bay Resort can recreate their own dream Greek island wedding – without the chipped paint and water explosions.

The five-star hotel is located just a ten-minute drive from Skiathos' old town and slap bang on Vasilias beach, just one of 60 dotted around the island. While the luxury resort is a popular base for holiday-makers, it also caters for intimate, more exclusive weddings.

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Kassandra Bay Resort is located on one of the island's 60 beaches

HELLO! Online visited the hotel, which is open from May to September, in June, to check out the main resort and its more private Kassandra Bay Suites complex. The larger resort has 97 rooms and is family-friendly – perfect if the wedding party has children – but for an ultra-romantic experience, the bride and groom should check in to one of the suites.

Double rooms with views of the Aegean Sea and junior suites with private hot tubs and jacuzzis are on offer, but the best of the 28 adult-only rooms is the deluxe suite that comes with your very own private pool.

It's a dreamy oasis of calm and perfect for the newlyweds to start their married life in Greece. Small details add to the luxury, as guests can ask for specific fragrances such as vanilla or musk in their rooms, or request candle-lit decorations at night.

Larger groups with children can stay in one of the 97 rooms on the main resort that offer interconnecting family rooms or maisonettes, all leading straight to the beach.

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The hotel is made up of the main resort and the more exclusive Kassandra Bay Suites

The wedding will no doubt be the highlight of the trip, but the beauty of destination weddings is turning the celebration into a relaxing holiday for family and friends. In the lead-up, guests can unwind by one of the two outdoor pools or on the beach, which is set up with sun loungers and umbrellas that feature personal call buttons for service.

The hotel is also home to three restaurants and a pool bar, where mixologists can whip up signature and more adventurous cocktails that reflect the hotel and Greek island life.

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Take a dip in your private pool before breakfast

The bride and her bridesmaids can take part in yoga and Pilates sessions to de-stress before the big day, or indulge in a spa treatment at the wellness centre that offers complimentary access to the sauna, hammam and jacuzzi. Massages, facials, manicures and pedicures are all for the taking.

When, and if, you tire of the hotel facilities, a boat trip to the nearby Tsougrias and Arkos islands can be organised by staff. The choice of taking a speed boat or a sailing boat is available, as well as a packed lunch that can be enjoyed on one of the islets or picturesque beaches. Film buffs can also venture to Skopelos, where the majority of Mamma Mia was filmed.

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Guests can take boat trips to nearby Tsougrias and Arkos islands

The more active in the wedding party may want to truly delve into the depths of Skiathos by snorkelling or scuba diving, or reach for the heavens by mountain hiking with the best guide on the island, Ortwin Widmann, who created the trails himself. Ortwin will lead visitors on a trek through woodlands, up to hilltops and make stops at quaint churches and monasteries that are scattered around Skiathos. After all the hard work, a cold beer in one of the beach tavernas is just the ticket.

The hotel can organise such activities, or leave it to you to explore the old town of Skiathos. Take the local bus or the hotel's private water taxi to the port, where guests can disembark and visit the charming centre, stock up on local handicrafts in boutiques, dine alfresco along the waterfront and watch the sun go down in one of the many bars.

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Couples can marry on the beach or in the hotel's charming gazebo

Hotel staff are of course on hand to make sure that everything lives up to the vision the bride and groom had in mind. Help is put in place from the start of the wedding journey - a personal coordinator guides the couple towards their big day right from the first point of contact with the venue.

Weddings at Kassandra Bay are suited to a more intimate group of around 50 to 100 guests. Civil ceremonies can be conducted in the hotel's gardens in their white, wooden gazebo or on the beach itself. Guests will be seated on white-dressed chairs outdoors, so it's advisable to hold your service in the late afternoon when the sun is not at its strongest. Another option is to marry in the quaint chapel close to the hotel, which can house fewer attendees.

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A wedding breakfast with a view of the shimmering Aegean Sea

A photoshoot on the golden beach is a must for the newlyweds, while their family and friends can toast the celebration with welcome cocktails on the hotel's sweeping veranda that overlooks the shimmering Aegean Sea. A wedding breakfast of Mediterranean and Greek flavours can be served at the reception, followed by dancing to a DJ and live band.

The hotel offers a range of packages, starting with the Happiness Wedding package (approximately £500) which includes rental of the venue, a pre-wedding candlelit dinner for the couple, a wedding cake and seating for 40 guests, excluding meals. The Dream Wedding package (£720) is perfect for the couple who wants to marry in Skiathos' town hall, and covers town hall fees and the production of marriage certificates. The ultimate Gold Wedding package (£1,080) includes added luxuries such as beauty treatments for the bride and spa treatments for the nearlyweds.

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The old town of Skiathos is just a ten-minute boat ride away

Extras that can be arranged to complete the preparations include the music (starting from £400), a luxury cruise on the day after the wedding, a hairdresser and beautician for the bride and bridesmaids, and a photographer and videographer.

A deluxe double sea view room at Kassandra Bay Suites starts at approximately £130 and a deluxe suite with a private pool at £230. For more information visit kassandrabay.com.

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