Vassilis Stratigos is a Fashion Hairstylist from Athens Greece. With applied arts and industrial design background, Vassilis studied professional hairstyling in Italy and Greece. As a fashion hairstylist, Vassilis was the Official Hairstylist of L’Oreal Paris in Greece for 3 years and is now also the hairstylist of a local TV presenter. He has worked on multiple cover shoots for magazines such as Vogue, Grazia, Madame Figaro, and many others. Vassilis will also be the main hairstylist at our retreat for photographers and cinematographers ALCHIMEIA!
But now, he will give us some tips, on how to keep your hair looking like from a magazine in this exclusive interview for Ellwed!
So let’s dive right into it and get to know Vassilis Stratigos, Fashion Hairstylist!
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is certainly creativity. I believe that creativity is the best boost at any job. It never makes you bored, instead it always makes you passionate about what you are doing.
You are also working with many celebrities but mainly as a fashion hairstylist. However, if someone wants to hire you for their wedding can you serve them as well?
My main field was, is and always will be fashion. In a small market like the Greek market is unavoidable to become a hairstylist for celebrities as well when working in fashion hairstyling. Which is fine because it gives you publicity and a chance to grow your business. All that leads to be requested from brides as well. I’m very, very happy to serve them! It’s always a pleasure, fun and an honour to style bride’s hair.
What hairstyles do you suggest for summer destination brides? Should they be considering having their hair up or more relaxed and flowy?
Summer is the season of freedom. Bridal hair should reflect that feeling as well. I love a relaxed and flowy hair for summer destination brides. The only factor that could make me go for an updo is the wind!
What trends do you see picking up in the world of hairstyling in Greece?
Greece has the same trends in every season as all modern countries. Only colors of hair should be adapted to person’s natural or tanned skin tones. They should prefer more warm tones for their hair either they are brunettes or blonds. Long or short bobs are in the front line and loose waves are the “it” hairstyle along with “do-it-yourself” updos and ponytails.
How is this pandemic affecting you and how are you currently dealing with this process?
The pandemic was a strange situation for all of us and has affected every working person. Personally I’m always optimistic and I tried to stay calm during this period. Fortunately hairstyling is always in demand. In that case there is still plenty of work for me. I’m doing my best to protect myself, my clients and my colleagues of course. The use of a mask and visor as well as sterilization of my tools and personal hygiene are a must!!!
Is there something all women who are visiting hairdressers should pay attention to in these days of Covid-19? What preventative measures do you suggest?
Of course! They should always check if their hairdressers wear their masks, visors, gloves etc. They also shouldn’t stay in a salon with more than the defined persons. Clients should also wear their masks when necessary. The most important preventative measure for me, is to be responsible for ourselves. That way we can be responsible for other people as well.
What is the one thing that drives you in your line of work and where do you find inspiration?
Every day I try to spend at least half an hour watching new things about my profession to learn and grow. Being updated is very important. My inspiration can be anything. A painting, a song, a movie, a person or a vintage campaign.
And for the last question. Vassilis, as a Fashion Hairstylist what advice would you give to someone who wants to get married in Greece and will hire a hairstylist?
Greece has a lot of talented people working in weddings and events. Including hairstylists as well. One who is interested in booking a Greek hairstylist should check their social media first and their resume. Availability should be checked right away, not at the last minute. For me, personal contact is really important. It would be great if you can meet your hairstylist before the trial or the wedding. If not, one should provide them with all the details, wishes and requirements possible.
If someone wants to get in touch with you, where can they find you?
On wedding blogs, we meet the couples and swoon over the gorgeous details of their wedding days. But their love stories don’t end there with ‘I do’! As their relationship grows from that day, so it often expands to include children and much-loved pets. They build homes and travel the world and above all, tackling the ups and downs of life together. With so many chapters added to their stories, we love it at Ellwed when we receive a vow renewal story in Greece like this same-sex vow renewal from Lefkada.
Let us take you to the fantastic Fly Me Lefkada Sun & Stars bar where Stephen and Colin celebrated ten years of marriage. This same-sex vow renewal in an intimate ceremony was planned and styled by Claire at Lefkas Weddings and captured perfectly by Maxeen Kim Photography.
The British couple chose the island as it holds a special place in their hearts for their same-sex vow renewal. Stephen explained, “We have so many happy memories there. We exchanged on our first home whilst in Lefkada, we got the news we had been approved to adopt whilst in Lefkada. It seemed the perfect location to add another milestone memory to our lives.
On top of that, the local people are lovely and we have always felt comfortable being a same-sex couple on the island.”
How and when did you meet?
We were holiday reps in Tenerife and Colin was my manager. It was love at first sight! After meeting Colin I rang my Mum and told her “I’ve met the man I’m going to marry!” And that was back in April 2005.
Tell us a little about the earlier days of your relationship?
We lived overseas for the first 18 months of our relationship. Then got married in 2008 in the UK and renewed our vows in 2019.
Early days were just Colin and I and our two dogs. Our family has continued to grow with two children and one more dog. (Our new dog was a rescue dog we adopted and brought home with us from the vow renewal holiday in Lefkada. The perfect wedding gift!)
Who proposed and how?
The first time Colin proposed to me was in front of all of our friends and family a few days before my 21st birthday. We travelled to London in a limousine to see a show in the West End. After we had an amazing meal in an Italian restaurant where he popped the question.
The second time was my turn! That is to say, I proposed to Colin in 2018 on the evening of our tenth wedding anniversary. I hired a room in our favourite restaurant and gave him a photo album I had made with all our memories over the years, ending with a picture of our two children holding a sign saying ‘Big Dad, will you marry short Dad again?’
What was the primary influence behind your vow renewal?
Our first wedding was quite a big affair at a manor house in Essex, UK, so this time we wanted it to be just about Colin, the kids and I.
In contrast to that, we chose to do something outside the UK for our vow renewal and it was in a stunning location set above the clouds in Lefkada Island, Greece. It was really intimate with a small number of guests and absolutely perfect. We wouldn’t change a single thing.
Where did you find the bulk of your inspiration?
We were quite relaxed with the theme and honestly, the view and sunset is so stunning at Fly Me, we let that speak for itself. Just requesting lots of candles! The rest of the styling at the ceremony and villa was all down to our amazing wedding planner and photographer.
How did you choose your suppliers?
We were led by our planner Claire, who works exclusively in that area. As a result, her knowledge was amazing and took the stress out of the planning. Moreover our photographer Maxeen, was INCREDIBLE too!
Did you find it challenging to translate more common traditions into a ‘same-sex’ ceremony?
Not at all. Claire wrote the ceremony and it was special and tailored it to our needs. We wanted it to feel very relaxed and informal with involvement from our two children, so Claire suggested adding a sand ceremony and all four of us took a turn. We mixed sand from a beach near our home in the UK with sand from the beach in Lefkada.
What was the most challenging thing about planning your destination ceremony?
We chose a location we loved and knew well which removed any challenges such as not having seen the venue in person etc. Claire was incredible and dealt with everything.
Any advice for other couples planning a destination vow renewal and finding it difficult to navigate the journey
Do your research. If possible plan a “wedding planning trip” to the destination if not find a wedding planner you can trust. Someone who listens and understands your wants and needs.
When Niki of Seat Next to You reached out on our Instagram, we knew we had to feature this amazing lovestory!
Nikos and Zoe, got engaged in April and decided to get married this summer. After weeks of planning and designing their destination wedding weekend, their decision was to postpone their wedding for a year.
They felt disheartened and drained, despite knowing this was the right course of action for them.
They didn’t want this time to go by without being able to celebrate this new beginning and they came up with the idea of going back to their roots. And so they hosted a ‘traditional’ engagement reception a few weeks back. As they both believe in holding onto Greek traditions and customs, no matter how outdated they may seem and have fun while doing so.
And this is what they did a few Sundays ago. Their immediate families got together at Zoe’s family home where they celebrated in the family circle. They cooked, they decorated the house, they dressed up and in their own playful retro style, they had a beautiful meal, shared memorable moments and laughed a lot. This story will show you that there is always a way! Nikos and Zoe decided to embrace the reality and traditions!
And now, dive into this interview with Niki of Seat Next to You and the couple, Nikos and Zoe to read their story!
Zoe and Nikos, would you like to share your story with us?
When did you decide to get married, when was your wedding scheduled for, and a few details regarding your plans?
To be honest, we never thought it would happen this way. In the middle of a global pandemic. But it did and we wouldn’t have it any other way. In the past few months, we grew closer to each other; more than we ever have been in the three years we’ve been together. It’s a challenging time for many couples!
Living together 24/7, having no space and time for yourself, doing absolutely everything together… You just don’t know how things will turn out. For us, time ran smoothly; gracefully. Things weren’t always easy in this restricted new reality. But it was becoming more and more evident that we love learning everything about each other! Especially the not so ‘charming’ qualities. And so, one Sunday afternoon in mid-April, as we were doing house chores, we said ‘yes’ to a life together. To a life full of courage and love that no matter what, it always goes on…and that’s how we ‘got engaged’.
We decided to get married right away. We didn’t want to wait any longer. Our plan was to get married at the end of August and host a big party in Halkidiki. The place where we both spent our summers growing up and is full of fond memories. Things moved really quickly from then on. We reached out to Niki, one of Zoe’s closest friends who is also a wedding planner and we started designing our wedding straight away. Our ceremony and venue were the first items on our agenda. Although site visits were not allowed, we leveraged the use of technology and made significant progress. In just two weeks’ following the proposal, we were ready to send out our ‘save the date’ cards. Except we didn’t.
When did you think for the very first time that you might have to postpone your wedding?
It must have been early May when we started to think that we may have to postpone our wedding. Constantly being bombarded by ‘new’ information regarding weddings this summer, speaking to vendors covering every eventuality in our communications, spending hours on the phone with our families explaining how this was going to ‘work’ left us feeling emotionally exhausted. Our families were concerned and couldn’t share our joy and excitement all this time. They were nervous, reserved and hesitant about us getting married during this crisis. All these fears and concerns started to take their toll on us too.
Very soon, we too, started to realize that non-stop dancing and singing till morning, hugging and sharing our love with our favorite people perhaps wouldn’t be feasible. We would have to restrict our guest list, implement social distancing and other measures according to the latest government guidelines. Some of our guests would not be able to attend at all. And most would have to make travel, work and family arrangements without really knowing how things will progress over the course of the summer. At the same time, people were asking us questions that we didn’t have the answers to. For example, how early did they need to book flights for? Would there be a 14-day quarantine in Greece? Are there hotels offering flexible accommodation?. Needless to say, all of the above painted a picture of a wedding that was miles away from the one we had in mind.
What made you decide to postpone your wedding in the end?
These first few weeks in May were an emotional rollercoaster for us. We took a step back, spent a few days discussing things, just the two of us. In the end, we realized that it was truly important to us to be able to celebrate our big day with our family and friends. Just the way we had imagined it from the very beginning, when the time was right, and without any discounts. And that was the true cause to postpone our wedding. However, this did not mean that we had to pause everything right now. We wholeheartedly believe that when nothing is sure, everything is possible. This became our motto and got us thinking.
What was the reaction from your family and friends?
Everyone embraced our decision to postpone and were very understanding. It was and still is a stressful and uncertain time for everyone, and now they have one less thing to worry about. Because most – if not every single one of our guests – were somewhat concerned about our plans. Some more vocal than others. But it was a shared feeling and we just did not want to prolong this nervousness any further.
How do you feel now that you have decided to postpone your wedding??
Zoe: Relieved! It was rather stressful and challenging for us having to design our dream wedding while dealing with all sorts of emotions. Mostly uncertainty, and managing travel plans for our family and friends coming from Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. We are now taking the time to re-consider some of our decisions. However, with renewed enthusiasm and passion, we will be making better and bigger plans for the future.
And so, from full wedding planning mode you decided to do something different. Tell us a bit about your idea to host a ‘traditional’ engagement reception.
Nikos: I must admit, this change of direction was a much-needed distraction. When Zoe first came up with the idea, I went silent for a minute and then we both burst out laughing – it was PERFECT. Funny, romantic, somewhat ‘silly’ maybe, a bit of out of date, but nevertheless fit for purpose. With the restrictions lifted, we were able to see our immediate families again. So we decided to host a small Sunday lunch to celebrate together in Zoe’s family home. In a beautiful balcony, overlooking the city of Thessaloniki, in a warm and relaxed environment. Our families met ‘officially’ for the very first time, with one task! To give us their blessing, like they did in the old days.
What made this day so special for you?
It was certainly a combination of things! Our mums dressed up elegantly, and everyone had their ‘Sunday’ clothes on to honor us and celebrate our reunion. The kitchen table was beautiful. With a buffet style, full of traditional filo pies and everything and anything you can imagine! From salads to loads of finger food, while in the oven Zoe’s mother was preparing a stuffed meatloaf with potatoes. My mother, on the other hand, had prepared spaghetti and meatballs (a Neapolitan favourite) and tiramisu for dessert. These are just two of her signature dishes and it was her own way of saying: ‘from Italy (where she comes from), with love’.
The veranda was so brightly colored from the various flowers and plants, it even had trees! Zoe’s family had started to look after this particular space shortly after Zoe was born and now it’s full of greenery, pretty much like a garden. A huge amount of care and thought went into making this an absolutely charming place and we loved the atmosphere; every little detail was inviting.
In this setting, which resembled more a cosy gathering than an engagement reception, our mothers, in between preparations and snacking, started to exchange life stories. And the ice broke. In a smooth and effortless way, without us even noticing it.
Zoe: Can I just add that he also brought me the most g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s bouquet with my favorite spring wildflowers? I was over the moon! Back to our story: shortly after, the real ‘stars’ of the day arrived, all dressed-up: my grandparents. It was the first time in two and a half months that they were leaving their house. And they did it just for us, to give us their blessing, and take photos with us to remember these moments. My grandmother also gave us her delicate handmade crochet doilies which she has been making for two years as my wedding favors.
We obviously ate a lot that day. Words cannot describe how amazing the food was! We even had the traditional ‘bezedes’ (meringues) as custom has it, a very exceptionally selected rose wine, as well as mouth-watering desserts that didn’t last long. Later on, my two beloved cousins also joined. We were happy to hear the snatches of conversations, news shared, glasses clicking, and giggles everywhere after this isolation period.
Looking back on that day, it was without a doubt very emotionally charged, yet comforting at the same time. All the small details played their part and what we experienced was truly unique and authentic. Amidst taking photos, drinking, eating and chatting, we managed to create a very light and relaxed mood for everyone.
In hindsight, this might have been the happy medium we were after from the moment we realized we’d have to postpone our wedding plans for a year. A close family celebration which would break the ice and lift some uncertainty and concerns for the future – all very much present while on lockdown. A Sunday fiesta full of love, laughter and our parents glancing at us, giving us their blessing. And, above all, a memorable experience for us combined with an urban family photo shoot, to capture these blessed moments in time.
From your recent experience on this, what would you advise other couples that might be in the same situation?
Nikos: My advice to other couples is to do exactly what you feel comfortable with right now; be unapologetically you and if that means to have a very intimate wedding this year, with just your family in your balcony or backyard, do simply that.
Zoe: Do not be afraid to say, ‘I want to have fun with you no matter what’ and dream beyond the difficult period we live in. You can reschedule your wedding for next year but still celebrate your decision and union with a few of your favorite people in the world this year by having an engagement party (or just party)! Open up to new ideas and do not forget to laugh.
Our dream team:
Concept, design + couple: Νίκος Ράμμος + Ζωή Θεμελή