Hello and Welcome to Ellwed Talks – the first podcast about destination weddings in Greece! My name is Sanya, the founder of Ellwed magazine and I will be your host today. Join me in this new episode where we talk with Jaclyn Trahanas about her destination wedding week in Greece
Jaclyn will share her destination planning experience from overseas! Learn all about this Greek American wedding that happened on the island of Skyros and why there!
Find out all about the wedding week this couple decided to organize for their guests. And all the special Greek, American, old and new traditions for good luck that they decided to implement.
In this episode you will learn about their wedding parties, dinners, activities, and special moments. Such as the father daughter first look, arrival of the couple on a boa. And how a Greek singer Dimitris Basis sent a special note to the groom, who is one of his biggest fans!
This bride went over and beyond to make this wedding week the most memorable for their guests. And she is sharing it all with us on Ellwed Talks!
Stick to the end and hear her tips and what really helped her to plan her destination wedding in Greece all the way from New York!
The Story of This Wedding Week in Greece
Jaclyn and John first locked eyes at a Greek Orthodox Charity Gala at the iconic Plaza Hotel in NYC on in 2016. After a bit of playful banter, John asked Jaclyn for her number A week later, they had their first date. Fast forward a year and a half later, Jaclyn was about to return to the Plaza Hotel for the first time since meeting John to have brunch with a friend. After getting to the table it wasn’t her friend who arrived, but John instead!
He looked as dashing as ever, had flowers in one hand, and got down on one knee. It was such a lovely moment and luckily a photographer, who was hidden behind the bar, captured all of the magic. The surprise continued when the whole family joined for a mini celebration and ended with a romantic dinner at the hotel. The hotel room was filled with rose petals and stocked with chocolate covered strawberries and champagne.
The Wedding Planning Starts
When deciding on a venue for their big day, they toyed with the idea of NYC. But ultimately decided on the country where they both have deep roots. Since both of their fathers are from Greece, the country and culture was a huge part of their lives growing up. Jaclyn’s father is from the island Lefkada, and John’s father is from the island of Skyros.
Being Greek-American, they wanted to incorporate traditions from both sides, so it would feel as though the wedding was uniquely them. Every detail catered to both cultures. The programs and menus were double-sided (one side in Greek, the other in English). The music was a blend, with a traditional Greek band and a DJ for modern music. Even the speeches were in both English and Greek. They wanted everyone to feel welcome – whether they came from down the street in the village, or from NYC. They had friends and family visiting from 7 countries at the wedding!
The Wedding Week
The week that Jaclyn and John had dreamed of finally arrived. On a cool summer Tuesday in mid July on the island of Skyros. The couple both had been raised in the United States, but they wanted to pay tribute to their Greek roots. So they began their week with a traditional “Krevati” at the Groom’s Family residence in Skyros. The guests found the house in a valley and were greeted by the scent of fig trees and aromas of the traditional wedding food of “Gamopilafo” being made in a giant caldron in the courtyard.
The traditional Greek “Krevati” ritual
After entering the house all of the Bride’s single friends were ushered into the master bedroom of the house and three times they made the bed, while Jaclyn and John deemed it “not good enough” and ripped the sheets off. Finally, the single ladies made the perfect bed and everyone rejoiced. The “threw” their young onto the bed to bless it for the future newlyweds. Four toddlers in total were thrown on the bed. That is why the happy couple could very well be destined for four babies! After the ritual there was no delay in starting the festivities. The guests quickly joined the Greek dancing, encouraged by passed tsipouro and wine. At midnight it began to rain. But that only helped to cool the wedding guests off as the celebrations continued in the rain!
Day 2 – Wednesday
The next day it was time to embrace an island lifestyle. The couple rented out their favorite beach bar on the island, Ammoudia. There is where they hosted the afternoon reception with food and drink for all their guests. It was a very casual event. Everyone was in beachwear and sunglasses, the way, a day on a Greek Island is meant to be lived.
For the guests, lots of time was spent catching up with old friends, and making new ones! The bride had made custom wristbands for all the guests to wear, with their signature hashtag for the week #JTLOVESJT. This ways, people could go to the bar as they pleased and order what they wanted. The guests sipped on cocktails and Freddo Espresso as they watched the sunset over the Aegean Sea. The fun continued that evening in the village where the bride and groom’s friends were invited to a surprise nighttime rendezvous for a combined bachelor/bachelorette party! Celebrations continued through the night as the group explored the nightlife of Skyros.
For those who traveled from far and wide to come to Skyros the bride and groom had planned a nautical tour. The guests would see untouched remote beaches and stunning sea caves. However disaster struck when the boat was unable to take the guests on the wonderful tour due to windy conditions. Luckily, the guests knew that the bride and groom’s love was too strong to be knocked down by a strong wind. Instead the couple adjusted their sails and set off to Garismata beach, where they hosted drinks and food for all. This day ended up being dramatically different than the day before because after three events, new friends had become old friends. Before long everyone was relaxing on the beach, swimming and playing water sports. Everyone forgot the boat ride and the wedding week party continued by the beach!
Day 3 – Thursday
Thursday night came and it was time for a little business. The wedding party was waiting at the church of Agios Nikolaos which is perched on an outcrop overlooking the idyllic port of Linaria. After ensuring the wedding party understood the ceremony it was time again to relax. The port of Linaria is tranquil at night, and the rehearsal dinner was an intimate event with 75 of the Bride & Groom’s closest friends and family at a seafood taverna on the water.
The couple gifted their mom’s embroidered handkerchiefs, with special messages which brought tears to their eyes (thankful for the hankies!) The groomsmen and fathers of the bride and groom received bow ties, suspenders, and pocket squares to complete their looks for the next day. The bridesmaids had matching pajamas and gold olive leaf earrings to tie in the theme of whole week. Their koumbaro also had birthday on that day, so the evening ended with birthday cake and candles.
The Wedding Day – Day 4 of the Wedding Week
Jaclyn wanted a timeless look, and to feel like herself, so she took her normal everyday routine and enhanced it. She did her hair and makeup on her own, and is so happy she did. It was so enjoyable to hang out with her bridesmaids while she got ready, as it felt much more relaxed. It also felt more traditional, like she had gone back in time. She wore her hair down, with two clips to hold it back so it wouldn’t fall into her face.
Brides lip color was a tinted balm by YSL, that smells like watermelon, a scent that reminds her of Greece. Her something blue was an embroidered patch she had sewn into her dress that said “John’s Bride”. Her gown was lightweight, but had a long train. She toyed with different style options, but ultimately decided to have a full bottom. Because it’s not often that a woman gets to wear a ball gown! That id why she wanted to capitalize on the opportunity.
As for jewelry, she wore her mother’s diamond stud earrings, something borrowed. A diamond bracelet that her mother had given her as a wedding gift, and an olive leaf pendant necklace that John gave her the day of as a wedding gift. The pendant was extremely thoughtful because it was the same casting of an olive leaf that she gave all the bridesmaids as a part of their gift. Her shoes were glittery Jimmy Choos, which were comfortable for over 7 hours! Inside her shoe she had a six pence taped to them, which is the final line of the something borrowed rhyme. This was was a gift from her brother, and minted in the year that their grandparents were married. Wrapped around the stems of her bouquet was her baptismal cross. Which was given to her by her godparents almost 30 years ago.
The groom wore a bespoke tuxedo, which the couple designed together in NYC in the spring before their wedding. It was lined with pink satin, and had their signature “JT loves JT” embroidered on the inside of the coat pocket. He wore navy rope cufflinks as a tribute to the fishing culture of Skyros, and velvet loafers to add a little flair. On one wrist he wore a bracelet that Jaclyn’s parents had given him when they first started dating. On the other wrist was the watch she gave him that day as a wedding present.
There were many little personalized elements at many touch points throughout the night. While the bride and bridesmaids were getting ready, their Koumbaro and Jaclyn’s brother came to stuff money in her shoes to make sure they would fit! And in following tradition, the bride says “my shoes are still too loose, they need more stuffing”. At the Groom’s family’s home, their koumbaro showed all the groom’s family and groomsmen a video that he was able to get of the groom’s favorite Greek singer, Dimitri Mpasis, wishing the Bride and Groom congratulations and good luck! Their wedding bands are both engraved with the lyrics of their first dance “I only want to be with you”. That is how they will have an eternal reminder of their first dance as husband and wife.
They opted out of doing a first look, to make the walk down the aisle that much more intense. However, Jaclyn did do a first look with her dad which created a powerful moment complete with tears of joy for both.
Nevertheless, their ceremony was a traditional Greek Orthodox wedding. That is in one of the most beautiful orthodox churches they’ve ever laid their eyes on, Agios Nikolaos above the port of Linaria in Skyros. Moreover, the church was full of religious paintings and icons. Their florist adorned the archway at the church with their signature olive leaf and rose garland to tie it back to the venue. To put an American spin on the ceremony, they had bridesmaids and groomsmen walk down the aisle, and Jaclyn’s father walked her all the way to the altar.
The color palette was intended to compliment the natural beauty of the island. The bridesmaids were in a dusty rose color, as were the roses at the venue, while the groomsmen were in a dark blue. All décor was a dusty rose, white or natural greenery, which will forever remind the couple of the Greek islands. By embracing the beauty of the island, and enhancing it with some elegant touches and gold accents, they were able to create the wedding of their dreams.
When the guests entered, they had a hand-painted guest book surrounded by photographs of our parents and grandparents on their wedding days. Each place setting had double-sided menus in English and Greek. As well as koufeta adorned with a gold olive leaf, a sparklers to light during their first dance with custom matchbooks. To create a romantic ambiance, they had candles of alternating heights at each table on top of the white gauze runner with the garland on top.
The juxtaposition of the candles, with the greenery, and the authentic taverna tables created a brilliant effect. Near the bar they created a lounge with bespoke dusty rose and white pillows, creating a comfortable space to hangout when the guests needed a break from dancing. Roses are not indigenous to the island of Skyros, but they are traditionally the most romantic and classic floral. The florist paired them with olive leaves to bring in a Greek element. Jaclyn’s bouquet was blush and white peonies, while they bridesmaids and groomsmen had rose bouquets and boutonnieres. To add more softness to the space, they had white gauze hanging from the poles of the arbour, fastened with olive leaves and roses.
As for the style of the wedding, they wanted it to feel like an “elevated” taverna. Their favorite memories of Greece have included breaking bread with family and friends at tavernas, and they wanted to recreate that on a larger scale, with all 300 guests. They had the food come out in abundance, and family style, so it would feel as though you were having an intimate dinner, but then have the dancing kick off to bring in the fun! Their signature cocktail was a mojito, a reference to the fact that they first said “I love you” in Havana, Cuba. Also very serendipitously, the designer of her wedding gown, Lazaro, is from Cuba.
As for desserts, they had a Viennese table, which included both Greek and American desserts, but the guest’s favorite treat was the gelato bar! They were able to pick from a variety of flavors to highlight the night! Another one of their favorite little details was in the bathroom: on the mirror, in lipstick, the bride wrote “You look great, now get out and dance” in both English and Greek.
The Traditional Wedding Week Venue
The venue was located directly on the water and Jaclyn and John came into the reception on a little traditional Greek fishing boat, which was quite unexpected for the guests and very fun! Moreover, the boat was adorned with the same rose and olive garland, and fireworks from the boat and the start of the music signalled their arrival. Even though the sky was clear and the stars were in full sight, for their first dance, all their guests lit a sparkler to add even more magic during that moment.
On the island of Skyros, it is tradition for the groom to “run” while men are supposed to grab him to hang him from a tree. Until he promises to throw them a party they will never forget that is. As the bride and groom are not ones to neglect tradition, John made a dash but was caught. After, he was forced to promise the groomsmen a full “trapezi”! A party full of food and drink for the following year.
At the End of the Wedding Day
The wedding ended at 6:45 in the morning. And the only way to end an island wedding is by jumping into the Aegean Sea! All the guests who were still there at that hour accompanied the bride and groom with the plunge. Ending the evening on the highest of notes! The couple had the wedding of their dreams and an amazing wedding week! They could not think of a better and more personalized way to announce their love to the world.