This postcard came through the post the other day, and really choked me up. It was from Katie and Andrew, who got married here in Santorini last summer.
I’ll never forget that day. They planned the perfect seaside wedding, a big success without a doubt, and everyone seemed to have the time of their lives. The couple managed to have their guests on their feet the whole time, partying through the night.
Having done a number of weddings on (or next to) our beach, I have now realised that couples sometimes seem to miss the important but not so obvious things when it comes to organising their wedding party on an island.
Looking back on Katie and Andrew’s wedding, I thought I’d give you a few tips so you can plan the best party you could ever have.
Believe it or not, the best thing this couple did was to not worry excessively about the things couples usually worry about – such as the details of the decoration. Instead, they told us that entertaining their guests was their number one priority and they were so relaxed about it and so easygoing, that the guests had the time of their lives. The party lasted until about 8 o’clock the following morning, when everyone ended up on the beach watching the sunrise over the Aegean.
Quite a few things went well on that particular day, that resulted in a glorious wedding and a smashing all-night party. If any of the following is not on your checklist for your own wedding reception, I strongly recommend that you add them now:
1. How close is your venue to the beach?
This can make a big difference. Having visual contact with the sea is quite different to actually being there, right on the beach. Don’t forget to make sure that it’s easily accessible and that people can walk from the venue to the beach and vice versa. Katie and Andrew’s guests had a lifetime experience, watching the sunrise at the seaside. Can you imagine them “gazing at the sea from a distance” instead? Meh…
2. Research your options on food and drink
Good food is extremely important, as it’s central to your guests’ experience that day, and one of the things they will remember when they’re back home – good or bad, they will remember it. Everyone is definitely going to be hungry by the time you get to the reception, so make sure there is good quality food to keep their energy levels up.
You will also need to double check in advance that there will be enough drinks to last through the night for everyone. You don’t want to run out halfway through the party, do you?
3. Who’s your DJ?
The DJ’s main responsibility is to keep the party going. An average DJ probably means an average wedding reception.
You need someone who is experienced, and has good knowledge of audiovisual equipment and installations. An open air wedding reception is very different from an indoors event in terms of the equipment and the setup required.
You might also want to explain to this person well in advance what type of music you want to have at your party, so they have ample time for preparation.
4. Make sure that the venue is located in a non-residential area
Having good music and a good DJ means that the party can keep going all night long. When doing your research, don’t forget to ask your hosts whether the venue is located somewhere privately where loud music will not disturb the neighbours and residents of hotels in the surrounding area. Having the music turned down early on your wedding night could easily spoil your party.
5. Budget allocation
Maybe you should worry a bit less about anything that does not directly affect your guests having a good time at your wedding reception. If the decoration is a bit less fancy for example, or if you cut down on the amount of flowers than you wanted, maybe you could use a little bit more of your budget on better food, a more experienced DJ or on a venue that’s closer to the sea.
Focus on the stuff that matters
So, the big secret here is to try and shift your focus from appearances to the more meaningful things that will make your reception a better experience for your guests. Katie and Andrew’s wedding party looked like a rather informal but exciting gathering of well-dressed friends at a classy bar, which resulted in everyone feeling relaxed and comfortable and having a great time.
Their wedding and reception was a big success, mainly because the couple took special care in picking the right location and the appropriate food and drink, and ensuring that their guests’ entertainment was in good hands.
Three days before their wedding they were both on our beach, gazing at the endless, deep blue of the Aegean. They were happy and content, as if they already knew their wedding was going to be a success.The postcard they sent us six months later, full of love and moving words, was the perfect epilogue to the perfect island wedding.