White Walls & Winding Streets: My Ultimate Destination Wedding Guide To Santorini

photo of bride and groom in santorini at sunset

It’s hard to imagine a more gorgeous place to get married than Santorini. This stunning Greek island in the southern Aegean Sea almost needs no introduction. It’s part of the Cyclades islands and was created after an ancient volcanic eruption, giving it those signature dramatic cliffs and stunning views. 

Blue and white stucco architecture, delicious Greek cuisine, churches, picturesque archways… You’ll find all of this in spades here, plus some of the world’s best sunsets! Santorini is only a short flight away from the UK, which means you’re just a few hours from one of the most beautiful islands in the world. 

If you’re a couple who loves adventure, natural beauty and sunshine. If you have an eye for aesthetics. A destination wedding in Santorini would be ideal for you and your loved ones. After your wedding, why not hop over to Mykonos on the ferry, delight in some authentic restaurants, and explore the island on a quad with your nearest and dearest? There’s no shortage of ways to spend your days in the Greek Islands! 

With so many romantic, jaw-dropping vistas, Santorini wedding photography is incredible too. I hope this destination wedding guide to Santorini helps you start planning your dream adventure.

What’s the best time to get married in Santorini?

Most couples love a spring or summer wedding in Santorini, as the inviting sunshine and long days are perfect for soaking up good times with one another. But is Santorini a good place to get married in winter? 

While you’ll definitely experience fewer crowds, the autumn and winter are when the island gets most of its rain. For this reason, the spring and summer months are usually a better option for weddings. 

best time to see the sunset in santorini

Things to do when in Santorini?

Santorini is a very small island, It is about 16km long and about 12km in its widest area. Driving from one end to the other takes around 40 minutes. Hiring a car in Santorini is a must. There is limited transport on the island so I highly recommend either hiring a car or a quad/ATV bike for a day or two to tour the island. The roads are in good condition and there is pretty much just one large road that does a circle of the island. The roads are not too busy and have no traffic lights.

My only warning for the island is DO NOT TRUST google maps.

I, unfortunately, learnt the hard way. Here, Google maps will try to take you off-road – up and over the mountain as a shortcut and off the beaten track. I hired a small fiat 500 vehicle which was not fit for that type of road. My advice to you is that if you hire a small vehicle as I did and google maps attempts to take you away from the main road – turn back and follow the main road!

Island Hop

If you are looking to stay in Santorini for a while, or maybe fancy something a little more adventurous, you can catch a ferry from Santorini to Mykonos. I recommend stopping in Mykonos for 2 nights before either returning to Santorini or catching a flight home from Mykonos. There are many high-speed ferries that offer this route and can get you to Mykonos in 2-3 hours.

Beaches

Most of the beaches of Santorini are located on the east of the island. I recommend the red beach to look at. There are lots of beaches to visit, most of which are similar and consist of black sand and pebbles. One of the main beaches is called Kamari, here you will find everything you need for a beach day including restaurants, sun beds and easy parking. I think it’s fair to say that the beaches of Santorini are far from some of the best in the world. However, I think Santorini’s greek charm, scenery and sunsets make up for the lack of beautiful beaches.

One thing that is a MUST do when visiting Santorini

Visit the beautiful town of Oia at sunset. It does get extremely busy and it’s worth asking your accommodation for which days cruise ships land on the island and try to avoid these days/times if possible. The most popular place to see the sunset is from Oia castle but it does get incredibly busy. If you like the atmosphere of the hustle and bustle of busy streets, then this could be for you. Get there early to make sure you get a good spot! Or, better yet, book one of the gorgeous restaurants ahead of your visit to Santorini with a sunset view like Lycabettus for a special occasion, or perhaps the perfect place to arrange a pre-wedding dinner.

Escape the crowds…

If you prefer somewhere away from the hustle and bustle to sit with your favourite drink whilst you catch the last of the beautiful golden light then I recommend heading to one of the other towns such as Imerovigli. Here you will find lots of hip bars and restaurants with fantastic views of the sunset and the Caldera. This is actually one of my favourite spots in Santorini.


Where to eat?

One thing Santorini is not short of is amazing restaurants and bars!
Here is a small list of some of Santorini’s best restaurants.

Best view and scenery for a fancy occasion:
Lycabettus

Best traditional greek restaurant:
Aidani (make sure you try the moussaka!)

Seafood:
Lombranos

Italian:
Il Forno Pizza and Pasta

 

wedding dinner setting santorini


Where to stay in Santorini for you and your guests?

I recommend staying in Thira (Fira).

Fira is the capital of the island and is the most cosmopolitan of all towns on the island. It is still located on the western side of the island facing the caldera which still makes for great sunsets. You’ll find everything you need here and it’s within easy driving distance of both sides of the island. A lot of wedding venues are situated closer to Thira making it very appealing to both couples and guests for your destination wedding plans.

What time of day is best for a summer wedding in Santorini?

I often hear from couples that they’d love to tie the knot at sunset. While this sounds so romantic, in reality, it means we’ll run out of light quickly and will be taking your wedding photos in the dark! 

Instead, consider an afternoon ceremony so we can have plenty of time afterwards for photos. With summer sunsets in July occurring around 8:30 pm, this gives us lots of gorgeous light during the golden hour period. Around an hour before sunset, we’ll take those spectacular photos at the most picturesque places in Santorini. 

Then you can toast, celebrate and dance long into the night!

santorini wedding photographer

How to select the best Santorini wedding villas and hotels 

There’s no shortage of Santorini wedding hotels! Lots of choices can be overwhelming, so I recommend thinking about what sort of venue and hotel you’d love most as a couple. Where will you feel most happy, comfortable and at ease? 

As your Santorini wedding photographer, I can recommend that you book a venue on the west coast of the island, as it’s perfect for sunsets. The best photo spots in Santorini are in this area since it gives us that spectacular golden light. This is ideal for taking authentic, meaningful and candid wedding photos of your first moments as a married couple.


 

Santorini's best wedding venues

Recommended Santorini hotels and villas

A few local hotels and villas that I personally love for weddings in Santorini include:

  • Dana Villas 
  • Grace Hotel this picturesque, luxury hotel is situation in Imerovigli which is my favourite area of Santorini. It overlooks the Caldera, has the perfect sunset and is full of beautiful restaurants. If you walk to the bottom of the steps, there is a beautiful white chapel, perfect for wedding photos
  • Santorini Gem Santorini Gem is one of Santorini’s most popular wedding venues
  • Mystique (ideal for a more intimate event)
  • Canvas Suites This is the picture of Santorini you probably have in your head when you think of Santorini. Pristine white walls, gorgeous turquoise pools and views to die for.
    Le Ciel – This luxury wedding venue could be your perfect venue, the food is also very highly rated.

I’ll be glad to chat with you more about what you’re looking for in a wedding venue. I’ve got plenty of recommended tried and true classic hotels and villas on Santorini. I know you want somewhere authentic and meaningful, and not a giant hotel chain. Don’t worry, I’m all about that too! 

Most beautiful photo locations in Santorini

Best photo spots in Oia, Santorini

Oia is undoubtedly one of the most Instagrammable places in Santorini – but be prepared for the crowds, especially at sunset. The village of Oia is what everyone imagines when they think of Santorini: whitewashed walls, caldera views and plenty of luxury accommodation, complete with private infinity pools, meandering staircases, and stunning views of the island and sea. 

I love Oia and can recommend plenty of photo spots just like the one above, but there are other secret photo spots on the island, including a little chapel that overlooks the caldera and gives us those classic views. It’s ideal for eloping and exchanging your vows, as long as you don’t mind trekking up a few hills – it’s about a 30-minute hike, but we’ll beat the crowds!

To take the best possible photos in Oia, I strongly recommend we do a pre-or post-wedding shoot here at sunrise, rather than sunset, so we can get gorgeous photos that aren’t full of tourists in the background. I promise it’ll be worth the early-morning wake-up – there’s just something so beautiful, peaceful and romantic about sunrises in Santorini. 

A Word of warning…


It’s incredibly important to hire a photographer who has been to the island and that does their research before your session. This could be location scouting or arriving slightly earlier. Santorini, because of its instagrammable nature has sadly been subject to vandalism and this means that a lot of the notorious photo spots you might have saved in Pinterest or see on Instagram, may now be closed off or private property. I have seen this happen time and time again, influencer after influencer will get some killer photos in an amazing location and that particular location will become overrun and sadly, the few ruin it for the many. This is why it’s really important to understand this ahead of time. Especially for a wedding where you are short of time for your couples session.

When it comes to wedding photos, getting off the beaten path makes a world of difference. In Santorini, we’ll discover secret laneways, family-run Greek tavernas, and hidden beaches where you can laugh, relax, kick off your shoes and just soak up all the excitement of your wedding. I’ll be there to capture all these gorgeous candid moments in the background!

Here are some of my favourite locations in Santorini:



best secret photo spots in santorini
One of my favourites! to get to this Santorini photo location, you want to be here for sunrise. This spot can get incredibly busy after 8am. Even at sunrise, Oia can be crowded and full of Influencers looking for content so it’s important to get there early if you want that Iconic Santorini shot.

How do I plan a destination wedding in Santorini?

Planning an overseas destination wedding can always be a little tricky, as you’re not always able to visit in advance to check out venues and hotels. The process will go so much more smoothly if you hire a Santorini wedding planner to help. 

However, If you are from the UK, I encourage you to hire planners who are based in the UK, rather than in Santorini itself. This is because some planners abroad will get commissions from the suppliers they use, but these suppliers and vendors aren’t always the best available (sadly, I come across this often).

I want your wedding adventure to be completely perfect, and there’s nothing worse than being let down by a hotel, florist or venue. Should you choose to hire a Santorini-based wedding planner, there are a few thing to keep in mind. 1) Please ensure you ask about their commission set-up. And 2) Please do not feel that you are only able to select vendors from their preferred list. If your planner doesn’t have a supplier that fits your vibe, either search on your own, or ask that they to continue their search until you find your dream supplier.

I can recommend UK-based planners who know Greece well and can help with everything from catering and music to make-up and flowers. Whichever planner you hire, just be sure you’re happy and comfortable with all of the options they provide. This will help ensure that your destination wedding will be just as you imagine – from the getting-ready moments to the low-key family brunch the next morning. 

To Sum Up…

I hope this guide to getting married in Santorini has helped you start to consider a Greek elopement adventure. As you may have gathered, I’m more than just a little passionate about travel – it’s actually what inspired me to become a photographer!

If you have any questions about how a Santorini wedding might work for you as a couple and for your friends and family, please reach out. I find travel so inspirational, and I’d love to help you incorporate a trip to Santorini into your wedding or elopement plans.  You can follow my wedding adventures HERE

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Images copyright Courtney Marie Photography