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You and Me by the Sea turned this BOLI’s dream destination wedding into a reality

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, so you want to get it right.” - Written by Jennifer Rizzuto

destination wedding couple smiling

Every bride will have a different vision for their wedding – some want days a little closer to home, and some want to celebrate with the Santorini sky in the background. The latter was true for Bride of Long Island Jessica Afano.

So when it came time to plan all the exciting details of her destination wedding in Greece, Jessica decided to seek expert guidance from Christine Earls, owner of BOLI Preferred Vendor You and Me by the Sea.

destination wedding bride dress

Matching her visions

Jessica’s epic Santorini vows were born with an extensive consultation. “Jess, [her fiancé] Cameron and I sat down and discussed what their expectations were, and what their visions for their wedding day would be,” Christine remembered. “I had them describe what their absolute perfect day would look like, and as they spoke, the wheels started turning in my head on how to bring it all to fruition.”

While learning about Jessica’s vision was an important aspect of this initial meeting, it was also an opportunity for Christine to explain the marriage process in another country. “There were lots of legalities for her wedding in Greece that she needed to know about, and a lot of different things you have to do in order to be legally married there. So I was able to explain that process and go over their options before we even started to book things.”

Destination couple kissing

Insider insight

After their meeting, Christine leapt into action. “I work hand-in-hand with local wedding planners in Santorini, and those wedding planners work hand-in-hand with the best professionals in the area – photographers, videographers, everyone,” she explained. “These aren’t fly-by-night vendors, or someone you’d just randomly find on social media, they’re reputable pros that have a proven track record.”

She went on to illustrate how important it is to work with professionals you can trust. “Vendors that have a good working relationship is like its own kind of marriage, and it’s so crucial on your wedding day. This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, so you want to get it right. Jessica’s not going back to Greece to do this again. You want to know you can trust the people you’re working with to deliver fully when it’s go-time.”

destination wedding sunsets

Elevating her experience

Once the basic plans were in place, Christine began to look for ways to make Jessica’s escapades even more meaningful. “What I really enjoyed was being able to elevate the experience for her,” she described. “I wanted to add a few special touches that could bring in even more luxury during this exciting time  – I arranged for champagne in their room, with a small cake to celebrate the start of their new chapter. I had charcuterie delivered. When she checked in, there was a bouquet of flowers waiting for her.”

Christine even enhanced Jessica’s dream lodging. “She wanted to stay in a really nice resort, and I was able to get her a room with an incredible view of the ocean and a private pool, which was even better than what she originally had in mind.”    

destination wedding couple with sunset background

It’s all in the details

Jessica’s vision proved to be exceptionally inspiring for Christine. “Jessica wanted the backdrop of her wedding ceremony to be the Mediterranean Sea, on a cliff,” she said. “That whole idea really excited me. I mean, it sounds like a scene in a movie, doesn’t it?”

That excitement spread as she solidified all the details. “Knowing that that was her vision helped to focus my efforts and attention in the right places and with the right people, and it helped to bring in the details that would contribute to that overall look of her day.”

destination wedding backdrop

Why hiring a destination wedding travel agent is key

It goes without saying that destination weddings involve coordinating complicated logistics, and it’s important to have a knowledgeable and experienced professional help you get all the puzzle pieces into place. “Planning a destination wedding is a full-time job,” Christine described. “Wedding planning in general is overwhelming, but destination weddings have their own separate set of challenges on top of everything else. Picking out your flatware over a Zoom meeting is a lot different than doing it in person. Having grandma drive down the block to a catering hall is different than getting her on an international flight. You should be enjoying your time as an engaged couple and not stressing over the thousands of things you have to do in order to pull off a wedding away from home.”

Christine also stressed that proper vetting is essential. “I just got off of a consult call with a woman who got married in the Caribbean, and her wedding day was ruined,” she recounted. “There was a hurricane and everything got rained out, but worse than that is the photographer she hired – someone she found off of Instagram – did not get one good picture. All of their photos were terrible, out of focus, arms flying everywhere, you name it. A destination wedding travel agent will vet all of your vendors, so you can be confident that everyone knows what they’re doing.”

destination wedding mountains

Finally, Christine highlighted the often-tricky legal aspects of getting married in a different country – and that sometimes, vital information can be difficult to find. “Each country has their own rules, and it’s important that you understand their rules. Some countries will let you get married as soon as you land, some will only let you get married after you’ve been there for a few days. Even the definition of what a ‘day’ is can be different in each country.”

“Knowing the ins and outs of these laws is not something you can just Google,” she continued. “You have to know who to talk to, and who is going to give you accurate information. A destination wedding travel agent will know these answers.”

destination wedding ceremony


Travel agent: You and Me by the Sea (a BOLI Preferred Vendor)

Greece Wedding planner: Marry Me in Greece

Venue: Andromeda Villas

Photographer: Kapetanakis Studios

Hair and Makeup: Victoria Doris

Dress: North Fork Bridal Shoppe (a BOLI Preferred Vendor)

Alterations and custom veil: Meredith Gill Designs

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