Why did you choose to get married in Zante and Turtle Island in particular?
As soon as we got engaged, we knew we wanted a beach wedding. In particular, we really wanted the sand beneath our feet as we said our vows and the sun to be shining! We love to travel, we got engaged abroad, so it felt like the right thing to do. We didn’t want a big wedding, but wanted to go somewhere our family and close friends could come to. That meant we wanted to be in Europe, and with the help of The Bridal Consultant, we settled on Zante as it was here where we really could get married on an actual beach. Neither of us had ever been there, and given we love an adventure, we decided to go for it! We knew it was meant to be when we were shown ‘Turtle Island’ as an idea. We wanted turtles to feature in our wedding theme, given they are Karen’s favourite animal, and we always try to go somewhere, where we can swim with them. It seemed to be a perfect match.
How long in advance did you book your wedding?
We booked it about 11 months in advance. We probably would have tried to get married sooner, but we also decided to fit in completing an Ironman competition! We settled on doing this in Tallinn and given we were now training to complete a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, and then a marathon, all in one go, we felt we needed to have the wedding after this!
How many guests did you invite to your wedding and how many accepted and attended?
We invited 32 people, and had 26 attend. One of the ushers initially accepted, but then couldn’t come, as they had a baby due at around the same time as the wedding. The other usher, who did come, also had a baby just before the wedding, so we had a 6 week old attending too!
We’d love to hear about how you found the perfect dress…
My dress was a Maggie Sottero design. I found it in the second shop I went to with my mum, and fell in love with it straight away. It was perfect for the beach as it wasn’t too heavy, but had a small train, like I wanted. I was really nervous about getting my dress so far in advance, as I didn’t know how my shape would change as I prepared for the Ironman – I must have been the only bride at my fitting asking her not to take it in, as I was worried once the competition was over, I would put weight on again! I added thin straps to the dress to break up the neck – which also helped with the tan lines!
What shoes and accessories did you choose?
I went for flip flops! During the ceremony, I was in bare feet, with the sand beneath my toes, and then flip flops for the evening. All of my jewellery was from Tenerife Pearl. Andy and I go to Tenerife each year for a cycling holiday, and he always buys me a piece of jewellery from there. So I had a blue pearl twisted bracelet, drop pearl earrings and a pearl necklace.
What did the groom wear?
Andy definitely went for the casual look, to fit in with the wedding theme. He wore a linen shirt and trousers. It worked perfectly.
What about your maid of honour?
My maid of honour wore a royal blue dress from Coast. It matched the usher and best man’s dark blue linen shirts. We found the dress within the first hour of looking, when we met up in London!
The brides bouquet, what flowers did you choose and why?
We chose calla lillies, as they are so beautiful and were perfect for the simple, low-key wedding we wanted. Andy’s mum made all of the bouquets and the button holes. It was quite a challenge bringing everything out! However it made it really special, having Jill make the flowers for our wedding. We used olive leaves too, to match the Greek theme. I also had shells and pearls added to my bouquet, to reflect the beach theme.
Tell us about your wedding theme…
The only real theme we had was turtles. We wanted them to feature on our wedding cake, as we had purchased two wooden turtles after we got engaged in the Maldives. We also added the ‘bike’ to the reception, as we love cycling.
Can you tell us about the smaller details of your day…
We loved our wedding cake! It was a three tier, lemon sponge cake with turtles decorated on it. We had in mind what we wanted, and were thrilled at how it turned out.
For the evening meal, we had a BBQ, ensuring there was a mixture of meat and fish. We had prawns, squid, beef and lamb, along with Greek salad. For pudding we enjoyed our delicious wedding cake.
During dinner we had a Greek band, followed by dancing. All of our guests requested songs that they wanted to hear, so it was really personal. We love that we had the tradition element of a Greek band, followed by something all the guests wanted to dance to.
What’s your best memory from the day?
There are so many! We loved the horse and carriage after the ceremony, taking us through the sea to the veranda. Saying our vows with the ocean behind us; we both wrote our own vows, making it really special. I loved that it was so small and we got to spend time with all of our guests and they all got to know each other. Everything was just perfect. I think our real stand out memory is the ceremony itself; surrounded by those we love, in a beautiful location, and officially becoming man and wife.
What do you think makes a wedding abroad stand out from a wedding in the UK?
For us, there wasn’t any stress. It was all an adventure; we couldn’t have absolute control over everything, so we just went with it and it meant everything was a surprise! The weather was perfect; we were outside the whole time. In the UK you couldn’t have a boat take you across the ocean to your ceremony, or have children playing in the sea after the ceremony! I would recommend a wedding abroad wholeheartedly.
What advice would you give to future brides and grooms who are getting married abroad?
Trust in your organiser and don’t try to control everything – see it as an adventure and just enjoy it. Decide on what you really want (for us, that was being on the beach) and then work around that.
Did you stick to your original budget or go over/or even stay under?
We were spot on and it came in so much cheaper than if we had married in the UK.
We hope you enjoyed reading about Karen and Andy’s Turtle Island wedding in Zakynthos, here are some of the suppliers involved in the day.
Budget Key | £ – 10k and under | ££ – between 10k and 20k | £££ – over 20k.