Swapping school for Santorini
They met at the age of three, but it wasn’t love at first sight for toddlers Heather McLeod and William from Nuneaton in Warwickshire. However, after being classmates throughout school, they finally fell head over heals for each other after graduation – and sealed their love in the most romantic way possible, with a beautiful wedding ceremony on the Greek island of Santorini
FINDING ‘THE ONE’
We both attended nursery, pre-school, school and 6th form together, but we didn’t have our first date until after University! We have known each other since the age of three, so it was not really love at first sight. But after the first date I knew he was a keeper!
Will finally proposed to me at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes. We wined and dined in the most fabulous and elegant setting, with Will’s sister Alex and her fiancé Wesley. It really was a special meal. When the desserts were served mine was bought out last under a silver dome. I looked around the table thinking this was strange, the waiter asked Will if he was ready and pulled off the dome to reveal a gold ring box. Before catching my breath, Will was down one knee in front of the entire restaurant asking if I would marry him, and live happily ever after as husband and wife. All of the guests dining that evening began to applaud and cheer (in French). After more champagne and tears, I simply couldn’t eat my dessert as I was on cloud nine! Will made our engagement so incredibly special and memorable, he is a true gentleman! I had been hoping and praying for a proposal for a good few months, but he caught me off guard. I never thought for one moment he would propose in a busy restaurant in front of all those people.
We decided to marry abroad rather than in the UK as we both love the sun and warm weather, so it was an easy decision to make. Before we were engaged we watched a TV program on Santorini and completely fell in love with the heavenly island. Our decision to marry on the island was as easy as that!
Our wedding would not have been as spectacular and beautiful if we hadn’t used the expertise of Lisa Burton at The Bridal Consultants, a UK-based wedding planner. She helped to make the wedding planning run smoothly and pulled out all of the stops to make it extra special.
We all flew out together from Gatwick with easyJet and booked our accommodation directly with Dana Villas.
Dana Villas was exceptional and went the extra mile to ensure we all had a magical week. The hotel staff arranged transfers, with wine and canapés on arrival for all. It really is an extra special hotel.
We had booked a big meal the night before the wedding at our favourite restaurant on the island, Onars. We were lucky to visit Santorini nine months before our wedding, to put a set menu of our favourite Greek dishes together for our guests. Two days after the wedding we all climbed aboard a private catamaran and sailed around Santorini, visiting the beautiful beaches, eating delicious food and watching the sunset. It was simply magnificent.
We had 24 guests at our Santorini wedding. 20 guests stayed at Dana Villas and the other two couples stayed in the nearby Sunset Hotel and Hotel Sofia. There were a few people who could not attend, so we arranged a big party the week after we returned for everyone to be a part of our wedding – which was a great excuse to be able to put my wedding dress back on!
Getting the look
I searched all over the Midlands for a dress, and it wasn’t until a few unsuccessful trips that my mum suggested I had a look in the local bridal shop. The first dress I tried on I fell in love with! It was a Stella York dress, teamed up with a beaded belt.
The theme for our wedding was gold and dusty pinks, which were picked up in our beautiful flowers and bridesmaid dresses. I kept the accessories to a minimum with pearl drop earrings, pearl beads for my hair and a silk trim cathedral veil. However, my shoes were my absolute dream come true! I splashed out on a pair of Manolo Blaniks, which we tracked down the right colour in Harrods, London. We were incredibly lucky to have had such amazing hair and make-up artists on the big day – not only did they make us look fabulous, they helped to calm me down as my nerves were starting to build up. They were perfect.
Something old, something new?
My Something Old and Blue was the beaded design made for my bouquet from my Gran’s jewellery; Something New was the dress; Something Borrowed was a sixpence given to me from my stepfather’s coin collection. A very good friend of my mums had made me a beaded floral design to wrap around the handle of my bouquet, made from necklaces that my Gran wore, so a part of her was at our wedding.
Groom & Bridesmaids
The Groom, Best Man and Usher all wore suits and shoes from Reiss. The bridesmaid dresses were from the same bridal shop as my wedding dress. They were gold sequin dresses by Sorella Vita.
There wasn’t really a fixed ‘theme,’ I just wanted to have lots of beautiful flowers and plenty of candles. We chose a selection of soft pinks, and ivory flowers. My only requests were peonies, big bouquets and fresh flowers everywhere! The florists, Wedding Wish, were absolutely fabulous and exceeded all my expectations. We had a simple two-tier sponge wedding cake with ivory icing, with a ‘Mr & Mrs Ladbury’ gold cake topper from etsy.
The 30-minute open-air ceremony took place on the wedding terrace at Dana Villas, with breathtaking views. My Stepfather, Robert, gave me away.
Our wedding reception was held on another terrace at Dana Villas, with equally spectacular views. The menu offered two options for guests, which they pre-selected a few weeks before the wedding. We all started with tzatziki and grilled pita breads, followed by either Santorinian bruschetta or Cretan smoked pork, then a Mediterranean salad or a Greek salad, grilled swordfish or rack of lamb, and we finished with either Millefeuille or fruit tart for dessert.
Beautiful tall gold candelabras wrapped in flowers adorned the tables, with smaller bunches and candles around the centrepiece. The place settings were ornate gold chargers, with the nametags tied to the cutlery (as it can get a little windy in Santorini.) There was a Jacuzzi on the wedding reception terrace, which was covered in flowers and floating candles – Wedding Wish had thought of every little detail!
We danced our First Dance to ‘How Long Will I Love You? By Ellie Goulding. We also had entertainment laid on, including a DJ and Greek Dancers. The Greek Dancers started just as our guests were finishing their dessert and they had everyone up on their feet. We are so pleased we picked them for our entertainment as they kick started the evening perfectly.
Our photographers were a lovely married couple called Ben and Vesna from Ben Wyatt Photography. We arranged to meet up with them the day before to discuss the photographs we wanted them to capture and a list of the group shots we wanted. They were fabulous and so calming and helpful. Vesna even helped my mum and the bridesmaids lace me up into my dress, as they were struggling! The photographs they captured are truly beautiful and we are finding it very difficult to pick our favourites to hang in the house! One of my favourite photos is where we are saying our vows and I am just so happy and cannot take my eyes of Will. That moment there is when I realised my dreams had come true and I was the luckiest girl in the world.
My favourite memory is standing on the idyllic white roof tops as Mr & Mrs Ladbury, capturing beautiful photos and looking down to see all our guests below sitting in their seats and looking back up at us and cheering.
We are quite private when it comes to discussing money, you couldn’t put a price on the most special and memorable day of our lives. However, we were relatively good when it came to sticking to the budget – we may have crept a little bit over, but that was due to the impact of the exchange rate dropping early last year.
We booked the honeymoon suite through the Bridal Consultants, and on the day of our wedding, Dana Villas upgraded us to the infinity suite. I made sure this was kept a surprise for Will after the wedding. The suite was beyond our wildest dreams, with an indoor cave pool and a pool on our balcony. It really was the ultimate luxury! We loved Dana Villas so much that we are returning for two weeks this August!
We wanted to celebrate the whole ‘wedding week’ with our family and friends, to show them the island that we had fallen in love with. It is safe to say they now all feel the same about this special island! When we return later this year, we will be treating it as a honeymoon with more time alone with Will and our baby bump!
WEDDING PLANNER UK
The Bridal Consultant
FLOWERS AND DECORATIONS
Ben and Vesna Wyatt from
Ben Wyatt Photography
Tell us about your wedding
Did you marry abroad? Whether you said “I do” on a palm fringed sandy beach or in a French Chateau, or even in an Icelandic winter wonderland with the Aurora Borealis dancing in the skies above, we would love to hear from you, and feature your wedding on our website .
“One of my favourite photos is where we are saying our vows and I am just so happy and cannot take my eyes of Will. That moment there is when I realised my dreams had come true and I was the luckiest girl in the world.”
Need help planning your wedding?
Brides Abroad, in conjunction with Brilliant Honeymoons can help you every step of the way, from finding the venue, arranging the details and helping with the paperwork to organising the flights, accommodation and transfers for you and your wedding party.