Alexandra Stambouzou married Alexander Rayner at the Roxani Estate in Armenoi, Crete, on 30th August, 2018. She says:
One of the easiest decisions we made was the wedding's location. My father is from Crete in Greece and my parents also live there. Alex, his family and I visit them every summer, and it is also where he got down on one knee, asking me to marry him up in the White Mountains. We decided to host our wedding on the island just a few minutes after I said 'yes'! My parents' good friends Roxani and Dimitri own the Roxani Estate and it was exactly what we wanted. It was meaningful to us that the venue has a backdrop of those mountains and we loved that it provided the perfect setting for guests to dance the night away beneath the stars.
We incorporated lots of Greek elements in our celebration. There is a calendar in Greece dedicating names to dates, which originates in honouring religious martyrs and saints, so, since we're both named Alex, we chose 30th August as our wedding date because it's our Greek name-day. (Fun fact: now we're both called Alex Rayner!) Traditional Cretan musicians walked down the aisle with me playing an up-beat Cretan wedding song, which was very Mamma Mia! Likewise, the splashes of pink that ran throughout the ceremony and reception flowers were another inspiration from the film. I love bougainvillea and the vibrant archway we had of it at the ceremony was amazing. This went beautifully with our stationery, which was designed by my friend Courtney Fahy using my mother's (who's an artist) paintings of Crete's abundant bougainvillea.
Local catering company Siganos created a delicious menu of favourites: Greek mezze, pilafi rice, boureki and then gyro souvlaki was served as a midnight snack. My father sourced local Charma beer, as well as wine and Champagne from the Douloufakis vineyard in the hills behind our family home. Even the bottles of olive we gifted guests as favours was harvested by us at the olive grove attached to our house and my mum made special labels for them.
My outfit was Grecian, too. I had kept cut outs of wedding dresses I loved under my bed since I was 12, which were replaced by a Pinterest board when I got engaged. I used some of this inspiration to have my own design made at Polentas Haute Couture bridal shop in Chania on the island. My sparkly sandals were an absolute steal at just €30 from a little shop in Positano, Italy, but I was true to Greek tradition and, on the morning of the wedding, wrote each of my unmarried bridesmaids' names on the soles. This custom is meant to bring them good fortune in finding true love and marriage. But I also wrote my sister's name on there, as she was pregnant and I wanted to bring her a little bit of extra luck, too! Finally, my flower crown was Mamma Mia-inspired, made with olive leaves and eucalyptus. My gold Phaistos necklace and bracelet are Cretan. These ancient symbols have never been deciphered, but they're very famous for it, and I love wearing them. My olive-leaf ring was bought in Chania and my green-and-gold ring was my grandmother's. She passed away a month before the wedding, so this was very special to me and a way to keep her close on the day.
Photographs by Stavros Lykakis