Melissa Colella & Juan Garcia

June 29, 2017. Santorini, Greece

Location: Avant Garde Suites Santornini, Greece; Planner: Tie The Knot Santornini Santorini, Greece; 
On March 14, 2014, Juan and Melissa were engaged during a quiet night at their home in Chicago. “It was private, intimate, and almost a reflection of the wedding we would have on June 29, 2017,” Melissa recalls. “For the next three years, we would go back and forth trying to decide and plan the perfect wedding. After getting the approval and support from our families, we finally decided to elope.”
With Juan leaving the destination decision up to Melissa, she chose Greece – a country she had always wanted to visit, with its iconic blue roofs, white buildings, and ocean views. “I soon learned that there were thousands of Greek Islands and it was going to be tough to narrow it down to one,” she adds. “We picked Santorini together, and we could not have chosen a better fit for us and our intimate wedding.”
After some research, the groom-to-be selected Avant Garde Suites in Akrotiri as their accommodations, located in a quiet part of the island. Melissa also came across stunning wedding photos by photographer Thanasis Kaiafas on Instagram, and knew she wanted him to capture their destination elopement. “I emailed him my plans to get married in Santorini with only a two months’ notice, and he quickly responded and arranged for a Skype phone call,” she explains. “Juan and I could immediately tell that we were in good hands with Thanasis. He was kind, thorough, and passionate about his profession.”
As the day quickly approached, Thanasis and the couple’s wedding planner, Maria, kept in close contact so their journey was stress-free leading up to the wedding. When they arrived, the hotel staff gave Juan and Melissa a tour of their ceremony and dinner sites. Thanasis then flew in from Athens to capture the bride and groom as they got ready and had their “first look.” He even rented a car to take them around the island for a picturesque photo session.
“Our wedding day was simply incredible,” says the bride. “It was crazy how a few Skype calls and a questionnaire with Thanasis and Maria resulted in a wedding day that was so beautiful and perfect. Somehow, it incorporated our style and was unique to us. We truly could not have even imagined a day so romantic and intimate. Thanasis, Maria, and Miranta not only made us feel like family on the day of our wedding, but they were also the most passionate, dedicated, and hardworking people we have ever met. We will never forget how special we felt and how we were able to enjoy every minute of the day. We are thankful for the lifetime of memories and pictures!”
>Written by: Lauren Malamala