Ana and Alden's Chic Greek Wedding
From day one, Ana Seely and Alden Wallace's relationship has been an adventure. Case in point: their first date. Not your average dinner-and-a-movie, the love-launching, mid-December Cali evening started at a restaurant that was celebrating the season with a caroling waitstaff and glittery decorations, continued on to a Scotch tasting, and ended in a stranger's car during a hitchhiked ride home.
That escapade was nothing compared to Alden's proposal. The Los Angeles pair was visiting New York City, where, over dinner, a waiter surprised Ana with a note that read, "Moby Dick is a real page Turner. Go to classroom 808 for your next clue." Says Ana, "This was the ultimate scavenger hunt. I finally got it—a Joseph Mallord William Turner painting depicting a whale at the Metropolitan Museum in Gallery 808! Fifteen notes later, I found myself in a cottage in Southampton, Long Island, holding a wrapped box." Inside was a GoPro camera, switched on to record Ana's reaction, and a mini baseball bat—she had collected them as a child—with an inscription: "Anastasia Seely, will you marry me?"
The couple brought their thrill-seeking nature to wedding planning, looking to delight not just themselves but also their 200 guests. "We hoped to make our wedding an adventure and a vacation for everyone," says Ana, a photography producer. They chose Greece as the setting because Ana has family there, plus she and Alden, a photographer, had visited and fallen in love with the island of Spetses. With the locale set, "I wanted the beautiful surroundings to take center stage," says Ana. She found a stunning cliffside villa, whose "grounds were rustic and wild, which I loved," to serve as their venue. The ceremony took place in a tiny Greek Orthodox church on-site, and the reception was held in the property's olive grove overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
On June 14, 2014, just before sunset, friends and family stood, surrounding the couple, for the Greek Orthodox vows. "It was so special to have that positive energy all around us," Ana recalls. Afterward, guests got festive by the villa's pool, enjoying Bellinis and passed hors d'oeuvres of tuna tartare and fried octopus. Then, everyone took their seats for an alfresco dinner of sautéed shrimp; orzo with asparagus, zucchini, and Greek cheese; and braised rack of lamb. The duo had their first dance to Ike & Tina Turner's version of "Proud Mary," setting a raucous tone for the rest of the night—and well past dawn the next day. As the sun started coming up, the newlyweds and their loved ones went for an early morning skinny-dip in the ocean, a fitting finale for a couple always eager to dive into a new escapade.
The island of Spetses is ringed with small coves. The entire island's 27 square kilometers was traversed by boat, bike, moped, and horse-drawn carriage by guests.
Welcome to Greece
Welcome bags included an illustrated map of Spetses with the couple's monogram, mastika-flavored liqueur, and evil-eye bracelets.
Major Bridal Style
Ana did her own hair and makeup and accessorized her Vera Wang gown with clustered pearl earrings.
The Bridal Party
The bride's attendants wore dresses she designed, made by a local seamstress using French linen.
A Kiss From Dad
Prior to the ceremony, Ana received a kiss from her father.
Walking to the Wedding
The bride traversed the cliffside path to the chapel escorted by her father and bridesmaids.
The Groom's Attire
Going to the Chapel
The chapel of Agia Marina marks the spot of an early Hellenic settlement from the third millennium B.C.
Ana, wearing an Oscar de la Renta veil, shared a smile with her mother just before the ceremony.
The Bride's Soundtrack
Local musicians played while the bride made her way to meet her groom. In Greece, the bride doesn't carry her clutch down the aisle. Instead, the groom holds it and hands it to her when she reaches him at the altar. Ana's was made up of orange and red ranunculus.
"When I first started dating Ana, I would get butterflies every time I was around her," Alden recalls. "As she walked toward me on our wedding day, I felt those all over again, and it made me tear up."
A Special Tradition
Greek Orthodox wedding crowns, known as stefana, were used during the ceremony. The bride and groom appoint koumbaroi, attendants who place the wedding crowns on the couple's heads and the rings on their fingers. Ana and Alden tweaked tradition by having her sisters do the honors.
The couple partook in another Greek tradition—having their wedding bands crafted from one piece of gold.
A Celebratory Toss
During the evening ceremony, the couple circled the altar three times in the "Dance of Isaiah" as onlookers showered them with rice.
"I just want to look at you," said Alden to his bride in the chapel right after their ceremony.
The Escort Cards
Escort cards had guests' names calligraphed on one side and drawings of the three dinner tables, with a red dot indicating their seat, on the other.
The Table Setup
Attendees sat at three long wooden tables; each place was set with a crepe-paper-wrapped favor.
Dinner tables, placed between rows of olive trees twinkling with string lights, were lined with runnerlike centerpieces of lavender and other herbs.
Having a Ball
Guests unwrapped "surprise ball" favors made of colored crepe paper. As they unwound the layers, they found little gifts: temporary tattoos, toy rings, fortune-teller fish, right down to a mini bride and groom in the center. The balls are a tradition in Ana's family, and she and her relatives handmade each of them.
The First Dance
The newlyweds hit the floor, launching the all-night dance party.
Everybody Dance Now
Ana's youngest sister got into the party spirit.
Along with a chocolate wedding cake, dessert featured a sweet setup of fruit, yogurt with dried fruit and honey, fried dough balls called loukoumades, and assorted Greek cookies.
Event Planning: The Genie
Catering and Cake: Menoo
Flowers: Pavlos Roussiakis
Photography: Collin Hughes
Videography: Iason Orlandos
Stationery: Liz Kelley [invitation design]; Cotton Paperie [invitation printing]; Tsaldaris Luxury Craft [program printing]; Swiss Cottage Designs [welcome packet maps, signage, place cards, and menus]
Music, Sound, and Lighting: Sounds Good
Rentals: Meli Parties
Bride's Gown: Vera Wang
Groom's Jacket, Shirt, and Pants: Knot Standard
Transportation: Alpha Limo Tours
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