Lisa and Yianni's engagement proves that Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks don't have a monopoly on The Empire State Building's most romantic moments. On a crisp March evening, Yianni whisked Lisa to the top of the city's second-tallest building and—with the glittering metropolis as his backdrop—popped the question.
Their uber-romantic proposal set the tone for Lisa and Yianni's wedding, held six months later in the middle of yet another stunning city: Athens, Greece. "We chose to host our wedding in Greece because we wanted to have a destination wedding somewhere different and beautiful, while also encouraging our friends and family to travel," Lisa says.
Photos: Vangelis Photography
Passport invitations—a custom tri-fold design by Digby & Rose—reflected the couple's love of travel. "Though we had an expert create the piece, we were very hands on in the concept and design," Lisa says.
Lisa and Yianna selected Island Art & Taste for their September nuptials because "everyone who sees Island Art & Taste has a jaw-dropping moment of, 'wow, this place is unbelievable,'" Lisa explains.
"Island Art & Taste is so beautiful all on its own," the bride continues, "that you barely have to do any dressing up to make it look stunning." Before the couple's afternoon ceremony, florist Studio 7 draped garlands of locally-grown roses and herbs from the chapel's bell tower and down its white-washed walls.
"I'm proud to say that I bought the very first gown I tried on," Lisa says of her Stella York gown. "What helped me narrow it down so quickly and easily is that I had a very specific wedding concept I was trying to achieve and I needed a dress that fit perfectly within that concept."
The dress' ruffled straps, sweetheart neckline and diagonal draping "captured the Greek goddess look I so wanted to achieve," the bride explains. "For a destination wedding in Greece, this dress could not be any more perfect for me."
Lisa's accessories, including tear-drop earrings and a silver bracelet, didn't compete with dress' intricate details.
Studio 7 designed an all-pink bouquet made of English garden and Esperance roses for the bride.
Lisa allowed her only bridesmaid to select her own Two Birds dress. She chose a fiery fuchsia floor-length gown that more than pleased the bride. "As with my bridal gown, I wanted my one maid to achieve the flowy, Greek goddess look," Lisa says. "I absolutely loved the Two Birds dress, and I know she will get to wear it in a variety of ways and continue to look fabulous."
Studio 7 created a smaller version of the bride's pink rose bouquet for her bridesmaid to carry.
Though the couple hadn't planned on having a flower girl, "one just appeared as I began walking down the aisle with my father," the bride says. "It was not expected at all—I even had a moment where I said under my breath, 'Oh, OK.' We just went with it, and it actually worked out nice to have the flowers greet our every step."
Lisa and Yianni wanted a non-traditional wedding ceremony that was still culturally significant—one in which the readings "would appeal to a variety of guests coming from several different countries, cultures and faiths," Lisa says.
To respects their guests' cultures and beliefs, the couple's ceremony was not religious, Lisa says, but did include a "subtle mix of American and Greek traditions."
As Lisa and Yianni left the ceremony, guests tossed seeds and petals into the air. "It was so special to have so many of our friends and family from around world join us," Lisa says.
The couple sought to create a romantic and whimsical setting "with just the right touch of glamour," for their evening wedding reception, Lisa says.
Though its name may indicate otherwise, Island Art & Taste is located on the mainland. But with views of the sea from the couple's reception site, "its layout feels like you're on an island," the bride says. "It's so lovely to look out into the beautiful blue water and see the lights of Athens glimmering from all around the cove."
Centerpieces places at each white, round table were made of roses, hydrangea and fragrant herbs that whet guests' appetite long before the couple's multi-course meal arrived.
Photos: Vangelis Photography
Lisa and Yianni served their meal at several stands, which offered everything from barbeque to pasta and salad. Highlights include a Cretan salad with lettuce, barley bread, tomato and soft cheese; Fussili with fresh zucchinis and shrimp; and Burgers filled with haloumi cheese.
Their wide, round white wedding cake with silver beading was inspired by a photo found on Pinterest. "We asked our caterer to recreate it," Lisa says. "They did an amazing job and captured the look we were going for perfectly."
Lisa was very involved in selecting the music Longplay Music Events played at the reception. "The DJ told us that most couples don't pay attention to the music at their wedding, but I said, 'don't count on it. I'll remember every song,'" Lisa recalls. "And I did."
Her musical choices included everything from Chris Brown to Leona Lewis and Elvis Presley. "Beyond that," Lisa says, "all the traditional Greek dancing and music was all of the entertainment we needed. For many of our American guests, this was something new and fun to try."
Having their guests watch them wed was wonderful, Lisa says—but the icing on this couple's proverbial wedding cake was taking in the sights with guests in the days before and after they exchanged vows. "We soaked it all in and savored every moment," she says. "What other time in life will we have the opportunity to have so many loved ones in another country with us?"
Wedding Planner: Island Art and Taste || Ceremony Venue: Island Art and Taste || Reception Venue: Island Art & Taste || Bride's Wedding Dress: Stella York || Bride's Shoes: Badgley Mischka || Bride's Wedding Ring: BenDavid & Sons || Groom's Tux: Hugo Boss || Groom's Shoes: Mercanti Florentini || Groom's Wedding Ring: BenDavid & Sons || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Two Birds || Florist: Studio 7 || Caterer: Island Art and Taste || Stationery: Digby & Rose || Cake Baker: Island Art and Taste || Favors: Confetti Flowers || Entertainment: Longplay Music Events || Photography: Vangelis Photography