If I mention the Greek island of Zante I’m pretty sure I’ve got a good idea of what springs into your mind. I was the same before I started researching venues for our wedding. Zante is famous for being a party island; a place where school leavers go to get pissed and do whatever school leavers do (I wouldn’t know as I never went on one of those raucous holidays)! Zante tends to make the headlines for all the wrong reasons, drunk Brit-kids spilling out of bars, quadbike accidents and General bad behaviour. However, this beautiful Ionian island deserves a lot more recognition than it gets credit for. The partying is pretty much exclusively contained within the town of Laganas in the south of the island, and the rest of Zante is largely unspoilt mountains, rural areas and stunning hidden beaches. There are a few main towns where you will find the regular tourist traps, but if you step outside the hotel-land and explore the island, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Last time we were in Zante it was for our wedding (!) so when we returned this year we made it our mission to see more of this beautiful island and find out all of it’s secrets. Here are my top picks for a different kind of holiday on this paradise island.

Rent a motorboat and find your own turtles in Keri

Zante is all about the turtles. It’s famous for it and the popular beaches and harbours are packed full of ‘guaranteed turtle spotting trips’. You probably will see a turtle on one of these excursions however, they are generally large boats full of tourists so you are unlikely to get anywhere near the turtle, let alone get a photo of it. It’s much better, and not much more expensive, to take a short drive to the quiet southern harbour of Keri where you can rent a small motorboat of about 100 euroes. No experience needed, not even a driving licence! Apart from being an amazing experience and great fun, your chances of seeing a turtle are pretty high at the right time of year.  Once the boat is hired you can take it for a spin to the beautiful Keri caves and across to the famous ‘turtle island’ where the turtles lay their eggs (these are all roped off to make sure they are kept safe). For the best chance of seeing these amazing creatures we recommend heading to the opposite side of the bay to the caves, close to the Harmony Hotel and sticking close to the coastline (it’s deep so no worries about the boat!) just cruising up and down on the lookout! We saw about 5 turtles in this area and there was literally no one else there! We jumped in and snorkelled with the turtles without worrying about crowding or upsetting them with too many people. It was a truly magical experience.

 

Dine with the most stunning view in Kampi

The town of Kampi is set in the West of the island and is somewhat off the beaten track, but it’s famous for having several clifftop restaurants with the most incredible views! They get booked up in advance for evenings as the sunset there is apparently gorgeous, however we stopped there for lunch – kind of by accident during a drive! We ate at one of the clifftop venues and even in the daytime the view of the rugged coastline and the crystal clear blue water was absolutely incredible. The restaurants all serve traditional Greek dishes and are set up with stunning shaded outdoor areas to enjoy the view whilst tucking in!

 

See the famous ‘Shipwreck beach’ before the crowds

The incredible image of the rusty shell of a shipwreck washed up on the white sand is probably familiar one. In fact, Navagio or shipwreck beach is repeatedly included in roundups of the most picturesque beaches in the world! It’s definitely worth seeing, but going on a tour boat can lead to disappointment when you can’t get a picture without thousands of people crawling all over the place! I’m not exaggerating when I say that hundreds, if not thousands, of tourists pour on and off this beach all day. As it’s only accessible by boat, the first large tour comes in at about 9.30am – so to get the place to yourself you need to beat it! We were up at 7.30am and drove north for an hour to a small harbour called Porto Vromi where we hired a private boat to take us to the beach before everyone else! It does cost a bit more but as there was four of us the cost of 4 tickets on a tour boat would have been nearly as much as the fee for the private boat. It was so much fun because the boat went super fast and to get there when there was only a handful of people on the beach was simply amazing! The boat hire is also for 3 hours so after an hour of so at the beach our driver took us to some other beautiful swimming and to some of Zante’s famous ‘blue caves’. For a slightly higher cost it was more than worth it.

Eat traditional at hidden restaurants

One of the best things about holidaying in Greece is the delicious food! The authentic local meat, fish and vegetable dishes are simple and yummy, the more home cooked the better. Like anywhere, eating on the main tourist drags will likely result in disappointing meals which are neither authentic nor fresh. My main advice would be to check TripAdvisor and do not be afraid to stray a long way off the beaten track for an incredible meal! There are a lot of tavernas in Greece which are literally almost set up in someones back garden! A few evenings we ended up driving along rickety roads, following dubious directions to find a tiny authentic taverna! Eating at these types of restaurants not only guarantees awesome food, but are also much more reasonable too. I can particularly recommend Votsalo in Keri and Peppermint in Argassi.

Watch the sunset from a beach bed at Porto Roxa

Being perfectly situated on the West Coast means that Porto Roxa sees the most beautiful sunset, it’s famous for it. We new this tiny beach had a nice beach bar and a lovely setting to watch the sunset so we set off there (about an hours drive from Keri) in the mid afternoon. We were delighted and pleasantly surprised to find a gorgeous hippy beach bar serving yummy cocktails and allowing guests to relax on swinging mattresses rather than sunbeds! It may sound odd, but kicking back on a double bed with a mojito to watch the sun go down was incredibly relaxing. There are the traditional sunbeds too for those who want them, but the hanging beds were something different that I’ve never come across before! And the sunset was just….wow. Worth a visit.

Zakynthos will always hold a special place in my heart, but I truly believe it is an amazing holiday destination for couples, families, and has something for everyone! I hope if you decide to make the trip to this idyllic Ionion island that you find these top picks helpful! Have fun in paradise!

 

 

FOLLOW ME:

 

INSTAGRAM
TWITTER
YOUTUBE

 

Deciding to get married abroad can be a daunting experience.  There are many reasons that couples may decide they want to tie the knot somewhere other than their home country, ranging from dreams of beach weddings and beautiful scenery to escaping the stress, fuss and all that comes with a wedding. That’s not to say that getting married in another country wasn’t stressful, but from what I’ve heard it was a lot less stressful than it could have been if we’d done it at home in London!

We were lucky. Some couples who make this decision are met with families who disapprove and loved ones who can’t make it for whatever reason. Things can be challenging planning a wedding from a long way away where you can’t see things in person. Culture and language barriers can also be an issue. However, my advice to couples who dream of a destination wedding would be – DO IT! It was amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Here are some hints and tips for any couples preparing to navigate the sometimes complicated business of planning a wedding abroad.

❤️ It’s your day! Please, please remember this every step of the way. It’s so important to have the wedding that you and your partner want; not what everyone else wants. This still applies when the wedding is abroad. You may get a few eyes rolls or grumbles but just politely explain to everyone that this is your dream day and they will soon come round.

❤️ Having said that, you will need to accept that some people won’t be able to make it. Potentially some important people who you would never have imagined wouldn’t be at your wedding. Expense, time off work, children and even more unforeseeable things like health can effect people’s ability to attend. If the idea that every single member of your extended family and friendship circle has to be there then getting married abroad possibly isn’t for you.

❤️ Be sensible. If you’re choosing a beach wedding in a baking hot location then you chose it for a reason – hopefully you are a bride who wants quite a relaxed/beachy vibe?? I wore a loose fitting dress and flat sandals. A ballgown style and pair of Jimmy Choo’s would not have been appropriate. Equally, please don’t force your hubby to be into a 3 peice suit and tie in 30 degree heat!! Same applies for guests. They need to be comfortable so don’t impose a strict dress code.

❤️ Make the most of the scenery. You are in a beautiful place, you have hired a photographer – use the beauty to your advantage! Looking back on photographs is one of the best things after the wedding and you can treasure them forever. In my opinion having something different as the backdrop is truly special. We even went for a photoshoot the next day underwater in our wedding outfits which was truly amazing! I love looking at the pictures.

❤️ Use a planner. I cannot stress this enough! Some, very brave, couples do attempt to co-ordinate their weddings from the UK but I just could not deal with the stress of it! We used Zante Weddings, the longest running and most experienced wedding planner in Zante, and they couldn’t have been better. Having someone who is a) in the country to liase with vendors b) speaks the language and c) actually knows all the best companies on the island was invaluable. I definitely couldn’t have done it myself. Frances, the owner of the planners, was fantastic and managed to get everything we wanted and more.

TRUST YOUR PLANNER. If you are hiring a local wedding planner then you must trust them to organise your big day. I understand it can be hard to relinquish control of the more special day of your life but it’s important to remember that they have done this before. 100 times. They seriously know what they are doing. When having your wedding abroad there are certain things that you just can’t micro manage to the same level as you can in the UK; e.g. you can’t taste the cake flavours, see the exact colour of the table cloths or choose every single individual flower for your bouquet. This isn’t for everyone, but I loved having the stress of a million decisions being taken out of my hands. We gave our planners a vague theme and colour scheme and they delivered flowers, décor and food which was better than we ever could have imagined. Choose your planner carefully and trust them to give you your perfect day.

Relax and enjoy. Chances are, you decided to tie the knot abroad to avoid some of the usual stresses and strains that come with a UK wedding – so make sure you actually chill out and enjoy yourself! Not only are you having your dream wedding day and marrying the love of your life – but you’re also combining it with a gorgeous holiday. I was sunbathing and doing yoga by the pool the morning of my wedding! You, your hubby and all your guests will be on a holiday high and what could be more amazing than a giant holiday with family and friends. Have a ball.

I hope these tips help any couples thinking of taking the plunge and getting married somewhere other than the UK. From one bride to another; you won’t regret it!

From my experience, and I would guess that this is the same for many beach brides, one of the most challenging elements of planning a wedding abroad is choosing a suitable outfit for the groom! If, like mine, he does not really have a fixed idea in his head what his wedding ‘suit’ will look like it can prove very difficult finding something which is smart, cooling, comfortable and in-keeping with the ‘beach’ theme all in equal measure. Throw in the fact that our wedding was in early summer and so we had the British Winter and Spring to search for an outfit – impossible.

We ended up leaving it until the last minute and choosing something in mid May so that we could find some summery things in the shops. Paul decided he didn’t want a jacket, which I was completely fine with; firstly because it would be very hot in Greece for our wedding and secondly because the whole wedding had a really casual feel. As an example – I suggested shorts and flip flops to all the male guests and the Best Man was wearing linen shorts and a shirt so Paul would have looked a bit odd in a three piece suit! It’s not his style anyway. With his long hair and tattoos a much more relaxed and toned down look suited him and the venue much better.

Looking back on the pictures I’m really pleased with what we chose. The trousers and shirt make it smart enough for a wedding, with the lack of jacket keeping it cool and dressed down and the pink bow tie (his idea!) and braces giving the outfit a bit of personality! He looked like himself and I was very pleased about that.  The only thing he would change would be the shoes! They were leather and quite uncomfortable on the day, I think he wished he went for flip flops! The pocket watch was a gift from me to open on the morning of the wedding and I was really chuffed that he decided to wear it on the day.

What he wore:

Shirt: Ted Baker

Trousers: John Lewis

Braces & Belt: H&M

Bow Tie: Mrs Bow Tie

Shoes: Bertie

Pocket Watch: notonthehighstreet.com

xox

 So what did I do the night before my wedding? I’m in Zakynthos, all our family an friends have arrived and it’s the dreaded night before. We decided to stick to tradition and Paul was banished from the villa to spend the evening having a meal with his parents and drinks with the guests, followed by staying overnight at one of the other hotels in the resort. So I was left in the villa with my mum, dad, brother and my bridesmaids!

We had pre arranged a lady to come and paint our nails as a bit of a girly treat and to make sure our nails were fresh and unchipped for the day. I couldn’t really eat anything, but I sensibly avoided the bubbly to make sure there was no sign of a hangover. I was nervous anyway but even more so because I was checking my weather app every 5 seconds. It had been uncharacteristically humid in Zante and the forecast was a huge storm for the wedding.

Amazingly, despite all the stress I did manage to sleep. We watched Mamma Mia to get us in the mood for a party and then most of the girls went back to there respective accommodation. My friend Nikki stayed overnight with me.

img_7921

I fell asleep easily, but woke up at 5am. I did some yoga on the terrace and prayed to the, then clear, sky and implored the Greek Gods for no rain…

..they didn’t listen!

xox

We arrived in the beautiful island of Zakynthos (Zante) on 21st June to prepare and organise the final details of our wedding on the 25th.

Having not been to Zakynthos on holiday before (only in October last year for a whirlwind 2 days to look at venues) I wasn’t sure what to expect from it as a destination. It’s most famous as a party paradise for 16 year old Brits post GCSE but this is only a tiny section of the island. I can confirm that Zakynthos is absolutely STUNNING and if you get outside of the main tourist resorts by car or bike the vast majority of it is unspoilt, rugged and green. We didn’t get a chance to see too much scenery but many of our friends and family took drives up to the Keri lighthouse and the mountains beyond and raved about it.


We were staying in the stunning Artina Villa in Keri Lake, where the wedding reception was to be held. I literally can’t rave about this villa enough. It’s pure luxury. Everything from the interiors, the rain showers, the attentive owners who oudlnt do enough for us, the stocked fridge when we arrived and (of course) the infinity pool was perfect! We enjoyed an extremely relaxing 4 days prior to our big day by the pool, trying to avoid getting sunburnt of course!

We arrived on the Tuesday morning and we had groups of friends and family arriving every day leading up to the wedding. The village Keri is tiny too with not much of a tourist scene so with 50 guests staying in and around the village we bumped into people every day!  I can thoroughly recommend a wedding week as opposed to just a day! Our days in the lead up were packed with meeting up with our loved ones, hugs, meals out and general love and happiness had by all. What could be better than a giant holiday with everyone you love?! It was perfect.

xox