A Colorful, Intimate Wedding in Greece Overlooking the Aegean Sea
While studying to be an OB-GYN in London in 2007, Natasja met one of the new neighbors in her apartment building: Rob, who had just moved to the city for his job. "We became friends, and slowly more," says Natasja, and nearly a decade later Rob proposed on a trip to Finland. "I had surprised Rob with a trip to see the Northern Lights for his 30th birthday," says Natasja. "Unbeknownst to me, he had also planned a surprise to rival mine. He got down on one knee in -20 degree Celsius conditions, while carefully avoiding dropping the ring in the snow! It was completely unexpected, but entirely wonderful."
The couple had stayed at Fanari Villas in Santorini, Greece, on a trip years before getting engaged and joked about tying the knot there, so when they began making official wedding plans, they knew where to start. "Our family and friends are all spread far and wide across the world, and we knew that travel would always be a part of any wedding we planned," says Natasja. "It's a beautiful venue with unparalleled views and warm, accommodating staff, as well as a restaurant with delicious food."
Nearly a year later, Natasja and Rob exchanged vows in front of just 30 guests—who flew in from eight different countries—on a terrace overlooking the Aegean Sea. They treated their loved ones to a welcome dinner the night before and a private sailboat charter the morning after the wedding, allowing themselves plenty of time to celebrate with their guests. "All three days were unforgettable," says Natasja, "and filled with lighthearted fun and laughter."
The couple worked with Tie the Knot Santorini to create an event that was "botanical, natural, and elegant. We wanted something that would match harmoniously with the Santorini architecture and vistas," says Natasja, adding that much of the décor revolved around her favorite color and flower: lavender.
"The Mediterranean theme developed naturally as we wanted to reflect the ceremony's breathtaking location overlooking the Aegean Sea, while naturally complementing the glorious architecture," she adds.
Dressed with Success
On her second shopping trip to a local bridal boutique, Natasja came across a beaded fit-and-flare Hayley Paige wedding dress with spaghetti straps and a sweetheart neckline. "I loved the intricate yet subtle pattern in the fabric as well as the fitted form," says Natasja. But a few weeks before the wedding, she received some upsetting news: "We were informed that the bridal store had gone out of business without paying the dressmakers—a nightmare!" says Natasja. "Thankfully, disaster was averted with a bit of luck, some quick thinking by my now-husband, and the assistance of the designer."
A Perfect Pair
Beauty in Bloom
Her bouquet pulled together all the shades of the color palette with blooms and foliage in a variety of shapes and shades. "I asked for a mix of pastel colors: peaches, purples, and blues," says Natasja. "I couldn't be happier with what Betty Flowers created. The bouquet included different roses, wildflowers, thistle, and lavender itself—absolutely gorgeous."
Their First Look
Natasja and Rob met for their first look outside a small chapel with sweeping views of the Aegean Sea and surrounding cliffs. "The first look was magical," says Natasja. "After preparing so much over the preceding year, we were now back together and ready to take on the day—and our unfolding journey of marriage—as a strong partnership. All anxiety disappeared and we focused on remembering every detail of the unfolding celebrations. Rob shed a tear!"
Lots of Style
In honor of Natasja's Belgian roots, Rob chose a gray-and-blue patterned suit from Scabal with a personal touch: He had the couple's wedding date embroidered under the collar of his jacket.
Frame of Reference
A trio of wooden rectangles covered in creeping arrangements of foliage and flowers created a focal point for the couple's ceremony. "We were keen to have an alternative shape to the altar," says Natasja. "The wooden frames were a wonderful mix of natural, elegant, and yet very modern looking. This combined with the lemon trees lining the aisle contributed to a unique and beautiful setting."
The couple suggested a comfortable, casual dress code for their guests, and gave their bridal party the same directions. "With family and friends from different countries—Belgium, the U.K., the Netherlands, the United States, and Singapore—it would have been impossible to meet up and align fully, but the differing styles ended up matching well," says Natasja. Rob's groomsmen wore gray suits with ties that mirrored his, while his two groomswomen wore blue-gray dresses. Each of Natasja's bridesmaids carried a single blue hydrangea in lieu of a full bouquet.
Saying "I Do"
Natasja's father walked her down the aisle to meet Rob for the couple's ceremony, which included a blessing from the groom's mother. "We wrote our own vows, and tried to be simple, complicated, and heartfelt," says Natasja, "reflecting both our personalities, sharing what we find most meaningful about each other and our relationship."
Guests showered the newlyweds in petals as they left the altar. "Despite being a small wedding, our guests flew into Santorini from eight different countries to be with us," says Natasja. "We have both lived in different countries and have friends all over the world, and we were so touched that so many of them were able to be with us."
A Private Moment
After saying hello to their guests at the cocktail hour, Natasja and Rob snuck away for a few newlywed portraits at the venue. "Your wedding day belongs to you as a couple, and it should be filled with elements that bring joy to you both," says Natasja. "If you surround yourself with people who love and support you, there will be nothing to do on the day itself but relax, smile, and take it all in."
Dinner Al Fresco
Guests sat at wooden tables draped with gauzy runners in pastel shades. The open space offered endless views of the sunset—one of the couple's favorite parts of the day. "Catching our family and friends admiring the sunset with smiles on their faces was a true highlight," says Natasja. "The delight of our guests merged perfectly with the elegance of the wedding styling and the beauty of the natural world."
Vibrant green foliage set off brightly-colored flowers in shades of purple, peach, yellow, and blue, and coordinated with rainbow glassware at the place settings. "We both love nature and greenery in particular, and I am a big fan of color!" says Natasja, who also included kumquats in the table design.
Each place setting included a draped, printed menu secured between a white plate and a glass charger. Lemons held guests' place cards, while purple-and-white striped napkins added a lively accent.
On the Menu
The location's on-site restaurant provided a menu of sautéed shrimp with mint butter in orange sauce; Santorinian tomato salad; and an entrée choice of lamb confit marinated in rosemary and ginger or cod filet with sepia ink tagliatelle.
Alexandra's Cakes provided a naked lemon layer cake. "We wanted something understated but delicious," says Natasja, "reflecting the natural world in its decoration. I'm a keen amateur baker, and neither of us are big fans of fondant, so a cake that focused on taste was very important."
Natasja and Rob also offered a display of colorful frosted donuts and plates of rich chocolate brownies as part of their dessert menu.
For their first dance, the newlyweds chose "Your Smiling Face" by James Taylor. "Rob has said that my smile is one of the things that he loves most about me and that the lyrics represent his feelings," says Natasja. "It's also just a beautiful, happy, upbeat song that brings us both joy!"
Photography, Elias Kordelakos
Venue and Catering, Fanari Villas
Event Planning, Coordination, Design, and Styling, Tie the Knot Santorini
Flowers, Betty Flowers
Videography, Alex Stabasopoulos
Officiant, John Kavallaris
Stationery, Chibi Joey (invitation); Joanne Raptis (invitation cartoon); Bright White (menus)
Cake, Alexandra's Cakes
Bride's Gown, Hayley Paige
Bride's Accessories, Grace Loves Lace veil; Daisy earrings; Jimmy Choo shoes
Hair, Marianna Nomikou
Makeup, Renia Bledaki
Groom's Suit, Scabal
Groom's Shoes, Crockett & Jones
Rings, Ingle & Rhode
Music, Multimedia Events in Santorini (DJ, sound, and light); Fos Productions (live music)
Rentals, Weddings & Whimsy, Spicy Bites Catering, Mario Catering