Meet Stephen and Elinor, the couple from New Zealand who hit the road, travelled to Europe and ended up getting married in Santorini. #MyTravelLoveStory
And so the adventure began
We’ve been together since 7 April 2014, so nearing five years. We were both invited to a dinner by friends who used to live in the same hometown.
Nearly two years later, the proposal happened! We were having a picnic beside Lake Dunstan in Cromwell, Central Otago, New Zealand.
The years went by and we caught the travel bug
We had been itching to go overseas for a while. We were hoping for about three months in total.
We looked into all our options for how we could cover as much ground as possible.
Everything we looked at seemed like it would be a lot of effort to organise. Plus trains, rental car, accommodation etc were all really expensive.
We considered other options and stumbled across Topdeck – all our problems were solved!
In May 2018 we jetted off for Topdeck’s Mega European trip.
We were in Mykonos and just happened to have a general conversation with some of the tour group about our situation and if we had ever thought of eloping overseas.
We said that we had, and that it would really suit us!
After some secret meetings by our tour group, we were told that we would be eloping in Santorini in a couple of days’ time!
We went ahead with their plans (we didn’t end up having to organise anything!) and started ironing out the final details.
Seeing as we decided to do this all last minute, it was a busy morning in Mykonos trying to find the perfect dress for Elinor that would match both our personalities and the local culture.
We came across a small shop that sold beautiful linen clothing. We left with a dress and then went searching for an outfit for Stephen. After looking around, we ended up back at the same shop!
Above: Stephen and Elinor with Topdeck Driver Gabriel and Trip Leader Mel. Photos supplied by Ancia Wend Photography.
The theme for the wedding was blue and white so Stephen found the perfect blue shirt and off-white shorts.
As you could imagine, jewellery was abundant and it didn’t take us long to find some gorgeous pieces to finish off the look.
After arriving in Santorini the hunt was on for a venue.
Mel, our amazing Tour Leader, found an incredible bar/restaurant overlooking the sea called Franco’s.
Sheila, our celebrant, became ordained online in her home country Canada, just so that she could officiate the ceremony.
The night before the wedding, we had the stag and hen parties.
We did a boys vs. girls challenge of who could complete a list of activities the quickest.
As Stephen’s T-shirt said: ‘What happens in Santorini stays in Santorini!’
Then, the big day was here!
Elinor was at a hotel getting ready with her bridal team and Stephen was just relaxing back at the camp where we were staying.
Stephen and the rest of the tour group walked down to the venue while Elinor was on her way from the hotel.
Stephen was waiting at the bottom of a huge staircase for Elinor to arrive.
To the song ‘Wonderful Tonight’, Elinor made her way down the aisle/stairs chaperoned by our coach driver Gabriel!
And there we both were overlooking the beautiful sea, exchanging our vows. It was a moment we’ll never forget.
We then had a beautiful ‘reception’. The sun was setting on the horizon which made the colours and the view incredible.
Everyone just stopped and watched the sun set for 20 minutes!
Speeches were said by the best man (James) and maid of honor (Mel) before we cut the cake, enjoyed some amazing food and danced the night away in traditional Greek fashion!
There are no words to describe the love and dedication our group had towards organising the wedding for us.
Everyone was involved in some way and we had amazingly talented people who helped out with hair, make-up and photography (just to name a few!).
All of the group were present at the wedding, along with a few locals who were at the bar.
But the biggest surprise came during the speeches in the reception when Mel took out her phone and sat us both down.
Both of our families had recorded videos wishing us all the best and sending their love from back home in New Zealand.
It brought us both to tears (along with most of the group).
It was such a thoughtful gesture for Mel to organise all of that with limited time and working around timezones.
We’ll never forget this special moment in our lives.
Photos supplied by Ancia Wend Photography.
Want more travel inspiration? Why Travel Friendships Matter: 6 Inspirational Stories and Why I Quit My Job Of 8 Years To Go Travelling are the blogs for you.
Why not share your #MyTravelLoveStory in the comments?