It was about 20 years ago when Donna Palimeri moved to Kefalonia as a Thomson Holiday Rep. It seems that her destiny was to live much more than few summers there, as she eventually got married to a local and created a beautiful family together. Now, she is preparing other people's wedding, as she works as a wedding planner for the last few years.
How long have you been working as a wedding planner?
I have been in business as a wedding planner for six years now and still relishing every minute. It all started when my friend came over to get married with one of the holiday companies, as they were the only ones doing it at the time. She had the usual basic wedding that they offered but asked me to arrange her reception. I managed to do this and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. This gave me food for thought and I decided to find out more about what was required to get married in Greece. It took me over a year to prepare all the details needed for my web site and register the company to make it all legal!
Which are the most popular wedding spots in Kefalonia? What's your favorite?
The most popular wedding venue in Kefalonia has got to be Skala and the neighbouring village of Katelios. I think this is due to several reasons: the long beach where you can enjoy water sports, sun beds and umbrellas if you wish or walk further along for complete seclusion. Also Skala has a huge range of places where you can stay from five-star hotels and villas to studios and apartments. This is helpful for the couples getting married so they are able to suggest a variety of places for their guests with different holiday budgets. Skala also has many taverns, bars and mini markets, making it easy for the guests to be able to eat out, without the wedding couple worrying that there is nothing on offer. The wedding couple feel honoured that so many guests join them for their special day, so they feel almost responsible that their guests have a great holiday too, as well as wedding day. Kefalonia is such an easy place to relax in and soak up the Greek atmosphere, without really any effort at all.
I think Skala is also my favourite place, as this is where I originally came in 1987 when I was positioned there as a Thomson Holiday Rep. A lot of the hotel owners, shop and taverna owners are still the same, so I have known them for over 20 years now- we're nearly family! They are pleased to see my business doing well, as they have watched me grow up, get married to a Kefalonian and have 3 children before their very eyes!
Which is the busiest season to get married in Kefalonia?
As Kefalonia is only a seasonal island (May to October), all weddings take place during the summer months. May is lovely if you don't want it too hot and like the Spring wild flowers. June is the most popular month, as the weather is more settled, quite hot but still not too hot and the children are still at school so it is still relatively quiet. July is a slightly quieter month, but good for couples looking for the heat. August is the most popular month for couples getting married for a second time around, as they usually have children from their previous marriages so need to come during the school holidays. It is hot and there are lots of Greeks and Italians on the island, but as the island is so big it can still copes well. September is another popular month for the same reasons as June, out of the high season, good weather and no school children! October is like May, cooler weather, the island is quieter and moving at a slower place. If you are restricted to special dates (work or school holidays), then it is best to book a year in advance.
Of which nationality are usually people who come to get married in Kefalonia?
The majority of my couples are from the UK but I am pleased to also work with Greek couples who live abroad. It is very easy for UK couples to get to Kefalonia as there are 4 flight days from most of the major UK airports. Greeks that live outside of Greece, love to come to the island with their families and friends, to share in the Kefalonia wedding magic. They can enjoy their honeymoons and share some lovely family get-togethers, that normally they may not be able to experience.
Can you suggest some ideas to make a wedding special? What should people have in mind when they are planning their wedding on this island?
Just coming abroad to get married is a very special event in itself, but you can always add to this to make it a wedding that your family and friends will remember for years to come. I believe that as the couple have chosen Greece, they should try and keep some of the traditional Greek elements if they can like: a Greek bouzouki band playing at their reception, with traditional dancers getting them up to dance and plate smashing can't be missed either. Another very Greek wedding tradition are the wedding favours or bombonieres (sugared almonds). These are made by hand on Kefalonia and look lovely as either table decorations or given out by the couple’s bridesmaids.
Being an island a boat trip is always something special too, how perfect sipping your champagne with the sea breeze in your hair?
Getting married abroad does need some consideration before taking the plunge. Couples should take into consideration that maybe not all the guests they invite will be able to come, even though they may really want them there. Granny may not be able to fly, the bride's best friend could have just discovered that she is pregnant, the best man can't get time off work and the groom's favourite cousin just can't afford to go away. Nevertheless this is the wedding that the bride has always dreamt of, so if they do decide to get married abroad, then why not have a big Greek reception when they get back - for all those that didn't make it to Kefalonia? The couple could decorate the tables with postcards, mini Greek flags and Kefalonian souvenirs. There could be olives, feta cheese and tzatziki on the buffet table, ouzo available at the bar, Greek music playing and a slide show of their wedding photographs playing on the back wall. Then the couple have had their amazing Greek wedding and those who couldn't make the journey can enjoy the Greek event in England!
How long in total should the couples stay in Kefalonia for their wedding ceremony?
Legally the couple should be at least 8 days on Kefalonia before they get married, so that their wedding banns are published in the local Kefalonia newspaper. The couple don't need to worry about organising this, as this is all part of the service I provide. So the couple need to book a 2 week holiday, though the guests only need to book 1, the second week, the wedding week. However, many come for 2 weeks anyway and really who can blame them?!