Zakynthos (Zante) is an ideal island to get married at…

The beautiful sceneries, crystal clear waters and the unparalleled friendliness of the locals makes it the place for an unforgettable destination wedding. Direct flights every day from all major UK and Irish airports as well as other European countries make it easily accessible.

I think the decision to get married abroad fills one with many emotions such as excitement and adventure. And of course with many questions: Is it doable? Can we afford it? Will the marriage certificates be valid at home? Will it be stressful? How can I find all the wedding vendors abroad?
Thankfully with the internet everything has become so much easier, there is information and detailed reviews from past couples available everywhere. There are facebook pages, contact forms, telephone numbers, videos, photographs, Skype addresses, Google maps… you name it.
I would have always thought that most couples would have been to Zante on holiday before and then thought about getting married here. But the reality seems different. It never fails to surprise me when I ask couples whether they have been here before and they say no, they haven’t. But then again, thanks in large part to the efforts of my brilliant friend Frances from www.zanteweddings.com who travels to many wedding shows abroad each year to advertise Zante as a wedding destination, and the information available online, distances become so small that they are negligible.

So let me tell you a few things about my adopted home of Zante, where my beautiful wife Spiridoula, the co-owner of our photography studio, is from. I have been living here now for over ten years, and I used to come here since I was very young, first on holidays to visit a friend, and then to work during the summer breaks from university in Scotland.

Zante is an absolutely magnificently beautiful island. It offers everything: beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, lovely mountainsides, historic monuments, bustling tourist resorts with fabulous bars, restaurants and night clubs, quiet corners with gorgeous stone villas and lush green sceneries. The locals are super friendly, and while I love Spain, Turkey and Italy, too, I think nowhere is as friendly as Greece. Especially child friendly. We Greeks love children.
We love to be together, tell stories, gossip, eat, drink, be loud and have a good time. If you have ever seen ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’, it’s all true.

I have compiled a small list of things to do in Zante to get you started.
The recommendations below are all tested by myself and my wife and reflect personal preferences.
If you love finding out things about the places you go, this list may be a good place to start.
Feel free to comment or ask questions below.

WHERE CAN I GET MARRIED?
In Zakynthos you can get married in a variety of locations. On the beach, overlooking the Ionian sea, in a private garden, in the Catholic church or in an Orthodox church.

IS IT EASY TO GET MARRIED IN GREECE?
Yes! Not much more to do than getting married in your home country. Google ‘documents needed for wedding in greece’ and a lot of pages will give you the relevant info, or ask your wedding planner of course.

DO I NEED A WEDDING PLANNER?
I would say yes because a wedding planner can make your event stress free and make sure everything goes as planned during your big day. They can also probably save you money, as they get the best deals from tried and tested wedding vendors. I wholeheartedly endorse Matt & Lisa Burton from UK-based The Bridal Consultans (http://www.thebridalconsultants.com/ ) and local-based Frances from www.zanteweddings.com , who I have been working with for many years and hundreds of weddings.

THINGS TO DO:

Getting here:
Ask your local travel agent for charter flights and inclusive packages. EasyJet flies directly from London. Olympic Air flies directly from Athens. Ryanair directly from Brussels.
You can take the ferry from Kyllini on the mainland, or the KTEL coach from the central bus stations in Athens or Patras.

Our favourite Zakynthos (Zante) restaurants and tavernas:
Two of our favorite tavernas are in our home village of Alykes. Anatolikos is perfectly located in front of the beach. Our friends, the owners Olga and Spyros with their two sons, have been cooking up home made meals for many years that we enjoy on a lot of summer nights ourselves. We actually got married there in a self-planned civil wedding ceremony in this beautiful spot in 2008.
To Paradosiako is located by the river of Alykes in a lovely environment. The owner George and his family make sure each visit is remembered because of its great Greek food and fabulous service. Because of its good name, this place is full every night, so waiting times of 5-10 minutes are not uncommon in the height of each season.
In the mountain village of Koiliomenos, there exists a little hidden gem of a place. It is called Ampelostrates (  http://www.ampelostrates.com/) and is owned by Antonis, a real genuine character, his wife, the artist Mika and their two sons. The food consists mostly of mezedes made with fresh organic produce, and the fabulous red and white wine as well as Tsipouro is also Antonis’s own. In the summer you can go horse riding on one of the farm’s three horses and discover unknown places in the mountains of Zakynthos with amazing views.
Zakynthos town also has a variety of good tavernas. And our hangout just down the road from our studio, “34”, which is an alternative, not touristy, bar and cafe, where the owner’s mum cooks every day.

Favorite bars in Zakynthos (Zante):
The Iris Bar in Alykes has been operating for over 25 years now. Our friends Tina and Nikos and their two children, as well as the fifth family member Chris make sure you have a fab, relaxing time in their lush gardens and bar.
The Kalyva Bar in Tsilivi is also one of these older Zante institutions. Yiannis and co. will make your stay unforgettable and you can either enjoy the lively bar or relax in the beautiful green gardens.
The Kafeneio, Laganas. This is a quiant alternative bar with rock music and mostly locals who hang out here. We often go there in the wee hours of the morning.

Sights in Zakynthos (Zante)
To see the famous shipwreck, we actually prefer the great views from the platform above to the busy boat trips. The platform is located close to the village of Anafonitria and the the road starts leading there starts just after the monastery of St George.
At Bohali hill, overlooking Zante town, amazing panoramic views can be enjoyed while sitting in one of the many open air cafes or tavernas which feature live traditional Zakynthian folk music.
The Jewish cemetery is a less known historical attraction, but a very important one nonetheless. Today Zakynthos no longer has a Jewish community, but one may visit the cemetery, which is situated in the Rouveli area, and includes gravestones of great historic importance. During the Nazi Occupation, the Germans asked from the Mayor of the island and from the Metropolitan Bishop, to hand them over a listing of all the Jews of the island. Thanks to the firm refusal of these two men, the Jews were protected, hiding in the distant villages of the island. In an expression of gratitude, the Jews of Greece built a monument in memory of these two courageous men in the area of the courtyard of the old Synagogue. One can visit this monument on 44 Tertseti Street.
The Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos in Solomos Sq exhibits works in wood and wood carving, wall paintings, icons of the 15th-16th centuries and sculptures of the Hellenistic, Early Christian, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine periods.
At the Helmis Natural History Museum, another great day out with children, you have the chance to familiarise yourself with the natural heritage of the island.
Collections include exhibits from the flora and fauna of Zakynthos. The museum is situated in the village of Agia Marina in central Zakynthos

The charming park of Lofos Strani, is where it is said that Dionysius Solomos, a very well known Greek poet from Zakynthos, wrote the Hymn to Liberty. The first two stanzas, on music by Nikolaos Mantzaros, became the Greek national anthem in 1865.
When you have kids, water parks are a must. There are two: the water village in Sarakinado and the water park in tsilivi. Both are a fab day out for the whole family.
Diving is also a popular activity, with many diving centres throughout the island, most of them in Laganas Bay.
A visit to trip advisor about current bike excursions, walking tours and sightseeing is highly recommended!

Zakynthian music
The Zakynthians love music, which accompanies them in every aspect of their lives. Like all the arts, the musical heritage of Zakynthos was greatly influenced by the Venetian Rule (1484 – 1797). It is very popular here for the bride to be accompanied to church by local singers.

What most people say to us when they visit or get married here is that they want to come back very soon. In fact, it is very unusual for couples not to spend their first wedding anniversary here. Many consider Zante their ‘second home’, and try and spend their vacations at least once a year here. Please keep in mind that above recommendations are based on my personal opinions and preferences. Feel free to drop me a line or to comment on this article with any questions you may have, whether or not you’re getting married, and whether or not you need a photographer.
If you are looking for your Zante wedding photographer and want natural, emotional timeless images, contact us today!

Lukas Agelastos, co-owner of Story Studios