Wedding Wisdom

When I got engaged in August 2016 I was living in Los Angeles, CA and the first place I went to try on wedding dresses was Monique Lhuillier in Beverly Hills. My mother was with me and we found my dream dress, it was stunning. It was also over $6,000.

Let’s go back a minute.
I was living in Los Angeles at the time because I was doing volunteer work for a Pro-Life Organization called Volunteers for Life. Volunteering- meaning I made $0.00 per hour. Meaning I had just graduated from college the year before so its not like I had some secret dough stashed away. Meaning I was only able to live in L.A. because I lived with the sisters that ran the organization.

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So here I am, broke, newly engaged, and in love with a designer dress I tried on in Beverly Hills.

Can you believe when we left the store I still thought, “You only get married once, I’m sure dad will buy me the dress.”  L O L That thought lasted about a day until I realized how RIDICULOUS it was to drop six grand on a dress. I am writing this because weddings have gotten to the point of straight gluttony and pride. Brides are only preparing for a wedding not a marriage. (too harsh?) Well, the first five months of my engagement I didn’t care at all about spiritual preparation, it was all about planning the physical wedding. Dress, reception venue, decorations, color scheme, floral arrangements, bridal party.   Thankfully the Catholic Church required my groom and I do prepare spiritually, but what if they didnt? Would we have actually taken the time to prepare on our own?

When my fiancé and I began our spiritual marriage prep in December it was such a burden. We were long distance so we had to take online classes while on the phone with one another. On top of having a full time job and planning the ceremony and reception,  I now had to make time to prepare my heart… is that really necessary? Sadly enough my fiance and I both asked ourselves and each other this question more than once.  We fought during a few of the classes because of our disagreements on certain issues. Apparently we didn’t know each other quite as well as we thought…

I started to spend more time in adoration, asking God to prepare me to be a holy wife. Once these prayers became daily, I started to care less and less about the physical wedding and reception. The last three months of planning I told our wedding planner to do whatever my mother wanted, I honestly didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to be married to the man of my dreams, in the Catholic Church surrounded by my loved ones. I just wanted a marriage.

I am so sure, along with the many other moral issues, that marriage has become meaningless to our culture. But weddings, weddings on the other hand are so very important, because this is when we get to show off, play dress up, and soak up all the attention, right? Do we not understand that the “wedding” part last one day but the “marriage” part lasts 80 years? I don’t think we do, because how does it make any sense to prepare months on end for the wedding but not give second thought to the marriage? It doesn’t. The town I am from and was getting married in has a local magazine that publishes pictures from only the most envious of weddings. Apparently its every local girls goal to be featured, when I heard about this I couldn’t help but laugh. Wait, why do you even care?! Why is the goal of our weddings to be the biggest, most expensive, most unique, most lavish? What about, I don’t know, having the goal of a beautiful, admirable marriage? Thank you Lord for those marriage preparation classes and thank you Lord for truth, truth that all that matters is my husband and I being united to You.

If you have continued reading this far you probably think I am full of negativity. I am not saying weddings are bad, you can’t have a marriage without a wedding. April 8th was the best day of my life, my husband and I wish we could live this day over again because it was so joyful. Weddings are beautiful and when the Lord is the center they are Holy. Our wedding day was not something “bad”.  I am simply saying our MARRIAGE is far more worthy of the months we spent on stressing about the wedding. Because after the fancy to-do, after the gifts are all opened, after the honeymoon is over, after your Facebook friends are over liking your wedding photos, its just you and your husband. You and your marriage, and any married couple will tell you that this is much more important and worthy of preparation than that one special day.

May God give us all the grace and wisdom to let go of the meaningless, the desire to be envied, and may He bless not only your special day but your many, many special days united in marriage.

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S A N T O R I N I pt 2

SAILING

I had two favorite days of our time in Santorini. One was when we found the cliff jumping spot at Ammoundi Bay, which I covered in my first blog post SANTORINI Part 1! Check it out, if you haven’t yet! My other favorite day was sailing with Spiridakos. Spiridakos is a sailing company in Santorini, their office is actually in the Old Port, which I also explained in Part 1. If you do decide to sail with Spiridakos be sure to book in person if possible, if you go into their office and say you are interested they will give you a discount compared to the online price!

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I loved this adventure of sailing around the island! The sailing cruises have a morning sail, or sunset sail. Usually I would have picked to sail during the sunset but it was so chilly at night I knew it would be miserable, so we picked the morning cruise and hoped for a sunny day! Which we got! The van picked us up at our hotel around 10am and brought us to our Catamaran. The crew was so kind and fun, I loved getting to know the gals taking care of us. I asked for a business card with their names and it says ” Crew: Stathis & Almeda 201″. So if you do book, ask for this crew, they were lovely!  Our boat had 5 other guests aboard, so only seven total, besides crew. I loved that it was small and intimate, during lunch we all swapped stories and shared our experience in Santorini.

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The boat sailed around the white beach, red beach, and to the “hot springs”… do not let anyone fool you, the “hot springs” from the Volcano have not been hot for a longgggg time. They are warm springs, someonepeedinthewaterwarm, springs. We were warned about this but still decided to take the icy plunge to swim to them. I jumped off the boat, immediately turned around and swam to climb back in the boat. It was that cold. I climbed back on but ended up jumping back in because FOMO. If you do visit the warm springs be sure to wear black or dark color swimsuit because the water is brown and filled with sulfur, it will stain. After the springs we sailed around some more, the views were just amazing. The sail boat also stops at a few other beaches for guests to swim, but it was so cold only one person swam, yep, this crazy dude. Which is baffling to me because he complains about the Puerto Rico’s Caribbean Sea being cold…?

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Views from our sail were ridiculous.

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HOLY WEEK

Our wedding day was April 8th, a week before Easter, so our honeymoon was during Holy Week. I loved that we experienced Greece during Holy Week, those Greek Orthodox do it up y’all. Midnight hour of Good Friday boat horns sounded for five minutes straight. Our hotel room being on a cliff over the sea, it was REAL loud, Carson jumped out of bed thinking we were under a Tsunami warning. He called the front desk and their explanation was ” It is a Holy Day.” Oh, right, normal. That night we were on our way back from Oia heading towards our hotel. This was our view on the drive back, the town of Pyrgos. 

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Bad picture quality but no picture will do it justice.

The city was in flames. It was amazing, all of the town’s buildings have tin can looking torches around the perimeter of the roofs. So on special occasions, like Good Friday, they light up their city.

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We hadn’t eaten dinner yet and looked for a place here but everything was packed, we tried four different places and no one had room. We were so hungry but couldn’t leave this incredible scene. So we hopped into the convince store, grabbed a large bag of chips and a bottle of wine. #classy
We definitely got stares, two white kids eating chips and drinking wine out of the bottle, Americans…
It honestly felt like we were in ancient Greece or something, walking through the stone streets, with old homes built upon one another. So many hidden walkways with gates and doors, it was an experience like any other I have ever had or probably ever will.The fact that it was all in celebration of Jesus made it that much more amazing. People were everywhere in the streets, police were directing traffic, it was organized chaos and I’m so happy we were there to be apart of it.

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CATHEDRAL

I believe there are only two Catholic churches in Santorini and around 500 Greek Orthodox churches, no exaggeration. For such a small place I wouldn’t think it would be hard to find the Catholic Church but NO ONE seemed to know where it was. Every local we asked (hotel staff, restaurant staff, bystanders) all gave different answers, a few were even offended we asked them! Like I said, Greek Orthodox don’t play. Thankfully we did find St. John the Baptist Catholic Cathedral, located in the Old Port, our favorite hangout spot! I talked about the church (and the Dominican Monastery next door) in my previous post- SANTORINI pt 1. I wanted to share a few photos of the cathedral, as well as some advice. We went to the church everyday during Holy Week to find out when mass was, the mass times online were wrong, which made us miss mass on Holy Thursday :(. The church is not open regularly, the hours were odd and we seemed to always find it closed when we tried to visit. Luckily we made it to Easter mass! The monastery door has mass times posted but it is only in Greek. I would suggest taking a photo and having a local translate for you!

Directions to St. John the Baptist: The best entrance to take is the pathway left of “Nick the Grill” at the old port, once at the top of the path take a right and follow the signs directing towards the cathedral. After this right you will go straight and take one left (after a souvenir shop) it is a narrow path that leads you to the church and monastery!

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Favorite Restaurant & Bakery

I am super white and pretty much only like American food, but my hubs has a more refined palate. The best restaurant we went to that made us both happy was Remvi, located in Firostefani. The server was very sweet, she was from Athens and gave us a table with a perfect view of the sunset. I can’t even remember what we had as an entree but this was my favorite dining experience!

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I ordered dessert as an appetizer because thats me and when she brought it out she said to Carson, “Hormones” and nodded towards me.

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It was AMAZING, I can’t even look at the picture. Withdrawals.
Also this pic features Carson’s favorite greek beer, Fix. It was a winner in his book.

My other restaurant recommendation would be the one at our hotel, Petit Palace, we loved the platter of bread with different dips. (can you tell I have no idea what it was called?)

My favorite favorite favorite though was the bakery right by our hotel. One night after our rental car had already been returned we were jet lagged and so hungry, I had remembered seeing a 24 hour restaurant near by so we decided to walk to it. Well, it was a bakery and it was amazing. Im just glad we didn’t discover it until the end of our trip because I could eat it all for every meal. I wish I knew the name of this place but I can’t find it on google maps. BUT if you have your back to petit palace, it is about a quarter mile to the left, on the right hand side. 24 hour bakery. You’re welcome.

Overall, I would highly recommend Santorini for a vacation, especially a honeymoon. There were definitely things about the island I didn’t expect, like there are half way built buildings everywhere, it looks like they were in the middle of construction and just ran out of money. Which is exactly what happened…Greece doesn’t have the best economy and Santorini really relies on tourism to keep up and running. I was happy to support small local business’ and I loved that there were no chain restaurants or stores on the island expect for one small McDonald and Sephora. It really is a unique place with its own personality. I am forever grateful we were able to celebrate our marriage here!

Thanks for reading, if you plan on going to Santorini soon, contact me! I would be more than happy to hear from you!

Thank You! Follow my daily posts on Instagram: @catholicwifetravels

S A N T O R I N I pt 1

I recently got married to a handsome dude and he took me to Greece for our honeymoon.  Not just Greece but the most beautiful island of Greece (can i say that even though I’ve only been to one island?) – Santorini. This place is so romantic, and I felt like I was in a movie the whole trip. I do have to admit we slept a lot on this trip, taking away from exploring time but after planning a wedding, getting married, and flying around the world…ya just gotta sleep.

ACCOMODATIONS

Santorini only has one commercial airport and its tiny. We hadn’t arranged any transportation to our hotel, which was fine because it was really easy to get a taxi, they are outside the airport and there is a kiosk near the exit that has vans and taxis. We finally arrived at our hotel at about 2pm, we were SO ready for a shower and to sleep 12 hours.

This picture is where our taxi driver dropped us off. (yo, where the hotel at?)

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Ohhhhhhhhh baby

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We step through the doors and this is our view. Blown Away.

P E T I T    P A L A C E

I am a hospitality major (hotel person) so I usually have higher expectations than the usual middle class gal. I worked at a Waldorf Astoria in college and now i seem to expect even the Holiday Inn to treat me like a VIP. That being said, right after I took this picture, we were about to walk down the steps to find the check in when a pretty little lady came towards us and welcomed us in her grecian accent. Nefeli, now my favorite greek, took our bags and asked us to follow her. I figured she was showing us to the “lobby” (a small room that could fit four people without luggage) but she passed this little room and took us to the deck where sofas and lounge chairs were waiting for us. Then a waiter brought us some sangria and cool towels for our necks. My husband and I just looked at each other and giggled mouthing “what the hell” because we couldn’t believe we were even allowed in a place this fancy. Nefeli then took our passports went to check us in, while we sat gaping at this view drinking our sangria. Maybe my expectations are not as high as I thought because I was pretty blown away by the service they provided. We were escorted to our room to find they had lit candles and left rose pedals on the floor and bed with a basket of fruit. I could dig it.

Our stay at Petit Palace was exceptional, the staff actually care and are great at their job. If you stay here, make sure you tell Nefeli I miss her.

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Not looking to splurge while you’re in Santorini? Then cancel your trip. Just kidding, but  you probably won’t be able to stay somewhere like the palace. We saw a lot of hotels/motels on the island that didn’t look too pricey. I would recommend looking near Perissa for a cheaper option. I also saw a few signs for campsites!

TRANSPORTATION

When planning a trip to Santorini be sure to include the cost of renting a car, or scooter. Taxis are expensive, renting is much cheaper! Transportation is a must! We rented a car, a scooter, and an ATV throughout our week stay. If you go during the cooler months and can afford it, rent a car! It is freezing driving around on the ATV/Scooter in the cold months. We visited in April and were always cold, (we packed for summer weather). If you are on the island during warmer months, go for the scooter or ATV, so much fun! We made the mistake of renting transportation through our hotel, it was almost twice as much this way. Look up rentals near you (they are everywhere) and order directly, they will deliver right to your hotel!

EXPLORE

The island has a few different towns, the fancy town with the expensive hotels is called Oia. Oia was great but I’m glad our hotel was not here because we fell in love with Fira and everything was way expensive in Oia. Even if you do not stay in Oia, be sure to visit. The town is famous for their sunsets but honestly the sunsets are amazing from anywhere.

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This was the sunset from our hotel room ( in Fira not the famous Oia ) the first night we arrived! Amazing! So, you don’t have to be in Oia for an amazing sunset but you do have to visit to see Ammoundi Bay!

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We walked down the 200 steps to get to the port, and right at the top of the stairs you pass the house that was featured in “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”! We took so many pictures on this walk down! There are donkeys here and also at the old port near the cable cars to give you a lift up and down. We were going to ride them until we saw how scared they were of their owners and felt bad, so we walked UP too. Whew.

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Once you arrive down at the bay its beautiful! To be honest I don’t recommend any of the restaurants down here, one night we had dinner at the Sunset Taverna and didn’t think it was worth the money, service was not good either. Just tourist traps I believe! Walking around in this area is so fun though because of all the sights! Like this dude, fresh out of the bay, still drippin’:

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My husband and I love a good adventure and we had heard about cliff jumping at Ammoundi Bay but didnt see a place that it was even possible. So we did a little research and found this secret gem.

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My husband took the FREEZING plunge into the Aegean Sea. I hung out on shore with the family we met from Jersey. To get to the actual “cliff” part you have to swim around the left of this rock and climb up over there. You will see a small white church! They are everywhere in Santorini, even on this uninhabited rock/island/cliff! If you are going to be in Greece during the warmer months, this is a must! Unless your my husband or from Jersey, I wouldn’t recommend this during the cold season because well, its miserably cold. Thank God the sun was out for those brave souls!

Directions to get to this rock/island/cliff:

Walk past the last restaurant towards the rocks ( I think Sunset Taverna is the last one) you literally have to walk through the restaurant to get to the path. Follow the rocky path around and you will see the cliff jumping spot pictured above!

Ammoundi Bay was definitely one of our trip highlights! Thanks Oia!

The town our hotel was located is called Fira, the “old port” is here which has the cable cars, it also has lots of shops and restaurants. This is where we spent most of our time. Firstly because my husband was obsessed with a gyro place at the old port called “Nick the Grill”. They knew our names by the time we left…they are cheap and fast! Secondly, because this is where the Catholic Church was and since we were visiting during Holy Week, we were there often! There are also Dominican Sisters that live right next to the church, they are cloistered nuns. If you are not familiar with this term it means that the nuns do not interact with the outside world, they devote their life to meditation and prayer for the world. They devote their lives to praying for us, because that is what God has called them to, can you imagine! How beautiful their faith is! After Easter mass the priest invited us to the monastery to listen to the sisters sing, it was wonderful! And Thirdly the reason we spent so much time at the Old Port was because there are SO many shops: winding up the sidewalks, gyro in one hand, frozen yogurt in the other, it was a dream! I have a few recommendations at the Old Port:
//Nick the Grill
// Cremalatto- best latte ever!
// Bayiatiko Food Bar- nutella crepe!
// Home Made (tourist shop right across from Cremalatto)- they have the cheapest souvenirs!
// Handmade Leather Sandals ( on the way to the cable car)- this greek gentleman made me some custom sandals for my feet! He makes the shoes right there in his little workshop.

S A N T O R I N I  pt2  I will cover other towns we explored, our experience with visiting during Holy Week, our favorite restaurants and our sailing experience! Check it out.// Thanks for reading! // Comment and follow me on Insta @catholicwifetravels //