After a truly exhausting weekend of cleaning my house and outside areas, which I had dreadfully neglected all winter and beyond, Zoe arrived just shy of two weeks before her big wedding day! It was all go for the first few days, with appointments and last minute details to attend to. We also had a shopping day in Chania, where I finally got a pair of shoes and a bag to go with the dress I bought in the UK a year last April! I was so not personally organized for this wedding! Zoe bought her Bridesmaids gifts and toys for the three children that will attend.
On the Tuesday before the wedding, Zoe and I collected Rich from the airport and I drove them both to the apartment overlooking Almyrida Harbour, which they had previously booked for the wedding week. It was gorgeous – so clean and new and just 70 steps down to the beach. We were warmly greeted by the Greek owner and his wife who brought freshly baked Kalitsounia and shots of Honey Raki to welcome the Bride and Groom to be! If there is one word you can always say about Greek hospitality – it is ‘Superb’!
After settling Zoe and Rich in, going back to mine for hangers and adapter plugs – not to mention Zoe’s wedding dress which she forgot to pack, I later headed back to the airport to meet Emma and Ralph. Because Ash had organized a hire car before he knew he wouldn’t be able to come to Crete, I wanted to be there to help heavily pregnant Emma with Ralph and her luggage whilst she sorted out the car. I was also worried that she may not remember the way back to mine in the dark. Every single flight that arrived that week was delayed because of the annual French Air Traffic Controllers’ strike. All they do every year around this time in the Summer, is to inconvenience and take away valuable time from thousands of people’s holidays and I wonder what they gain from it? Emma’s flight was no different and we didn’t arrive home until after 1pm that night.
It was so wonderful to see my gorgeous Grandson Ralph again. He’s a real chatterbox now and such a happy little boy! Everyone wanted a piece of him and I was so grateful that Emma and Ralph were staying with me for this wedding week. We had lots of fun and quality time together – despite the unseasonal and disappointing weather we had!
Yes – the weather was a major stress because it was so cloudy, windy and humid! All week we had been checking the forecast and I have never known one like it for this time of the year – in all the years I have lived here on Crete! There were literally 5 consecutive days of threatened rain and thunderstorms with Sunday right in the middle of it all! At one stage we thought we may have to cancel the venue and the plan for the Bride, her Bridesmaids and me, to arrive by boat was inevitably shot to pieces!
Yet as everyone started arriving from the UK, we were all just so excited to be here on Crete together again, that we didn’t let the weather spoil anything. We enjoyed every moment.. dining out for lunches and dinners at many of the lovely restaurants that Almyrida has to offer visitors. We all had at least two sunny days on Almyrida beach together and another at the Langley Resort, which boasts fabulous pools and outdoor areas.
The Saturday night before the wedding we enjoyed a big family meal at Thalami restaurant in Almyrida and then Emma, Ralph and I went home to get organized for the big day. I was painting my toenails at midnight! At 11am the next morning we dropped Ralph off with Karen, Mike, Sophie, Hannah and Rob and headed to Zoe and Rich’s apartment for our hair to be done. The rest of the bridesmaids were already there and the atmosphere was filled with anticipation and excitement.
The weather was not good – very cloudy and very windy and we were glad not to be arriving at the venue in an open top speedboat! I returned home briefly, to eat, try and learn some more of my speech, and get changed into my wedding outfit. During that small space of time, the heavens opened and it rained hard for about half an hour! But afterwards the sky started to brighten a little and I hoped and prayed that further along the coastline – where the wedding was to take place – it would be sunnier and less windy. Just before I was to return to Zoe’s apartment, to see her getting into her dress, I put on my own – only to realize that because I had not thought to try the dress on previously – I had forgotten that the length needed taking up! Talk about panic! I knew I had to do something or I would be tripping down the Aisle and dragging Zoe with me! I was panicking about the lack of time left and was shaking like a leaf as I tried in vain to thread the needle! Thankfully I got there in the end and was rewarded with a refreshing glass of ice cold Prosecco when I arrived back at Zoe’s!
When we collected the bouquets for the Bride and Bridesmaids on the way, we could not believe how beautiful the fresh flowers looked and how they even perfectly matched the miniature dried flowers that Zoe had in her headdress and the Bridesmaids wore in their hair! The same flowers were in large glass jars on all the tables and dotted around the venue and I would highly recommend this affordable Greek florist to anyone. The same Greek family organized all the transport and I know what a logistical nightmare that was!
It took two hours to get all the guests down to the splendid traditional, large old Greek Family Beach House and grounds, complete with it’s own little rocky beach and where the wedding was to take place. Guests were provided with refreshing Pimms and lemonade while they waited their turns with the minibuses. Situated further along the coast toward Souda, this privately owned beach house is reached via a long, narrow and precarious track with a sheer drop to the sea, and then a very steep drop in the road leading down to the house. Much later Mihalis was so professional and calm, overcoming a big problem when we started to ferry the guests back to Almyrida and the loaded mini buses could not get back up the steep hill!
Despite all the transport obstacles we had to overcome, it was so worth the worry because it was a truly charming and wonderful setting for a wedding! It had been decorated so beautifully, with festoon and fairy lighting in all the olive trees. But it was the weather that really came up trumps for us all! Earlier when it had rained in Plaka, it had stayed dry at the Beach House. The sky was blue with fluffy white clouds and the wind had completely dropped. The sun shone from the moment the service started until the beautiful sunset during the reception.
For the second time, the wonderful honour of being Mother of the Bride and walking my beautiful Zoe down the Aisle, I felt overwhelmingly proud! Emma also looked amazing as a Bridesmaid and a blooming Mother-to-be. The service was conducted beautifully and was very emotional with a touch of humour thrown in. Ralph was an angel and the sun shone throughout the ceremony!
The caterers were superb and had gone way beyond what was expected of them. We all enjoyed delicious spit-roasted lamb, Beef Stifado and Sea Bass, which followed a superb array of traditional Greek starters and nibbles. There were numerous desserts and the red and white wine flowed freely. There was a bar for anyone preferring beer or spirits. My speech was a little jerky to start with, but I managed to remember most of it and I hoped I did Zoe proud! Rich’s speech was so like he is – emotive and heartfelt and spoken with tears in his eyes throughout. He especially mentioned the sadly missed members of our family – dearest Leonie, who passed away suddenly last October and who’d said wild horses wouldn’t stop her from going to Zoe’s wedding… Ash – because he was in Malaysia for his job in the RAF, and not least of all… our lovely Mum and Nana, who was unable to attend because of ill health. All week, we had been in constant contact with Mum in Spain, Skyping her every day and keeping her posted with everything that was going on. We kept monitoring her health whilst we were arranging for her safe return by Air Ambulance to the UK. We sent Mum regular updates and photos throughout the day.
Whilst we were all tucking into the delicious Greek wedding meal, we were entertained by a really talented and funny guy playing bongo drums and later walking around the tables singing with his guitar! The band, called Small Change and complete with saxophonist, were phenomenal! They had rehearsed Zoe and Rich’s ‘first dance’ track and the Band’s cover versions of all the classics that were on Zoe and Rich’s playlist, were brilliant! What a talented group of musicians! Everyone was dancing right up to the time when they had to pile into all the minibuses for the journey back to Almyrida and Nikita’s Place – where the ‘After Party’ was being held. Again, this had to be done in many trips as cars cannot pass by each other on the narrow track and we had a few problems, as I mentioned earlier.
At Nikita’s we all danced and partied till the wee hours of the morning. Many of the friends Zoe and Rich have made here on Crete and most of Almyrida’s locals also joined the celebration and it was the end of a very happy and memorable Wedding. But most of all… it far exceeded Zoe and Rich’s expectations for their Big Day! It just goes to show that despite all the undertones of stress and worry – about my Mum, the weather and a host of other details… true love conquers all!
Almost everyone was returning to the UK just two days later and so we all made sure these days were also filled with fun, laughter and reminiscing about the wonderful wedding. The weather stayed sunny and warm for the last day, as we all gathered at the port end of Almyrida beach. I wanted to spend the last few hours playing with Ralph and my eyes welled up every time I thought of him leaving. I am so thrilled to be going back to the UK for Rob and Emma’s wedding in just under two weeks. It means I will see and spend more quality time with all of my family again soon. I am especially looking forward to seeing my Mum. I miss her so much.. especially after the dreadful ordeal she has been and is still going through.
We departed for Chania airport that evening – Emma in the hire car with Zoe and Ralph and me in mine with Rich. We stayed with Emma and Ralph until they had checked in and then Zoe and Rich got a taxi to a beautiful place right on the beach at Agia Marina, for their week long honeymoon. My friend Caroline’s flight was not until the Saturday so I asked her if she’d like to move to mine for the last few days left of her holiday. It must be donkey’s years since we had a chance to catch up on old times and new and it helped soften the loss of everyone else leaving. We had a lovely day shopping in Chania, where we met up with Zoe and Rich. We three ladies hit the high street and Rich wandered onto the Harbour Front to explore, meeting up again later for a lovely late lunch in one of Chania’s pretty Plaza’s.
So ends another amazingly wonderful and memorable Family occasion that I shall cherish forever. I am soooooo overwhelmingly proud of my Family and I am so fortunate to have each and every one of them in my life.
Now all I am wanting is to get back to the UK next week, so that I can finally see my Mum. She arrived back in the UK the day after Karen, Mike and family returned home from Crete, but was admitted to hospital the very next day. We are all praying that she will be well enough to attend Rob and Emma’s wedding? She was not treated well in Spain, in fact she was quite neglected and so her health has deteriorated. We can only hope that our wonderful NHS can alleviate some of her health issues so that she may return home to Karen and Mike’s family home, where she will be so well taken care of. Our Dear Mum and Nana is in God’s hands right now…