When Christina Noia and Leo Dalakos met in June of 2012 while working at an advertising agency, they instantly hit it off. The two started spending time together in a group setting outside of work, which quickly progressed to late-night texting sprees. “We bonded over our love for travel, coming from similar cultural backgrounds (Leo being Greek and me being Assyrian), hunting down the absolute best food in Chicago, among other things,” Christina shares.
On October 31, 2020, Christina and Leo were packing for a getaway to California when Leo popped the question. “I thought it was going to happen on the trip, so he really caught me off guard!” Christina exclaims. “It was just the two of us at home, which made it so intimate and special.” They celebrated the milestone with takeout and shared the exciting news with all of their friends and family over FaceTime.
Right off the bat, the couple knew they wanted to host their nuptials in a very special place: Milos, Greece. “It was where Leo spent every summer throughout his childhood and where he met some of his closest friends,” Christina explains. “It was also the first island we visited in Greece together.” Not to mention, they were certain the Greek island would serve as a beautiful backdrop for their vow swap. “Milos’s stunning rock formations, beautiful beaches, excellent food, and authentic feel made it an easy decision to have our wedding there,” she notes.
Since a global pandemic coincided with Christina and Leo’s wedding planning, the experience had its fair share of challenges. Luckily, thanks to the planners at Think Happy Events, the couple was able to pull off their dream day. “We couldn’t have made this happen without the incredible team at Think Happy Events,” Christina gushes. “They helped us navigate the daunting task of planning a destination wedding during COVID with the continuously changing regulations in Greece.”
Finally, on August 27, 2021, Christina and Leo swapped vows in front of 90 guests at Panagia Tourliani Church and continued the celebration at Astakas Cafe Restaurant and Deep Blue Beach Bar. By infusing their own personal touch, their wedding was a true reflection of their love story. “I brought my love for second-hand into my wedding look and also with my thrifted frames at the reception,” Christina shares. “Leo added in his special touch with his music playlists and playful designs for our day of stationary.”
Here are all the details behind their stunning day, planned by Think Happy Events and photographed by Thanasis Kaiafas.
Not only did the couple envision a day that captured their own love story, but they also wanted to plan a wedding that reflected the natural beauty of Greece. “The wedding vision was to take on elements of the Cyclades and bring them to life—the white and blue architecture; the accents of bright colors through flowers, décor, and fruit; and of course, the famous Greek island sunsets,” Christina summarizes. To mimic the island’s vibrant hues, they selected a color palette of blush, green, and marigold.
On the day before the wedding, Christina and Leo organized a welcome party on Pollonia Beach. “We wanted as much time with our guests as possible, especially since with COVID, it had been a couple years since we’d seen some of them,” Christina explains.
For the event, the bride wore a colorful striped jumpsuit by Missoni, complete with a yellow handbag and gold hoop earrings from Mignonne Gavigan. Leo suited up in a muted green number with brown oxford shoes and a brown belt.
After an evening spent dancing to the groom’s curated playlist, guests left with a parting gift: beach bags filled with a beach towel, Greek treats, and a hangover kit.
To follow the Greek tradition, Leo kicked off the morning with a shave—which his group of friends took part in. “Usually, the groom doesn’t want to leave his wedding shave up to his friends, so it’s become more of a playful pretend ritual that makes for funny photos,” Christina explains.
With a clean-shaven look, Leo changed into a navy suit from Bonobos with a white button-down shirt from Brooks Brothers, a blue tie by Lanvin, and black dress shoes from Bruno Magli. Once again, his friends were there to help.
For her beauty look, Christina chose a sleek low ponytail and natural makeup, featuring lots of highlighter and bold lashes. “The most important thing for me was to look like an extra version of myself,” she says. “I wanted to be Hollywood glam but with a bit of an edge. I’m also a lover of vintage, so I wanted to integrate that vibe into my wedding look as well.” She rounded off her glam with Gypsy Water Eau de Parfum by Byredo with citrus notes that encapsulated the summer season.
The bride stunned in a custom silk mikado Valentini Spose dress with a square neckline, an open back, and a trail of buttons. “I knew I wanted a simple dress—no lace detailing or sequins,” she says. “That said, I needed the dress to be extra glam. I wanted something structured that had a beautiful sheen to it.” After spotting the fabric in a similar Valentini Spose design, she knew the search was over. Christina ended up working with the shop to customize her gown, which included combining two different dresses by the designer and altering the neckline.
The bride accessorized with pearl studs by Dior, her mother’s pearl and gold bracelet, second-hand platform heels by Miu Miu, and a custom birdcage veil that her brother designed.
Christina held a free-flowing assortment of blooms, which included hydrangea, garden roses, dahlias, lisianthus, Queen Anne’s lace, ruscus, and eucalyptus.
We wanted to bake in time to be together just us two and have a private moment to celebrate a day we’d remember forever.
Before the ceremony, the bride and groom wanted to savor a few minutes alone, so they shared an intimate first look together. “Many people mentioned to us that the wedding day is so hectic, and it can be tough to take a moment to soak in what’s actually happening…you are getting married!” Christina exclaims. “We wanted to bake in time to be together just us two and have a private moment to celebrate a day we’d remember forever.”
Another reason why the couple wanted to do a first look? Ample time for photos. Christina and Leo snapped portraits while walking across the rocky terrain, against a backdrop of the Aegean Sea.
The bride and groom wanted a traditional Greek ceremony outdoors, so they said “I do” at an old church that sat on top of a hill, overlooking the sea. To let the views shine, they settled on simple decorations. Christina and Leo had a floral garland draped across the church door, and two tall candles decked in blooms that framed the altar.
Christina had her mother and brother escort her down the aisle. The couple decided not to play any music during the ceremony, so the processional focused on the duo’s love.
After Christina and Leo slipped on their wedding bands, they had crowns, or stefana, placed on their heads, which were connected with a ribbon. “Our stefana were extra special because they were the same ones used in Leo’s parents’ wedding ceremony over 40 years ago,” Christina reveals. After they were pronounced husband and wife, guests showered the newlyweds with rice during the “Dance of Isaiah.”
The duo hosted their waterfront reception beneath string lights at Astakas Cafe Restaurant, the only restaurant in the fishing village of Klima, which made it an intimate spot to celebrate. “Klima is one of the best places to view the sunset on the island, and it’s also protected from the Greek island winds,” Christina adds.
Two floral arrangements in gold vases and white candles were scattered down the middle of each table. Table numbers with a citrus illustration in gold frames were a special touch since the bride thrifted and painted them herself. “While we wanted our tablescape to reflect the vibe of the venue, which was casual in the sense that it had your standard Greek taverna tables and chairs, we still wanted elements of it to be elevated and cohesive,” Christina notes.
Each place was set with knotted marigold napkins, gold flatware, and gold-rimmed chargers. The couple also had boubounieres, or Greek wedding favors, stationed at each seat. The linen bags were filled with sugar-coated almonds, called koufeta, which symbolize purity, fertility, new beginnings, and a long-lasting marriage. Wrapped around each bag was an evil eye bracelet to protect guests from negative energy.
The newlyweds sat at their own special table, which they had decorated with a long floral garland and assorted candles.
Christina and Leo planned an extravagant entrance: arriving by boat. The duo went to great lengths to pull off the surprise. “On the day of the wedding, the water was so choppy, so I was hesitant to do it,” Christina admits. “After some convincing and a route change, we made our way to the boat by walking through the backways of Klima Village, climbing over rocks, and avoiding waves coming at us, so our guests wouldn’t spot us boarding.”
Although they had to endure the rough waters, the grand entrance was a huge highlight for the couple. “That was the longest boat ride of our lives,” Christina remembers. “We were holding on for dear life for a full 10 to 15 minutes, knowing a fall would be an epic disaster. Seeing our guests spot us on the waters as we came in made it all worth it.”
Christina and Leo served a three-tier confection with white frosting and floral accents on the outside and lemon cake on the inside. “The cake design was minimalist and perfectly executed,” the bride gushes.
Before the cake cutting ritual, Christina switched up her accessories with a pair of sparkly drop earrings by Alessandra Rich and a crystal bracelet from her brother.
After dining on Greek-inspired cuisine, the newlyweds shared their first dance to “VCR” by The xx.
For the next phase of events, everyone headed over to Deep Blue Beach Bar for an after-party filled with dancing. “We didn’t leave the dance floor until after 4 a.m.,” Christina reflects. The couple actually had to change their after-party venue at the last minute due to COVID restrictions, but it ended up being the perfect fit. “Accept that not everything will go according to plan, and sometimes, it can actually be for the best,” Christina advises.