John Stephanian asked a mutual friend to put in a good word for him with Maria Dolomas, and around a month later, they had their first date on a Wednesday night in Chicago. “Our first date was a breath of fresh air. We connected instantly, as if we knew each other for years,” Maria says. Three years later, he proposed while on a trip to his favorite city, New Orleans.
Maria always knew that she wanted to get married in the village that her mother’s family was from on the island of Chios in Greece. She also predicted that she’d have her reception in an orchard, as she was never one for a ballroom event. After a few scouting trips, they found the perfect private home in Kambos. To help plan their summer wedding, they hired Joanna Loukaki, and to capture everything on video, Mont Videography was brought in.
When looking for her wedding look, the bride never thought she’d wear something with long sleeves, but she saw a high-neck, long-sleeve, a-line Reem Acra dress during bridal fashion week at Dimitra’s Bridal Couture and had to try it on. “The week after the show, the rep and the gown flew together from NYC for one night, so I could try on the gown,” Maria says. “I said, ‘Yes,’ that weekend in Chicago.”
On the day-of, everyone met at the church for the Greek Orthodox wedding. “I took in every moment of the ceremony,” Maria remembers. “I did not want it to end, and I was in shock that I was getting married.” After being announced as husband and wife, the evening kicked off with cocktails at the reception space.
When guests arrived, they were served speciality drinks, including the voted best Mastiha Sour in the world. Between mingling, everyone watched the single-layer wedding cake, from Maria’s father’s family bakery on the island, get beautifully decorated with fresh cherries. Then everyone sat down for a local Greek meal, consisting of a traditional salad, homemade bread, goat with Chian potatoes, and salted grouper with fresh vegetables.
During dinner, international guests got to listen to various toasts, which is not common at Greek weddings. The mother-of-the-bride started things off strong with a moving speech that she recited in Greek and English. “Our Koumbara ended the toasts by sharing a beautiful message from John’s Yiayia, who was not able to travel overseas for the wedding, but was there in spirit all weekend long.”
All weekend long, the entertainment consisted of live music, and the bouzouki player actually emceed at Maria’s parents’ wedding 28 years prior. The newlyweds had their first dance to “Make It To Me” by Sam Smith, and then the dance floor was full all night long.
They also had a late-night menu for everyone to keep energized, which included gyros (made on the spot) and traditional rooster soup. While the reception ended at 4:00 a.m., the night didn’t end there. Maria changed out of her dress and the remaining guests headed to town for more revelry. “We got a crepe at one of my favorite spots and went back to our suite,” she says. “It was the perfect ending to an amazing night.”