THE COUPLE: CLAIR MOORE & FRED GIOIA, SEPTEMBER 10, 2014
A dot in the southern Aegean Sea, Leros is a Greek island and municipality in the Dodecanese that set the scene for this Dallas couple’s destination wedding. The picturesque paradise united traditions (old and new), friends, family and love under a full moon. We caught up with the bride, Clair (Moore) Gioia, who shared stories of her journey both down the aisle and on an isle.
“It all started because my mother is a total Grecophile,” says the bride. “She speaks Greek and raised me on Greek food. We are not even a little bit Greek, not a pinch — it makes no sense — but we love all things Greek.” Having summered on the island of Leros for several years growing up, she knew this was her dream location when it came time to exchange vows. “Fortunately, I married into a big, gorgeous, intrepid family where we’re all up for the adventure!”
Both are from Dallas — Clair went to Highland Park High School, while Fred attended St. Mark’s School of Texas. The couple met while working together in the Parkland Psychiatric Emergency Room, where Fred was in his second year of residency and Clair, in the second year of her graduate program. Two years after the couple’s favorite nurse practitioner introduced them, Fred proposed in the Hill Country. A year later, the couple, along with 70 of their closest friends and family, made their way to Greece for the adventure of a lifetime.
Friends and family headed to Athens a few days before the wedding, where they stayed at the Electra Palace, directly under the Acropolis, with spectacular views of the city from the rooftop pool. Exploring museums and temples took up the next few days, then it was time to take the 45-minute flight to Leros, where the magical weekend commenced.
SEPTEMBER 8: Setting the Scene.
• The majority of guests arrived on the island of Leros. With a population of approximately 8,000, the island is a quaint fishing village that’s charmingly frozen in time.
• The couple kicked off the wedding weekend with a traditional Greek dinner at O Dimitris O Karaflas (which translates to Dimitris the Bald), a fish taverna built onto a cliff and overlooking the sea where the full moon sparkled onto the water.
SEPTEMBER 9: Siestas, Swimming, and Soustas.
• The next morning, all boarded a boat to Aspronisi, an uninhabited island made of white polished rocks. Some jumped off the boat to swim, while others napped and sated appetites on cucumber and feta salad, tomatoes and olives.
• After a day of leisure, the groom’s parents hosted a rehearsal dinner at Taverna Paradisos on Vromolithos Beach. After heartfelt speeches and dining on Greek cuisine including fried calamari and octopus salad, there was a performance from a group of Lerian dancers, who encouraged the crowd to try the traditional dances.
SEPTEMBER 10: The Big Day.
• “The day of the ceremony, we lay on the beach all day, napped and ate. I was so relaxed — I finally looked up and realized that the ceremony was in two hours!” recalls the bride.
• The church is on an ethereal rock formation in the water reached by a narrow pathway. It was built in the 1700s, and the site was actually used as a temple for Artemis for thousands of years.
• After vows were exchanged, guests walked to the reception held in the garden of the house that the family rented for the week, Archontiko Angelou, perched in the middle of a vineyard, olive grove and citrus grove. “The house was built in the late 1800s, and the way the tables were arranged, we looked like something from the wedding scene in The Godfather,” the bride says.
• Dinner was composed of Grecian food from the area — local cheeses, braised lamb and mousaka.
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS
Wedding Planner: Christy Lagiou.
GOWN: The bride knew she would have to climb the wet stone steps to get to and from the church, so that was a major consideration when she selected her gown. She found the perfect Marchesa at a Warren Barrón trunk show — Grecian-inspired with an illusion neckline with delicate stones. “I tried to be practical and asked to have the veil trimmed down, but everyone in the room had a heart attack.” Clair says. Luckily, she took the advice and kept the veil, a gorgeous cascade of lace that billowed in the breeze.
GROOM: “The most important thing was for Fred to be comfortable — just because I was in rhinestones didn’t mean he had to match,” Clair says. Thankfully, the bride’s cousin who works for J. Hilburn coordinated the men’s clothes, including the groom’s effortlessly handsome attire: a custom-designed linen suit.
HONEYMOON: A three-week exploration on the islands of Patmos and Rhodes, where they lost themselves in the culture and explored remote beaches.