Wedded Bliss is All Greek to This Couple

February 2018
Written By: 
Ashley Daniels
Photographs by: 
Paula Player Photography

Emily & James paid tribute to his heritage on their big day

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Emily Miller & James Chakalos - June 24, 2017 • St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church & Grande Dunes Ocean Club

Just as the Parthenon Temple of the Athens Acropolis stands tall over the city of Athens, so did James Chakalos’ grandparents look over his Big Day, when he wed the love of his life, Emily, on June 24, 2017.

James’ grandfather was a priest and his grandmother organized Greek dancing events at the Kimisis Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church in Holmdel, New Jersey. James wanted that same Greek culture and tradition instilled in his wedding ceremony here at the St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Myrtle Beach.

“Both of them have passed away, and getting married here at the St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Myrtle Beach was very important to James,” says Emily. “We were so lucky to be married there, and we know that Yia Yia and Papou were sending their love to us on our wedding day!”

Emily says that other special Greek rituals during the ceremony included James’ godsister serving as the Koumbara, or matron of honor, and the donning of crowns after they both drank from the common cup and circled the altar.

Emily and James first met a few years prior as engineer co-workers at International Paper. As the only two employees who were single, they began hanging out platonically after being introduced by a friend from work, often attending dinner with groups together. That eventually led to dinner-and-a-movie dates with just the two of them and the realization that they shared a true love for one another.

“I really got this feeling when I first met him,” says Emily. “We just clicked and had really good chemistry.”

She says James revealed later that he had thought of many ways to propose to her, but the one he decided on was a surprise at home. He had convinced Emily to go out to happy hour with a friend because he had to “work late,” and when she returned home, a trail of rose petals and candles led throughout the house and James was in the kitchen cooking a special dinner for Emily.

“After he finished dinner, he went to the refrigerator and pulled out dessert. He walked back to the kitchen table and pulled a rose out of the bouquet of roses on the table. The engagement ring was tied around the rose,” she says. “He got down on one knee, and then asked me to marry him!”

Of course, Emily said, “yes,” and plans for the celebration quickly commenced. The couple wanted the ceremony and reception to be immersed in symbols of Greek culture. Friends and family gave cheers of “Opa!” at the Grande Dunes Ocean Club reception venue overlooking the brilliant blue waters of the Atlantic. From the bridesmaids dressed in Greek blue gowns to the cake tiers ringed in Greek olive wreaths to baklava shipped in from Greece, mission Greece was accomplished

“We ultimately wanted to have a big celebration and a comfortable environment,” says Emily. “James is originally from Knoxville and I’m from Dayton, Ohio, so lots of friends and family came in from out of town.”

Guests dined on a delicious entree choice of fish, steak or chicken and danced the night away.

And, after the last dance, Emily shares that she can say she truly enjoyed her big day.

“I planned everything with the wedding myself, but then hired someone six weeks before the wedding to handle all the details closer to the time so I could enjoy the day,” she says.

Today, the Chakaloses are enjoying happy days post-wedding at their home in Murrells Inlet.

Key Vendors:

Venue: St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church & Grande Dunes Ocean Club
Photographer: Paula Player Photography
Planner: Stunning & Brilliant Events
Cake: Crystal Carr
Flowers: Little Shop of Flowers
DJ: Pinnacle DJ