Real Weddings: Cynthia and Caitlin

Inside an intimate destination wedding in Santorini

Cynthia Gamache, a bartender, and Caitlin Purcell, an ambulance dispatcher, met online in 2019 and got engaged one year later. This May, the couple jetted off for an intimate destination wedding on an island in Greece. Here’s how it all came about.

Caitlin: When I matched with Cynthia on Tinder in January 2019, I was immediately drawn to her smile. I was really excited about her. Then I realized she was 600 kilometres away from where I lived in Orillia.

Cynthia: I was living in Timmins at the time, which is a seven-and-a-half-hour drive north of Toronto, and I was just starting to come out. I really wasn’t expecting to get into a relationship so soon, but I matched with Caitlin 48 hours after signing up for the app. We chatted for a few weeks, and then she came up to Timmins to visit me and stay for a weekend. She made me dinner—stuffed zucchini boats with shrimp—we shared a bottle of wine and it felt so natural. We started dating soon afterward. It felt like I had known her forever.

Caitlin: Cynthia is super loving and caring. She puts anyone and everyone else first—a very genuine and loyal person.

Cynthia: We’re both a similar type of weird. We’d rather stay in, drink wine and play Scrabble together than go out and party. Caitlin’s so romantic. We’re similar in a lot of ways, but our differences balance each other out. It just works.

After nine months of long-distance dating, we were ready for the next step. In September 2019, I moved into Caitlin’s four-bedroom detached house in Orillia. During the first Covid lockdowns, I was off work for three months, but Caitlin still went into the office. So we did have some time apart. But isolating in our house wasn’t a big deal for us. We can spend all day every day together and not get annoyed with each other.

Caitlin: I knew very early on that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Cynthia. Our relationship was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I knew that I wanted to make her my wife. After she moved in, we talked about getting engaged and Cynthia picked out a ring. In early 2020, we booked a trip to Aruba, where I planned to propose, but the trip was postponed three times because of Covid. That fall, Cynthia planned a photoshoot for us and arranged everything with our friend Lauren Hardy, who is a photographer. So I piggybacked the proposal onto it. I even gave Lauren the ring to hand back to me when we were in the right spot and secretly hired a videographer to capture the moment. At one point during the photoshoot, when Cynthia had her back to me, I got down on one knee and started my speech. It included a quote from The Old Guard.

Cynthia: I was surprised and very excited. I don’t cry easily, but I did shed a few tears of joy. We popped champagne afterward. I knew the proposal was on the way, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen that day. It was the perfect setting for it too. I was so happy with the way it all turned out.

Shortly after we got engaged, we visited the Laurentian Lodge in Elliot Lake to book it for a June 2022 wedding. At the time, the owner wasn’t comfortable taking a deposit because everything was still up in the air due to Covid. It meant we only had a tentative date set. But the more we thought about planning a large wedding, the more stressed out I felt about the whole thing. I asked Caitlin how she would feel about doing something very, very small in another country instead. She thought it was a good idea, and we agreed it would be Greece. Our guest list included Caitlin’s parents and brother, us, and Lauren.

Caitlin: I stumbled across our venue, El Viento, while looking at different options in Santorini. As soon as I saw the photos, I thought, That’s where we need to get married. I showed Cynthia and we both completely fell in love with it. El Viento is perched at the top of these cliffs overlooking the ocean. You get a beautiful panoramic view of the Santorini cliff line. It also has a windmill that has been restored and turned into a bridal suite.

Cynthia: We had a 12-day pre-wedding honeymoon in Italy before arriving in Greece. It’s not the traditional way of doing things, but it worked for us. In Santorini, we rented an Airbnb that was divided into mini apartments with enough room for all six of us. It was right on the ocean. It had a pool and a very beautiful outdoor space where we wanted to host our reception—an al fresco dinner.

Caitlin: The evening before our wedding, we stopped by the venue and went to a local flower shop in Oia so that Cynthia could make the bouquet and boutonniere with fresh flowers. I’m not traditional in many ways, but I didn’t want to see Cynthia until she got to the altar. The night before the ceremony, Lauren stayed with her and I stayed with my mom. In the morning, I got ready with my mom upstairs while Cynthia got ready with Lauren downstairs, and we rode separate cars to the venue. Cynthia wore a strapless Oleg Cassini dress with a plunging neckline. I wore a navy-and-black three-piece jacquard suit and bowtie with suede loafers. For decor, Lauren and my brother, Ryan, surprised us with white and light-pink roses mixed with baby’s breath. We had flowers on and around the arch, and we walked down the aisle to a cover of Calum Scott’s “You are the Reason.”

Cynthia: The officiant led the ceremony in both English and Greek. It’s part of the Greek tradition to include the language in all ceremonies. Neither of us understood what was being said during those portions, but we thought it was cool to have it included. Back at the Airbnb, we had a private chef come and prepare a feast. The meal included chargrilled squid and capers, sea bass fillet with sautéed vegetables, a lot of pasta, stuffed chicken with vegetables, and homemade baklava for dessert. The food had so much flavour and was beautifully plated.

Caitlin: The chef cooked the meals in our villa while his business partner brought the food out to us. They were both so friendly. The dinner surpassed all expectations that we had for our evening. It was one of the best decisions we made. The day couldn’t have gone any better—it was exactly what we wanted.

Cynthia: Life is pretty much the same since the wedding. We’re now looking to buy our forever home. It’s a nice feeling to be with your forever person, and the wedding just confirmed that we’re both in it for the long haul.

Caitlin: We were very happy to have chosen to elope instead of having a big wedding in Ontario. It felt like a decision that we made for us and our relationship rather than for other people.

Cheat Sheet

Date: May 17, 2022
Venue: El Viento
Catering: Chef Spiros, Santorini Villa Catering
Photographer: Lauren Hardy
Florals: Forget Me Not; Montago Santorini Flowers
Cynthia’s outfit: Oleg Cassini; Lulus
Caitlin’s outfit: Le Château; Kenneth Cole
Officiant: Christos Kafouros
Guests: Six

Here are some more photos from the day: