• Photography By:

    Kenny Kim Photography

    Katerina and Michael

    Taormina, Italy in June 17, 2023


    One Saturday in December 2019, Katerina was shopping in Soho, NYC and stopped at the Vintage Barbie and Ken photography stand on Prince Street. While looking through the artwork, an energetic dog in a wheelchair nearly knocked her over while running to the photographer for a treat. On the other end of the leash was Michael, wearing a cool hoodie and sneakers, apologizing on behalf of Pete, his puggle. Michael thought Katerina was stylish and sweet as she asked him questions about Pete’s wheels.

    Michael wasn’t sure if Katerina was interested in his dog or him, but nonetheless confidently asked her to dinner the following week. Their first date was at Sushi Azabu in Tribeca on Friday the 13th. Katerina knew it was bad luck when it began pouring rain, her phone died, and she was running very late. But her luck turned around when she found Michael still waiting there half an hour later.

    “I wasn’t going to give up a great meal even if I was stood up!” Michael laughs.

    A Destination Engagement in Cabo

    A couple years and a pandemic later, Katerina graduated from medical school and had just matched to residency in dermatology, when Michael surprised her with a trip to Cabo. On arrival to the stunning Waldorf Astoria, they enjoyed the perfect view on their terrace and dipped their feet in the plunge pool when Michael proposed. They enjoyed their ideal relaxing engagement getaway and a few days later, flew to Katerina’s hometown of Chicago where their families and friends were waiting to celebrate them.

    “I couldn’t imagine a more perfect energy.”

    Planning a Destination Wedding in Sicily

    For their wedding destination, Katerina and Michael narrowed the decision down to their neighboring countries of heritage, Greece and Italy. They decided on Sicily, where they had hoped to visit together and where Michael’s great grandparents were born.

    While it was certainly more stressful to plan a wedding overseas, Katerina was thrilled to travel frequently to the gorgeous island in the months leading up to the wedding to work closely with their wedding planners, Sara Micalizzi at Sicily Lifestyle and Alessandra Marisca, Events Manager at the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo.

    A Wedding Weekend in Taormina

    The wedding weekend took place in the picturesque town of Taormina. Friday kicked off with a lively beach party at the Lido Tao Beach Club on the Ionian Sea. The DJs, John Grammatis of Chicago, and Georgios Liakopoulos and Panagiotis Koliopoulos traveled from Greece and set the mood for entire weekend.

    That evening, guests were brought to the magical medieval castle town of Castelmola, perched on a mountain peak overlooking Taormina. Guests were greeted by traditional Sicilian folk musicians and dancers in the Piazza Sant’Antonio and enjoyed cocktails with a view of the sunset hanging over the Mediterranean. They were then led down the narrow and winding streets to the Piazza Chiesa Madre, which was lined by colorful Sicilian-tile food stations offering fresh ricotta, mozzarella, maccheroni, pizza, gelato and sorbet.

    From a balcony overlooking the piazza, the DJs played classic American swing music and romantic Italian songs. The piazza was decorated with hundreds of festive canopy string lights, making the scene look like a movie set. Guests were buzzing with excitement by the idyllic views, décor, food and company.

    “I couldn’t imagine a more perfect energy,” describes Katerina.

    Among many highlights of the event was a Tenor’s opera performance of “Volare”, “Ave Maria”, and “Speak Softly, Love” from The Godfather, which brought Michael’s Italian uncles to tears. Heartwarming memories like these were captured by videographer, Kostantinos Kastanakis, of Crete.

    On Saturday morning, Katerina, her mother and sisters prepared for the wedding celebration at The Grand Hotel Timeo. The bride did her own makeup, and her cousin, Chrissy Haralampopoulos, styled her hair.  

    “Simera Gamos Ginete”, a traditional Greek song about a wedding in a beautiful garden strummed through the air.  The bride’s father walked her through the garden to her groom. Standing under an olive tree adorned with flowers, Archimandrite Nephon Tsimalis of London blessed the couple with a beautiful prayer for health and happiness in marriage. This garden blessing followed a Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony at Annunciation Church in Chicago, which took place one month prior.

    During the golden hour cocktail reception, guests gathered on the dreamy Ganimede Terrace for a variety of typical Sicilian delicacies and special Italian cocktails. Colorful native flowers and plants provided by Sebastian Flowers tastefully enhanced the already heavenly scenery. The talented wedding photographer, Kenny Kim, snapped photos of guests with a breathtaking view of Mount Etna in the background. As the sun set over the nearby mountains, guests made their way to the twinkling Aphrodite Terrace to enjoy a prosecco toast as the bride and groom danced to “Nothing Can Change This Love” by Sam Cooke.

    After delicious courses of pasta and an elegant salt-crusted sea bass entrée, Katerina and Michael cut their cream puff pastry and berry wedding cake while fireworks lit the sky. The celebration continued with traditional Greek dancing and a disco-themed after party in the Zeus ballroom. Finally, those still standing made their way to the fabulous Morgana Bar for the after-after party, where they continued to dance until sunrise.

    Ciao For Now

    The weekend came to a close on Sunday during the Ciao For Now brunch held at the Grand Hotel Timeo. Guests hugged and kissed goodbye over delicious cappuccinos and their last sips of Etna Spritzes. Each described a different part of the weekend as their favorite, but one thing that everyone certainly felt was a sense of great “kefi” (Greek for “joy, spirit, passion, loving life with your friends”). There were many stories of wedding guests wandering down the charming Taormina streets, bumping into other groups of guests, which snowballed into mini-parties taking place all over town.

    Everyone loved the opportunity to share in the excitement and escape of being in such a wonderful place with wonderful people. Katerina and Michael felt beyond blessed and grateful to have so many close friends and family travel across the world to celebrate their love and marriage during the most wonderful wedding weekend.


    Location & Catering: The Grand Hotel Timeo, Taormina, Italy; Planner: Sara Isabella Micalizzi of Sicily Lifestyle, Alessandra Marisca of The Grand Hotel Timeo, Taormina, Italy; Floral Design: Sebastian Flowers, Taormina, Italy; Wedding Dress: Oscar de la Renta; Reception Dress: Kyha Studios; Shoes: Faragamo; Groom’s Attire: J. Mueser; Entertainment: Georgios Liakopoulos & Panagiotis Koliopoulos, Athens, Greece; Opera Singer: Davide Vitale Tenore ; Cinematography: Konstantinos Kastanakis, Crete, Greece; Photography: Kenny Kim Photography, Chicago, IL

    Follow us: