Armenian destination wedding at San Lazzaro degli Armeni in Venice

      Venice is the best place for elopements and intimate or real destination weddings in Italy. San Lazzaro degli Armeni island is one of the many little islands in the Venetian lagoon. Lying between Venice and the Lido, this quiet and beautiful island is destination of many couples in love. A dream for every wedding photographer in Venice! It is such a beautiful place for Armenian marriages. As #venicephotographer I have the luck to immortalize a lot of weddings. One of them was this elegant Armenian destination wedding.


      This picturesque island houses the Armenian Catholic church since 1717. Formerly a leper colony, this island was the gift by Doge Alviso Mocenigo to an Armenian monk named Mekhitar. He fled persecution in Constantinople and arrived with twenty followers. He wanted to find a monastery dedicated to the cultural and spiritual rebirth of the Armenian people. Home to the monastery of the Mekhitarists, many Armenians who visit Venice take a day trip to this small island. Well – kept, comfortable, with groves of cypresses; a neat little white campanile, an onion shaped cupola. Unlike many of Venice’s religious houses, San Lazzaro was not shut down under Napoleone’s rule. Therefore, thankfully it still remains in operation today. It is one of the three foremost centers of Armenian culture in the world, beside the one in Vienna and Armenia itself.

      An interesting feature about this island is related to Lord Byron! For instance, for the general public, San Lazzaro’s main tourist attraction is his story. Many people believe that Byron’s spirit haunts the island. When asked to think of San Lazzaro they think firs of Byron and only secondly of the Armenians. Lord Byron was a friend of the Armenian people. He became interested in the Armenian language – “the language to speak with God” – and culture. Looking at it as a way to fight his boredom. In addition, he was often swimming there from his home on the Grand Canal! In only six months he taught himself the language and began translating books!

      As a lover of classic music I must mention that numerous individuals visited this island. Composers such as Offenbach, Rossini, Tchaikovsky and Wagner!


      As mentioned, many times before, Venice is undoubtedly one of the most romantic cities of the world. The perfect choice for those who are looking for elegance and romance. Should you want to form your own personal bond with San Lazzaro, keep in mind that it is possible to get married here but only after you have tied the knot at home.

      When Hagop decided to propose to Lilith, the pressure was on to make the proposal and engagement ring special. Above all, her family has owned a fine jewelry company for many generations! With a common wish to celebrate their Armenian heritage throughout their wedding, Lilith and Hagop chose to have a traditional Armenian marriage ceremony in Venice. Where exactly? At San Lazzaro degli Armeni island. They chose the elegance and the beauty of the Westin Europa & Regina as place where to spend some special days with friends and family.

      A fantastic hotel overlooking the Grand Canal. We met them the day before for the cocktail party which took place nearby their hotel. The cherry on the top of the cake was the gondola ride for the guests! After some joyful toasts we reached the gondolas station at “Gondola Bauer” in Rio San Moise’. It was a personalized gondola tour as it took us on the Grand Canal, enjoying the beauty of Rialto Bridge. From there we headed to a restaurant nearby for the rehearsal dinner.

      Armenian destination wedding at San Lazzaro degli Armeni in Venice


      The day of the wedding, Hagop, the guests and my partner left the hotel all together with a private boat. However, Lilith, her father, me and the girls reached the island on a water taxi. She was happy, radiant and elegant, holding her bridal bouquet of white roses. Once you cross the entrance of this old monastery, you will be amazed by the beauty of the the garden. Beautifully kept! A sense of peace and spirituality you are literally surrounded by! The small and beautifully decorated church is simply magnificent with its blue and gold painted ceiling. Such a unique and breathless atmosphere for an Armenian wedding.

      After a short walk across the charming cloister Lilith reached her groom at the entrance of this beautiful church. It was such a solemn ceremony! It took approximately one hour, with each part having a special meaning. The priest blessed the couple exchanging their rings. The right hands of the bride and the groom are joined as a symbol of their unity. Then the crowning. Crowns worn by bride and groom are symbols of their own kingdom or home. Facing one another, Hagop’s best man stood between them holding a cross over their heads. Following on there is a blessing of the common cup; this as memory of the marriage at Cana of Galilee where Christ was present. At the end the priest blessed the couple asking Christ to protect them.