Million Dollar Listing’s Ryan Serhant and Emilia Bechrakis spent months planning their July 7 wedding on the beautiful Greek island of Corfu, but nothing could prepare the groom for the emotional journey ahead. In a first-person piece written exclusively for The Knot, NYC-based broker Serhant recalls exactly what was going through his mind on his wedding day before he exchanged vows with the love of his life. Read below.
July 7, 2016
It’s tradition on the night before you marry that you sleep in a separate bed than your fiancée. On my wedding day, I woke up in one of the guest rooms at our villa in Corfu and I said to myself, “It’s July 7. Today is my wedding day.”
A close friend told me to repeat this to myself over and over again so that I would remember all of the important moments from the day. Why? Because it would go by so fast.
I took it pretty literally. I stood up, stretched, and said aloud: “Oh my. I’m standing and today is my wedding day!” I tried to pinpoint my own emotions that morning. Was I nervous? Excited? Scared? Honestly? I felt relieved.
We had been in Greece for two weeks before the big day, filming everything for our wedding special. On top of that, we had been entertaining 200 friends and family members at various events, along with coordinating transportation and food. Today, everything would actually be fun! Today was the actual wedding… finally! I was relieved that the events of the wedding week were coming to a close, but at the same time I was sad. After all, 32 years of waiting for this moment was coming to an end. That momentary sadness, however, was soon overcome by the sheer joy of starting a new life with my wife in less than 12 hours.
I first met Emilia at a Hanukah party in December 2011. I went to the party to meet a developer, and she was there working for him at the time. I will never ever forget the first moment I saw her. She was so beautiful, like when the leading lady in a movie makes her big entrance. I was star struck–and I didn’t even know her.
So I did what I always do when I get nervous: I pulled out my phone and walked the opposite way. But I was completely transfixed on her. I remember moving around the party to make sure she was still there as I formulated a plan to say hi. Classic American procrastination. But then before I knew it, she had snuck up on me and said hello on her own!
Emilia had a huge smile on her face, and bounced up and down on her tippy toes when she laughed. She still does that. Probably because she’s so little and I’m 6-foot-3. That’s why I call her my “Puffer Munkin.” She’s my little princess.
There were a lot of moments after that when I can confidently say that I knew I loved her. She took my breath away. But I remember one moment in particular. We had gone to a movie in Union Square, followed by dinner at Pete’s Tavern in the city. I was incredibly busy at that time… Work was crazy, the show [Million Dollar Listing: New York] had just started airing, and my mind was everywhere. And that’s exactly what prompted Emilia to break up with me. (Note: we’ve never been back there since).
We left — I got in a cab and watched her cry on the sidewalk as I drove away. Just like that, I snapped. I immediately forgot about everything else and realized that I had just lost the love of my life. I realized in that moment how stupid and selfish I had been with my priorities, and how Emilia cared more about one hair on my elbow than she does about herself. She was the most loving and devoted girlfriend, sister and daughter that has ever existed. I would bet on that. It was evident that she cared so deeply about her loved ones that she would do absolutely anything for them. That was new for me. I had never met anyone so passionate about life, love and happiness.
Maybe it was a cultural difference. I was used to American girls from New York and Boston guilt-tripping me all day. At the time, being loved so much by another person (who is so good to her core) was foreign to me. Thus began my six-month-long battle to get her back. (Thankfully, she complied, and I haven’t let her go since — nor have I been stupid enough to give her a reason to leave.) I know it sounds cliche, but Emilia is the only person in the world who makes me want to be a better man.
It was these moments that ran through my head throughout our wedding day. Even though I had a camera crew following me around–for example, when my brothers were shaving their chests or I was making my way to the church on my pirate ship–I kept thinking about how lucky I was to have found a partner for life. A good, caring person who made me want to be a better human being than I was the day before.
We got married in a church on a little island called Pontikonisi, which is off the coast of Corfu, so everyone had to get there by boat. Once we docked, our guests walked up a long, winding trail of steep, white steps that ended at the church. In a Greek Orthodox wedding, the groom stands at the end of the steps and holds his bride’s bouquet and waits for her arrival. Actually, everyone ends up waiting for a while because it’s tradition for the bride to arrive late!
But when Emilia finally came, and I saw her face peek around the corner of the steps with her big smile — that same big smile I noticed when we first met — my whole body shook with goose bumps (which was weird because it was 100 degrees outside!). She was so beautiful. My little princess was walking towards me like a gorgeous Greek goddess. If she hadn’t been in killer heels, I’m sure she would have stood on her tippy toes too.
When she finally made her way up to the steps, I felt a serene sense of calm overtake me. That’s what I remember most. The goose bumps were gone. The nervousness. The fear. The crazy excitement. I locked eyes with Emilia and I knew everything, from this moment on, would be amazing. The uncertainty of life was gone, because now and forever, I wouldn’t be on this crazy path alone. I would be with my partner–guided by her love.
The couple’s nuptials aired this past month on Bravo as part of a special Million Dollar Listing docu-series.