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Your Guide to Getting Married in Croatia

How about getting married in Croatia? If you’ve been through the list of major European destinations and nothing quite made your heart go aflutter, then it’s time to consider this outstanding location. With the help of Marcela Ljubomirac, Managing Director of D’Inspiration, here are all the reasons why you should say ‘I do’ to this lovely country – your guide to getting married in Croatia.

How to choose the perfect Croatian wedding location

Croatia is, quite simply, an extraordinary place, and perfect for couples looking for something a little bit unusual, off the beaten track, as they say. It’s a place easy to love and to be in love, and in fact many Irish couples return there again and again after their wedding – for holidays and anniversaries.

Marcela says, ‘The country is very rich in its history, has a stunning coastline, old towns with amazing historical sights, traditions, fantastic food. What makes Croatia  exceptional is the cleanest sea with over 1000 islands, 8 national parks, 7 cultural, historical and natural beauty sights protected and recognised by Unesco, including the beloved and most romantic town to marry in, Dubrovnik. With only 2.5 hours’ flight away from Ireland, you are getting a paradise you won’t want to leave, and definitely want to return to.

Croatia has small, straightforward airports where you won’t get lost, and once you land you are reaching your destination within 25 minutes drive maximum. So we are talking about a destination which is ideal for a wedding abroad and a holiday at the same time! The fact that Croatia possesses some of the world’s most breathtaking towns is constantly reaffirmed, most recently by HBO coming back for several years to film Game of Thrones episodes in the fortified walled town of Dubrovnik.’

dubrovnik-church-wedding

Image courtesy of D’Inspiration Dubrovnik

As usual, when planning a wedding abroad, it’s good to have an idea what kind of wedding you’d like. Pictures of real weddings really help here, so you can imagine yourself and your other half in those locations. Will it be a palace, a fort, a beach, a garden or vineyard? What about a boat, for something really different?

First thing you should do, if at all possible, is visit the place. Dubrovnik is easy to reach, with flights lasting under 3 hours, and the country’s small size means you don’t have to travel for a long time to get to your chosen venue. A short mini-break of just a few days will allow you to get a clear idea of what you can expect and what locations you like best. In fact, you can even ask a local wedding planner to recommend some places.

Best places to get married in Croatia

Consider how many guests will be coming along and how easy it will be for them to reach your venue. Ensure there are enough accommodations and that ceremony facilities are nearby as well – like a local Catholic church, or a place suitable for a civil ceremony.

Dubrovnik is, of course, the most popular place for a wedding, and that’s really no surprise, because it packs everything a bride could possibly want into one city – fantastic architecture (oh, the photos, the photos!), a dizzying choice of cuisine, approximately 2500 hours of sun per year, and the romance factor that’s off the charts.

Other than Dubrovnik, most recommended places include the cities of Hvar, Osor, Lubenice and Split. There’s such a wide choice of venues, virtually any personal preference can be catered for. It really helps to have at least an idea of what type of wedding you prefer the most – grand and opulent, fun and intimate, or rustic and fancy free… and these are by no means your only choices.

villa-ruza-lights

Image courtesy of D’Inspiration Dubrovnik

Hiring a Croatian wedding planner

As a professional wedding planner, Marcela has this to say about getting help: ‘most of the people living along the coast of Croatia are multilingual and speak English well. However, for a smooth and worry free wedding, we recommend dedicated assistance. A native Croatian speaker can ensure no request will be misunderstood, and all the suppliers know exactly what to do, where to be, and when to deliver all their wares and services. Why worry when you can have all this taken care of by by a single person? Another great advantage of having local help is their knowledge of venues – it’s easy to find the most internet-savvy hotels on Google, but what about those smaller places with real character that just don’t show up in online searches? The wedding planner will know exactly where those places are. Most importantly, your legal paperwork must be in order – and nobody can help you with that better than a native speaker.

The wedding planning usually starts at least a year in advance, by choosing an ideal ceremony and reception venue and then locking it for the couple’s preferred date. Planners usually advise on the options and possibilities of different venues, so all couples have to do is choose and confirm. In fact, I’m committed to helping the couples find the perfect place, that’s why I organise two nights’ complimentary stay at a local venue so they can comfortably look around for the right place before they book.’

croatia-real-wedding

Image courtesy of D’Inspiration Dubrovnik

The seasons vs the costs

According to Marcela, the fact that Croatia is a less-frequented wedding destination and unspoiled by hordes of tourists, there’s much privacy to be had within amazing venues during the summer months.

Having the Mediterranean climate, Croatia is sun covered most of the year, and has warm summers and mild winters. Marcella says, ‘the wedding season starts from April and lasts until late October, with best months to get married being June, September and October, when the temperatures are nice and warm but not too hot. July and August are the hottest months, when only the bravest stay out in the sun with lots of sunscreen. Of course, that’s when most of the tourists arrive as well.’

Expect the prices to vary according to the weather – higher in the summer, and lower in the winter. But there’s something else to keep in mind, as Marcella explains, ‘as Croatia joined the European Union in 2013, the currency still has not been changed to Euro. With the  national currency Kuna, the wedding planning is still very much affordable compared to some other Mediterranean countries.’

dubrovnik-wedding

Image courtesy of D’Inspiration Dubrovnik

The legal requirements of Croatian wedding

As a Catholic country, Croatia is all the more attractive to Irish couples who wish to have a church wedding, and in fact that’s what most of them choose. There are also civil ceremonies, and symbolic ceremonies for those couples who want something completely bespoke while looking to avoid all the paperwork.

The legal requirements may change at any time, so it’s always advisable to check everything with your wedding planner and the relevant authorities to ensure you can get legally wed. Currently, the paperwork for a civil ceremony would usually be prepared three months prior to the date. For a church wedding, couples should allow no less than 5 months, and among other things, ensure they have the Certificate of Freedom to Marry, also known as Nulla Osta.

The church wedding also requires the couple to engage with the local bishop and the local church, however all couples are guided on the steps to take to meet all the requirements. One of the concerns couples have about the church wedding is the rehearsal, as they are afraid they won’t understand the priest. To avoid this, a private rehearsal with an English speaking priest can be organised and the most important parts are covered.

For those who wish for a more religious experience, Dubrovnik and Split are very close to the town of Medjugorje, in the neighbouring country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Irish couples often wish to organise a pre or post-wedding pilgrimage to the site, and your planner will be glad to help you do so.

wedding-dubrovnik

Image courtesy of D’Inspiration Dubrovnik

Wedding bits and bobs

You may be surprised to find there are boards on Pinterest dedicated to weddings in Croatian style – click here to see a wonderful example. We think a wedding abroad really benefits from touches of local culture, with plenty of room to accomodate your own preferences for colour schemes or particular décor. There’s only so much you can take with you when you’re flying over, and you probably don’t want to pay those high luggage charges – they can be exorbitant even on budget airlines.

If you have a look you’re truly settled on, let your wedding planner arrange all the décor and details – you don’t want to be carrying fragile items on a plane with you. Your chief goal would be to get your wedding attire to destination in pristine condition.

Finally, some useful links for further reading:

Irish citizens’ information on getting married abroad

Irish embassies and consulates in Croatia

Main image courtesy of placestodiefor.blogspot.co.uk

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Rachel Green

Rachel Green

If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.
Rachel Green

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