Wedding in Croatia, my experience
Hi everyone! My name is Chelsea Radovic. I am an American who recently had my wedding in Istria and moved here full time. I learned a lot planning my wedding here and I’d like to tell about it in this blog ?
I hope this helps any of you considering getting married in Istria! And thank you, Vera, for asking me to write this for your #weddingbloghr
About four years ago, I had just graduated college and decided to join my parents on their 25th wedding anniversary trip to Croatia. My dad played on a Croatian soccer team in Pittsburgh, where I grew up, and one of his friends on the team suggested that we visit the restaurant of his best friend, Niki, in Poreč and have a round of drinks on him. It was our first stop on the trip and little did I know that is where I would meet my future husband! Instead going to Rovinj as planned, we decided to change plans and stay in Poreč for three nights to visit with new friends of friends, who would become family. When we arrived at the restaurant called Bistro Niki, Marko, Niki’s son was working. As they say, the rest is history. For four years we dated long-distance. His job was seasonal, so was able to come live in the US in the winters and I would visit every summer until we got engaged in June 2016 ?
That trip changed my life forever. Never in a million years could I have imagined that I would someday be living in Croatia. I moved here in May 2017 and we had our Istrian wedding in June 2017 ?
Our situation is a bit abnormal because we had two weddings. We had one in each of our hometowns so both our families and friends could be a part of our special day, or days ;) The first one was in Istria, with mostly Marko’s family and friends. The second one was a bit larger in the United States with both our family and friends.
Our Istrian wedding was a small affair at one of our favorite boutique hotels in Istria called @sanroccohotel
We got married the in adorable pink church next to San Rocco.
I got ready in one of the hotel rooms before the ceremony with my mom, sister and now sister-in-law. I was not familiar with the wedding vendors in Istria, so Marko found most of our vendors and arranged everything. I arrived in Poreč four weeks before the wedding to add the finishing touches.
It was simple and beautiful. We planned it in two months as we needed to get married before the summer for me to legally live in Croatia. We chose San Rocco because we both share a passion for food and San Rocco has one of the best Istrian gourmet experiences. The menu for our wedding was a 5-course culinary dream full of truffles, carpaccio, fresh seafood, meat and did I mention truffles! It was so delicious it was out of this world.
? What differs from American Wedding Culture? ?
?In Croatia, they do not typically do menu tastings for weddings. @sanroccohotel was amazing and arranged a private tasting for us to sample everything and we chose our favorites. I recommend asking if you want one, as many vendors may agree to it.
?They may not offer a cake tasting, so I recommend asking for that, too, if you want one. I did not end up having time to have a cake tasting, but our cake turned out incredible, anyways! I highly recommend @anchutka_pastry .
?Make sure you book your band/DJ for the entire night, not for a certain number of hours. We booked our band for several hours and our wedding ran later than we expected, so they had to leave because they had a second event booked for after our wedding. We ended up having to play music on the sound system from a laptop.
Istrian weddings typically go later than American weddings. Marko’s sister’s wedding went until 5 am. Our wedding in the states went until 11pm.
In Istria, you are required to have a maid of honor called a Kuma and a best man called a Kum. They are considered your witnesses and will sign your marriage certificate. If you are getting legally married in Croatia, and your Kum or Kuma are not Croatian, there will be some paperwork and they will be required to present a birth certificate that was issued in the past 3 months and passport. We were not aware of the newly printed birth certificate requirement, so my sister was not able to be my maid of honor and I needed to find a Kuma that was Croatian, so I chose my now sister-in-law. For the wedding in Istria, I had just a Kuma and for our American wedding, I had 8 bridesmaids. It is not typical to have several bridesmaids in Croatia.
?I recommend hiring a wedding planner to keep everything on track with timing and to help with the planning, especially if you and your partner are not from Istria. I was over an hour late to start taking photos of me getting ready in the hotel room. Because of that, I basically only had a half hour to get pictures and finish getting ready. There was no downtime to enjoy or relax before I walked down the aisle. I was nervous and a little overwhelmed from rushing to take photos in the hotel room before walking down the aisle. A wedding planner could help that transition run smoother by keeping you to a schedule. They can also help you pick out your vendors and negotiate all prices for you in Croatian.
?In general, weddings are way less expensive in Istria than in the United States. From the photography (all of the photos shown were taken by Vera @wedding_croatia . Highly recommend her!) to the cake, makeup, hair, nails, band, flowers etc. All were well below what the wedding we had in the US cost, and both were beautiful events. So, if you’re on a tight budget you may consider getting married in Istria if you want top quality for less!
?Make sure to ask for a makeup trial. You will probably have to pay for a separate session depending on who your makeup artist is to get a makeup trial done. I highly recommend doing this to try out the makeup person if you are not from the area. I highly recommend @helenasoljan for eyebrows and makeup she does a phenomenal job and does the best job on eyebrows that I have ever seen here or anywhere in the US!! It is not typical to hire the makeup artist to come to you where you are getting ready and do your makeup. Make sure you book fairly in advance if you want this because in the summer makeup artists are very busy and normally do several appointments per day. They won’t be able to come to you if they have other appointments that day booked. Mine was 350 Kuna for makeup and 50 Kuna for threading eyebrows (60 US dollars, total), but I had to go to her salon instead of her coming to our location because she had several appointments already booked for that day by the time I booked a makeup appointment. My sister and mom had to go somewhere else, so we were all scattered all over town, which led to us being late for photos together in the hotel room. It would have been much better if we were able to hire the makeup artist to come to San Rocco. Keep this in mind if you are planning on having a Summer wedding!
?They do not normally do flower previews here, so I recommend you have a picture of what you want and show your flower person, so they can create something similar. I went for a simpler look for our Istrian wedding and focused more on greenery.
San Rocco did the flowers for the tables and the church and my mother in law asked her flower lady at the local market to do my bouquet. (Funny enough, I was so nervous on the day of the wedding, I forgot my bouquet in the hotel suite! I walked down the aisle without it!)
You also have the option of hiring a designer to do all the flowers and table settings, but since San Rocco is naturally so beautiful, I didn’t think it was necessary.
?Rehearsal dinners are not done here, and neither are rehearsals...so we didn’t have one in Istria, but we did one for the United States wedding.
?My last point is to keep in mind that if you do not rent out the entire hotel, you will be required to keep the music down to a certain level, and the wedding cannot go past 12 am. We had the reception outside, so we were in the middle of the hotel rooms and the music at night had to be kept down to a certain level.
San Rocco @sanroccohotel is strategically located. Therefore, we were able to drive to what I think is the most beautiful hilltop town in Istria, called Groznjan. Highly recommend!! The pictures turned out incredible. Thanks, Vera!!
And a bit more Groznjan ))
All in all, I am absolutely thrilled with the turnout of our Istrian wedding. It is truly a magical place for weddings and is home to some of the prettiest landscapes I have ever seen. It is the perfect backdrop for a wedding. Also, if you are planning on a tight budget, it is an ideal place to consider. The cuisine is phenomenal and when compared to the price of other locations, it is amazing what you are getting. The truffles alone would cost a fortune in the States!
Hope you find this info useful and feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!