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Say “I Do” in Croatia

Saying 'I do' in Croatia (photo: Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec)

Saying ‘I do’ in Croatia (photo: Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec)

By Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec

When I got married 18 years ago, I forgot all that I learned in my career as an event planner and was as easy-going as a bride-to-be could be. We had about 10 people at the wedding, got married by the Justice of the Peace (Croatian Equivalent), had a reception at a Chinese Restaurant (even though it was the first such foreign food my in-laws ever ate) and our greatest expense was the photography and my husband’s traditional Croatian suit. We did create unique moments on a budget, I had a custom-made hat from a century’s old atelier in Dubrovnik and my husband arranged a horse and buggy ride through Maksimir Park. My dress was bought off the rack in a non-wedding shop in Vatican City about a month before the actual bended knee proposal with an 1930’s antique engagement ring. Come to think of it, the price tag adds up if you consider the travel as we lived in Dubrovnik, went to Rome for my dress, got engaged in New Jersey and married in Zagreb. So even when one thinks their wedding will be simple, there are many ways in which to get carried away.

For today’s modern bride there are wedding fairs, like the one that started their tradition the same year I tied the knot. Wedding Fair Zagreb was held this past weekend at Arena Zagreb, the venue was filled with over 200 exhibitors catering to the needs of those in wedding planning mode. The festivities included runway shows, workshops with wedding planners, tastings of wines and sweets as well as decorations galore: decorating the couple with jewels and bedazzled gowns, hair and makeup stylists, floral designs, tableware, invitations, fancy cars and photographers to catch every moment of the big day and peripheral events. We investigated by asking the same question we heard asked over and over….how much?

Wedding Fair Zagreb (photo: Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec)

Wedding Fair Zagreb (photo: Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec)

Here is a rundown of what we found out from a few of the vendors that were happy to answer…

5 – 15 Kuna pp Invitations range from the simple postcard with fun graphics to the custom die-cuts mimicking lace.

2-5000 Kuna Croatians sometimes skip the engagement ring altogether and opt for a pair of matching wedding bands. Those who do splurge on an engagement ring often go for .1, .2, or .3 carat diamond in a simple setting.

Wedding Fair Zagreb (photo: Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec)

Wedding Fair Zagreb (photo: Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec)

4-7000 Kuna Full service decorating of the ride between venues, the church, lapel florals for the guests, the reception room, the bridal party for just the right atmosphere that reflects the color and style of the bride and groom.

1- 2500 Kuna To have a multi-tiered cakes prices start at 1000 kuna but with custom flavours and fancy decorations the price goes up. Many people opt to supplement with sweet trays for the guests which can add additional 50-70 Kuna per person.

3-400 Kuna pp Meals for all guests usually average 300 to 400 kuna per person but as weddings in Croatia go to the wee hours of the morning with food courses being plentiful.

200 Kuna Bridal make-up per hour.

Wedding Fair Zagreb (photo: Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec)

Wedding Fair Zagreb (photo: Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec)

6000 Kuna Rental The dress fashions have off-white and even colors increasing in popularity as are detachable pieces to go from fancy to party ready. Most brides are opting to rent their gowns with only 10% committing to the purchase which would double the price in most cases.

900-2000 Kuna Custom made shoes are not a problem as long as you don’t mind paying extra than your average pair of shoes. You can also manage to get a custom kicks (sneakers) for 400-500 a pair.

Wedding Fair Zagreb (photo: Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec)

Wedding Fair Zagreb (photo: Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec)

2500 Kuna and up Wedding lighting

For those considering Croatia for a Destination Wedding, the prices described above are for your average Croatian wedding according to local standards, we consulted a top wedding planner to give us the scoop on Weddings for Foreigners. Ines Nanić has been in the wedding and event business for 10 years and for the past 8 she has been Managing Director of Dubrovnik Event. Her headquarters are in Dubrovnik but she was a special guest of the Wedding Fair Zagreb. She was conducting workshops and participating in panel discussions at the event as she is recognized authority — being also a columnist and blogger.

Ines Nanić (3rd from left) at a panel discussion at Wedding Fair Zagreb

Ines Nanić (3rd from left) at a panel discussion at Wedding Fair Zagreb (photo: Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec)

Croatia Week: What are current trends in weddings you see right now?

Ines Nanić: The top trends include smaller wedding sizes. We are seeing more demand for 50-75 person weddings. There is also a trend of back to basics. Brides used to demand exotic florals and now they are opting for rustic and domestic herbs like rosemary and lavender. It’s now all about the gardens. Many people used to request venues by the sea and now the trend is more grass less water.

Croatia Week: Is Dubrovnik a more expensive location compared to Zagreb?

Ines Nanić: It really depends…Dubrovnik may be more expensive with regards to food and beverage for the reception but services provided by photographers, djs and bands will actually be less expensive than Zagreb.

Croatia Week: How busy is your wedding season?

Ines Nanić: We work all year-long. We have 30 to 40 weddings from May 1 through November 1 so that is when our operations are in full gear. December through April we are still active in planning with clients and business partners.

Croatia Week: Who are your main clients?

Ines Nanić: Ninety percent of our business are foreigners with no family ties to Croatia and the other 10% are Croatian or of Croatian descent. Mainly our couples come from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, the US and Canada but about 2 years ago we became extremely popular with clients from Lebanon.

Croatia Week: Why do you think Croatia is becoming a popular choice for Destination Weddings?

Ines Nanić: The destination is attractive because of the weather, direct flight connections and a close airport to the venues as well as the originality of having Dubrovnik as it’s a newer “in” destination as seen by the market.

Dubrovnik (photo credit:  Diego Delso - Commons)

Dubrovnik (photo credit: Diego Delso – Commons)

Croatia Week: What do your services include?

Ines Nanić: The couples take care of the invites, the wedding party attire and the rings outside of Croatia. We take care of all the paperwork, airport transfers, accommodations, hair, make-up, beauty spa, photography, video, flowers, cakes, venues, menus, day before, day of, day after. Honeymoons we usually make suggestions of which islands to visit and possibly where to stay.

Croatia Week: How do you feel about non-white wedding gowns?

Ines Nanić: I love it! Any way the bride and groom want to customize and personalize their wedding the better. It makes the event that much more special and about the couple as its their special day. It should be memorable. We love tailored events suited to special requests.


Wedding Fair Zagreb (photo: Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec)

Croatia Week: What do you think is one of the keys to your success?

Ines Nanić: Definitely our team that is well-trained and our partners. We value our partners and trust them to deliver. We know their strengths and choose the vendors that will be a good fit for our customers. For example, we work with 3 different photographers who have different style preferences. There are documentary style where the photographer will refuse to do any posed shots which results in a more artistic look and then there is the formal with many posed shots and the informal with lots of candids capturing spontaneous moments.

Croatia Week: Can you tell us how much it costs for a wedding in Dubrovnik?

Ines Nanić: For a wedding with about 50 guests, it runs about 15,000 Euros.

Wedding Fair Zagreb (photo: Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec)

Wedding Fair Zagreb (photo: Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec)

Wedding Cost Comparison
UK average wedding costs about GBP24,000 pounds and destination wedding ranges between 6-7000 pounds
US average weddings costs about US $34,000 for about 136 guests.
Canada’s average wedding including honeymoon is around CAN$31,000


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