Louise & Matt
Louise and Matt’s ongoing love affair with Croatia made it a natural choice for their wedding abroad location. The couple decided to go it alone and managed to successfully plan a wedding in Croatia that was not only unique but also budget friendly. An intimate family centred celebration, including not one, but two of their 90 year old grandmothers!
I love Louise and Matt’s story…it’s a wonderful example of anything is possible! Throughout their wedding journey, Louise was a great contributor in our Closed Facebook Group, Weddings Abroad Guide Community, so we were delighted when she agreed to share her tips and advice on how to plan a wedding in Croatia – DIY style! Thank you Louise!
From: UK / Ireland
Nearest Airport: Zadar
Number of Guests: 15
We Chose a Wedding Abroad Because…
I’m Irish and Matt is from the UK so it was very important for us not to have our wedding day pass by too quickly. We wanted to spend time with our families, so combining our wedding with a holiday was important to us.
It was never really about saving money for us but as we had been to Croatia many times, we knew we could give all of our guests a better time in Croatia than in the UK for a similar price. We paid for all of our guests flights and accommodation too.
It then just so happened that we managed to do everything ‘on the cheap’. Everything came in less than what we had budgeted for – absolutely everything. And this was just a bonus as our day was just magical!
We Chose our Wedding Destination Because…
We love Croatia and have been lucky enough to travel through most of the country, it is amazing! The people are friendly and the prices are good.
Our Wedding Day Vision…
We wanted a chilled, laid-back and picturesque day and we knew Croatia could deliver this.
How we Planned…
DIY – literally did everything myself.
I found my unique venue – Apartment Cunfi (Ante Soric) – Bibinje, Croatia on Airbnb, and my photographer Filip Brala on Facebook – everything else was winged and organised online or when I got to Croatia.
Weddings Abroad Community Facebook Group was so helpful offering advice and I also found Jencenja Sa Stilom website beneficial.
Google Translate was my best friend!
Instagram and clever use of hashtags were good too!
The Biggest Advantage of Having a Wedding Abroad…
Spending time with our nearest and dearest, having a magical time and the weather!
The Biggest Challenges of Planning Were…
I can’t stress enough how difficult the paperwork and legalities were. If I was doing it all over again I would get someone to help me with this.
Because I decided to plan a wedding in Croatia myself, I didn’t think I needed to use a wedding planner. I had my location, etc and my Airbnb host said that he would help with the registrar, which he did. He booked in the date and sent us all of the details we needed to provide, he was the liaison and we did everything as requested. However, the registrar turned out to be quite difficult in the end.
We had sent all of the documents to her more than 30 days before our wedding and then 2 days before we left for the wedding she was asking for a document that we had never heard off and told us we must contact the embassy, this document was never mentioned in any communications or any research I had done. The embassy couldn’t help either so we told her if she wrote down exactly what we needed we would drive the hours and hours to Zagreb if needed – suddenly we didn’t need this document!
Two days before the wedding we go to meet the registrar, we are turned away at the door because Matt was wearing shorts and also because we didn’t have our translator with us (at no point where we told we needed a translator for this meeting as we believed she just needed to see the originals of all of the documents). After a frantic rush back to get changed we called a translator who was available and she agreed to meet us later in the afternoon at the registry office.
The Meeting lasted over an hour, the registrar went through every single document, line by line and questioned EVERYTHING – my birth certificate had the name of the hospital and not the city I was born in – she wasn’t happy with this and the translator found it very difficult to explain that is what was printed on the birth certificate! We also had difficulties proving the difference between Matt’s legal name and his fathers surname which is on his Birth certificate. Even down to our occupations – we were told Matt’s occupation as a ‘Buyer’ was too generic and once he explained exactly what his job was, as complicated as it is, Buyer was then enough! She also took the copies of the witness passports, etc.
When payment and cost of the wedding came up she was very sketchy and they kept on saying “if we want to leave the office (have the ceremony at our venue) it would be an extra €550 euro”. Previously we had been told that the cost for the ceremony to be performed at the venue would be €500. They were leading us to believe that for the registrar to leave the office (perform the ceremony at our venue) it was going to cost over €1000 and the translator was not keen either and kept saying its easier if you do it here (in the registry office)!
My reception was being held back at the apartment we were renting anyway, so without even needing to discuss it, for the sake of a 10 minute ceremony we agreed to get married at the registry office!
So by getting married in the registry office we saved the € amount on not needing to pay the registrar to leave and we just needed to pay the translator for 1 hour. We left the office happy with instructions to bring the state stamps (that’s how you pay for legal things in Croatia) and we double checked if we needed to bring anything else – we were told only the stamps were required…
Fast forward to the wedding day and when I arrive there was a look of panic on my mother and mother in laws faces and I was rushed to hide away from Matt, who I could hear was getting quite agitated with both the translator and the registrar. It turns out because our witnesses didn’t bring their passports she was not willing to conduct the ceremony. The copies she had taken 48 hours beforehand were no longer valid.
Then the registrar started saying that she never knew anything about our wedding and only found out on Monday- which was not true as she had all of our documents in advance and our Airbnb host had booked our ceremony date in January!
Anyway it was agreed that they would delay the ceremony by an hour to let the witnesses go and get their passports. Before they left (I was still hiding in the toilets as all of this went on) the photographer asked if he could be a witness, he was Croatian and carried a national ID card. He was accepted and all of a sudden it was then okay for the best man to be a witness as he had carried his driver’s license in his wallet – our bridesmaid was no longer allowed be a witness.
But luckily we were able to get on with the ceremony – it turns out our bridesmaid’s name is what is on our wedding certificate anyway!
So if you want to plan a wedding in Croatia, definitely get a professional to deal with all of the paperwork and legalities, no amount of service charge for this is too expensive. My wedding was supposed to be at 2.00pm in a beautiful treehouse, but at 2.15pm I had believed it was never going to happen. Luckily thanks to the photographer it did but it was nail-biting and at that moment I just wish I had of paid someone to take that stress away.
But we did learn it is actually VERY CHEAP to get married in the registry office (but who wants to go abroad to get married in a registry office!?). For the sake of a 10 minute ceremony, you can be out in the world getting the most beautiful photos straight afterwards. The total cost was about £50 in state stamps, and the translator charged us for 2 hours at £50 per hour! Absolute bargain!
Do it exactly the way you want. Don’t believe the first answer/quote you get, anything is possible! And get help on the legalities/paperwork.
I Wish I Had …
I wish I had of not stressed out as much.
The Croatian people are amazing and went above and beyond to give us a very special time (registrar and translator excluded).
We had a civil ceremony, which in the end was held in the registry office (unfortunately).
We then had ‘photo time’ straight afterwards in Zadar old town, this lasted for 2 hours. We opened a tab at a snack bar where our guests could eat and drink what they wanted whilst we were off getting the photos.
When we returned we all moved on to a local restaurant where we had booked a table and then returned to the ‘Treehouse’ where our wedding was originally planned for… we had previously bought a ton of food and drink and we had our own wedding play list so it was just the most perfect, personal occasion.
It lasted till 5.00am as the ‘young people’ moved on to the hot tub- it was just so much fun!
On the Day…
Morning – Collect flowers, hair and make up.
Afternoon – Photographer arrived to take preparation photos.
Then we all moved to the registry office. Finished by 2.30pm.
2.30pm – Zadar old town, photos and snacks.
5.30pm – Restaurant reservation.
8.30pm – Party in the Treehouse.
My Favourite Part of the Day…
The ‘fanclub’ of tourists taking photos of us and the well wishes that came from locals. I felt like I was famous, it was amazing. Our photographer Filip Brala, was local and he knew the perfect spots to take amazing photos.
The restaurant surprised us with champagne and a chocolate tart which was very lovely.
And the party back at the Treehouse – it was everything I had imagined and more after I had found it on Airbnb!
I bought my dress on ASOS and the lads suits were from Next. The flowergirl dresses were bought in TK Maxx and the bridesmaid dress was on sale in a shop in Ireland!
I couldn’t find a cream coloured veil anywhere for less than £120 so I bought a white one off ebay for £6 and dip dyed it in cold tea (yes teabags) and the colour turned out perfectly.
All in all, total wedding attire for bride, bridesmaid, 3 mens suits, 2 flowergirl outfits and mother of the bride including shoes and accessories was about £1000 – less than what most brides pay for 1 dress and we BOUGHT EVERYTHING FOR 8 PEOPLE!
How we Transported our Wedding Attire…
Packed it in suitcase just as we left for airport and took it out the second we collected our bags. I was travelling Ryanair and I didn’t want them to be funny.
You don’t have to think wedding at every turn. It actually works out better to think outside of the box!
I bought all of my decorations in Poundland (after xmas sale) for 50p or 25p each and the lights and glass decorations all worked so well. Everything else came from ebay. Most of the decorations I had were Christmas decorations and that worked very well!!!
We are having a wedding party in September and ‘announced’ our secret wedding by posting invites to the party!
Final Piece of Advice to Plan a Wedding in Croatia, DIY Style…
When I was contacting suppliers for flowers and cakes I was getting very expensive quotes by email, etc. I didn’t book anything at all before I arrived.
In my mind I was thinking I will just buy bouquets of flowers if I can’t get anything made up. I actually found a florist who did everything for me, my bouquet and bridesmaid bouquet and 2 flowergirl baskets for the equivalent of £40 – the quotes that came through online were more like £300!
And we brought the cake over in hand luggage.
Post-Wedding Photo Shoot
Three days after their wedding, the couple rounded up their Croatian wedding celebrations with a gorgeous couples shoot by Filip Brala.
I would like to thank Louise and Matt for sharing their inspirational wedding story and images and for being such a great contributor to our Facebook Wedding Community. We wish you a lifetime of happiness.
Like Louise, my husband and I also planned our own wedding abroad. If you’re thinking of doing the same…I know you will find loads of help and tips in our Weddings Abroad Guide Community. It’s a private Facebook Group for couples getting married abroad and wedding professionals.
The Perfect Partners:
Wedding Planner: Lousie DIY // Wedding Photographer: Filip Brala // Ceremony Venue: Registry office (Zadar) // Reception Venue: Snack Bar Mario- Zadar Old Town – Restoran Torkul (Bibinje) – Treehouse: Airbnb – Apartment Cunfi (Ante Soric) – Bibinje, Croatia // Bridal Dress: Asos // Bridal Shoes: Deichmann // Grooms Attire: Next // Bridesmaids Dress: Pamela Scott Dublin // Flowergirl: TK Maxx // Hair & Makeup: Self // Music: Spotify playlist! // Wedding Flowers: Lorenz, Zadar // Wedding Stationery: Gilly and Rob, Wexford, Ireland.
The above images are courtesy of photographer Filip Brala and family and friends
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