(Photo credit Petar Jurica)
More and more young foreign couples are turning to Croatia for their special day. TCN meets a leading Croatian wedding planner to find out why.
Croatia is one of the hottest tourism spots in Europe, and with more than 8 billion euro in revenue so far in 2015, it is a vital part of the national economy. But there are lesser reported booms ongoing as well, such as the sharp rise in foreign weddings on the country’s Adriatic coast and islands in recent years, as young couples – many from the UK – choose a more picturesque and cost effective special day in the sun. The increase has led to the rise to prominence of the Croatian wedding planner, and Total Croatia News caught up with the owner of leading agency Adriatic Weddings Croatia, Tamara Shatkova, on October 9, 2015 to find out more.
Originally from Moldova, and with an international hosptitality background which has included America, Switzerland and China, Shatkova moved to Croatia with her Croatian husband in 2011 and opened a tourist agency. Having always dreamed of becoming a wedding planner, she came across a future bride looking for help organising a wedding on a blog, and the rest is history. In four short years, Adriatic Weddings Croatia has become one of the most respected wedding planners in the country, and with an increasingly international and exotic clientele.
1. Croatia is becoming one of the hip tourist destinations in Europe, and it seems that foreign people are also deciding to get married there in greater numbers. Can you tell us a little about the rise of foreign weddings in Croatia in recent years?
Interest in weddings in Croatia is definitely booming. I would say we have received 50% more requests compared to last year, which in itself saw a large rise on the previous year. While we have been getting requests primarily from Europe, this year included many requests from all over the world. And when I ask couples why they decided to choose Croatia for their destination wedding, many of them have never been here, but just heard good things or came across some wedding photos or vidoes. Social networks and weddings blogs are definitely giving good exposure to weddings in Croatia.
I also believe that people are looking for something new, a destination where their guests have never been to. Croatia has more diversity to offer than, for example, the Pacific islands – culture, history and demographic diversity dating back thousands of years, in addition to its stunning setting.
2. Croatia is famous for its bueaucracy. How much paperwork is involved for foreign couples, and how easy is that to navigate?
Ouch, indeed bureaucracy. What a nightmare! Actually it is quite the opposite these days. We do encounter issues regarding paperwork, but these are easily solved with the cooperative offical offices involved. Registrars have the freedom to interpret regulations, but all is done by the Law and Regulations of Croatia. The authorities generally realise that there must be some flexibility due to our clients being abroad, and with the appropriate planning and setting of expectations, all paperwork issues are resolved.
(Photo credit Jessica Lee Latone)
3. With such a spectacular coast and islands, there must be a wealth of great locations. What are the top three wedding destinations in Croatia in your experience, and what does each have to offer?
The island of Hvar is still our top destination. Most of our weddings are there as it has everything a couple is looking for: superb venues, wide choice of accommodation, great restaurants and nightlife. For those who prefer to stay on the mainland, Split and Dubrovnik are the most popular choices. Both cities have rich culture and great venues for any group size and budget.
4. Wedding planning is stressful for any bride, but wedding planning from distance especially so. How do you cope with stressed brides in another country?
Weddings are my passion, and as a wedding planner I work very closely with each couple. We never put a limit on our help, advice and presence. We are always there for them whenever they need.
(Photo credit Petar Jurica)
5. The average UK wedding is now in the region of £30,000. Each wedding is obviously different, but can you comment on price comparisons?
The prices highly depend on location, venue and date of the wedding. Weddings in Croatia are less expensive and will probably cost 20-30% less than a similar wedding back home, but again.. it all depends!
6. Getting married in a more exotic location can obviously be combined with a honeymoon in the same location, as well as a summer holiday for guests. Does this happen a lot in practice?
Croatia has a beautiful coast, so yes, many couples stay for few more days to experience different regions of Croatia, especially those who come from distance. They often stay for 7-14 days.
7. From which countries are the majority of your guests coming from?
Most of the couples are from UK. We also have a lot of couples from Australia, Canada, Germany and Russia. However recently we have weddings from totally new markets, for example United States, Lebanon, Kenya and South Africa.
(Photo credit Petar Jurica)
8. What advice would you give to couples considering getting married in Croatia?
The most important piece of advice – plan ahead. Popular wedding venues get booked 18 months in advance, therefore we suggest to start planning early if you don’t want your choices limited! Send save the dates cards as soon as possible so you can allow your guests to incorporate your wedding into their holidays.
Look after your guests. Your wedding guests will go though a lot of effort and expense travelling to your wedding so it is important to make sure they feel appreciated and are well looked after. Putting up a website with all the necessary information will be very helpful and we of course will be more than happy to provide you with the list of accommodation, activities, transportation options and ferry schedules. It is also nice to provide additional events for your guests as they will usually have travelled for a long weekend or even a week so organising a welcome dinner or cocktail before the wedding and arranging something the day after, such as brunch or a BBQ, are always a good idea.
Hire a wedding planner. Getting married anywhere in the world is easy but it can get complicated and stressful, especially if you don’t speak the language and are not very familiar with the venue. A professional wedding planner will have vast knowledge of the area and will provide the very best team of suppliers. You shouldn’t have to be worrying about the logistics of your event, but rather sit back, relax and enjoy!
9. And finally, can you show us a couple of your favourite wedding locations – something for a larger crowd and something a little more intimate for a small wedding?
Bonj Le Bains in Hvar is our top destination. Located on the water in a 1930s colonnade overlooking the Pakleni Islands, the venue is ideal for 50-200 guests. It is also part of a large hotel which helps with ease of accommodation and catering. A delightful spot.
Martinis Marchi Castle on the island of Solta near Split, ideal for more intimate weddings (10-90 guests). Considered as a unique wedding venue on the Adriatic coast, this 300 year-old Castle surrounds a peaceful and intimate pool terrace suitable for smaller parties and charming ceremonies, as well as offering a magnificent Meditteranean park surrounding the Castle.
Mestrovic Gallery in Split. By day one of Croatia’s most important museums, housing the work of famous sculptor Ivan Mestrovic, the gallery is ideal for weddings of 50-300 people, with a beautiful Mediterranean garden combined with rich culture and history and a view towards the sea and the central Dalmatian islands perfect for both ceremony and dinner settings.
(Photo credit Image studio)