Lifestyle / destination weddings
Destination weddings in Croatia
The one trend that has shown constant growth over the past several years is destination weddings. According to some statistics, 25% of couples had a destination wedding planned in 2020. Popularity is growing due to lower costs and the opportunity to make your wedding special, unique and unforgettable.
Having a destination wedding is a memorable event for both the couple and their guests. It comes with a lot of benefits, but primarily it is much cheaper than having it at your local venue. It might seem surprising but an average traditional wedding in the US costs up to 20% more compared to an average destination wedding.
This comes with a few cons, including a limited guest list, but the positive points outweigh the negative as couples can get creative and have unlimited personalisation options. The ceremony is not burdened by the unwritten protocol of traditions that usually occur at a traditional wedding.
Stressing about the weather, guests’ expectations and lack of themes are all gone once the perfect destination and team are selected and the experts take over.
A list of top destinations is constantly growing and changing. The world’s most popular location in Las Vegas is the marriage capital of the world, counting 80 thousand weddings per year! The common top 5 spots are Hawaii, Mexico, Italy, and the Maldives.
Couples have the difficult task of selecting the perfect location. They have to work out the logistics, transport and accommodation, their ideal climate and stay within the budget.
In the last few years, Croatia has begun to appear on the map of desirable destination wedding locations. The country of a thousand islands, a mild Mediterranean climate on the Adriatic Coast, and medieval towns are offering dreamy venues that will make guests’ events memorable.
We had a quick chat with three wedding experts in Croatia to tell us a bit more about the trends and opportunities. Martina Rakić from Weddings in Croatia and Tina Maligec from Lapor Vjencanja and Chantal Holik from Destination Weddings Croatia were happy to share their expertise with us.
What are the most popular locations for destination weddings in Croatia?
Weddings in Croatia: It’s Dubrovnik, already popular because of Game of Thrones. Split and Hvar are traditionally popular thanks to good flight connections. Istria follows and its popularity grows each year, especially in German-speaking countries and The UK. The Tourist Board of Istria started the branding project to promote it in the upcoming period. We personally joined the campaign with two movies showing attractive Brijuni and San Canziano, presenting Istria as a region with unique venues.
Lepor Weddings: It all depends on a couple’s preference, those from inland will dream of a wedding by the sea and vice versa. We mostly work in Istria where we can point out several venues such as small luxury hotels San Canzian Village & Hotel, Meneghetti Wine Hotel, San Rocco, near-the-sea venues Villa Polesini, Red Island, NP Brijuni, private villas with huge outdoor space Villa Poropati, Stancija Negrin, Castle Belaj, Agroturizam Paladnjaki. Thanks to the increased popularity of Istra, many new locations are joining the list as we speak!
Destination Weddings Croatia: The three most popular would be Dubrovnik, Hvar, and Istria. If we are considering specific locations or venues, probably the most popular ceremony location would be the Sponza Palace in Dubrovnik. Some of the more popular reception venues are Fort Lovrijenac in Dubrovnik, Beach Club Hvar formerly Bonj les Bains, Villa Dalmacija in Split, Hutterott Castle in Rovinj and Villa Polesini in Poreč.
How did COVID-19 influence the industry?
Weddings in Croatia: The number of destination weddings dropped not only in Croatia but in the most world-famous destinations such as Italy and Mexico. Many decided to get married in their home country, while braver ones still choose attractive destinations in a different form: micro weddings.
Lepor Weddings: The whole sector saw a big drop in reservations and clients are still careful when choosing Croatia or any other destination around the globe. However, Croatia has a chance for a fast recovery as the pandemic calms down, as we record an increased number of inquiries.
Destination Weddings Croatia: The majority of weddings due to take place in 2020 were postponed to 2021 and only a small number were able to take place on their originally intended date.
The couples postponed, rather than cancelled because they wanted their wedding to be in beautiful surroundings. Many elopements were booked at the last minute and held in 2020 so this is a trend that has grown and will probably continue being popular over the next period in time. We believe that couples still consider Croatia to be a safe country since enquiries did not stop but merely decreased.
What are the latest trends?
Weddings in Croatia: Smaller intimate weddings are a trend. To replace traditional ceremonies of around 100 guests, couples now prefer intimate ceremonies with families and close friends. These weddings are unique, with high attention to detail, and experiencing a small wedding with a carefully selected guest list makes it a special experience.
Lepor Weddings: Speaking of trends we note an increase in intimate weddings. We had several situations where clients didn’t want to cancel their wedding, they reduced the number of guests and enjoyed being surrounded by family and closest friends. We adjusted flexibility in our terms and conditions when it comes to offers/contracts whether it is a cancellation or rescheduling. During the pandemic, we learned the value of understanding, support, and empathy which are now even more prominent when we are approaching our clients.
Destination Weddings Croatia: Major trends are elopements, micro, and pop-up weddings. Wedding planners in Croatia have recognised those trends even before the COVID-19 pandemic and have started offering elopement packages as part of their services. Micro and pop-up weddings have yet to gain the popularity the elopements hold, but these are trends that will probably remain in the industry for the next couple of years.
Another big trend was live streaming, many Croatian videographers offer the service, allowing family members to feel included if they can’t attend.
What are your expectations for 2021?
Weddings in Croatia: We are being optimistic that during the summer months we’ll be able to have weddings. With the implementation of a specific set of rules, it was available even last summer, and with the arrival of the vaccine, we are hoping for positive outcomes regarding celebrations and gatherings.
Lepor Weddings: Currently, we have a lot of inquiries from Croatian clients. We believe that clients from Germany, Austria and Slovenia planning their weddings will be able to get married during the summer, with a limited guest list, while bigger events will still be on hold. The main reason is that even if all measures are removed, it takes several months, even a year, to plan out such an event.
Destination Weddings Croatia: In 2021 we’ll see the rise of micro weddings, and the focus will shift the true meaning of getting married. Intimate family gatherings will be what’s important, rather than throwing a huge party for everyone you know. Recent news of UK flights opening in May for all the major airports in coastal Croatia is a light of hope!
Do you have any new projects and ideas planned for the future?
Weddings in Croatia: Other than having Weddings in Croatia agency, in 2014 we launched a new brand, an academy Wedding Organizer that is verified by the Ministry of Education, meaning it is an officially certified occupation. It’s a project we normally work on in the off-season, but this year we started new webinars about wedding organisation, digital advertising and legal questions. We believe knowledge is power and it is the reason why we introduce new things. Croatia is rich with experts from different areas and sectors ready to share their knowledge and experience.
Lepor Weddings: We concentrated mostly on preparing and organising our business, standardisation, promo materials, social media, and discovery of new locations across Istria. In cooperation with our partners, we did four styled shootings in the past six months. The idea was to introduce new locations on the market, illustrate weddings in quiet times showing different designs connected to the location. We are preparing another project of showing micro-location options in Istria.
Destination Weddings Croatia: Our project Destination Weddings Croatia blog will see some reinforcements and improvements in the upcoming period as we are planning on acquiring new team members which should bring a new and fresh perspective to our content. In addition to that, we are in the process of launching our new brand which is a destination wedding planning agency. However, we will only start booking for weddings due to take place in 2022. As bloggers, we are very excited to track and report all the trends and happenings in destination weddings in Croatia and the 2021 wedding season.