Croatia is steeped in history and like most European countries, it has wedding traditions that stretch back hundreds and even thousands of years. Read our guide for more facts & information on traditional Croatian weddings…
For Croatians, Saturday is the day to get married and the venue should be in the town the bride was baptized in. On the morning of the wedding, the groom leads a procession towards the home of his wife-to-be. At the front with the groom is a Barjaktas, who carries a Croatian flag and they are followed by musicians who play and sing songs all the way.
The best man must carry a bag of money and sweets with him. On his way to the bride’s house and later the church, local children will shout to him, “Best-man there’s a hole in your bag!” to which he must respond with gifts of sweets or money.
When the music from the groom’s procession can be heard at the bride’s house, it is one of the many traditions in Croatia for him to be offered three fake brides. The first will often be a man, the second a bridesmaid and the third fake bride offered will be the best man (both male fake brides dress as women).
When the groom rejects the three of them, his real bride is brought from the house and offered to him. The two of them then walk together to the church leading a procession of family and friends singing songs and playing traditional Croatian wedding music.
These days many couples choose to have their processions follow them in cars, with the groom arriving at the church first, then the bride arriving after him in the best vehicle followed by her guests and musicians.
European Wedding Traditions
Traditional wedding practices in Croatia within the church vary from one denomination to the other, but as 75% of the country is Catholic, most services follow the standard formula as laid out by the Vatican.
Another tradition that the country shares with many others in Europe is the custom of the bride throwing her bouquet into a crowd of singles from amongst her guests. The girl who catches the flowers is said to be the next to marry.
Similarly in Croatia, a group of eligible young men from the guests gather at the wedding dinner to watch the groom remove a garter from his bride’s leg, with his teeth! The garter is then thrown over his shoulder and the man who catches it will be the next one to marry.
Perhaps the wedding tradition that sums up the sense of community of the Croatian wedding is the fact that the entertainment is not just done by professionals (though often they are hired too), but friends and family provide the songs and music while actively participating in the celebrations.