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How to get married in Croatia?

“The first time you marry for love, the second time for money, and the third for companionship.” This is how the ex First lady of United States of America, Jackie Kennedy, understood the marriage. I am not going to fall in deep analyses or to try to argue with this statement, I just want to say that in any case and motivation, first you need to get married. 

Main photo by: Irena Trkulja

However, in this article I would love to present you some unique customs coming from my favorite country, Croatia. So, dear readers who have chosen to get married for a Croatians or are in deep search of something originally for your wedding day, prepare to take some notes how to get married in Croatia.


Every marriage starts with a romantic and special moment – the proposal. Normally, according the movies, the man on his knees and with ring in his hand asks the woman for the honor to become his wife. But… In Croatia is a bit different. In the old times, young Croatian men used to made proposals with… be prepared… an apple. How does it sound to you? However, this is not the end! The apple is not ordinary, there are coins stuck in it! In some cases coins can be replaced by cookies, Croatian people them “paprenjak”. Apple is used to replace the ring.


Buying the bride

So, the first step is done, apple is given and accepted, then it comes the wedding day. I would say that the funniest part is on the way. The groom needs to buy his bride. How does this work?

On the wedding day, groom arrives in front of the girl’s house with a solid backup - musicians and the best man. They are yelling into a window that he wants to marry a girl. Then one of her friends opens the door and ask for “otkup” (redemption). After long negotiations and a certain amount, the bride is “sold” and the groom can take her away.

There are some certain cases in which the bride can be awarded not with money, but with a glass of strong homemade alcoholic drink – “rakija”. If the drink has excellent taste and quality, the family could be convinced to give away the girl. Finally, if all these methods don’t work out, the groom may do a certain amount of push-ups in order to show physical strength, or even sing a song about bride’s beauty.


Photo by: N.E. Solórzano

In these funny negotiations money is not the most important — in fact, the most valuable thing is the groom’s promise to love his wife unconditionally with all his heart.

The happy ending comes when the sale is agreed upon and the groom proves himself worthy of the bride, her family joins the group outside and both parties leave for the church.


Apart of the bride and the groom in Croatian weddings there is another important role – this one of “barjaktar“. Barjaktar is the one who carries and waves the Croatian flag in front of the wedding procession on their way to church, town hall, or a banquet hall.  This is very honorable and responsible duty – basically, this person guides the whole road of the wedding procession.


Photo by: Irena Trkulja

Family pants

After the church comes the funniest part of every wedding – the celebration. The Croatians are nor that odd when it comes to that part. Most of their traditions and commons are known all over the world. That is why I won’t stop on the very common customs.

Here you are some special believes which could be very useful if you decide to get married in Croatia. There is an old Croatian custom which is used to be determined the head of the family. Or how the Croatian people say: “Who is going to wear pants in the house?” After the ceremony, there is a small completion for just married couple – the first one who steps on the other leg will be leader of the family. There is another version - the newly wedded pair would race to the church doors.

Throw rice on wedding cuple!

Finally, just before the party is over, the bride has a very important task to predict the happy future of her family. How? She needs to perform a certain task – before her husband carries her into their wedding night, she has to throw something. Like most of time in Croatia, a glass of rakija or an apple would work out. If the thrown item fails to reach the roof of the building, a happily ever after expects the new family. However, if the item comes back, it is believed that is a bad luck and the new couple may divorce.

The last test for happy future of the new-born family is how the bride and the mother in law will get along. If you ask me, this is way much more important than the thrown glass of rakija on the roof… So, when the bride enters in her new home, her mother in law gives her a glass of wine. The bride has to drink and throw it away over her shoulder. BUT the catchy moment is that this should be the right one – otherwise… Poor groom… 


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