Traditional Weddings

30 Apr 2018

An old-fashioned Croatian wedding can be a picturesque affair. Wedding customs often differ according to the region. Some of the old customs at weddings in the Dubrovnik region sound pretty risky to us, so perhaps it’s just as well that times have changed in some ways. But especially in the hinterland, you might find old habits linger to this day…
Probably because of the fact that this part of the world was invaded so many times, weddings had a semi-military aspect which meant the conspicuous involvement of firearms - bringing a whole new meaning to the term “shotgun wedding.” The groom had a group of “best men” (called svatovi) who would form a guard of honour in front of the church in readiness for the bride’s arrival. When she did, they would start shooting like crazy, so it’s safe to say you needed earplugs, a flak jacket and nerves of steel as essential kit when attending a local wedding.
In the Dubrovnik region the bride also had a band of svatovi, women with a role similar to maids of honour. Disappointingly, their role did not include brandishing live firearms but it did involve giving a running commentary on every aspect of the wedding in song, which was perhaps even more frightening.
In the old days it was customary for a bride to leave her home and move in with her husband and his family. Some of the more picturesque traditions involve preparing the bride for this moment and invoking good fortune for her new life. The bride’s clothes would be packed into a trunk, and her husband-to-be would climb onto the trunk the Thursday before the wedding with a glass of wine in hand, ceremonially spill a drop onto each of the four corners of the trunk, then dash the glass on the ground. What this meant we’re not sure. It’s easier to interpret the spoonful of honey given to the bride by her new mother-in-law, to give a sweet taste to her new life.


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