LOCAL NEWLYWEDS Ante and Renata: ‘'Sailing Around Old Town Dubrovnik on a Galleon was the Perfect Touch to our Wedding’
It was the Galleon Tirena that brought Renata Piljić and Ante Bratoš together. Back in 2012, they attended a private party on a 102-foot ship and met for the first time. On the same date four years later, 32-year old Ante, a winemaker and entrepreneur from Konavle, proposed during an evening cruise around the Dubrovnik Old Town. Renata, a 31-year old accountant from Pelješac said ‘yes’ and shed a tear.
‘Of course we had to include the galleon in our wedding plans and of course it had to be on the same date next year,’ says Renata passionately. ‘We booked a wedding hall, a band, photographer and cameraman, signed up in the Saint Blaise Church register and I rented my dream wedding dress for that day,’ But something went very wrong.
‘At my cousin’s wedding I came across old friends and started to chat about the wedding plans as they were organizing their own as well. It turned out they had booked the same hall for the same date. The hall manager double booked us. Since they were first to book, we had to find another date,’ Ante explains.
‘I was furious, but I had no time to be angry. We had to do it all over again’ Renata says. ‘We were lucky to find out at that stage when we could still do something. In Dubrovnik, everything is booked at least a year and a half in advance, Ante adds.
‘Yes, and we actually organized two weddings instead of one. I feel quite experienced after this,’ Renata laughs.
Croats usually don’t use the services of a wedding planner. Couples organize everything by themselves with the help of family and friends regardless of how big or small the wedding is. Nevertheless, there are plenty destination wedding specialists, especially in Dubrovnik.
The groom’s wedding party arrived from Konavle, a picturesque countryside located 19 miles south of Dubrovnik, around three o’clock worrying about grey clouds above the City Walls. They met Renata’s guests in the Gruž Port from where the Tirena galleon sailed into a perfect day: sunny, slightly wavy, just enough to get the ideal sailing experience without getting sick.
‘Somehow, the time spent on the ship put the entire wedding in slow motion; it gave solemnity to the event. It was a true voyage. And the view...the view of the Dubrovnik Walls was spectacular, our guests commented,’ Renata reveals.
The ship docked at the Old City Port and the bride faced a steep wooden bridge in her sandy mermaid dress and high heels. She looked, thought it through, took off the shoes and walked down barefoot with a big smile. The bride and groom could now continue towards St. Blaise Church for their Catholic ceremony.
Once the official part was over and they were Mr. and Mrs. Bratoš for the first time, the party could start...and what a party it was! There were hundreds of people outside the church, a brass band was playing, and red flares were lit. It felt like a royal wedding.
‘We had no idea there were free concerts and cultural programs that Saturday, but it’s fun to say we had a thousand-person wedding and who knows where the pictures of us will end up,’ Ante says.
While the newlyweds had their pictures taken in the charming streets of the Old Town, friends and family went to the Spiona wedding hall in Župa Dubrovačka, a 10 minute car-ride from Dubrovnik.
Upon arrival, cocktails were prepared for guests on the terrace. A pleasant 20 degrees Celsius were ideal for a spring evening. Ante and Renata arrived, followed by a small band. Everyone started to sing and dance. When the atmosphere was at its peak, the fireworks stole the show.
Renata points out that ‘organizing a dream wedding that incorporates tradition and regional customs can be challenging but absolutely worth it.’
It was a sign dinner could start. After saying grace, the host (usually a neighbour and family friend) gave a speech and wished all the best to the young couple. The first of five courses was served.
‘I prefer seafood and Ante is more of a meat-lover, so we agreed to have a traditional dinner that is usually served at weddings in southern Croatia,’ Renata explained.
‘She got creamy black cuttlefish risotto and I pašticada- a stewed beef dish cooked in special sauce- and the guests could choose between the two’ Ante concluded.
The first dance song was Ante’s choice. Vjeruj mi (Believe me) by romantic Mediterranean-inspired Croatian singer Oliver Dragojević, a song high on the first-dance-songs list in the region.
Ante, who used to be a member of a klapa (a male choir that sings in a traditional a capella style) was surrounded by fellow band members and friends with wonderful voices. After a while, they took over the mike and gave a spectacular show. Even the band was amazed. It could be a nice local touch to book a capella choir for an international wedding as well.
Between the music and the food some customs were expelled and some included. ‘I didn’t throw my bouquet because there were maybe three single girls at the wedding it would look funny. Instead, I gave it to my cousin,’ Renata says honestly and adds, smiling ‘we did cut the wedding cake though. It was a gorgeous jaffa-flavoured three layer extravaganza’.
‘In Konavle, at every important celebration, a man dressed in traditional costume toasts to the hosts and their guests by saying traditional verses, so we kept that,’ Ante continued.
‘Overall it was a huge undertaking organizing such a wedding, but it was definitely the best day of our lives. So far, that is,’ concluded Renata. Ante smiled gently.