Wedding Customs in and Around Pula

Pula, one of the most beautiful and interesting cities on the Istrian Peninsula, is situated on a hill, its slopes descending to the waters of  a deep, wind protected bay. Because of its location and mild climate this area has permanently been settled from the early stone age up to the present day. It means Pula is one of the oldest cities in Croatia. Many cultural and historic monuments dominate its panorama. There is lots of good food, fish and very fine wine. Pula is a city of rich cultural traditions which includes dancing in traditional costumes.

In May 1991, I flew from Canada to Croatia to attend my sonís wedding. The wedding took place in Pula, an ancient city famous for its Roman Coliseum, on the Istrian peninsula. About 150 guests attended the wedding.

music.jpg (47576 bytes)Weddings in Croatia are a lot of fun. It is customary to play tricks on the newlyweds. Some things may surprise you. This is a description of some of the customs at the wedding.

The day of my sonís wedding arrives. We start with a lunch with our side of the family at my sonís house. Thereís music and good cheer.

At the same time, the brideís family is having lunch with her relatives and friends at her house. After lunch, the brideís guests get ready for the arrival of the groom and his party. They send a scout to warn them when the groom party is coming.

We, the groomís party, arrive in our cars. We greet each other, but they wouldnít open the gate in front of the brideís house. We have to negotiate with the brideís people to get in.

gate.jpg (53865 bytes)"Weíre looking for a young lady weíve been told lives here, " a man from our party shouts.

They bring a girl out onto the balcony.

"Not her!", everyone shouts.

So they bring another one and another and so it goes about three times until the right girl, the bride all dressed in white, is brought out.

"Thatís the one!", cheers the crowd.

dove.jpg (52707 bytes)A white dove is released as a symbol of the bride leaving home.

Finally, the gates open for us, and we go in. We greet each other with hugs and kisses. Boutonnieres are distributed to each guest. The mood is celebratory with music and singing. A man with an accordion and another one with a flute typical instruments for this region are playing all along. After a while, we are ready to leave for the wedding ceremony.

We get in our cars and are on our way. Suddenly, thereís an obstacle on the road, a car. They just wouldnít let the bride go. Young men get out of their cars, and because there are no car keys in it, by pushing and pulling they move the car aside so that everyone could pass by. Itís a short drive to the city hall for the civic ceremony. A crowd waits anxiously outside the city hall after the ceremony to throw rice at the newlyweds. Our wedding party continues to a church for a religious ceremony. Upon leaving the church, the newlyweds are again attacked with more flying rice.

Everyone goes to the groomís place again. On the way there we are stopped by a "policeman" (not a real one). Two cars block the road. "Negotiations" to get through begin again. "We need order here," says the "policeman". They offer him some money as a bribe.

city hall.jpg (74124 bytes)Finally, they let us through. Ladies with white lace aprons wait for us with trays full of drinks. As a joke the groom receives a new broom as one of the gifts, something that he might need later. As the groom and bride enter the house, a towel is wrapped around both of them and they are led into the house. Thereís more singing, dancing, and drinking. We all go to the photographer before going to the reception that is scheduled for later in the evening.

The reception takes place at a hotel nearby. Waitresses and waiters are waiting with trays of drinks. The manager of the hotel greets the newlyweds, and the maitredee hands the bride a bouquet of flowers. After everyone settles down the MC invites the couple to the dance floor for their first dance. Then the bridesmaid, best man and the parents of the newlyweds join in. Soon we are all invited to dance. By now everybody is hungry. Itís time for the feast. Different meal courses are served during the night. The night passes fast between dancing, eating, drinking, and having fun. If people are hungry, food is served again even in the early morning hours. The festivities last all night into the morning when guests start to leave and the party slows down.

The guests go ahead to wait for the bride and groom at home. Coffee is waiting for everyone. The bride and groom arrive. By now everyone is tired. Guests bid the newlyweds good night, but trouble starts. As they enter the house they notice that all door knobs leading to the hallway are tied with elastic, leading from one door to the other. It looks like a spider web. The bride and groom have to crawl underneath and cut through the web to release the door knobs and to get to their bedroom. Once there, they lift the bed covers only to find more rice. The new broom the groom was given previously comes in handy. Finally, the guests leave the newlyweds alone, wishing them good night.

My sonís wedding in Croatia was a memorable one. Itís something that Iíll remember for the rest of my life. It brought me closer to my roots. No matter how long or how far I live, Croatia, and especially Pula, will always remain in my heart.

November 18,1999


  • (no longer online)

Main Menu

This page compliments of Marisa Ciceran

Created: Saturday, September 20, 2003; Last updated: Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Copyright © 1998, USA