Croatia-Inspired Minimony


July 1, 2022
Words by Kristi Blane
Photos courtesy of Idalia Photography

When you think of Croatia, what comes to mind? For most people, the first thought is of the stunningly beautiful coastlines with their crystal-clear waters and lush green hills. But inland, the country is just as breathtaking, with its rolling countryside and ancient villages. It’s no wonder that so many couples are choosing to get married in Croatia these days!

But, if Croatia is just too far to travel for you and your guests, the team of vendors led by Diane Kolanović-Šolaja of Dee Kay Events show it’s possible to host a destination wedding closer to home with the feel of being oversees. Read our interview with Diane to see how they pulled it all off:
Couple kissing
Q: How did this styled shoot first get started (who contacted who to get the ball rolling?)
A: “Diane reached out to Alex of Idalia Photography in February of 2021. Diane itching to do something creative with everything being shut down and travel was on her mind. Our original florist, unfortunately, could no longer do the shoot with us, so we changed dates and found a new florist all within two weeks! It was completely crazy but we did it!”

Q: What was the inspiration for the theme/style of the shoot? How did the location of the shoot influence it?
A: “Our styled shoot was inspired by the beauty of Croatia and its old world glamour. We wanted to create a look that was both luxurious and timeless, with touches of modernity to keep it feeling fresh. With so many wanting a true European destination wedding, we wanted to give couples inspiration to highlight their heritage right here in the United States if travel was not possible, but also for couples traveling to Croatia to have a canvas of inspiration for their own wedding day as well. We wanted to capture the beauty of elevated tradition and tell a story of personal heritage entwined with the natural beauty of a garden estate, embracing old stone and natural elements for a luxury mini-ceremony experience.

If you’re looking for a wedding venue with a bit of European flair, Tyler Gardens in Newtown, PA is a great option. If you’re planning a destination wedding in Croatia or just want to bring a bit of the Croatian spirit to your own celebration, be sure to check out Tyler Gardens. This beautiful estate is the perfect setting for an unforgettable mini-ceremony experience. This luxurious estate features lovely gardens and an old stone mansion that provides the perfect backdrop for a romantic mini-mony. From its centuries-old stone walls to its lush gardens and tranquil ponds, Tyler Gardens is the perfect backdrop for a romantic wedding ceremony. We were inspired by the natural beauty of Tyler Gardens as well as the Croatian landscape when planning our shoot.”

Q: Tell us about the ceremony look. What elements were included and why?
A: “As you walk through the estate’s gardens, you are greeted by a beautiful stone wall and walkway, which served as the backdrop for the ceremony. The gardens and estate’s natural beauty provided for some beautiful portraits. The result was a stunning collection of images that perfectly captured the essence of Croatia.

Our goal was to create a look that was both elegant and timeless, with a touch of old-world glamour. We chose to use natural elements like stone and wood as accents, and we added touches of metallic gold for a bit of luxury. The result was a rustic yet glamorous wedding style that would be perfect for any couple looking to add a bit of European flair to their celebration.”

Q: Tell us about the reception look. What elements were included and why?
A: “I, a first-generation Croatian-American, provided inspiration photos of my father’s fishing village located in the peninsula of Zadar County in Croatia. Kelly Kellett, of Suite Scape Design, took these photos and transformed them into a breathtaking watercolor to provide a luxurious envelope insert for the invitations. A subtle ode to Croatian heritage and beautiful inspiration for guests receiving a luxe wedding invitation.

The welcome would extend to guests with hotel gifts inspired by the scents and tastes of a Croatia destination wedding. With products infused with lavender and authentic Croatian fig jam, guests would be delighted to have such a beautiful display to enjoy after their travels.

We made sure that the inspiration list of florals highlighted the natural elements found in local flora around Croatia. Rosemary, lavender, figs, blackberries, thistle, fennel, and olives play an important role in the natural organics of Croatia. All of which are included in one’s wedding day as well. We also focused on flowers native to Croatia such as the iris Croatica, carnations, ruscus and the begonia. Abby of Pretty Posh Events made sure that we had a few of these to highlight through our floral story.

The White Isabella Lace linen from Nuage Designs perfectly captured the crocheted lace of Croatia, a staple found in every household, and an ode to an older generation of the beauty of hand-made design. Paired with Finezza Cream Charger Plate from Magnolia Event Rentals, the tablescape was filled with florals and textures of Croatia in one beautiful luxurious display.

Food and drink are at the forefront of a Croatian wedding with celebrations usually lasting two days over a weekend. We wanted to create the menu with authentic cuisine and were inspired by Konoba Huntington, a Croatian inspired tavern located in Huntington, NY. We featured a few of their dishes on the beautiful menus created by Suite Scape Design.

Authentic Croatian desserts were provided by Take the Cake by MC that highlighted traditional Breskvice (Croatian peach cookies), Kiflice (almond crescent cookies) and Čupavci (chocolate covered sponge cake covered with coconut) which can be found on any dessert table for Croatian weddings. And, Sugarush provided a Nutella hazelnut crème filled cake, a flavor popular in Croatia.

Every Croatian wedding incorporates the tradition of having an aperitif as a symbol of good luck to the couple. This also included digestifs being sampled by the guests while the Best Man and Maid of Honor share these delights with guests. We designed a bar cart of these usually homemade moonshines with a bit of twist – a signature cocktail with lavender and another with rose to highlight all these delights in one delicate and delicious cocktail to toast the couple with good health and many years of happiness.

If Croatia is your heritage or if you are looking for some beautiful European inspiration, so many Croatian traditions can be incorporated into your wedding stateside. With the right details and inspiration, you can have a taste of Croatia without having to travel all the way overseas.”

Q: What was your favorite part of the shoot and why?
A: “My favorite moments, personally, are when I am all packed up and ready to go home. Sometimes the rush and adrenaline of a styled shoot day very much mirrors that of a regular wedding day. The moments of quiet and reflection as you put your hair up in your car seat, check your phone finally, send that text to your loved one that you are on your way, this is my favorite moment. You get to look in you rear-view mirror and see this amazing venue reflect back at you and you get to say, ‘Wow. We made something great today.’

As for the shoot itself, I think it was finally seeing how the florals came together on the table scape. Seeing Kelly’s menus with Abby’s florals was so perfect. It captured Croatia in such a sophisticated style it made super nostalgic to visit family there.”
Vendors: Design & Planning: Dee Kay Events; Photography and Education: Idalia Photography; Additional Photography: Jocelyn CruzImagery by MarianneKartheek Photo; Venue: Tyler Gardens; Florals: Pretty Posh Events; Videography: Sweet Start; Celebrant: Alisa Tongg Celebrant; Linens: Nuage Designs; Tabletop Rentals: Magnolia Event Rentals; Lounge Rentals: Allaire Rentals; Rentals: Open Aire Affairs; Invitations & Flatlay Styling: Suite Scape Design; Calligraphy: The Markup Artist; Stationery: Suite Scape Design; Cake: Sugarush; Croatian Menu Inspiration: Konoba Huntington; Croatian Desserts: Take the Cake by MC; Makeup: My Beauty Makeup Artistry; Hair: Daneen Jensen & Associates; Dress Boutique: White House Bride; Dress Designer: Essense of Australia; Bridesmaids Dresses: Rent the Runway; Accessories: Happily Ever Borrowed; Shoes: Nina Shoes; Jewelry: Eye Sea Jewelry; Styling Mats: Stained by MRP; Real Couple: Shannon & Chris Smith; Models: Rosie Anselmo & Abayomi Crozier

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