I really love shooting weddings of couples who are 30+ years old, and for a good reason. At that age, people have confidence in themselves and their decisions. Most importantly, they know what they want in their lives. This is especially true when it comes to their wedding day.
The moment I first met Maja and Nikola, I knew – they did not have childlike expectations of a dreamy, fairy-tale wedding that happens only in Hollywood rom-coms. They wanted a relaxed celebration of their union, without pressures or strict protocols. They wanted to have a ceremony just for themselves and their closest friends. In an ancient castle.
Dubovac Castle Wedding
Wait, what? Maja and Nikola told me about how they wanted to have an easy-going party for their friends – but in an old castle. I didn’t even have enough time to start worrying about finding such a location – they already had one in mind. I had no clue that there is a wonderful castle called Dubovac in the rural area near Karlovac – and only 120 km from my home in Rijeka, Croatia. And it’s not like someone built it while I was busy shooting my latest wedding in Buffalo, NY (USA).
No, it has been there for quite a while. It was restored several years ago – Dubovac Castle looks absolutely amazing – but it has been there for centuries. The first thing that crossed my mind was – there must be a dozen wedding photo sessions organized there every week. Wrong again. This was to be the first actual photo shoot of a wedding (in all honesty, I did not do a really thorough research on this – the prospect of me being the first wedding photographer to do a photoshoot on that gorgeous location was too cool to ruin by going too deep with my investigation).
The Dubovac Castle is one of the most romantic wedding venues near Zagreb. The ceremony was held on the cozy little hillside in front of the castle. I was a bit skeptical about having a cool, non-ceremonial wedding party in such traditionally ceremonial location. However, the organization of the event was just perfect to set the nice and relaxed mood the wedding couple had wanted.
Their friends chilled with cocktails and snacks, but the detail that really set the easy-going mood was the choice of music. Some of their friends are professional musicians. Throughout the ceremony, a guitar and a saxophone provided a laid back musical landscape that perfectly tied together the guests, the occasion and the ancient setting. Never coming into the foreground, they provided a super-cool groove to accompany the already relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
“We hate posing. Can we do without the clichéd wedding photos?” Music to my ears. I am not a big fan of posing myself. We agreed to do only a half-hour photo session. We took a casual stroll around the castle and I let the newlyweds just be themselves. I did my best to be invisible and just let them enjoy their day. The results were amazing. I managed to capture the bride and the groom as they exchanged looks of relief, like there was a weight lifted off their shoulders. I also managed to take some great photos of them as they goofed and clowned around and finally, those magical moments, when they hugged and gazed deeply into each other’s eyes, as if saying – “you are one, you are the love of my life”.
I am extremely pleased with the range of emotions we managed to capture during the brief shoot. And most importantly, every single shot that I took is a document of a genuine, sincere moment shared by the loving couple.
When the photo session was over, back we went to the party. This time, instead of the chilled-out, jazzy tunes, I was thrilled to hear the Ramones blaring from the sound system. As I am a bit of a punk-rock aficionado, it did not take long before I started dancing and jumping around to the sound of the familiar and beloved songs.
As is the case with most weddings, the party that followed remains a bit blurry and fuzzy in my memory. But that is what the wedding photographers are for. When our memory fails us, we have the wedding photos to keep all those unique moments documented for the years to come. Check out Maja and Nikola’s photo gallery and experience some of the fantastic fun we had as we rocked out until the early morning hours!
Photos by Croatia wedding photographer Damir Plavotić