Honestly speaking, I have never heard of the Kurilovec Equestrian Ranch and Resort near Zagreb. So far, my experience as a Zagreb wedding photographer, led me to believe that this city was synonymous with urban, documentary photo sessions, in colorful streets, surrounded by the gorgeous Austro-Hungarian architecture and lovely parks. I had no clue that there was an entirely different, wonderful rustic world only a short drive away from this urban version of Zagreb most people have in mind when they think of the Croatia’s capital.
I noticed that outdoor weddings are growing in popularity over the last few years. However, I photographed the vast majority of them in Istrian coastline or some of the Croatia’s beautiful islands such as Vis. It turned out that Croatia obviously has a whole variety of gorgeous, fantastic inland wedding venues, hidden in plain sight, just waiting to be discovered. When Kristina and Dario told me about the location, I was not very excited. Ranch wedding venues did not rank high in my mind. That is, until I saw the Kurilovec property, and Kristina and Dario’s rustic wedding that turned into a stark raving mad barn burner of a party.
Kurilovec Ranch Wedding
One of the reasons I just loved this ranch wedding is how this setting and the newlyweds and their guests were in perfect harmony. It was a documentary photographer’s dream. There was no specific protocol or any fuss whatsoever. Among the beautiful nature, horses and sheep, the guests were enjoying themselves, comfortably lazing in the sun. For me, weddings are defined by the smallest details. And ranch wedding venues are full of details perfect for the people to relax, be themselves and forget about anything even remotely ceremonial. This allows me to document the wedding couple, their guests and be absolutely certain that the photos will be recognized as natural and honest. I want my wedding photos to be honest, to tell the story in its raw beauty.
Wedding preparations in the final moments before the big event are, for me, always amazing. Wedding magazines and most Instagram pages present all weddings as fairytales, always leaving out the frantic preparations and the anxiety related to the huge event, as if there’s something ugly about that. They show just one half of the wedding this way. Photos of fifteen people in one small living room, going absolutely berserk moments before the ceremony might not look like something from a fairy-tale wedding magazine, but it happened, and it was a beautiful, integral part of the event.
Sometimes chaos happens during weddings. Even with the best preparations and the most expensive wedding planners, unexpected things can cause people to lose their cool, even if it is for a moment. I just smile and get my camera ready when such little, unscripted things happen. No matter how self-aware someone might be, when they are running to hide form a heavy summer rain, they are 100% themselves, and therefore – perfect subjects for my documentary style photography. Nobody thinks about their wedding dress, fancy clothes or elaborate hairdos when they are running for cover from the sudden downpour.
Barn Wedding Discotheque
The rain kept pouring with brutal intensity throughout the night. For most weddings, this would spell disaster. Fortunately, the ranch Kurilovec has a perfectly equipped barn to hide the guests from rain and elements. Not only does it provide shelter, it also provides a cool space to groove out. The wedding party soon turned into a riot and the real driving force behind the fantastic mood was this super cool DJ. He only spins LP records of retro-pop music from this part of the world. I love him and never miss his events in my hometown, because he always brings the house down. I left around 2 am, and later I found out that, sure as hell, everyone else spent the entire night and early morning in the barn-turned-discotheque, celebrating like crazy. Believe me, as a wedding photographer, I’ve seen my share of wild parties…But, that was just…wow!
Photos by Croatia Wedding Photographer Damir Plavotić
Location: Ranch Kurilovec, Zagreb, Croatia