Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner?
From the very first day, we got used that nothing about our relationship will be simple or normal. Since we started to date, we needed to survive seven or more time zones between us, more than 10 000 km and cultural differences. It worked more than fine, but we started to wish to spend more time together. We were completely sure we are a great couple and we were ready to take our relationship to the next level.
Why did we choose Croatia
For those who do not know us (read more in about us section), my (now) husband Jaime is a Mexican citizen, and I am Croatian. When we started to talk about the wedding, the first and the most important step was to decide where are we going to get married.
We considered many options – from the beach wedding somewhere far away for only two of us to the big Mexican wedding party. In the end, we decided to organize a rather small, intimate wedding in Croatia. To be completely honest, it was not my first option (I voted for a barefoot wedding on a beach), but the reality check got us back to Croatia.
The most simple thing we could do was to get married in one of our countries. Getting married in Mexico meant my parents would not be able to attend it due to the medical reasons and, besides all the documents I would need to bring, we would be required to do several medical tests which would increase the total price for around 500 USD. Croatia, however, does not have any medical requirements and his family (at least a part of it) was able to come. The decision was made.
Documents Jaime needed to get married
I will always remember how, when we told my parents that we are getting married, my dad said: “Congratulations, you just made your life more complicated!”. Of course, he was referring to all the paperwork we would need to get through in order to be together. Our motto always was “When there is a will, there is a way.” and we were ready for this adventure (and yes, it was the adventure!).
To start with, Jaime needed to get three documents in Mexico before we could even apply for the marriage ceremony in Croatia. He needed (1) his birth certificate, (2) the certificate he was single and (3) the certificate there was no any barrier marrying me and the marriage would be valid in Mexico as well. All the documents needed to be apostilled afterward.
The first two were piece of cake. Since he was living and working in Mexico City, his parents were allowed to picked them up and they apostilled in Oaxaca, his hometown. The third certificate was a bit tricky because at the time we were living together in Mexico and the only place we could get the document was Mexican embassy in charge for Croatia, which was located in Budapest, Hungary.
A Trip To Budapest
We tried everything, but there was no help. We needed to go to Budapest as soon as we arrived in Europe. Everything needed to be well planned as we needed to apply for the marriage in Zagreb between 40 and 30 days prior to the wedding and we needed to find the day when both of our embassies in Budapest were open. We booked the apartment for three days, as the first day we arrived in the afternoon, we could not do anything. The second day we hoped to get everything done, but nobody could confirm it for sure.
We sent all the documents to the Mexican embassy several days before and made an appointment. We needed to show up there strictly between 10 and 12 in the morning, with all the original documents. They asked for (1) certificate that Jaime was single with apostille, (2) his passport, (3) his Mexican ID or any document with Mexican address on it, (4) birth certificate with apostille, (5) my passport or ID with the address in Hungary, Bulgaria or Croatia (because the stated embassy is responsible for citizens of those countries only) and (5) Jaime’s photo (3.5 x 4 cm).
They were very friendly and they informed us we would get the document within 15 to 20 minutes. In no minute they issued the document saying there is no reason why he could not marry me. We paid the fee of 17 670 HUF (approximately 60€ back then) afterward. The lovely clerk in the embassy explained to us where we could find the bank to make the payment and which bus we needed to take back to the center.
To make the document valid in Croatia, we needed to pay the visit to the Croatian embassy too. They told us to give us the call when we will be on the way and so we did. They took the paper, gave us the payment slip and told us to come back in 2 hours. We decided to stroll around until we find a bank or post office. And so we did, we paid the fee (I think it was around 20 – 25€, but I am failing to find a proof of payment) and grabbed a coffee while we were waiting.
Somehow, we managed to do everything within the same day and we were thrilled. Even we had apartment paid for an additional night, we decided to pack and go home the same afternoon. At the time, Budapest was full of refugees and it was not the best time to visit. Also, we were nervous about wedding preparations so we wanted to seize every day we had.
Organizing the ceremony in Zagreb
If you are organizing a wedding ceremony in a foreign country, you need to translate all the documents to the local language. As soon as we arrived in Europe, we translated the first two documents Jaime needed to present. While we were still in Budapest, I emailed the last document so the translation would be ready as soon as possible. In total, we needed to translate three documents from Spanish to Croatian which cost us around 600 HRK (around 80€).
In the meantime, we started to look for a translator. As Jaime was not fluent in the Croatian language, the official translator needed to accompany us in the civil registry office when we were applying for the marriage as well as she needed to be present during the wedding ceremony. 375 HRK each time (around 50€). Here you can find the list of all the translators in Croatia (the document is in Croatian only, with the list of different languages).
We could choose if we wanted the translator to be from Spanish or English language, but since most of the foreign attendees were Mexican, we went for Spanish. Basically, if you are fluent in more than one language, you can choose any of them – it only matters that you fully understand the process and the ceremony.
Finally, we were ready to book the appointment for the wedding ceremony. We came to the civil registry office in Maksimir with Jaime’s three documents, all apostilled and translated to Croatian, my ID, the copies of best man and maid of honor IDs and accompanied by the translator. A few days earlier we made a payment of 200 HRK and brought 100 HRK worth government stamps (in total around 40€). Please take a note all the documents need to be issued within the last three months.
In less than half and hour time, we had our October 23 appointment set and all the hassles we went through (I tried to leave all the stress and bureaucracy problems out of the post since we are trying to remember only the good things) suddenly were not important anymore. Our day was coming and we could not be happier!
If you want to get married in Croatia, those are (more or less) the steps you will need to pass in order to finalize your marriage. I know you are probably not Mexican, but you will still need to visit your embassy in Croatia or some of the surrounding countries to validate some of the documents.
We decided to have a civil wedding only, since because of the distances and other requirements, a church ceremony would complicate the things even more. Make sure to have enough time to organize everything if you would like to have a church ceremony as well.
Yesterday we celebrated our first wedding anniversary and this was the perfect moment to remind ourselves what we needed to get through. Our marriage is still not legalized in Mexico, though. Apparently, you need to do it in person in Mexico, and since it is a bit far, we were not able to do it yet, but hopefully we will next year.
Where did you get married? Was is complicated or you enjoyed every moment?
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