Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner?

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.

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

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.

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

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. 

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

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). 

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner?

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.

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

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.

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

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! 

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

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.

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20 Discussion to this post

  1. Thanks for this detailed post Maja! I’m Iranian/Canadian and my husband is Croatian; We did quite some research and unfortunately it would have been too difficult for us to get married here in Croatia( we are in Rijeka); So we decided that instead of spending money for documents/apostle/translation we can go get married in Denmark ( they require no documents only IDs!!); So we did and thankfully it all worked out 🙂

    • Wow really! I wish we knew that before. I heard horror stories about not being able to validate the marriage in home countries and we started to think how much time and money we would spend if we needed to do it in both of our countries. I’m glad it worked for you!

  2. This is a unique destination for a wedding! I definitely would want a destination wedding since I’m not a fan of traditional ones. I’ve always wanted to go to Croatia and I love this option vs an inclusive resort. Now all I need is a groom…haha

  3. staceg16 says:

    Wow really cool and just absolutely stunning photos! I think my future wedding would be somewhere on the beach here at home in Barbados. Didn’t actually think about all the details that really go into to planning though, you guys seemed to have it down!

  4. Meg Cale says:

    What a great post. I just got married in Ecuador. We’re both Americans though so it made our experience a bit easier. We did our ceremony there and the legal paperwork here. Congrats!

  5. Sarah M says:

    Well I have no plans to get married, in Croatia or anywhere else, but it is fascinating how much work is involved. All that and it’s still not legal in Mexico? I think I would have gone for some neutral country with less work involved, although I’m sure it was nice to be able to have family there.
    Good photos too 🙂

    • Ah, they are funny, they think it is a piece of cake to travel to Mexico. I cannot understand why in 21st century we are not able to do all of those things online or at least through the embassy. Oh, well. But if we went to a third country, we would need to legalize it in Croatia too.

  6. What a great story, Can’t imagine how difficult it must have been collecting all the documents. I totally get the registry thing, I will be on the journey soon! Still working on dismanteling my previous life in the US and getting paperwork for civil wedding in England, not an easy task!

    • It is fascinating how people complicate things, right? I wish you all the best and a smooth process of getting all the papers – as much as it can be. Congrats 🙂

  7. How interesting! I will absolutely get married somewhere interesting and exotic – I’d be disappointed if I got married at home. I never thought about all the official documents, of course, but now that I think about it, why am I surprised?

    • Haha we also did not! And then I found out we would need to do X-rays and blood tests in Mexico also and I said no no that’s so wrong… People are so complicated.. you can buy a house online, but to get three papers to get married – you need to travel the world. Good luck with your marriage plans, dear!

  8. Wow this sounds incredibly complicated but it seems like it was worth it in the end 🙂
    My boyfriend and I are both citisens of USA but would like to get married abroad someday. The sheer amount of paperwork involved has put me off but you never know. Maybe someday!

    • While we were thinking about the beach wedding in Mexico, I noticed there are lots of offers for US citizens – for a fair amount of money, wedding planners will do everything for you – if that’s something you would consider.

  9. Sasha says:

    Thanks so much for this detailed post. What an interesting/difficult process it was for you. I can’t believe you have to do medical checks before getting married in Mexico (and at $500), that is crazy. I never knew that was a thing.
    So glad that it all turned out well for you. Your wedding photos are stunning and I loved your choice of wedding dress. Truly beautiful!

  10. Delaine says:

    Okay guys, I’m already married, but I couldn’t help but admire your pictures. I got just back from a 2 week Croatian last month & Zagreb had to one of my favorite cities. Your pictures brought back memories of my time there. I actually remember visiting some of the places. Maja you look so pretty. You chose a lovely country to tie the knot. I’m gonna share this post with my friends who are planning where they could have their wedding. We never thought of Croatia.

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