A Modern Seaside Croatian Wedding
Melissa and Mike
In January 2011, at an equestrian resort in Florida, Melissa Croft and Mike Brady were pretending not to notice each other. This went on for a while, with each trying to catch the other's attention in a nonchalant way—until one Sunday night around a bonfire when Mike introduced himself after a few drinks. He went right up and asked, "So you're Melissa, huh?" as he ran his fingers through her hair. She thought he was hilarious, and the two continued to rendezvous around the resort until Mike's three-month stay came to an end. Realizing their fling was more serious than anticipated, Melissa moved to Louisville, Kentucky, to live with Mike a few months later.
As a young girl, Melissa visited Dubrovnik, Croatia, with extended family and absolutely fell in love with the city. Once she and Mike became a couple, Melissa wanted to share her passion for the culture with him, and the two began taking annual trips to Croatia together.
When they traveled to the country in June 2013, Melissa had a feeling Mike was going to pop the question. He caught on that she was suspecting a proposal, and decided to play a little prank on her. Mike picked up three pebbles from the beach and joked that if she chose her rock, he would get it set in a ring before they headed home.
Later that night, after dinner, Mike started to pull something out of his pocket … It was pebble number one. He then continued to pull out pebble number two, pebble number three, and (finally) the real rock—an engagement ring. Although the beginning of their romance was a whirlwind, they slowed things down and spent over two years engaged and planning through Brady & Company, the business they co-own. With 60 guests to share their wedding weekend with (some of which traveled over 6,000 miles), the couple got married on September 5, 2015, at the Grand Villa Argentina in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
The Stationery Suite
Designed by Five Dot Design, the stationery was letterpressed on ivory paper by Hound Dog Press. In lieu of a monogram, the brown paper band that held the suite together was printed with a spiritual Croatian tattoo design. Envelopes were addressed with calligraphy by Brady & Company and lined with an old world map of the Adriatic Sea.
The Welcome Bag
Welcome bags included beach towels, soaps, olive oil, sunscreen, chocolates, handmade coasters, and grappa—a fruit-infused brandy popular in Croatia. Each bag also contained a travel guide with an itinerary, useful Croatian words and phrases, and the couple's favorite restaurants and sites to see in town.
Nicknamed the "Pearl of the Adriatic," the walled city of Dubrovnik is Croatia's most popular tourist spot. On one of their trips to Croatia, Melissa and Mike kept seeing young people traveling by boats together and realized that they wanted a destination wedding to show off their favorite place. From views of the Old City throughout their wedding to a cruise along the coast during a "funnymoon" vacation with all of their friends, the bride and groom were able to share the beauty of Croatia with loved ones in a way that complimented them as a couple. At the heart of the celebration, the wedding festivities at Grand Villa Argentina, set on a Cliffside overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The luxury hotel offered waterfront views, historic architectural remains, and stunning terraces.
"The first thing I decided about our wedding was that Mike should wear a blue tuxedo," says Melissa. "Mike is not shy, and was more than willing to shine bright on our wedding day." Gifthorse, a Louisville boutique, designed the groom's custom-made cobalt blue tuxedo.
Melissa chose a Hayley Paige gown with layers of tulle that gave a ball gown shape, yet maintained a light, flowing look for their seaside wedding. With Badgley Mischka shoes and a Juliet cap veil from VeiledBeauty for the ceremony, the bride completed her modern look to compliment the medieval setting.
The Bridal Bouquet
Marti Heard Designs made Melissa's bouquet of roses, blush oleander, eucalyptus, olive branches, and other greenery. Tied around the flowers was the sleeve of her mother's wedding dress, which was worn exactly 34 years earlier.
Wearing Aidan Mattox dresses with black tops and colorful, patterned skirts, Melissa's two best friends served as co-matrons of honor—and added a pop of color against the venue's monochromatic palette.
The Ceremony Location
In the Big Garden of the Grand Villa Argentina, Melissa and Mike were married under one of the porticos attached to the hotel surrounded by guests seated in rows of ghost chairs.
Covered in an iridescent ivory fabric, the letterpressed programs by Five Dot Design included the day's schedule, the reception seating chart, and a message to Melissa's parents, who were celebrating their 34th wedding anniversary.
During the ceremony, Klapa Ragusavecchia provided klapa music—traditional Croatian singing from the region of Dalmatia that celebrates love, wine, homeland, and the sea.
The Bride's Entrance
"My favorite moment of the day was walking down the aisle with my dad and seeing everyone there, including Mike, just looking so happy in a beautiful setting," says Melissa. She processed with her father to the Croatian song "Gdje je ljubav tu si ti," which translates to "where love is, so are you."
The couple's close friend Reverend James Wallace, a spoken word poet and rapper, married them and read the poem "I Was Dead" by Rumi. The two wrote their vows together prior to the ceremony, and repeated them to each other. The groom's favorite moment of the day? "When she said, 'I do,'" Mike says.
The newlyweds joyfully recessed to the klapa song "Najlijepsa si," meaning you are most beautiful.
The Cocktail Hour
Held in the Victoria Gardens at the Grand Villa Argentina, cocktail hour overlooked the Old City of Dubrovnik. Gruhak, a famous Croatian band, played an acoustic classic rock set throughout the hour. "We were on a high from just getting married," says Melissa. "There we were chatting with our friends, eating oysters, drinking champagne, and overlooking the Adriatic Sea."
Beef Carpaccio on toast, tuna tartar on toast, and bruschetta were served during cocktail hour, along with oysters.
Held on the Beach Terrace of the Grand Villa Argentina, dinner took place at a U-shaped table set up with ghost chairs. At the head table, sheepskins were draped on the bridal party's chairs.
Ivory pillar candles on the head table varied in size and were flocked by olive branches and arrangements of roses, hydrangeas, blush oleander, and eucalyptus.
The Place Settings
Letterpressed menus topped with the wedding's Croatian tattoo design, sat on simple ivory chargers with ivory satin napkins. Guests were served lobster bisque; salmon and scallop carpaccio with rocket, parmesean, and truffle dressing; and risotto with asparagus, morels, and champagne cream sauce to start. For the entrée, guests chose between filet of beef with dauphinoise potatoes, green beans, shallot confit, and foie gras sauce or duck breast with spinach, mashed potatoes, carrots, and honey grape sauce.
The Place Cards
Blush-colored name cards, created by Brady & Company, were placed upon ivory sea urchins with a sprig of succulent greenery.
The First Dance
For the couple's first dance, Melissa's father got up to perform Willie Nelson's "Keep on Smilin'" with the band. Later, they played "Melissa" by The Allman Brothers Band—another favorite moment for the bride.
One of Melissa's bridesmaids designs posters for musical acts at Hatch Show Print in Nashville, and created this piece as the wedding favor. Additionally, instead of a guest book, one poster was put on display during the reception for guests to sign.
Photography, Lang Thomas Photography
Location, catering, and cake, Grand Villa Argentina
Event planning & styling and calligraphy, Brady & Company Events
Day-of coordination, Dubrovnik Luxury Weddings
Flowers, Marti Heard Designs
Videography, eAllen Pictures
Stationery, Five Dot Design (design); Hound Dog Press (printing)
Music, Klapa Ragusavecchia (ceremony); Gruhak (reception)
Bride's gown, Hayley Paige
Bride's accessories, VeiledBeauty (veil); Badgley Mischka (shoes)
Makeup, Beauty AB
Bridesmaids' dresses, Aidan Mattox
Groom's suit and cufflinks, Gifthorse
Groom's accessories, Men's Warehouse (shirt, bow tie, tuxedo studs)
Posters, Hatch Show Print