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A Summer Wedding at Lovrijenac Fortress in Dubrovnik, Overlooking the Adriatic Sea

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Nina Anic Weddings

San Francisco-based couple Elisha Vukovic, who works in marketing for Dropbox, and attorney Adam Vukovic met through mutual friends back in 2011. After dating for seven years, he proposed during a sunset hike in Joshua Tree. “He was so nervous he forgot to get on one knee or ask ‘Do you want to marry me?’” she says.

Since Adam’s paternal family is from Croatia and a lot of the American guests were keen to visit the country, they went for a destination wedding and decided to host everyone in Dubrovnik. “In Croatia, your close friends are considered family, so it was the perfect destination to bring everyone together for our wedding,” the couple says.

A year before the big day, the bride and her mom visited Lovrijenac Fortress and were awestruck. Above the old city and featuring 360-degree views of the Adriatic Sea, the fort defended Dubrovnik against the Venetians in the 11th century and more recently was a key filming location for Game of Thrones. To help plan their activity-filled wedding weekend, they hired Maja Pavlovski Delić of Dubrovnik Luxury Weddings

On the first night, the couple hosted a family-style dinner at Konoba Dubrava, where guests enjoyed a traditional Dalmatian Peka meal—meat, fish, and vegetables cooked under an iron dome. And the next night, a welcome party was thrown, overlooking the wedding venue. 

For her summer celebration, Elisha knew she needed to wear something light and breathable but also something that would align with the fairytale vibe of the venue. She found Mira Zwillinger on Instagram and the Mila dress turned out to be the one. “My mom sewed a piece of my grandma’s veil into the skirt of my dress, and I also wore the necklace that my mom designed with the diamonds from my grandma’s engagement ring. It was a perfect way to honor my mom’s craftsmanship and my grandmother’s legacy,” Elisha says.

The groom looked handsome in a lightweight, bamboo-fiber, midnight navy tuxedo. “My aunt embroidered my initials on one of my late grandfather’s handkerchiefs, which came in handy during our ceremony and was a special way to incorporate him into the wedding,” Adam says. His groomsmen wore black tuxedos from The Black Tux, and bridesmaids chose different blush-colored Bill Levkoff dresses.

In the open-air atrium of the fortress, with peeking views of the sea, the wedding party walked down the aisle, while a pianist and cellist played them out. Then Elisha walked arm-in-arm with her mother and met Adam under the altar, decorated beautifully with greenery. “The tears really started once Elisha turned the corner and walked down towards me,” the groom says.

The bride’s cousin officiated the intimate and meaningful service. “Adam’s aunt read a poem called ‘How You Act and How You Live,’ which Adam’s grandfather had on his fridge for more than 40 years. He passed away a few months before the wedding, so the reading was a great way to remember him and his amazing spirit,” Elisha says.

After becoming husband and wife, everyone moved to the second level of the fortress for a cocktail hour with a traditional Crotian tamburitza folk band and unobstructed views of the sea. For dinner, guests went up to the third floor, and the newlyweds entered to the Game of Thrones theme song and accompanying laughter. Everyone then dined on delicious Croatian-roasted lamb, locally caught sea bass, and ravioli.

The couple took to the dance floor and had their first dance to “At Last,” and then the saxophonist and DJ kept people happy with a mix of American and Croatian tunes. “As is customary in Croatian weddings, we lit flares to spark the celebration, and a large group of friends waved the Croatian and American flags on the dance floor. It was truly the best way to celebrate the convergence of cultures and families,” Elisha explains.