Yorkshire in the U.K... most Croatians have probably have never heard of it... a Northern county in the North of England, probably better known for its love of Yorkshire tea and cricket, rather than its links to the Dalmatian Coast.
But when Yorkshire wedding singers, Rock My Reception where booked to play at a wedding in Dubrovnik in 2016, they immediately had an affinity with the place and also a few reminders of home along the way.
Wedding Industry Award winners
Kieran Stokes explains the origins of the wedding duo and how he and his singing partner Dominic ended up working out in Dubrovnik.
"We are old school friends and have known each other since we were 10 years old. We were always told to 'get a proper job' but we had a real passion for live music and started a wedding band, called Rock My Reception, a really simple idea, just two acoustic guitars and vocals."
"In 2015 we won a prestigious award at The Wedding Industry Awards, and it catapulted our business. We ended up playing over 75 weddings a year, which was hard work, but also immensely enjoyable. We really like the idea of playing a 'destination wedding', a term used in the UK, so we marketed ourselves as such. A kind of 'build it and they will come' philosophy."
On the back of this, they have performed all over Europe. But it was when the opportunity arose to play out in Dubrovnik they instantly fell in love with the place. They were asked to perform for a wedding at Sponza Palace, and performed as the bride walked up and down the aisle, and then to sing at the drinks reception by the old port.
"We really loved Dubrovnik, and we were really sad to leave. So when the offer came up again to work out here, we jumped at the chance," commented Dominic.
The region is especially popular with British and Irish wedding couples, many of which book their live music from back in the U.K. The popularity of the area and the services Rock My Reception offer, has seen them come back to perform in the town various times, playing at three wedding in Dubrovnik this September alone.
Citizens of Dubrovnik remind us of Yorkshire
They have returned again to Sponza Palace, also Hotel Argentina, Hotel Croatia in Cavtat, and also played on various boat cruises on the coast line.
"It's started to feel like a second home for us," Kieran explains. Adding that "The citizens of Dubrovnik reminded us of Yorkshire people in their kindness to strangers. From the moment we land to the moment we leave, people are so friendly. When we get to our apartment out here, our landlady offers to iron our shirts, leaves us food, beers, wines and homemade Orechovka! On returning visits she has felt like a mother to us!
"We always attempt to speak a little Croatian, this is often met with surprise, but appreciation from the locals. We always joke that a few of the Croatian words are very similar to 'broad Yorkshire' the local dialect in Yorkshire, maybe from a Germanic influence from by-gone years?"
"Also, like Yorkshire people, the locals we work alongside in Dubrovnik are hardworking and care that everything is perfect, an essential ingredient in the wedding industry. Everyone puts in 100% effort, from the wedding planners, venue staff, to the guys sailing the boat on the drinks reception cruise."
Game of Thrones Friends
One final link between their home town and Dubrovnik is Lena Heady, who plays Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones. Lena grew up in Yorkshire and attended the same school as Kieran and Dominic.
"It’s sometimes quite bizarre seeing references to Lena while we are out here. We remember her from school, everyone back at home has always followed her career, and it was a real big deal when she got the part in Game of Throne"
Dominic adds, “Yorkshire has brought Dubrovnik a Hollywood film star, now it’s sending you their own wedding singers!”
Dubrovnik and Yorkshire... maybe an unlikely match? But for certain, it shows the true testimony to the far reaching charm of Dubrovnik and its role in the thriving destination wedding industry.