Flags waved and twirled against the blue sky, dancing, celebrating, all directly in front of the St. Blaise Church, and no, it wasn’t that the festivities for the city’s patron saint had come early. “What a lovely song they’re playing over the speakers,” I said to my wife as we waited for the elegant bride to enter the church. Yes, not the day of St. Blaise but a wedding in his church.
“That isn’t a CD, they are actually singing,” she whispered back. To my disbelief she was right. I’m no judge of good singing, I don’t even watch The Voice, but the raised eye-brows of the person to my left, my sister-in-law, who is an experienced singer confirmed that these were better than excellent.
And pretty soon the singing, and indeed the ceremony, became a tourist attraction. Heads popped through the open doors, cameras flashed and the wedding no doubt featured on an Instagram story in Michigan and Mumbai.
The ceremonial part was in the bag and we made our way through the cobbled streets of the city, once again proving a tourist attraction. Now it was time to eat, drink and be merry.
Clearly, I wasn’t the only one feeling old!
Now this particular wedding made me feel old, in fact old in two ways. Firstly, the lucky groom is a long-term friend of the family, and all those years ago when I arrived here I can actually remember sitting him on my knee and reading to him. I had watched him grown up, and now he was a married man. Secondly, my days of partying all night until the sun peeked its head out and then going off the work are in the dim and distant past. “We used to dance in zelena naranca, go home for a quick shower and then work all day,” laughed my wife. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one feeling old!
The English call this burning the candle from both ends. Nowadays I am in bed as soon as Mentalist finishes. But this Saturday I was only on my second course of a seven-course meal. “I’ve never eaten soup when Mentalist is on,” I said to my wife with a smile.
I also have the dancing moves of a bull
And my dancing skills, not that I really ever had any, are also buried in a dusty cupboard. They are only really dusted off at such events. However, I was given some advice to maximise my dancing exploits. “When you see the cameraman get up and start filming, then you get up and start dancing. When he sits down, you sit down and conserve your energy,” said a good friend at our table. Wise words. And as we were sitting right next to the cameraman’s table the plan couldn’t fail. When they watch the video it will seem like I have the stamina or a bull, although I also have the dancing moves of a bull as well, so maybe my plan had a flaw.
Wine flowed, food disappeared and the dancing continued. “How different is a Croatian wedding to an English one?” another friend at the table asked. “Probably less wine and more beer,” I smiled.
The singing continued. No, let’s rephrase that, the singing hadn’t stopped since we left the church. I have another tactic with singing at weddings, because to be honest I can’t remember any of the songs. But I’ve learnt that if I can memorise one or two lines from each song and then when they come along shout them at the top of my voice then I’m joining in. And then lines I don’t know I just lip-synch or make up my own words. Frankly, nobody wants to hear me sing anyway.
It was one of those events were everything seemed to go as planned, clearly someone (and I can guess who) had spent a lot of time making sure that everything ran like a Swiss clock. We even had the Konavle “amen da bog da” toast from a young man in traditional costume. A burst of energetic Linđo dancing, some impromptu singing from friends and family at the mic with the band and no wedding celebration would be complete without a “choo choo train dance.”
A memorable evening, although it did take us a couple of days to all recover. It goes without saying that I sincerely wish the bride and groom all the best for their future life together.
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to