By Lindsay Dreyer
Updated Oct 05, 2016 @ 5:00 pm
Craig Derrick/Adriatic Images

Just 25 years after gaining its independence from then-Yugoslavia and enduring four years of civil war, the country of Croatia is now one of the most desirable travel destinations in the world. Located across from Italy on the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea, it has some of the most spectacular beaches you’ll ever see in your life. But what you won’t find a lot of in Croatia are the massive resort chains that have become so common in other parts of Europe and throughout the world. There’s still an authentic kind of grittiness that so perfectly juxtaposes the pristine waters that surround its 1,000-plus islands.

I recently had the opportunity to visit two of Croatia’s most beautiful destinations—the historic town of Split, located on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast (and home to the fictional city of Meereen on Game of Thrones), and the Island of Hvar, just an hour and a half south by boat. While I didn’t have a chance to see the capital city of Dubrovnik this time around, I was able to catch up with local photographer Craig Derrick of Adriatic Images who can attest to the utter seduction of this stunning UNESCO world heritage site.

If you’re planning a destination wedding or celebrating your honeymoon, Croatia should be at the top of your list of possible locales. Unfortunately, you won’t find any direct flights from the U.S. to Croatia (yet), but I can say unequivocally that it’s worth the trouble. If I haven’t successfully convinced you, let Derrick tell you himself. Read on for five reasons why you should seriously consider saying “I do” in Croatia.

1. The sunsets

Craig Derrick/Adriatic Images

"Sunsets over the Adriatic Islands are stunning all year round, and you'll never experience the same colors twice. Whether you're getting married or celebrating your honeymoon, why not select a place where nature paints your backdrop for you?"

2. The crystal clear blue water

Craig Derrick/Adriatic Images

"This color is so unique it's even called 'Adriatic Blue' after our sea. Many couples will have their wedding and honeymoon photos taken on a beautiful dock or pier overlooking the water, or they can even rent a boat for a photoshoot at sea. Aerial footage is the best way to capture these unforgettably romantic moments."

3. The history

Craig Derrick/Adriatic Images

"Stradun in the Old Town district of Dubrovnik is the perfect backdrop for a couple's photo, especially in front of the famous Church of Saint Blaise at the end of the road. It's also a great place to propose. Every stone holds a story—let yours be amongst them."

4. The food

Craig Derrick/Adriatic Images

"Traditional Croatian cuisine is a fish and seafood lover's dream, and the simplicity of these dishes only accentuates the freshness of the ingredients. At a Croatian wedding you'll enjoy many small courses with plenty of dancing in between—and lots and lots of wine, of course."

5. The romance

Craig Derrick/Adriatic Images

"Everything about Croatia is romantic, from the sunsets to the cliffs and everything in between. Stay for a few days after the wedding to explore the beauty of the terrain together. Leave your iPhone at home and just let your mind—and your photographer—capture the images for you."