Scenes From a Serbian Wedding

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It was the perfect early autumn afternoon in Novi Sad, Serbia. The temperature hovered around 90, but the bride was cool, calm and collected standing in the shady courtyard by the church, chatting with friends and posing for the camera.

When I asked the bride for permission to take her photo, she gladly agreed and struck a cute pose

Outside the gates a raucous brass band played crowd favorites, women in tight skirts teetered on 5 inch heels, smoking men sang along with the band, and an old woman asked for alms. Some linked hands to dance the “kolo” – the Serbian circle dance, children scampered in and out of their feet, curious onlookers recorded the festivities … then shocking fireworks!

Bride and Groom

The groom gathered his bride, they linked hands to meet the priest at the door, and began the journey to sharing their lives together.

Enjoying the Circle of Life,

P.S. Yesterday we captured a lovely act of kindness on our bus filled with refugees, heading to Subotica, Serbia and the Hungarian border.

At the Door


We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

49 thoughts

  1. Beautiful young lady with a gorgeous gown. Must come from a well to do family. Great pics. How did they let you take their pictures?

    1. Hey Carla, she really is a pretty and poised young woman. We wound up at the wedding because we had just arrived at our B&B when there was the nearby sound of a band … then a really loud boom! This is in the middle of town! James said, “Let’s go see what’s going on (you know him – always in trouble). So we walked around the corner and encountered this scene. I motioned to the bride to ask if I could take their photos and she happily agreed! I’m glad she did. 🙂 ~Terri

    1. You’re so right, Liz. I had only read about the “kola” and watched countless youtube videos – it was great to see it in person. I still don’t know the story on the fireworks! 🙂 ~Terri

  2. It’s touching to see simple acts of kindness like you saw on the bus – hopefully the refugee child will grow up in safety and one day get the chance to have a big happy wedding (with or without brass band!)

    1. Zoe, your comment is so touching. The little girl who offered to share her Coke and pizza was so intrigued and excited by the little girl sitting behind her. She would giggle with every bite the other little girl took. And the look on the mother’s face says it all. Like you, I hope they find a welcoming new home. 🙂 ~Terri

    1. I totally agree with you, Dorothy. We had just come from the bus terminal in Belgrade, which is the scene of a refugee tent camp, to Novi Sad, Serbia, and the wedding was a welcome dose of happiness. It’s so fun to see all the different wedding traditions around the world – the fireworks were a new one for me! 🙂 ~Terri

    1. She is a beauty, Tess. The scene in front of the cathedral was so fun, and I loved how the bystanders joined in with the celebration. I think it’s a pretty cool tradition … and yes, I can see you smiling. 🙂 ~Terri
      P.S. So glad you’re back!

    1. Kathy, this wedding was in Novi Sad. We had a nice little room right in the pedestrian area, just around the corner from a cathedral. It was the weekend, and the church was buzzing with weddings. There were two others after this one! ~ James

  3. How wonderful to stumble upon a wedding. We once went to a restaurant in Madrid with a long table of family members celebrating a babies christening. They were happy to include us. These are the precious moments of travel.

    1. That is so cool, Darlene! We just went out to eat and there were 4 elderly women at the table beside us. Turns out they were celebrating Louise’s 90th birthday. When they were leaving James congratulated her (a perfect stranger), and she turned, gave hime the once over, and started flirting with him like a school girl. You never know what’s going to happen! 🙂 ~Terri

      1. I love it! My hubby, Paul, is always offering to take group pictures for people (with their camera). The girls, of all ages, love him too. He once took a picture for a group of women celebrating one member´s 40th birthday. Later they sent a piece of cake for each of us to our table.

  4. Kim and I once chanced upon a tradional Greek wedding on the island of Milos. Turned out it wasn’t a tradional Greek wedding at all it was two Brits getting married on holiday!

    1. Andrew, when we travel, we’re amazed at how many weddings we stumble into. You may have encountered the same thing. I suspect that it’s because we’re always interested in seeing the big cathedrals and visiting the photogenic tourist sights. ~ James

  5. Two sweet scenes – the wedding and the bus. I love your watchfulness while traveling; these simple scenes would not capture so many tourists’ attention, but they add so much life to your posts.

    1. Thank you so much! What a sweet thing to say. After many days of seeing refugees trying to make their way north, it was a joy to see these two life affirming scenes. 🙂 I’m so so glad that you stopped by, your comments are always a joy. I don’ t know if you share your name, but if you do, I’d love to know it. All the best, Terri

      1. You’re welcome! I do kind of hide behind that username, don’t I?! I haven’t shared my blog with real-life friends for whatever reason (many don’t understand my traveling lifestyle) and I guess I don’t want to be found by them! Silly, I suppose … anyway, my name is Lexie! And thanks for your kind comments in return! I love your blog.

      2. It is so great to meet you, Lexie! James and I were talking about how much we enjoy your insightful, well-traveled comments. I’m looking forward to many more conversations. ~Terri

    1. Sue, as I said to Andrew, I’m amazed at how many weddings we stumble into when we travel. This one was particularly nice because the bride noticed us taking photos and she was totally happy with our presence and photos. We never intrude, but there’s so much positive energy at weddings, as a traveler, it feels nice to share some of that happiness. ~ James

      1. James I totally agree about the positive energy. We came upon a wedding in a little village in Italy last fall. There we stood in our Lycra and everyone was happy to have us there. Having just finished our daughter’s wedding celebration we can attest to the vibrant energy. Since we had rain and snow not to many ‘extra ‘ people happening by. 🙂

  6. How beautiful and intimate–a real treat as a traveler to be welcomed in to these moments! Also brought back memories of a friend’s Lebanese wedding and the traditional circle dance–so much fun!

    1. Ann, it was really fun to stumble upon such an intimate-yet-public scene when we arrived in Novi Sad, Serbia. I’m sure the Lebanese wedding you observed was fascinating. And now that you’re in Germany I bet there are some wonderful weddings coming up for autumn. I know when we were there last year at this time, it seemed to be wedding season. 🙂 ~Terri

    1. We haven’t seen a Mexican wedding Marilyn, but can imagine that it would be a very festive affair. This wedding had fireworks, a brass band, and a bit of impromptu dancing in the street in front of the church. So I’d say they were definitely ready to party after the ceremony. ~James

  7. Everyone loves a wedding!!
    I would have gone investigating too if I heard a band playing nearby. What a happy discovery … and she’s absolutely radiant!
    Beautiful photos 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Joanne. We had just arrived at our little apartment and were sitting on the balcony, when all the sudden there was a BOOM … and a band started playing. James said, “Well, I don’t know what that was, but we gotta go see it!” So we headed around the corner, never expecting those sounds to come from a wedding. 🙂 ~Terri

    1. Great to see you, Jo! We happened upon some beautiful Polish weddings a couple of years ago when the weather was chili, and all the brides were wearing fur stoles – very romantic and elegant. Hope you have fun at your Polish wedding. 🙂 ~Terri

      1. I was really lucky, Marie, because when I asked the bride for permission to take her photo, she gladly agreed and struck a cute pose (the one I used at the top). She was a natural! 🙂 ~Terri

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