Destination I Do
Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Destination Wedding Costa Rica: A Creative Couple

Words by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of A Brit & A Blonde
Since Steve and Sarina had both been married once before, they wanted to avoid the “stress and expense” of a local wedding this time around. As frequent travelers, they knew exactly the destination for their wedding away: Tamarindo, Costa Rica. “We had a vacation planned to Tamarindo in 2011, and Steve asked me to marry him two days before we departed,” says Sarina. “While in Costa Rica, we decided that it would be the perfect location as we intend to live there one day.”

Once the location was decided, the couple began scouting flights for their guests and kept a close eye on rates. “Luckily, six months before the wedding, American Airlines had a fire sale on flights from California to Tamarindo for $180 round-trip – a ticket which averages $800,” recalls the bride. “In a four-hour period all of our closest friends and family members booked to go! Our expectation of a ten person wedding quickly ballooned to 38.” The couple made their guests’ arrival simple and smooth by arranging transportation for everyone from the airport to their chosen resort, HotelTamarindo Diria. “I took to the Internet and ended up finding a company called Xplore CR,” says Sarina. “They provided transport for our guests as well as making the daunting experience of traveling 45 minutes through rural parts of the country a relaxing experience.”

The couple says hiring a local wedding planner was absolutely crucial in making their dream wedding come to fruition with as little stress as possible. “Find a local coordinator!” says the couple. “Aside from the language barrier, you will save tons of time and money with someone who knows the business and reputations of your vendors. It is worth every dime.” Their planner, Samantha Kohn, also help the couple learn to deal with “tico time.” “The Costa Rican people are the most welcoming, happy and generous culture we have every experienced,” recalls the couple. “However, they do not possess the sense of urgency that Type-A Americans have, so there were many moments of deep breathing when looking to close a deal or finish a task.”

Overall, the couple is ecstatic with how planning their dream destination wedding went and found it much more satisfying and stress-free than planning a hometown wedding. “It was  a BLAST,” says Sarina. “I would just clip pictures from wedding magazines, send them to [our planner] and say ‘Can you do this?’ Not only was the answer yes, it was a quarter of the cost I would have expected to pay in the states. It was like planning your fantasy day without the stress of meetings, conflicting personalities and ballooning costs. With all of the technology we have today, it made it a very easy and fun experience.”

Sarina and Steve estimate they got their dream wedding in Costa Rica for a fifth of the price they would have paid stateside. This is partly thanks to the fact that a 200-person hometown wedding was replaced with a 38-person wedding in their destination. “We were able to have a beautiful sit-down dinner with filet mignon and an open bar,” says the couple. “[We also had] passed Champagne, fireworks and an acrobat show. The stress level was incredibly low as all of the guests were ‘on vacation.’”

This couple went above and beyond by treating their guests to a day at their favorite beach, Playa Avellanas, on the day following their wedding in lieu of a traditional rehearsal dinner. “A bus picked up all 38 of us and we prepaid for food and cocktails for the entire day,” recalls the couple. “We all sat in the sun, played in the water and reminisced about the amazing evening we had just experienced. It was a way to spend time together and show them a part of the country they would have otherwise never visited.”

Not surprisingly, the couple has some great, final words of advice for other couples looking to plan their dream destination wedding. “A destination wedding allows you and your guests a very unique experience which lasts a lifetime. You are inviting people to an event where they not only participate in your union, but build their own memories by visiting a new and beautiful place. Focus on your guests’ comfort level and stress level. Even though it’s a vacation for them, it’s not necessarily a destination they would have picked. This was very much the case with us. People were incredibly apprehensive about a country they had no knowledge of and a town that had only one paved road. Educate them with ‘Update News Letters.’ List the pros and cons of the area, items they should pack, restaurants and places to go, websites they should visit, what they should know about local customs and activities they should do while there.”

Photography: A Brit and a Blonde
Wedding Planner: Samantha Kohn
Ceremony/Reception Site: Hotel Tamarindo Diria
Stationery/Paper Goods: A Brit and a Blonde
Florist: Art Flower
Groom’s Clothing Designer: Tommy Bahama
Gown Designer: Nicole Miller

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