A Lovely Costa Rica WeddingWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Stories Wedding Photography
Abby and Kevin wanted a peaceful and adventurous wedding away from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives in New York. Thankfully, they knew just the place: Guanacaste, Costa Rica. “We both love to travel and thought it would be awesome to have our closest friends and family join us on a ‘get away’ to one of our favorite places,” recalls the couple.
Thankfully, the couple knew their guests well and the destination wedding idea went over swimmingly. “Everyone was excited about the idea…even more so than we expected,” says the bride. “People built their vacations around our wedding, taking a week before or after to get out and explore Costa Rica. That’s exactly what we had hoped they would do.”
Not only did the couple love Costa Rica itself, the destination fit in with their overall desired feel for the event. “We wanted to be surrounded by natural beauty, in a place that felt like it was a world away from our lives in Manhattan, where our guests would have easy access to a wide-range of outdoor activities and adventure – so the bird-watchers and hikers would have as much fun as the surfers and scuba-divers.
“We also wanted our family and friends, who would be coming from all over the U.S., to be able to get to the destination easily – no more than one connecting flight and no long drives or bus rides after finally getting through customs. The Guanacaste region in northern Costa Rica met all our criteria – it has an international airport in Liberia, beautiful beaches and volcanoes just a short drive away.”
Thanks to a local wedding planner they discovered through a friend, the couple had a relatively smooth planning process. “We had a few instances where language or cultural barriers slowed the process and caused some frustration,” recalls the couple. “It’s very hard to imagine how we could have done it without [our wedding planner].
“Even though we had a pretty clear idea of what we wanted and were somewhat familiar with the area, she introduced us to a new venue that we might not have ever come across on our own, took care of site visits and tastings that we couldn’t attend in person, recommended high quality local vendors and intervened on our behalf when we ran into delays or problems.”
One of the more unique touches the couple incorporated were their favors. “I bought a colorful, hand-painted clay bird whistle from a sweet local woman,” says the bride. “It became my favorite reminder of [Costa Rica]. Later, our wedding planner was able to help us find a local artisan who made a custom set of bird whistles for our place settings. Every guest got their own unique Costa Rican bird whistle and instead of clicking glasses before toasts, our guests whistled.”
Despite being familiar with their chosen destination, the couple still had some surprises in store when it came to making their wedding dreams come true. “[Our venue] was a new hotel and we were their first wedding event, so there was a learning curve on both ends,” says the couple. “[And while] we definitely spent less than we would have for an event of the same caliber anywhere near New York City, that’s not to say we were not surprised by some of the prices. Costa Rica has become a major travel and wedding destination for well-heeled Americans and Europeans. As the quality and range of services grows to meet the demand, so – it seems – do the prices.”
Despite a few tough times, Abby and Kevin don’t regret their decision to have a destination wedding in Costa Rica for a second. “If we’d held our wedding closer to home, we would have missed out on the feeling that we were all on a big adventure together – the surroundings would have been familiar and people would not have taken as much time to get to know each other and enjoy the experience.”
Vendors: Photographer: Stories Wedding Photography, Wedding Planner: Barbara Broutin with FourNineteen Weddings, Ceremony/Reception Site: El Mangroove Hotel, Florst: Art Flower, Stationery: JP Stationery, Cake: Victoria Zoch, Hair & Makeup: Victoria Alfaro with Famous Points Bridal Service, Gown Designer: Nicole Miller, Groom’s Clothing Designer: Bonobos, Rentals: Costa Mesa, Ceremony Music: Ricardo Fonseca, DJ: Luz Lopez
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