Destination I Do
Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Stunning Costa Rica Wedding

Words by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Madison Baltodano Photography

NYC couple Dana and Mike “aren’t big planners,” so a destination wedding suited them just fine! After getting engaged during a trip to Costa Rica, it made perfect sense to go back for their wedding. “We wanted our big day to be as enjoyable for us as for our friends and family,” says the bride. “We live in New York; our families are in Atlanta, GA and Washington D.C. and we knew everyone would love Costa Rica’s scenery, weather and numerous activities. Mike had proposed while on vacation in Costa Rica and we knew nothing would be more special than returning a year later to celebrate our new life with all of the people who’ve made it so special.”

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After making their decision, the couple knew their guests would be excited for the opportunity to travel abroad for the wedding. “We’d anticipated a positive response, but were happily surprised when nearly 200 guests confirmed their plans to join us!” says Dana. “Our main concern was for older relatives making the trip. We prepared a thorough travel packet with information on nearby medical facilities and made sure to use locations for accommodations, our welcome dinner and ceremony that were easily accessible.” When it came to choosing their venue, that was perhaps the easiest decision of all. 

“My sister suggested the location and we were able to confer with friends who had used it for their wedding a few years ago. We didn’t visit beforehand, which added to the adventurism and excitement of it all. The only surprise about Zephyr Palace was how much more beautiful it was in person than in pictures. We were so blown away by the natural beauty of the location that we [didn’t really fuss] over details.”

Like we said before, Dana and Mike aren’t big planners, so a destination wedding was an easy fit for them. “The thrill of traveling in such a large group of our favorite people to a beautiful country took care of itself in ensuring an amazing time without loads or preparation or programming,” says the bride. “Our main concerns for the ceremony and reception were good music, food & beverage and capturing it all in photos. Our DJ immediately won our confidence with his organization and thorough preparation. We knew from reviews and references that the food would not disappoint.”

The last “must” for Dana and Mike was great photography. “Madison, our photographer, was a calm and comforting presence the day-of. She was the first person on-site, arriving hours before we’d agreed just to get a lay of the land and ended up being a resource for more than just great shots. Her friendly demeanor fit right in with all the well-wishing loved ones and her pictures were absolutely amazing.”

When asked what their best resource was during the planning process, the couple has a sweet and sentimental answer. “Our most valuable resource was friendly, caring people – whether choosing guests or vendors! Many people will have suggestions when you’re planning a wedding. Success requires attention, but not rocket science, so long as the people you’re working or spending time with are attentive and caring – things will work out beautifully. Take everyone’s suggestions in and then choose what you want!”

Not only were Dana and Mike pleasant throughout the planning process, but practical. “We did a lot of DIY. This worked for us because perfection was not a priority. Once again, we knew that the beautiful scenery would provide a magic and beauty impossible to create. In selecting décor, our main concern was not detracting from the setting already in place. We didn’t want to pay a lot of money for things that weren’t going to add a lot of value to our/our guests’ actual experience.” 

The couple did run into some speed bumps along the way, which lead them to some unique and helpful advice for other couples planning a destination wedding. “Small hiccups and challenges only add to the adventure of it all. Ironically, the larger companies such as Marriott were a bit more challenging because they used large, centralized customer service stations and website resources for disjointed management structures – making individual attention rather elusive. However, the smaller, local and more independent vendors such as our DJ, photographer and makeup person were all extremely communicative, accommodating and on-the-ball. Between Skype, Facetime and email, international communication with independent vendors was a breeze.”

Despite some minor complications, Dana and Mike have no doubts about their decision to say “I do” in stunning Costa Rica. “There is no way our wedding would have been as unique, special and fun for every single person [in attendance] had it been held locally. Going away extends and adds excitement to your magical moment. Your big day becomes your big week or weekend of being surrounded by the people who love you most and your guests are so much more excited for your union because of the adventure of travel and arrival to a beautiful destination.”

Vendors: Photographer: Madison Baltodano Photography, Ceremony/Reception Site: Zephyr Palace, Makeup: Xinia Chacon, DJ: Joshua Wilson, Groomsmens’ Clothing Designer: J.Crew, Gown Designer: Blue by Enzoani, Groom’s Clothing Designer: My Suits in NYC

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