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Destination I Do

A Romantic Costa Rican Wedding

Words by Sarah Padilla
Photos courtesy of Julie Comfort of Comfort Studio

Sparks flew – literally – when Ashley and Mike wed on a pristine Costa Rican beach in February 2013. Mike surprised his new bride with a spectacular fireworks display during their reception. It was a fitting gesture for a couple whose love has burned strong since the moment they met at a mutual friend’s barbeque in Chicago in 2008.

Ashley describes their relationship as going from zero to 100 miles per hour overnight. “From the moment we met, we were inseparable,” she says.

But only a few months later, Ashley was offered a job opportunity in Zürich, Switzerland and she jumped at the chance. After six months of long-distance dating, Mike joined her overseas. Two years later, he proposed at dusk one evening on Zürich’s Burkliplatz Bridge. 

With family and friends throughout the globe and having traveled extensively through Europe, Asia and Central America, choosing a wedding locale was tough. In the end, the couple chose Costa Rica, a country they had fallen in love with when visiting Ashley’s brother, who lives on the Guanacaste Peninsula. “For those who have never been, Costa Rica is a place like nowhere else,” says Ashley. “The simplicity, the beauty and the ‘pura vida’ lifestyle are like nowhere else I’ve ever been.”

With help from wedding planner Aimee Monihan of Tropical Occasions, the couple took advantage of the beautiful simplicity to create an unforgettable beach wedding with dining and dancing under the stars, plenty of candlelight and yes – fireworks. To give the event a romantic, vintage feel, Ashley’s mom hunted down enough antique lace linens to fill six suitcases!

Guests were sent home with bottles of a local hot sauce made by Ashley’s brother and adorned with a personalized caricature label. To up the local flavor even more, Ashley’s brother surprised the couple with a 30-person “comparsa” band that led the guests in a high-energy conga line along the beach.

“I am still in awe and amazed by our wedding day,” says Ashley. “Each time I think back to it, I smile with complete warmth, happiness and gratitude for all those who made it so special and unique.”

Vendors: Wedding planner: Aimee Monihan of Tropical Occasions, Photographer: Julie Comfort of Comfort Studio, Location: Playa Bonita on the Hacienda Pinilla property; Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Florist: Tropical Occasions, Wedding Dress Designer: Anne Barge, Jewels: Toni Federici, Shoes: Jimmy Choo, Groom’s Suit: Brooks Brothers, Groomsmens’ Attire: Banana Republic, Bridesmaids’ Attire: Unique shades of coffee (Amsale, BCBG, Nordstrom, etc.) Décor: ETSY, Wedding Favors: RICANTE Hot Sauce personalized labeling together with Caricature Connection, Stationery: Momental Designs, Lighting: Cabo Luna Event Rentals, Cake: Victoria Zoch Cakes, Rentals: Costa Mesa Rentals & Eventos Artisano's, Catering: La Posada Inn at Hacienda Pinilla, Cinematography: Jonathan Yonkers

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Spring/Summer 2014 issue. You can order a copy here.
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