Costa Rica Destination Wedding Redo


May 12, 2021
Words by Jennifer Stein
Photos courtesy of Jonathan Yonkers Photography & Video

The holidays hold a special meaning for Joe and Jen. They met while at a holiday party in San Francisco and in 2018, got engaged over Christmas. Joe popped the question when it was just the two of them because, as he recalls, “a proposal is the most private moment a couple can have.”

They realized a destination wedding was in the cards for them right away. “The Bay Area is so expensive and what you get for the money isn’t all that great,” says Joe. “What we really wanted was to make memories with friends and family, so during a vacation, we fell in love with Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.”

Their original destination wedding was scheduled for June 2020. Three months prior, the Covid-19 pandemic reared its ugly head and they had to postpone their event. 

“Luckily,” says Jen, “all of our vendors were able to accommodate our new date in January 2021.”

The only major change to their wedding plans was the number of guests who would attend. They originally had planned on a group of close to 60, but in the end, an intimate gathering of 20 allowed them to have a safe, controlled wedding. 

Villa Punto De Vista in Manuel Antonio was the perfect venue to house all 20 of their guests safely together and according to Jen, “all our festivities happened in our own little ‘bubble.’” Everyone was tested prior to arrival to promote safety. For the couple, their guests comfort and feelings of being secure was top priority. 

Only a few weeks before the wedding, new rules were released requiring travelers to obtain a negative COVID test to re-enter the U.S.. Their wedding planner, Karen of Tropical Occasions, went into problem-solving mode immediately. After visiting multiple nearby medical clinics in Manuel Antonio, Karen was able to get a doctor to come to the villa and perform the necessary tests so guests could easily travel home to the U.S. without interruption. 

When it finally came time for Joe and Jen to say “I do,” the pair enjoyed perfect weather, a feast prepared by a renowned chef, and a view from the villa that only dreams are made of. “Everyone was excited and ready to party,” says Jen. Both their mothers were in attendance and according to the couple, “were the happiest people there…besides us of course!” 

Karen had a great idea to include the guests who couldn’t make it and encouraged the couple to do a Zoom call during the wedding. Over 150 guests were able to log on and witness Jen and Joe vowing to forever. Only in the age of COVID can your guest list actually expand due to technology! Jen was thrilled that their guest list more than doubled thanks to this suggestion.

According to the owner of Tropical Occasions, Aimee Monihan, Joe and Jen were dream clients. “They were cool as cucumbers through the entire process!” recalls Aimee. “They trusted us and that trust allowed us to get our jobs done and give them the beautiful wedding they were hoping for.”

Aimee gives the ultimate kudos to Karen for troubleshooting the in-villa COVID tests so guests could easily get back to the U.S.. “We had basically 10 days for figure out an entirely new system. This is why having a planner on the ground in your destination is so important. Karen has a medical background and speaks Spanish fluently so she was able to create this system for testing with time to spare. She was the saving grace of this event,” says Aimee.

Even though the couple was faced with multiple challenges, Jen and Joe still feel their wedding day was worth it. “It’s not just a one-day affair and allowed us to truly bond with our guests,” says Jen. She also advises that having an open line of communication with guests can really help ensure safety and comfort for everyone involved. 

To hear more about Joe and Jen’s event (and the biggest challenge the couple faced that had absolutely nothing to do with COVID), listen to their interview on our podcast. Our host also spent some time talking with the owner of Tropical Occasions, Aimee Monihan, to give a planner’s perspective on things.

Vendors: Planning + Production: Karen Ogden of Tropical Occasions; Design: Aimee Monihan of Tropical Occasions; Photography: Jonathan Yonkers Photography & Video; Reception Location and Accommodations: Villa Punto De Vista; Floral: Stylos y Flores; Rentals: Costa Mesa Event Rentals; Videography: Forever Wedding Films; Catering: Ono Cuisine; Dessert: Mariposa Bakery; DJ: DJ Esif; Private Jet Service: Private Jet Services

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