Groom cries at wedding
April 2, 2013

My Personal Destination Wedding Experience


Last week I started telling the story of my beach wedding in Costa Rica and we had just about arrived the ceremony. I’m going to back up a bit her for a minute and explain how we handled the planning of everything from the flowers to the cake and most importantly the guests.

Way back in 2006 there was no Facebook, iPhone or Android and email was still spotty in Puerto Viejo. The electricity would go out fairly regularly and when it was on, people did not check Facebook or their computer regularly like they do now. Not to mention that the Costa Ricans live on Tico Time, which basically means everything moves a lot slower. This can be aggravating from the fast paced US but once you get there and slow your self down it is awesomely chill. So we did a lot of planning by email and one international phone call.

Bride and Groo on beach

We decided on a very simple and traditional meal of chicken with rice and beans. Two little round chocolate cakes did the trick for the cake cutting and we had an open bar all night, which I assure you was one tenth the cost of one in the States. Simple was perfect for us. We had just flown from the states and driven 4 hours through a brand new country. We had enough excitement without stressing over a cake and food.

Almost a year before the wedding we sent out an email explaining our plans. We told everybody that this was how we planned to do it and that they were welcome to join us. We offered advice based on our research but that they were responsible for meeting us there. Only a few of our guests had experience with international travel but they were all troopers and ultimately we had 17 guests waiting to walk down to the beach with us on our wedding day.

Brides costa rican flowers

My amazing wife even went simple on her dress. She made the skirt herself and purchased a matching spaghetti string tank top from a bridal store. Once again making it simple, after all the average temperature would be well over 90 degrees and she would be walking on a black sand beach. Since we were funding most of the wedding ourselves it also saved money that we could apply to our adventures after the wedding. The flowers for her bouquet were picked from the rainforest that morning and affixed to a pre-made cascading design that my wife had made back home in Loveland, Colorado.

So after all that we gathered on the patio of Kayas Place and walked the 30 yards to Playa Negra to exchange vows. Again we kept it simple, there were no brides maids or groomsmen. Khalana and I officiated and exchanged vows, traded rings and kissed. And yes I cried like a baby while trying to read my vows. I am a softy when it comes to that stuff. The whole ceremony lasted 10 minutes, then we dove into the reception. Again the amazing staff at Kayas Place came through with a bonfire on the beach the Cerveza Imperial flowed and we partied with our guests and hosts till early the next morning.

What am I getting at here? We made it our own and we made it simple. What I got out of it was an understanding of the stress and the emotion involved in any wedding let alone a destination wedding in a foreign country.

If you are planning a wedding, here or abroad, get in touch with us. Obviously we can help you with the photography but also we are happy to share our personal wedding experience with you.

bride and groom kiss on beach

Eric Bellamy
Wedding Photojournalist at Stark Bellamy Photography
Eric Bellamy is an award-winning photojournalist whose work has appeared on the likes of ESPNHS, the New York Times, Denver Post and more. He now focuses on editorial-style wedding photography and portraiture. He lives with his wife and children, and enjoys climbing rock and ice as well as sampling good wine and food in Northern Colorado.