Real Wedding – Samantha & Kyle’s DW in Costa Rica

A destination wedding in Costa Rica. Glowsticks. Bright yellow shorts and linen shirts. A glowing bride. A smitten groom. Costa Rica Wedding Photographer, Kevin Heslin, shared Samantha and Kyle’s special day.

The Riu Palace hosted the March 27, 2014 wedding. The comfortable, yet colorful bridal party relaxed before the festivities. The happy couple basked in the abundant sunshine, eager to celebrate their love.
wedding bands shot
mrs hanger wtoo wedding gown groom wearing sunglasses bride's updo bride bride slipping on garter black and white groom Samantha and Kyle personalized their wedding “through their choice of outfits and their bridesmaids and groomsmen outfits.” Samantha wrote, “I just loved the bridesmaid dress because it felt more like a dress a wedding guest would wear vs. a bridesmaid dress, and the groomsmen were dressed exactly how my husband would dress – fun yellow shorts and wooden sunglasses.groom with groomsmen bride bride with bridesmaids groom seeing bride walk down the aisle bride and dad walking to ceremony black and whiteWe spent a lot of time really thinking through songs for my walk down the aisle and the first dance, as well as, the rest of the wedding reception; ensuring the music matched our preferences and style was key to ensure the wedding was our perfect day!groom watching bride walk down the aisle bride hugs dad during ceremony bride and groom during ceremony groom and bride during ceremony bride and groom during ceremony groom and bride during ceremony bride and groom kiss during ceremony bride and groom walk down the aisle bride and groom embrace bride and groom embrace bride and groom hold hands bride and groom walk along beach bride and groom on beach groomsmen holding bouquets bride and bridesmaids holding cigars groom with groomsmen holding bouquets bride with bridesmaids bride with bridesmaids walking away bridal party pose on beach bride stands on beach bride and groom kiss on beachI brought a ton of stuff down with me because I wanted to include personalized elements and create a well decorated reception vs. the plain white tablecloths that you usually see in destination weddings.bride and groom at riu palace costa ricaI brought some extra touches for the tables including burlap table runners, Kitchen Paper place mats, yellow striped straws, stamped name tags with compasses for the guys and anchor necklaces for the girls (used as weights for the name tags since the reception was on the roof), flowers for the tables, and 200 candles spread out over 5 tables.riu palace reception tables bride gives speech while groom watches bride and groom danceSome of my favorite elements include a wedding cake topper of a bride dragging a groom down the aisle, which I thought was hilarious and totally matches our cake topper bride dragging groom bright yellow wedding cake groom cutting wedding cake bride and groom embrace bride and groom embrace on beach
More favorite elements include:

  • Wedding guest book; because Kyle and I have been together for 13 years, we have shared a lot of great moments over the years. So we created a guest book made up of photos from our favorite moments with friends and family inclusive of all the wedding events (proposal, engagement party, showers, and bachelor/bachelorette). We had our friends sign the book during the wedding and from time to time, we go through the book and read everyone’s amazing comments. Since it’s a destination wedding, many people opt out of bringing cards, so having the wedding book was a way for us to capture their well wishes in one spot.
  • Glowsticks – We purchased a massive amount of glowsticks for the reception dance party. Everyone loved them including the hotel staff and it got everyone into the party mood.

Your budget?


Would you spend more or less on anything?

We would spend the exact same amount. We splurged – by destination wedding standards – on extras and it paid off. The wedding was exactly what we hoped it would be and felt very us.

Best use of budget?

  • Photographer; Kevin was amazing! Although it’s worth noting you have to pay to bring in external vendors, so we paid an additional $300 to bring in our photographer. I thought that was a waste of money and unfortunate the resort enforced that rule.
  • Lighting at the reception; we added 200 candles and paper lanterns and all the soft lighting felt very romantic and created an intimate dinner party feel to the wedding.
  • Dress – I opted for a more affordable dress because we wanted totrash the dressthe next day, and I didn’t want to worry about my dress coming clean, which it did luckily.

Is there anything that didn’t go as planned?

The flowers were not exactly what I ordered; although they were similar, they were not the same color or the same style. When they first arrived 30 minutes before the ceremony started, I was disappointed but there is nothing you can do about it right before the wedding. Plus you’re too excited to be upset. At the end of the day they were beautiful and everyone complimented them, so it was a non-issue. I included them in some photos, but since my photographer knew they were not exactly what I ordered, he recommended I leave them out of the majority of the shots.

Advice for future brides?

The biggest piece of advice I can offer brides is to go with the flow on the wedding day and not over think it. Unlike a local wedding where you have more say over what happens on the actual day, a destination wedding leaves you at the mercy of the hotel staff. So you plan what you can over email in the months leading up to the wedding, then you have to let go and just enjoy the day!

Favorite moments?

When the power went out 10 seconds into our first dance, everyone gathered around us in a circle and sang the words to our song while we danced. It was such an awesome moment, I couldn’t have ever imagined that. Lucky for us we chose,Stand By Me’, a song everyone knew. And the speeches – I LOVED hearing the speeches and watching everyone’s face react to the speakers and their stories.

Photographer: Costa Rica Wedding Photographer Kevin Heslin~Venue: Riu Palace~Bride and bridesmaids earrings: Designs by Marika Almasy