All my life I’ve dreamed of having the perfect wedding – one that the guests still talk about years later. I wanted it to be uniquely luxurious, stunningly gorgeous, and heartbreakingly romantic. After the proposal, it didn’t take long for me and my fiancé to decide that we wanted a destination wedding. When we agreed upon Costa Rica, the venue was obvious – The Red Palm Villas in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. There we could have an intimate sunset beach wedding without sacrificing any of the luxuries that we’d expect at home. It was perfect!
We decided to make our wedding celebration a multi-day event so that our guests could get the most out of their trip to Costa Rica. Everyone arrived on Thursday, which left us with two full days of fun before the ceremony. The festivities began with a breathtaking chartered flight from San Jose to Tambor Regional Airport for the wedding party, the immediate family, my fiancé, and me. I know it was just a quick way to get to The Red Palm Villas, but looking down at the lush Costa Rican scenery below was exquisite.
When we arrived at The Red Palm Villas, the staff showed us to stunning villas that were so pristinely luxurious that I contemplated just spending all day inside. In keeping with tradition, I stayed with the bridesmaids and my fiancé stayed with the groomsmen. We decided that we wouldn’t move into the honeymoon villa together until after the wedding. Our families and guests occupied the rest of the villas and the neighboring hotel since we had booked the entire place. This way we could make our wedding truly intimate by surrounding ourselves only with the people we love the most.
Day One of Our Red Palm Villas Beach Wedding Celebration
We spent the first day on the incredibly gorgeous Playa Santa Teresa, recovering from our plane trip. There is nothing like laying on soft white sand while the sun warms your skin and the rhythmic sounds of the crystal clear waves crashing onto shore lull you to sleep. I had just enough time for a quick beach nap before the rest of our guests began to arrive. Pretty soon, the sounds of the waves were drowned out by the chatter of excited friends and family members. No one could believe the beauty around them!
That night we watched the sunset from the beach, a daily lights show that simply cannot be missed. Then we moved the party to Kika’s where we listened to a great little band and noshed on some mouthwatering cuisine from all over the world. It would have been easy to stay there the entire night, but fully tummies and jetlag made it an early night.
Day Two of Our Red Palm Villas Wedding Celebration
It was just too beautiful outside to waste much time lounging around in bed, no matter how luxuriously comfortable it may have been. My bridesmaids and I rose early and went next door for one of the best breakfasts that I have ever had. Everything was so fresh! My omelet was to die for and the fruit was sweeter and juicier than any I had tasted before. I could have eaten mango all day, just luxuriating in the explosion of flavor of every bite melting away on my tongue, but we had a surf lesson to get to.
My fiancé and I had organized a two-hour group surf lesson for anyone interested. After some instruction on the beach, we hit the waves. As the first wave lifted my board into the air and the salty wind whipped my wet hair back, a rush of adrenaline shot through my body. Instinct took over as I shifted my body weight to guide the board along the crest of water below me. I felt scared and powerful all at once. And when I finished my first ride, all I could think of was that I wanted more.
That afternoon, we gathered all of our guests in one of The Red Palm Villas gardens where we had a big group dance lesson. My fiancé and I love to salsa, and being in Costa Rica, we felt that we should have the band play at least a couple of salsa songs during the reception. Since most of our guests had never tried it before, we decided to give them a crash course on the basic steps. It was so much fun! Everyone was laughing as they shook their hips and twirled around. Even Uncle Stan got up and gave it a go.
After our dance class, those involved in the wedding ceremony migrated to the beach for the rehearsal. Even though we were just practicing, I got shivers walking down the aisle with my father, the ocean glittering in the sun just a few yards away and the sand delightfully cool and soft on my bare feet. I just knew how special it would be when we did it for real.
We chose the Milarepa Restaurant next door for our Asian-fusion rehearsal dinner, but we had to hurry to make it there in time for the sunset. I was told that this was the place to go for one of the best sunset views in Santa Teresa, and I was not disappointed. Though I never thought it possible, our entire group was rendered speechless by the beauty of the sun dipping into the ocean – my last sunset as a single woman.
Day Three of Our Red Palm Villas Wedding Celebration
The morning was all about being pampered. While my soon-to-be-husband and his groomsmen went golfing and the wedding guests went on a canopy tour, my bridesmaids and I headed to Bamboo Spa next door. We relaxed with massages and indulged ourselves with pedicures and manicures. Then, giddy with excitement, we headed back to our villa to have our hair and makeup done and get dressed.
Hours went by in what seemed like only a few moments and before I knew it, the photographers were telling me that it was time for the pre-ceremony wedding shots. My fiancé and I had agreed not to see each other before the wedding, so the photographers arranged some creative pictures of us in the gorgeous Red Palm Villas gardens so that we were together but never got a peek at one another. I was giggling the whole time, the joy and excitement just bubbling out uncontrollably.
And then it was time. The groom and groomsmen took their places on the beach in front of all our guests, and the guitarist began to strum the processional. I watched as each of my best friends walked down the aisle. And then it was my turn. As I stepped onto the beach, tightly holding my father’s arm, I gasped in awe. Everything was so beautiful – more exquisite than I ever could have imagined. The sun was just beginning to set so that the entire sky was brushed with shades of red, purple, pink, and orange. The ocean sparkled as the waning sunlight dancing on its waves. As I walked down the white sand aisle, a gentle breeze tousled my hair and rustled the full skirt of my knee length dress. I felt beautiful, especially when I looked at the smile widening across my fiancé’s face.
Framed by an arbor wrapped in vines of exotic flowers and surrounded by the natural beauty of Costa Rica, my husband and I were married. It was so magical that it exceeded all of my dreams, but the night was just getting started.
The reception was held under a huge tent set up on the other end of The Red Palm Villas beach. By the soft glow of twinkle lights strung throughout the tent and the candles beautifully placed amongst flowers on the tables, we ate a sumptuous dinner that managed to be both flavorful and light. I had never tasted a meal so delicious in a setting so romantically stunning.
Once the sun sunk completely below the horizon and millions of stars filled the sky, we moved to the open air dance floor where the band was just warming up. They played everything from rock to slow songs to top 40 hits. But it was when they played salsa that the party really got going. Everyone was instantly out on the dance floor, twirling their partners and shaking their hips like there was no tomorrow. I don’t think I’ve ever danced so much in my life. The only break was when the tres leches wedding cake adorned with a rainbow of orchids was rolled out. It was so beautiful that I didn’t even want to eat it, though it turned out to be just as delicious as it looked.
The stars twinkled overhead as we danced the night away. I wanted to hold on to the moment for forever, but all good things must come to an end. As my husband and I made our way to the honeymoon villa, I looked back on the twinkling lights of the beach and sighed with contentment. All of that dreaming for all of those years didn’t even come close to matching the magic of my actual wedding on the beach of Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.