When Molly first asked me about a wedding for 50 people in the Osa Penninsula, I nearly choked on my coffee. Firstly, because the logistics were daunting to say the least and secondly, I’d been wanting to take on such a challenge since putting up my ‘Wedding Planner’ shingle in Costa Rica many moons ago. A full-sized wedding in the midst of the jungle? Completely off the grid? Bring. It. On!! And just to up the challenge factor, Molly was in Germany and moving back to the US just before the wedding. Oh, did I mention we had three months to plan it all and the couple had never been to the Osa, so they were basing it on the groom’s sister’s suggestion?
Challenge…thou art my middle name.
Our decor was inspired by lamps and I wanted to create a ‘lamp’ out of orchids for the ceremony. We had to keep a few things in mind with flowers, namely the lack of fans/air-conditioning in the area and the long, arduous journey down to the Osa. We opted for dendrobium orchids are they are hardy, look beautiful and keep their shape in less than ideal conditions.
Being the end of April, we had the rain to contend with. The original plan was to host the ceremony on the lawn of a rental villa in Matapalo, then head over to El Remanso for cocktails and the reception. Weather was not cooperating so we implemented Plan B – the yoga dojo. Bamboo chairs, hand-woven fans and banana leaves filled with rose petals awaited guests.
The challenges continued with the reception set up. Being a lodge, the guests were all eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in the giant palapa. We only had a few hours to transform the space into something that looked totally different for the wedding. As we were so remote, all electricity was via solar panels or a small generator. We had to be very conservative with our power usage, so oodles of lights were out. My idea was to create ‘lamps’ that would illuminate the room while creating a sophisticated dinner club feel, harkening back to the glam of the 1940s. Large cylinders, filled with water and stems of those hardy dendrobium orchids, had custom made lampshades sitting atop lit with votive candles in the shades.
To minimize the amount of rentals we needed, since all the chairs and tables had to hauled down the steep drive via tractor, we re-used the ceremony chairs and added a pop of green for the napkins. The bride sourced the menus, table numbers (via Vera Wang) and small boxes, in which we placed local sweets called alfajores. The result was elegant yet tropical.
For a seating plan, Molly had a ‘tree’ made, with family and friends on different ‘branches’, with orange leaves designating Groom’s connections and fuschia the Bride’s. What a super cute idea!! For more info, check out melangerienyc on Etsy. Makes a beautiful keepsake.
Now, the wedding cake was another challenge. No fans, no air-conditioning to keep it in until the reception so we had to fly in a mini-cake from San Jose the morning of the wedding and have it driven from Puerto Jimenez to the lodge (about an hour on very bumpy roads). To give the cake a bit of height, we had the florist create a cake stand covered in green button mums (another hardy flower).
Speaking of flowers, Molly had her heart set on roses. Now roses and the heat are not great friends, more like slightly hostile acquaintances. Lack of cool accommodations turns roses into droopy, sad little flowers. No problem – we had our florist in San Jose fly the bouquets along with the cake. These are the little solutions to challenges no one teaches you at Wedding Planning School and what makes this job in Costa Rica so darn interesting!
Groom’s cake was lovingly made by the bride’s aunt from a family recipe and carefully wrapped up in customized ribboning. A nice touch was the framed explanation behind the tradition and why it was included in the wedding.
A big thanks to Julie Comfort of Comfort Studio for her fab photography. Congratulations again to Molly and Gabe – nothing like overcoming a challenge to see a wedding come to beautiful fruition! It was truly wonderful and the little touches made it all the more fabulous.