Jen and Wes met while studying at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Jen was a busy girl studying music and singing. Wes graduated college and spent a gap year before medical school biking across the U.S. with his buddies, farming in Costa Rica through the WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms), and working in the Colorado Rockies. Wes had returned for Marshall University Medical School when Jen saw him biking across campus. And the rest, as they say, was history! Jen and Wes dated for 3 years before Wes proposed near a wilderness campfire.
Wes always raved about his experiences in Costa Rica and thought that here would be the perfect place for a wedding. Jen quickly agreed because she had always wanted a tropical wedding and looked forward to meeting the people where her fiancé had made friends. They are both passionate about outdoor adventure and environmental awareness, so Costa Rica was where they decided to begin their lives as husband and wife in the perfect way. They contacted their local travel agent and were referred to us! We worked as both a travel agent and wedding planner, assisting with travel documents, details, and securing both a venue and talented vendors.
We decided on Paradise Mountain Hotel because of the breathtaking view of the Arenal Volcano, the adventurous activities close by, and because it allowed for all the guests to stay at the same resort with the wedding only a short walk away.
Everyone arrived on Wednesday evening and on Thursday morning their tropical adventures began. These were the excursion options that they could choose from: exploring the hanging bridges with a bilingual naturalist, zip-lining through the rainforest, boating down the Rio Frio in the wild Cano Negro National Park with a bilingual naturalist, and white water rafting through the Rio Balsa. Jen and Wes wanted their guests to have opportunities to enjoy what they like while they were in Costa Rica! They kicked off the week-long adventure in the Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna area with their closest friends and family.
Their guests traveled from all over the U.S. to include Texas, Maryland, Florida, Alabama, West Virginia, Washington, DC, New Jersey, and Georgia. Wes and Jen have friends and family around the country and they liked the idea of giving people the opportunity to enjoy a vacation while being part of their big day.
The wedding day had a misty rain that gave the setting a cozy romantic vibe. This day was the only day that it rained the entire day, but Jen and Wes reminded themselves that they chose to have a wedding in the rainforest during the beginning of the rainy season because they wanted to embrace nature! Luckily they had a break in the rain to do most of the portraits outdoors and take advantage of the beautiful scenery! The ceremony was moved indoors from the outdoor patio but the entire venue is open-sided. So guests were still able to view the lush tropical surroundings at the base of a volcano and hear the soft rainfall during the ceremony.
Guests enjoyed a cocktail hour featuring local beer and wine plus hors d'oeuvres of local fish, cheeses, and vegetables deliciously prepared. Wes and Jen were very focused on keeping their special day about family and friends, and not about elaborate decor. Their flowers were soft and romantic with touches of white, blush, and green, which translated to various light roses, orchids, hydrangea, and eucalyptus. The linens were an organic natural look, which was complemented by the clear glass charger plates and wooden chairs. Wes crafted beautiful wooden placement cards creating a personalized touch to the tablescape. He had also sent hand-carved gifts prior to their adventure in Costa Rica too!
Wes became interested in wood crafting while he lived in Costa Rica because it is known for its beautiful wood. Costa Ricans use their purple, yellow, red, and other colored woods to make gorgeous furniture and useful household products. Wes also handcrafted wood wine racks for all the attending guests and sent them directly to guests’ homes a week before the big trip. Wes included a beautiful card that describes the rack as functional art hand-crafted in downtown Huntington, WV that states, “This piece is made from repurposed wood siding removed from an old house that burned down. There was only enough material to produce five wine racks from this site, and of course, no two are exactly the same.”
Jen and Wes were excited to have Wes's talented cousin, Lisa Marie O’Quinn of Sweet Tea Photography, photograph their wedding using mostly medium format film cameras, which added a wonderfully personal touch to their special day. Wes and Jen both share a great appreciation for the arts. Wes has always had his sister Cassie's paintings hanging in his apartments throughout his bachelor years. Cassie is not only a brilliant painter, but she also teaches painting in Texas and Switzerland. Wes and Jen look forward to making their home in Charlottesville, VA. when they return from their Costa Rican honeymoon. We know this love story will continue with more adventures for years to come!
Arenal Volcano Wedding Vendors
Photography: Lisa Blume Photography
Venue: Mountain Paradise Hotel
Wedding Planner: Our sister company, Our Costa Rica Wedding
Photographer: Sweet Tea Photography
DJ: DJ Kika
Catering: Mountain Paradise Hotel
Officiant: Einar Villavicencio
Wedding Gown: OLVI'S The Lace Collection - European Bridal in Cincinnati, Ohio
Groom’s Attire: J. Crew and local Huntington seamstress
Guest Gift: Wine Rack City