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  • Meghan Stepnowski

Our Sandy Salty Costa Rican Wedding

It all started with our engagement in Panama in December. My parents made it abundantly clear any dreams of a destination were off, we WERE getting married with our families in the United States. We were both fine with this and happy to get to come home and celebrate with loved ones UNTIL we saw how disappointed the girls looked. So we decided to have a wedding party celebration here as well, and in typical Costa Rican style- it all came together at the VERY.LAST.MINUTE

To start, we had envisioned it happening in September right before we were leaving to go to the US for our official wedding, but Ryan had to leave early for work so we “set the date,” for August 20th. Ryan selected a flattish spot on the beach in Playa Negra so it would be closer for our students and their families but also not cost anything to rent!

The girls were excited to get to dress up, go to the beach, and dance. The morning of the nuptials, Ryan spent in town cutting down bamboo to make a ceremony space. I stayed at home, busy making 16 small natural bouquets for the girls, and one larger bouquet for me. I allowed myself the luxury to cut one perfect purple orchid for the occasion. We are lucky enough to rent a house on a gorgeous property filled with an abundance of flora and fauna quite the DIY experience!

The weather did not want to cooperate with us and we were both basically soaked during our entire preparation. As it neared time for the ceremony, the sun finally started to come back out and the humidity soared. We loaded up our 1984 Suzuki Samurai-the roof laden down with tables and bamboo, and the inside filled with vases, flowers, and food. We drove to Hone Creek to get more food from the various parents to bring to the site.

This is when the whole event got a bit stressful. We were only about an hour away from wedding time and Ryan still had to drive all the way back across town, shower, pick up more supplies, and our officiate. As we gathered the pots of food from the girls houses, we forgot that pots of such a size are cooked “ a la leña” meaning outside on the fire. We were both, and our car incidentally, covered with soot! The sun was now fully out and I was sweating out of every pore in my body. When Ryan finally dropped me off at one of the students’ houses we both got a few sideways glances. I ended up taking a shower in the hose in Magdaly and Zugiely’s yard front yard, not my most glorious moment.

However, from here on out things started to come together. I dried off and Magdalena expertly braided my hair Caribbean style. The bus can and got us and we ventured on to gather all the other girls. Ryan was able to get home, grab our officiate Adriana, a friend and fellow yoga teacher and make it back to the site just about the same time as us girls.

Our ceremony was truly the coming together of a community. Adrianna read one of the readings we will have in our US wedding, Kahil Gilbran’s On Marriage in Spanish, over a microphone provided last minute from Keilana’s karaoke machine.!!! Ryan and I felt so lucky to get to share such a special moment surrounded by the community we are a part of here in the Southern Caribbean. It was a hot and sweaty ceremony, followed by a feast where ants basically ate our feet the entire time but it was an authentic celebration of love none-the-less. From the feast, to the friends, to our collaborative efforts to demonstrate love to the girls and each other ,it was an event that only happens once in a life -time. Well, actually, you are like us, and you are extremely lucky you get to have two weddings to the same person all within the span of two months.

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