A traditional wedding can look like many different things depending on where you are in the world. But there are no rules on where and how you can incorporate different wedding traditions into your celebration. With a little creativity and flexibility you can bring many time time-honored traditions from other parts of the world to Costa Rica’s tropical shores.
Just check out Aleksandra and Sergey’s wedding. They put together a beautiful Ukrainian-style wedding–and added a bunch of Latin American flair!
An Exotic Location
When it comes to exotic locations in the world, you can’t get much more exotic than Costa Rica. The jungles, the beaches, the luxury right in the middle of it all just can’t be beat.
Aleksandra and Sergey decided to hold their wedding festivities at the Gaia Hotel and Reserve here in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. This place is the perfect combination of luxurious comfort and beautiful nature. The snippets of scenery in these photos give you just a tiny taste of how gorgeous this spot is.
Sandy, Gaias amazing wedding planner goes above and beyond to ensure that all her wedding couple’s dreams come true. This is a huge plus for destination weddings as details can be hard to work out from afar.
Modern-day Ukrainian weddings are a unique blend of old cultural traditions and Western wedding customs. Aleksandra and Sergey opted for the unconventional by staging their wedding on the beach in Costa Rica. But they brought with them bits and pieces of their cultural heritage.
For example, embroidered clothing and objects are common in Ukrainian culture. For a year before the wedding, Aleksandra labored lovingly to delicately embroider a traditional wedding towel!
This towel traditionally goes on the ground in front of the altar. The couple stands on it during the ceremony and it is a symbol of prosperity. The idea is that the couple will never live in a home with a bare earthen floor.
Aleksandra opted for a veil with a delicate spray of white flowers for her headpiece. But she gave a nod to Ukrainian tradition by having her bridesmaids wear brightly colored floral crowns with ribbon streamers.
The ceremony was held on the beach in a decidedly non-Ukrainian setting. The waves splashed in the background as the sun slowly sank closer and closer to the Pacific Ocean.
Just before heading down to the beach, Aleksandra and Sergey shared a special “First Look” moment. Sergey’s reaction was a tear jerker for sure. It was an honor to be able to capture this moment in photos. I was also lucky that my good friend and amazing photographer Joseph Nance was second shooting to make sure we captured the day from all angles.
What a beautiful moment that I felt privileged to capture with my camera. These emotion-laden photographs are the kind of photos that draw people to pull out their cherished wedding albums to show their children and grandchildren.
In keeping with the traditional wedding theme, Ukrainian traditions also made their appearance during the reception as well. The most notable was the traditional “bread and salt” ceremony.
This is a beautiful moment between the bride and groom and their parents. As the bride and groom enter the reception, their parents meet them with gifts of bread and salt. Bread represents the bounty of nature and salt is necessary for a dash of flavor in life. The parents then proceed to bless their children as they begin their new journey and form their own, new little family.
Music and dancing is a big part of the Ukrainian culture, and there was no lack of either at Aleksandra and Sergey’s wedding. But to mix things up a bit, they hired a professional Salsa teacher to teach them and their guests some new dance moves. A live band provided plenty of music to keep toes tapping and hips swaying long into the evening!
Your Traditional Wedding Abroad
Who says that a destination wedding can’t also be a traditional wedding? Just because the location is exotic doesn’t mean you can’t bring special cultural elements along with you.
Who knows? Those traditions might even feel fresh and that much more special for being out of their normal atmosphere.
For more ideas about ways to make your wedding vacation special, check out my guide to group activities that you and your guests can enjoy during your trip!