As Valentine’s Day approaches, discover the captivating romance of Meghan Barnes and her husband Donovan, a narrative intricately tied to the allure of Las Catalinas and the essence of Costa Rica. Originating from Mississippi, this couple has embraced numerous significant moments within town, and we are delighted to share their journey.
Meghan's affinity for Costa Rica blossomed from her family's property in the La Fortuna area. With approximately ten visits under her belt, her bond with the country has deepened over the years. However, it was in July of 2017 that her connection took on a new dimension when her then-boyfriend Donovan joined her family on their first family vacation together. Reflecting on this cherished memory, Meghan and Donovan fondly recall exploring diverse destinations like Dominical and the Arenal volcano, creating lasting impressions that would shape their love story.
Before one of her visits, Meghan stumbled upon Las Catalinas on Instagram. The picturesque town captured her, with its breathtaking landscapes, colorful houses, and oceanfront vistas. She persuaded her family to visit, setting the stage for all to falling in love with town. Everyone had a wonderful time, enjoying hiking, great restaurants, and beautiful architecture. Meghan was determined to visit again.
On June 4, 2021, the couple traveled to Las Catalinas, where Donovan popped the question. Having been high school sweethearts, Meghan anticipated that they would tie the knot eventually, but the proposal in town came as a delightful and unexpected surprise.
The couple knew they wanted to have a destination wedding, dreaming of getting married in a small European town, however, after visiting Las Catalinas, it seemed to be the perfect destination. Neither wanted to get married at a resort, but having a large group for an event can be challenging in a town. Since Las Catalinas is a walkable town, none of the guests would have to worry about car rentals or driving, or about staying far away. Grandparents attending the event, one in a walker, would encounter no mobility challenges, enjoying the freedom to move around effortlessly.
Las Catalinas is about an hour from the airport, so Meghan was able to easily coordinate transportation to town for everyone. Las Catalinas offered the European charm they were seeking, while adding Costa Rica’s stunning scenery and vibrant culture to the mix. For Meghan and Donovan, Las Catalinas felt like a slice of heaven. They knew they had found a place they would always cherish thanks to the convenience of its amenities and the warmth of its people.
Solidifying the wedding date, Meghan would visit town again, but this time as a bride-to-be, with her mother. The two planned, choosing activities and locations to host the wedding weekend. Meghan emphasizes she wanted everyone to be able to enjoy the weekend and have their own vacation. They created a wedding website with information for guests adding lodging options like Santarena Hotel, Casa Chameleon Hotel, and rental properties for guests to choose from, allowing guests to plan their own experience.
On the Thursday preceding their wedding, Meghan and Donovan graciously welcomed their guests to Casa de Tom, a five-bedroom home steps away from Playa Danta they rented for the special occasion. They organized a delightful welcome party, featuring a spread of Costa Rican cuisine, paying homage to their road trips through the country stopping at traditional roadside restaurants called “sodas.”
Culinary offerings showcased the rich flavors of the region, with housemoms preparing smashed and fried green plantains known as patacones, served with freshly made guacamole and refried black beans, plates of fresh fruit, and “arroz con pollo,” also known as chicken rice. Meghan fondly recalls how one of the housemoms started preparing the flavorful arroz con pollo several days in advance, confident that it would turn out perfectly—a testament to the care and dedication put into every detail of the special occasion.
Adding a personal touch, her father grilled fresh fish caught by Donovan and his groomsmen during a fishing excursion earlier in the day. The evening was filled with laughter, good company, and the anticipation of the celebration to come.
The next day, on the Friday before the wedding, guests, a photographer, and a videographer joined the wedding party on a hike through the Las Catalinas trails. Some had complaints about the workout, but their sentiments quickly changed upon reaching the lookout point over town. The breathtaking view garnered unanimous approval, making the trek entirely worthwhile. Following the hike, everyone enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at the rooftop pool of Santarena before making their way to the rehearsal dinner.
The rehearsal dinner took place at Casa Chameleon against a backdrop of a stunning ocean sunset. The couple decided to keep the cuisine authentic to Costa Rica throughout the entire trip, and among the highlights, Meghan fondly recalled the coconut cajeta sweets. Just after sunset, Meghan describes a tropical storm rolling in while the guests could watch the rain cascading around them and take in the beauty comfortably from inside the restaurant. Since rain is part of the way of life in Costa Rica, Las Catalinas’ spaces are created to embrace indoor outdoor living.
On Saturday, June 11th, wedding festivities unfolded seamlessly, blending joy with relaxation as forty-eight guests gathered for the enchanting ceremony overlooking Playa Danta. Every moment brimmed with love as the couple exchanged vows against the stunning backdrop of the ocean. Opting for a serene ambiance, Meghan and Donovan chose neutral tones for their wedding color palette. To complement the vibrant surroundings of Las Catalinas, Meghan requested everyone to wear white. Even the bridesmaids and groomsmen donned white linen attire, a lovely contrast to the colorful hues of the homes and the vibrant green of the dry tropical forests surrounding town. Despite the agreeable temperature, everyone had a fan on hand for added comfort throughout the day.
Following the ceremony, there was a cocktail hour on the beach, just outside of the Santarena Hotel. Toasts were made with Costa Rican cocktails in hand, like the classic Guaro Sour with Cacique, and mango mojitos with Costa Rican rum. Dinner was served on the terrace in front of the Santarena hotel with more Costa Rican favorites like the beef casado, croquettes, empanadas, and arroz con pollo. Dessert was delicious, featuring tres leches, churros, and a wedding cake by a local baker Victoria Zouch. Guests were treated to a lively mariachi band after dinner, adding an extra dose of fun to the festivities.
When asked about planning the wedding during the rainy season, Meghan noted that the weather posed no hindrance to their celebrations. Mornings were delightful, basking in the warm glow of the sun, while brief afternoon showers added a refreshing break from the heat. She fondly reminisces about the lush greenery and vibrant atmosphere, finding solace in the quieter ambiance and milder temperatures characteristic of the rainy season. Transparent tents encasing the ceremony and reception areas provided shelter but also allowed natural light to filter through, alleviating any concerns about rain.
Meghan and Donovan's wedding was nothing short of magical. The vibrant colors of Costa Rica, delicious local cuisine, and lively entertainment created memories that will last a lifetime. In a phone interview with Meghan, her warm and genuine personality transmits through the phone line as she recalls her experiences in town. Sharing her memories, she mentions how looking back at photos with Donovan has brought immense joy to their week. “I’d do it all over again tomorrow," she adds, and you can almost hear her smile.
As they envision the years ahead, Meghan and her husband dream of returning to Las Catalinas, possibly even making it their permanent residence someday. In the meantime, the couple awaits their next visit, perhaps later this year, cherishing the memories of their perfect wedding surrounded by loved ones in their beloved happy place.
Meghan was kind enough to share some of the vendors they used:
Wedding dress: Galia Lahav
Wedding planner: The Wedding Designers Costa Rica, Emily Granados
Florals & Design: CR Wedding Factory
Rentals: Costa Mesa Event Rentals
DJ: Zach Schmidt
Makeup & Hair: Diana Mesa
Photography: White Diamond
Wedding cake: Victoria Zoch
Looking to book your dream wedding, or engagement in Las Catalinas? Contact our preferred travel provider Beach Town Travel. They are experts in all things travel when it comes to town.
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