Pretty sure this was the best start to the wedding season I could have asked for.

How It Happened

After being chosen as a finalist for the 2021 International Wedding Photographer of the Year Awards, Luis spotted a post about the winners and swung into my DM’s with a casual “Hey Stuart, it’s Luis from Costa Rica.” Immediately brushing it off as potential spam, I sent a jokey reply saying “Hi Luis from Costa Rica, it’s Stuart from the UK.” It was here that the booking was in the bag.

A quick video call later over coffee (wine in my case, given the time difference), we were all 100% confirmed in and I was on the British Airways website checking out flight options.

Given that I was flying to the other side of the world, I thought we’d make the most of the situation and turn a wedding booking into something a little bit bigger. Little did I know this would snowball into a Costa Rican extravaganza spanning 12 days and going to just about every part of the beautiful country with Luis and Tathi to capture some amazing moments and memories.

What Went Down

We had a little warm up shoot at La Paz waterfall outside of San José which really gave me a flavour of how these two interact. Spoiler alert, I barely had to direct a single photo. Amazingness just unfolded and I just had to push the button and point the camera in the right direction.

We then headed over to Guanacaste where the wedding was being held at Hacienda Pinilla, which is a private residence right on the beach with it’s own beautiful open-sided chapel. 

The beauty of destination weddings is that you spend so much time with the couple and the guests that you really end up feeling like one of the family. Combine that with some Latin American hospitality and I was in for something truly special. By the time the wedding came round, I was on first name basis with just about everyone there. 

I floated between seeing Tathi and Luis in the morning as we built up to their first look right there on the beach. This was one of the sweetest of moments, their reactions were just pure gold and the following photos of Luis screaming his lungs out to Highway to Hell while whizzing up to the chapel is a memory that will always stick with me.

From the ceremony it was just a short 5 minute car ride down to the beach club for the reception. Cristoforis’ Get Funked band were already busting out the tunes for everyone upon arrival with DJ Tocuma primed and ready to go for later in the evening.

I took the couple off for some quick photos to catch the sunset, navigating the crabs as we went. Such a great time to catch a breather before their first dance and before the carnage began. And when I say carnage, I mean carnage. No explanation required, just look at the photos and you’ll know what I mean. I’m often driving so I don’t have much of an opportunity to have a drink at a wedding. This time was different and these two are a terrible influence. It only took about 2 minutes of dancing before guests were loading me up with drinks and cacique was being poured into my mouth from a great height by the bride. Ever the professional, I soldiered on. Though I’m pretty sure the seemingly endless stream of drinks aided my performance and allowed the party to be captured in the best way possible.

The Aftermath

I won’t lie, the next day was a total write-off. After backing up all of the files, I spent the rest of the day nursing fruit smoothies and trying to feel human again. We then headed off on a multi-day Costa Rican adventure session together in Las Catalinas, La Fortuna, Tabacón and Limón before heading back to San José. 

I also managed to break not one but two of my cameras from a combination of dropping them in the water at Tabacón and lasers hitting the sensor during the party. Was it worth it? You’re damn right it was. 

This is definitely one to remember and a career highlight. Can we go back please?

See The Portfolio