Real Weddings: Justin and Samantha

Where It All Started

It didn’t take long for Samantha and Justin’s puppy love to turn serious. The pair met in high school in Toronto, viewing each other with intrigue as “the big man on campus” and “pretty but quiet.” Justin finally worked up the nerve to ask Sam out and their first date was dinner in a restaurant, where both were so nervous that their meals went untouched. Within months, they had fallen in love and were already thinking about marriage.

Years later, in sunny Seville, Spain, Justin led Sam through a series of flowering gardens, over centuries-old bridges and past historical landmarks until they stopped in the centre of a beautiful plaza. There, Justin got down on one knee and proposed, fulfilling a high school fantasy that finally came true.

Photographer: Patricia Recourt.

Planning the Wedding

Sam was toying with the idea about a destination wedding, about reciting vows in front of friends and family on a sandy beach with lapping waves providing a gentle background symphony. She wasn’t sure Justin would be on board, so they initially started planning a wedding at home. But with Sam working as a paralegal and taking courses, and Justin busy with his work as a land surveyor, the pair soon decided that Sam’s dream of a destination wedding would be both fun and more manageable. (Not to mention the appeals of heading south in January.) They chose Riu Guanacaste in Costa Rica for the adventure, stunning nature and legacy of beautiful weddings. Sam and Justin had a wonderful experience working with Meghan and Kristy, their Destination Wedding Specialists from Wedding Vacations by Sunwing. Sam notes that they were both knowledgeable and patient, helping the couple to craft a perfect, beautiful and highly memorable day.

Photographer: Patricia Recourt.

Day Details

On January 27, 2017, Sam and Justin linked hands on a sandy beach lined with palm trees to celebrate their lifelong commitment to each other. In a new family tradition, Sam’s mother and brother walked her proudly down the aisle. Framed by a canopy draped with flowing white chiffon and joined by fifty-one guests, the couple came together in a glam-meets-bohemian ceremony. The accents were lavender, white and grey – including beautiful bouquets of flowers and five bridesmaids in varying shades of flowing purple and grey. Sam and Justin beamed at each other as they recited their personally crafted vows.

The reception was held on Riu Guanacaste’s stunning ballroom terrace, an outdoor space with views of lush tropical foliage. In order to make the event more personal, Sam and Justin brought many items from home, including pictures that helped tell the story of their long and happy courtship and a Star Wars cake topper (a little wink to Justin’s love of science fiction) on the five-tier vanilla cake covered with beautiful fresh purple flowers. Other lovely details included tall vases filled with water-immersed purple roses and floating tea lights, as well as small, inspiring cards that said things like “Love never fails” and “You fill my heart with love.” When the dancing and speeches were done, and when the happy tears finally dried, Sam and Justin stayed in Tamarindo, Costa Rica for several days to relax and reflect on their spectacular wedding. They’re planning a second honeymoon in Europe later this year or early next.

Photographer: Patricia Recourt.

Wedding Day Wear

Samantha’s gown: An ivory and champagne strapless mermaid dress with a sweetheart neckline.
Samantha’s shoes: Strappy gold heels.
Samantha’s accessories: handmade rose gold accessories – a bracelet and teardrop earrings.
Justin’s attire: Grey pants, a matching vest, paisley tie, suspenders, and a pair
The bridesmaids wore: Mix-matched dresses in various purple hues.
The groomsmen wore: Grey pants, lilac ties, suspenders, and white sneakers.
Wedding bands: Samantha’s band is rose gold with diamonds. Sam presented Justin with a black engraved wedding band inspired by his love of Lord of the Rings.

Photographer: Patricia Recourt.

Small Details

Flowers: A beautiful arrangement of roses, peonies, baby’s breath and succulents. The bridesmaids carried baby’s breath bouquets.
Hair and makeup: Done at the resort’s spa.
Photographer: Patricia Recourt.
Stationary and invitations: The couple went digital with a fun wedding website.
First dance: XO by Beyoncé.
Favours: Personalized shot glasses and bubbles.
Welcome gifts: Welcome letter and programs.

Tips for Brides and Grooms

“A destination wedding is the way to go if you have an already-busy life.”

“Enjoy the process and have fun!”