I thought I'd post this since I know how frustrating it was when I was planning and I couldn't get the info I needed. Hopefully this will help someone planning their wedding in Manuel Antonio.
We wanted a beach wedding and I was hoping one of the hotels, Costa Verde to be exact, could help us in planning it. I wanted everything on the beach, including the reception. That's where the problem lies. Most of these hotels in Manuel Antonio could arrange for your ceremony at the beach but will not do the reception on the beach.
I also didn't want a cookie cutter wedding (pre-made packages) so here's what we ended up doing for 50 guests.
Marika in Costa Rica.
She is the cheapest so know what you're getting when you're paying less. All our communication have been good, she is always available through email and phone. At the end of it, I realized I could've just hired a day-of-wedding coordinator instead of a planner but Marika's biggest role was to get me the villa I wanted, the vendors I neeeded, for the budget I had. We would not have been able to get the villa without her since we didn't meet the 5-night minimum, she ended up talking with the owner and the owner agreed. Now the bad part: Marika was drunk (according to my mom) during our ceremony. She wasn't of any help when it came to organizing the entrance of the wedding party, she placed the mason jars on the dining tables when they should have been on the drinks table, then quickly left. She left her assistant all by herself to help us. She also did not help with setting up the sky lanterns when I already told her about them. I will take some blame as I should have planned better but in reality, when you're hiring a planner, the planner is supposed to help you with things you may have missed. That's the whole point! Oh well. They later told me she had to leave because she had to go to her husband who was in the hospital but I'm not quite sure if that's true. Also, she should've at least hired someone else to replace her if she had to leave. Her assistant was ok, but she seemed clueless as well. Anyways, I was prepared that things are not always gonna go as planned so I didn't let all that stress me. My mom was stressing, I wasn't.
Discovery Beach House
Like I said, they do have a minimum stay requirement which increased the cost considerably. I'm just so happy that Evelyn and her husband were very accomodating and they gave us an experience that was truly amazing. Had I known ahead of time, we would've booked all 5 nights just because we loved the villa so much. but we had a budget and we had a schedule so we had to focus. hehe. Do I recommend this place? ABSOLUTELY yes! there's not very many beach front properties in Manuel Antonio so this place is an absolute gem.
Most of our guests stayed at Costa Verde. It is closest to the discovery beach house. The rooms are large and the VIEWS were amazing. Some opted to stay at other cheaper hotels and they all seemed to like it. A few stayed in Quepos but I highly discourage this as it's still a drive to get to MA from Quepos. Quepos has a large grocery store where we bough most of our needs (cheaper compared to MA).
Desiree (who also happens to be the main chef at Discovery)
Chef Des cooked the most amazing meal for us. Everyone enjoyed the food that when they see me or when they see our photos from the wedding, someone always mentions how good the food was. Chef Des worked with me on the menu and she pretty much catered to what I wanted. The prices were reasonable and she also provided the servers, the plates and silverware. I also asked her if we could just have an open bar where people served themselves and she helped me do it. We bought beer and placed them in metal buckets (costa mesa rentals) with ice. and cacique and juice mix from the local grocery store that we placed in rented out jars (costa mesa rentals). we never ran out of alcohol. Saved $$$!
Chelsea from mariposa - We got an almond cake decorated with the same succulents that were in my bouquet. Absolutely amazing cake! We also served the cake for dessert, along with fruits and coffee and tea.
Costa Mesa Rentals
Tables, chairs, lights, linens - they are from San Jose so there's an extra cost for the delivery but there are not a lot of companies who offer bamboo chairs.
JOshua Wilson - fair price and he provided music for the ceremony, cocktails, and reception.
Costa Brava FLowers, Carol Bikker - bouquet, boutonniere, natural arch for our ceremony and the centerpieces. They were all lovely. Too bad we couldn't take the centerpieces home with us.
Hair and Make up:
Priscilla for my hair - she's great! Melania for my make-up - she's amazing! They were both great! They both worked on me at the same time and Melania is pretty good at making me look good without using too much. She knows what products work in the tropical weather and my make up lasted til the wee hours of the morning.
Photos and video:
El Velo - I posted on another person's thread about El Velo. All our photos were fantastic but it's now 7 months after our wedding and we still haven't received our video. They said it will be mailed this week or next. We'll see.
I also hired Jennifer Harter for my trash the dress photo shoot.
Ordered custom burlap bags here in the US and transported them to CR. When we got there, we bought bags and bags of coffee beans from the local walmart and started filling the burlap bags. they smelled great! We also wanted to give gift bags to our guests so I ordered canvas bags here in the US (about $0.50 each) and filled them with costa rican chips (plantain and potato), juice, water, and some candies. Bought all of those at walmart as well when we arrived in San Jose. We placed maps and itineraries inside the bags so our guests can see what the schedule was like for days leading up to the wedding.
We hired shuttles to pick up our guests from their respective hotels on the actual day of the wedding.
Sabrina is amazing. she helped me hire the shuttles and also helped with planning some tours for our guests.
Overall, there were some things I could have done differently but in the end, our wedding was perfect in my eyes. Our guests had fun and my husband and I had a truly unforgettable experience. To this day, we still talk about it like it was yesterday. The best gift is to see our families and friends happily experience Costa Rica the way we wanted them to: through adventure and food. It was grand.
I've attached some photos.