Costa Rica Wedding Photographer Kevin Heslin » Destination Wedding Photography in Costa Rica by Kevin Heslin

antigua guatemala with volcanoP I NI M A G E




Photos from Guatemala

Guatemala has been one of the countries I’ve wanted to visit for probably 10 years now.  I had heard so much about the culture and landscape and knew it was a place I wanted to experience and photograph.  Last month, I finally decided to stop making excuses about being to busy and just go and do something for myself.  Best decision in a long time.  The landscapes are indeed amazing, and the culture is so pronounced and unique.  It seems anywhere I went I could have spent weeks shooting and never want to leave.

In Lake Atitlan people still live in a very traditional way.  Cooking with ceramic pots, and preparing hot chocolate with special stirring utensils made from coffee roots.

Unexpectedly, I also met some local wedding photographers there and I hope to start shooting destination weddings in Guatemala real soon.  I’m so grateful I was able to make the trip and walk around this amazing place.  Can’t wait to make my way back to do some more exploring.

Below are some of my photos from the week I was there.

view from pacaya volcanP I NI M A G E

The view from volcano Pacaya is of other volcanos.

Photos from GuatemalaP I NI M A G E

I love meeting and shooting people when I travel.  Well, that’s almost my whole reason for traveling. These are some school kids, and a family arriving early to get a good spot for the parade.

Arco de Santa CatalinaP I NI M A G E

The famous Arco de Santa Catalina in Antigua.

ceramics in san antonio palapo in lake atitlanP I NI M A G E

I got to visit a small ceramic factory where everything is still hand made.

ceramic before glazing in GuatemalaP I NI M A G E

Lake atitlanP I NI M A G E

My boat captain running on the dock.

indigenous girl fishing in San Antonio Palopo in lake atitlanP I NI M A G E

Girl fishing with just a line near San Antonio Palopo.

fishing in lake atitlanP I NI M A G E

Boy fishing on Lake Atitlan.










man paddling canoe and woman washing clothes on lake atitlanP I NI M A G E

Woman washes clothes by the lake shore as man paddles by in canoe.

Man farming on lake atitlanP I NI M A G E

Man harvesting seeds by the lake.

Indigenous man in GuatemalaP I NI M A G E

Old walls in antigua guatemala with motosP I NI M A G E

Antigua is full of these old picturesque walls.

Semana Santa in GuatemalaP I NI M A G Egirl running by alfombra in GuatemalaP I NI M A G E

Email Me:

Playa Uvita Wedding Bride and GroomP I NI M A G E

Playa Uvita Wedding

Getting to shoot a Playa Uvita wedding is something special. Located a few miles south of Dominical, Uvita has become an ideal destination for visitors to Costa Rica due to the Marino Ballena National Park. Uvita offers beautiful white sand beaches that are often less crowded than other beaches on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, and is a great place to snorkel and dive.

We made the short drive down the day of the wedding from Manuel Antonio to Uvita. I shot Amy slipping into her dress at a villa in Ojochal south of Uvita while my second shooter, Joseph, stayed with Jesse at their condominium. We reconvened that afternoon at the beach just before the ceremony.

Amy and Jesse had an intimate wedding in Playa Uvita for family and close friends in front of their condominium, Elan at Ballena Beach. They decided to have their ceremony and reception outdoors. Their friends and family witnessed the ceremony on the sparsely populated Playa Uvita, which made it easier for my second shooter and I to get a good variety of shots. Just before the sun went down, Amy and Jesse said their self-written vows to each other and tied the knot with a kiss in front of everyone who had made the journey with them to Costa Rica.

For the reception, they enjoyed a dinner prepared by a local chef underneath the stars. With only a few lamps for light, we had the challenge of getting well lit photos as the family enjoyed Amy and Jesse’s first dance. The rest of the night was filled with music by a local jazz duet, Blue Note Del Sur.

This Playa Uvita wedding was both intimate and touching. Seeing friends and family come together to witness Amy and Jesse’s destination wedding in Costa Rica was a truly endearing experience.

Groom getting readyP I NI M A G EGroom walking along Playa UvitaP I NI M A G EBride and wedding dressP I NI M A G EBride in dress with bouquet P I NI M A G EBride reflection in infinity poolP I NI M A G EBride before walking down the aisle with fatherP I NI M A G EBride during the wedding ceremony in Playa UvitaP I NI M A G EGroom looking into brideP I NI M A G EPlaya Uvita Wedding silhouette at sunset P I NI M A G EBride and groom in Playa UvitaP I NI M A G EFirst dance compilationP I NI M A G EBride and groom kissing after wedding in Playa Uvita P I NI M A G E


List of Vendors—

Venue: Elan at Ballena Beach

Music: Blue Note Del Sur


Email Me:

Drake Bay WeddingP I NI M A G E

Drake Bay Wedding

Having a Drake Bay Wedding, reaching the venue is an adventure all in itself.  Drake Bay is next to Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula, one of the most remote areas of Costa Rica.  To reach the Drake Bay side of Corcovado, you need to drive part way down the peninsula, and from there, take a 1.5 hour boat ride through the mangroves, and then along the coast.  It is a gorgeous ride through the mangroves and it give you a chance to see some rare wildlife.

My second shooter Joseph Nance, and I were dropped off at a pristine beach, where we would have to hike up the trail to find our lodging.  From there it was a 12 minute hike through the jungle to get to where the wedding was being held, in La Paloma lodge, which made for an interesting commute.

Orion and Stephan decided to have their wedding in Drake Bay to have a remote location to have a more intimate wedding, with just their closest friends and family.  La Paloma Lodge is also a stunning place for a wedding ceremony, the location looks out right over the beach and the volcanic rocks.  We started the day shooting Orion and Stephan getting ready in two different parts of the property, then everyone came together for the emotional reception.  Afterwards, we had some time on the beach for family photos and a short portrait session with Orion and Stephan.

We had planned on having a Day After Session the following morning, so we focused on taking advantage of the beach and rocks nearby.  Orion and Stephan were so comfortable and relaxed with each other, and I knew we were getting some great photos and would get even more in the Day After Session.  The Reception was held in the restaurant in the lodge, and as it was a small group, Joseph and I could really move around and shoot everyone dancing and enjoying themselves.  The party wrapped up at 10 PM, and Joseph and I had to trek it back through the jungle in the dark to make it back to where we were staying.

Then next morning we arrived early to get last minute photos of Orion and Stephan getting ready.  The idea of the Day After Session is to have a chance to get more creative photos that you most likely won’t have time for the day of the actual wedding.  Everything can get pushed back on wedding day, and sometimes the portrait session for the bride and the groom gets cut down to less than 20 minutes.  The Day After Session ensures that there is time to get some beautiful portraits, as well as the opportunity to try a couple of different locations.  Orion and Stephan chose to have a couple of horses ready by the beach, which was a wonderful idea.   We were able to get some great shots in the morning light before heading to the hanging bridge to finish the session.  Joseph and I had scouted (and here) the hanging bridge the morning before, and it looked like something right out of a fairy tale, which matched perfectly with this epic wedding in Drake Bay!
Bride getting readyP I NI M A G EBride getting ready in Drake BayP I NI M A G EGirls get ready before weddingP I NI M A G EBride before wedding in Drake BayP I NI M A G EMother walks bride down aisleP I NI M A G EGroom sees bride for the first timeP I NI M A G ERing bearer at weddingP I NI M A G EFather and mother portraitsP I NI M A G ELa Paloma Wedding PhotographyP I NI M A G EWedding at La Paloma LodgeP I NI M A G EBride and groom on beach at Drake BayP I NI M A G E
Speeches at wedding at Drake BayP I NI M A G EBride and groom dance as they cut the cakeP I NI M A G EGuest at weddingP I NI M A G EGroom picked up by guests at weddingP I NI M A G EDance party at weddingP I NI M A G EBride and groom dance at weddingP I NI M A G EBride getting ready for Day After SessionP I NI M A G EBridal Portraits at La Paloma LodgeP I NI M A G EBride and groom walk through jungleP I NI M A G EGroom helps bride walk down trailP I NI M A G EBride and groom on horses for Day After SessionP I NI M A G EBride and groom cross hanging bridgeP I NI M A G E
Bride on hanging bridge adjust dressP I NI M A G EDrake Bay hanging bridgeP I NI M A G E

Email Me:

Destination Wedding PhotographerP I NI M A G E

Destination Wedding Photography

This summer I was honored to be the photographer at my cousin Eric’s wedding on Anna Maria Island in Florida!  It seemed funny that I was traveling FROM Costa Rica TO the States to shoot the destination wedding.  But when I arrived to the island, I saw that it is an amazing place for destination weddings.  My cousin Eric and his fiancé Jana had been to Costa Rica the year before to visit, and I also see them every summer at our family reunion in New England so I was naturally super excited to photograph their wedding.  As I was also going as a guest, we decided that I after the cake cutting I would officially put the camera down.  Therefore, I decided to photograph the wedding with my good friend the world renowned Marius Dragan from Romania, who would shoot all day, and keep shooting after I became an official guest.  It was a great team up and we got some excellent photos from the day.

Marius started with the guys playing golf in the morning, while I photographed the girls going to the spa for their hair and make up.  Later we headed back to the hotel for the finishing touches.  Eric and Jana had decided to read their vows in private before the wedding ceremony, so we found a nice spot in the garden, where they could share a moment of just the two of them during the busy day.The ceremony was held at the Pergola at Tortuga Hotel.  This was a beautiful wood structure right on the white sand beach.  The ceremony was super emotional  for everyone involved.  Finally, we had some time to take some family photos, then the portrait session with just Jana and Eric  before the spectacular sunset.  I was surprised that even though we were on the Atlantic, the sunset was just like over the Pacific, as we were on the west side of the island.  It was just like shooting a sunset in the tropics.

Groom playing golf before weddingP I NI M A G EGroomsman playing golf before wedding ceremonyP I NI M A G EGroom at Tortuga Inn Beach ResortP I NI M A G EBride getting ready for destination weddingP I NI M A G Ebridesmaids at spaP I NI M A G EBride before weddingP I NI M A G EBridal portraitP I NI M A G EReading vows before ceremonyP I NI M A G EBride and groom read vows in privateP I NI M A G EBride and groom read vows in privateP I NI M A G EBride before ceremony.P I NI M A G EFlower girls before weddingP I NI M A G EBrother walks bride down the aisleP I NI M A G EWedding ceremony at beach weddingP I NI M A G EBride at beach weddingP I NI M A G EBeach wedding ceremonyP I NI M A G ETortuga Inn Beach Resort WeddingP I NI M A G EToast after wedding ceremonyP I NI M A G EFamily Portraits after weddingP I NI M A G EPortrait of groomsman at sunsetP I NI M A G EDestination Wedding PhotographyP I NI M A G EBride at destination weddingP I NI M A G Ebride and groom walking on beachP I NI M A G Ecouple portraits at destination weddingP I NI M A G EDestination Wedding PhotographyP I NI M A G EWedding PhotographyP I NI M A G EWedding PhotographyP I NI M A G EWedding coupleP I NI M A G EMother son dance at weddingP I NI M A G EBrother hugs sister at weddingP I NI M A G Ekid on dancefloorP I NI M A G Ereception photos at weddingP I NI M A G Efather and daughter at weddingP I NI M A G EDestination wedding photographyP I NI M A G E

Email Me:

Independence Day Parades in Costa RicaP I NI M A G E

Independence Day Parades in Costa Rica

September is arguably the most festive month of the year in Costa Rica. Why? Because September 15 is the day that the Ticos, as Costa Ricans are commonly called, celebrate their independence. This year marks 195 years of independence in Costa Rica and all of Latin America. This country may be small but Ticos have big hearts and are fiercely proud of their country, of being Costa Rican, and of being a free people.

The atmosphere is charged starting at the beginning of September as you begin to see more Costa Rican flags proudly flying, school kids start getting ready for celebrations and practice singing patriotic songs, and you hear bands performing impromptu concerts in the common areas as they practice for the big day. If you pass through a neighborhood you’ll also probably hear some kid fervently beating their drum as they dutifully practice their part. The highlight of the Costa Rican celebration is the grand Independence Day parade. Flag brigades, bands, dancers and school groups begin preparing weeks in advance to show off their art and their Costa Rican pride on the 15th of September.

The festivities actually begin the night before with the parade of the faroles, or lanterns. The idea is that since back in the day they didn’t have handy dandy flashlights (or cell phone lanterns) people ventured out into the night with handheld lanterns to rally for the cause of independence, and to celebrate the day the news of independence arrived.

To commemorate this, every year communities across Costa Rica take to the streets with their kids to light up their faroles and parade through the center of town. While nowadays most people buy beautifully made faroles with LED lights inside, in the past faroles were often made with whatever plastic bottles and bits of colorful construction paper that kids could find and place a candle inside. But, rest assured, whatever material your farol is made out of you will be welcome to join the parade!

The next morning dawns with anticipation of the big event. People begin gathering at the schools early in the morning until eventually converging in town in preparation for the grand parade. The air is charged with excitement and everywhere you look you see people dressed in festive red, white and blue–the colors of the Costa Rican flag. Of course, the little kids are the most adorable and you will see scores of them in traditional style outfits as each mother attempts to outdo the rest with her child’s independence day outfit.

The streets are already crowded early and people are vying for the best vantage point. Cell phones and cameras are out by the scores as everyone is looking to catch the perfect shot of their friend or family member as they parade by. Finally, the big event begins and the swarming mass of paraders begins to spread out as they start their stately march through town. Be prepared for the onslaught of adorable little kids in colorful parade outfits, talented dancers and musicians, and proud bodies of public service workers showing off their Tico pride.

This year in Quepos the parade started with the town’s firefighters rolling by with their shiny red fire engine. The department is made up of both paid and volunteer firefighters that are committed to the town’s safety.

A guest group from Panama honored Quepos this year by coming to celebrate with us. A group made up of both adults and children, they came with beautiful traditional Panamanian outfits to add to the festivities. If you didn’t get a chance to see them perform their traditional dance at least check out the photos of their colorful clothes!

A large part of the parade is made up of school groups. Kids have the chance to march or perform in various ways. The luckiest kids got to ride in a decorated truck tossing candy at the crowd, waving at their friends and, of course, posing for photos. Other groups of preschoolers marched holding signs that promote values like forgiveness and friendship, or wear fun hats of different animals to promote environmental awareness.

Kids that are a bit older have the opportunity to play in a band. Costa Rican school bands are comprised of just a few simple instruments. There is generally a drum section with varying sizes and types of drums accompanied by the lira, basically a handheld xylophone, that provides the melody. Also commonly seen is the güiro, a bumpy metal cylindrical instrument that produces sound by scraping a stick along its side. Simple but fun!

Other groups that we saw this year were drill teams performing and showing off their pride with Costa Rican flags, a dance group wearing colorful outfits and twirling batons, and folks dressed in boldy patriotic traditional outfits and performing old time dances.

Whether or not you’ve seen it before the Independence Day celebrations in Costa Rica are so exciting and fun that you will want to participate year after year. If you’ve never had the opportunity to see one, I highly recommend that you start making plans to come and be a part of the celebration next year! You will never regret planning a vacation to this magical country and taking the opportunity to explore not only her beautiful natural wonders and but also the rich cultural heritage of the friendly Costa Rican people.

Panamanian dance troupe in Costa RicaP I NI M A G E

Guest dance troupe from Panama helped us celebrate this year.

Independence Day Parades in Costa RicaP I NI M A G EBoy at Costa Rica ParadeP I NI M A G EGirl at parade in Costa RicaP I NI M A G EFestival in Costa RicaP I NI M A G ECulture festival in Costa RicaP I NI M A G EKids at fiesta in Costa RicaP I NI M A G Egirl in costa ricaP I NI M A G Eboy in traditional clothes in Costa RicaP I NI M A G EBoy at school parade in Costa RicaP I NI M A G E

Click to see photos from last year’s Independence Day in Costa Rica.

Email Me: