As we stepped off the plane and into the warm embrace of Cartagena’s vibrant culture, Adrian and I knew this was going to be a destination wedding weekend (in Cartagena) to remember. This charming city is a historical gem, boasting a wealth of breathtaking cultural and geographic riches that we can’t wait to share with you.
Furthermore, in this travel blog, you will find:
We spent a total of three days in Cartagena. Typically we would arrive a few days earlier but because the wedding day was on the last day we felt comfortable arriving the same day of the first event.
To skip to the wedding day, scroll down to Day 3.
Here’s a summary of the three days in a highlight film we shot:
We originally wanted to stay in the boutique hotel where we got engaged, Casa Quero, but they canceled on us a few weeks before the trip. Instead, we stayed at the Ermita Cartagena by Marriott and had a great experience there. It’s a little less practical because it’s not inside the walled city but super close nevertheless.
You can navigate using credit cards, but we recommend having cash on hand for tipping.
Pro Tip: Withdraw from your US bank directly from local ATM machines; you’ll get better rates than exchanging in the US. Decline the transaction conversion that is suggested by the local bank to get the best conversion rate.
On the first day (Friday), we arrived in Cartagena at 12:30pm, and it took an hour and a half to get through immigration and customs. It was very crowded and the line was long. The ride from the airport to our hotel was only 10 minutes or so and cost us less than 4 USD.
We arrived at our hotel by 2:00pm. We dropped our luggage, had lunch there (delicious Lebanese food), showered and changed to go to our first wedding event: the boat cocktail.
To kick off Jen and Nico’s magical destination wedding weekend in Cartagena, we set sail aboard a colonial ship around the bay of Cartagena with all their guests who flew in from around the world. With the wind in our hair, and the sun setting over the Caribbean Sea, we soaked up the romance and adventure of this unforgettable cocktail and toasted to a weekend of magical celebration.
Moving on to day two, we went to the wedding venue to meet the rest of the guests so we could head to the beach together by private bus. We went a little earlier so we could scout the venue before the big day and decide where to shoot the first look and vow reading. The drive to the island was around 90 minutes, and once we got there, we felt we arrived at an oasis. What you see in between the Old City and that beach is very humble and underdeveloped, so it makes you appreciate the beach even more.
We spent the whole day at the exclusive private beach club at “Hippie Beach Isla Baru”, where the guests spent a relaxing day basking in the sun, sipping on tropical cocktails, and indulging in delicious seafood dishes. The clear waters of the Caribbean Sea lapped at our feet, and we felt the weight of the world lift off our shoulders. This was truly a slice of paradise and it almost didn’t feel like work for us!
Next, on day three, the big day arrived. The wedding took place at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara, a luxurious 17th-century convent-turned hotel, located in the heart of the Old City. It was a day that had been long-awaited and was filled with magic and excitement that could be felt in the air.
The wedding day coverage began at 2:00 pm. As Jen and Nico got ready in their respective suites, attention was given to every detail, from the invites and menus to the carefully selected fruits and loose flowers.
At 4:00 pm, it was time for the couple’s private first look and vows reading. A discreet balcony near the bridal suite, on the second floor, provided the perfect backdrop for this intimate moment between the soon-to-be newlyweds. With the city in the background and the sea breeze blowing gently, Jen and Nico shared a moment that will be engraved in their memories forever.
Soon after, the bridal party and family members gathered for the much-awaited photo session, which was great to capture earlier in the day to leave time for true celebration after the ceremony. As the guests started arriving, two Cartagena ladies dressed in traditional colonial dresses distributed flower petal cones to be thrown during the ceremony exit.
At 5:00 pm, the ceremony began on the terrace overlooking the courtyard, bathed in golden light as the sun started to dip below the horizon. The bride, wearing a stunning satin mermaid gown, walked down the aisle lined with arches and balustrades, taking away everyone’s breath. They drank wine as a symbol of their union, Nico broke the glass and.. Mazel Tov! Finally, Jen and Nico are officially married!
After the ceremony ended, we captured magical sunset portraits of the bride and groom in the venue, and in the streets of Cartagena with a vintage car. The rooftop of the Sofitel was the perfect spot for the couple to enjoy their cocktail hour, surrounded by their loved ones, with a spectacular fireworks show to cap off the evening.
As the night drew on, the guests made their way to the reception ballroom, where they were welcomed by the grand entrance of the bride and groom, accompanied by the song “Higher Love” by Kygo-Whitney. The Champagne Monks Ritual, a tradition at the Sofitel, followed soon after, and the father of the bride gave a touching toast to the newlyweds.
The wedding cake was cut, and dinner was served with impeccable synchronized service from the hotel catering staff ensuring that every guest was well taken care of. Post-dinner, their choreographed first dance was to the beautiful tune “Marry Me” by Train, followed by heartwarming dances with their parents.
The night was far from over as the guests hit the dance floor and grooved to the beat of the talented local latin band. The Hora Loca, a Latin tradition of a carnival-like dance party, brought the festivities to a grand finale, and the night ended with memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.
In conclusion, planning a destination wedding weekend in Cartagena comes with numerous benefits. For starters, the city’s rich history and culture provide an unforgettable backdrop for your wedding festivities. The colorful colonial architecture, the cobblestone streets, and the fortifications that surround the city all add to the charm and romance of this unique destination. Additionally, the city’s tropical climate and stunning beaches and culinary delights offer endless opportunities for relaxation and adventure.
Moreover, planning a destination wedding weekend allows you to spend quality time with your loved ones in a relaxed and intimate setting. You can create memories that will last a lifetime, whether it’s sipping on tropical cocktails on a boat, lounging on a private beach, or dancing under the stars at a luxurious hotel.
If you’re looking for a wedding destination that is both romantic and unforgettable, look no further than Cartagena, Colombia. Not only does this enchanting city provide a backdrop of breathtaking scenery and rich history, but it also offers the opportunity to have a beautiful, spacious wedding at a fraction of the cost compared to an average wedding in Miami. From affordable venue rentals to exceptional services from skilled artisans, Cartagena allows couples to create their dream wedding without breaking the bank, ensuring a magical experience that will be cherished by all. And with its warm and welcoming people, you’re sure to feel right at home in this tropical paradise. Say “I do” in Cartagena and let this captivating destination set the stage for your perfect day.
Feeling inspired to plan your Cartagena destination wedding (or somewhere else)?
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My husband and I have our bags packed and are ready to meet you wherever!
And, yes, we practice what we preach. Check this blog post to learn how we planned our own destination wedding in Spain!
On top of our love and passion for documenting your special day(s), we absolutely LOVE traveling, researching, and planning an itinerary in advance. We are the kind of people who have an intensely pinned Google Map, with a full itinerary. All that to say, we do not take this job lightly!
Whether you are ready to book now or want to meet casually and brainstorm with us: INQUIRE HERE!