When Michael Martin met Leslie Jackson at the opening of his sister’s bridal salon, he understood she was in a relationship, but had a slightly prophetic hunch. “I had a feeling she had the makings of my future wife,” he says. And though their conversation was innocent, Leslie was impressed as well. “Mike wowed me with tales from his adventures as a Navy SEAL, and I walked away thinking he’d make someone pretty lucky,” she says. When he heard down the line that Leslie’s status had changed, Mike reached out via email and the two launched a romance. “I had to wait a year until she was unattached, but I was right!” he gloats, as the couple got engaged on a trip to Costa Rica.

During their time in Playa Herradura, the couple visited a resort that drew a powerful response from both of them. “When I was at Villa Caletas, I felt as though I was at one of the most beautiful places in the world,” Mike says. “We were also so impressed with the country that we really wanted to share it with our family and friends,” Leslie adds. The couple booked a wedding at the resort for the following Fourth of July, and then enlisted a consultant to help with the planning. “Because it was a destination wedding, Mike and I were rather hands-off about the minutia,” admits Leslie. “We gave our consultant an idea of what we wanted and she ran with it.” The groom played a large role in coordinating the logistics, such as organizing transportation and activities for guests. “Because of my military background, I know that this can be easily overlooked, and can really affect the mood of guests if not worked out well in advance,” he says.

Leslie loved the orange details that were scattered throughout the property, and decided to incorporate the shade into the décor for the wedding. “We used orange in the floral arrangements and as an accent color for the printed materials,” she explains. Leslie also envisioned the overall look of the event as lush without being tropical. “I wanted it to feel like we were somewhere exotic, but old and mysterious as well,” she describes. The wedding took place at an exclusive property on the grounds of the hotel, with an outdoor terrace serving as the ethereal backdrop for the ceremony. Long-stemmed flowers adorned an arbor of branches at the edge of a sparkling infinity pool. A canopy overhead was strung with tea lights in votives, and the site had a view of the dazzling Pacific Ocean. “The balmy night, the sound of the waves on the cliffs below, and all of the candlelight really helped to make it feel perfect,” says Leslie.

The reception that followed the al fresco vow exchange was held indoors in a deliberately intimate setting. “We decided on long tables that sat 25 to create a family-style feeling with a casual vibe,” says Leslie. A variety of delicate floral arrangements lined the center of each table, including individual vases of white and orange blooms, as well as rustic wooden boxes filled with hydrangeas and roses. Glass-encased votives were suspended overhead alongside rose-petal streamers tipped with individual blooms.

Guests enjoyed dinner and a multi-tiered wedding cake, but it was the groom’s beverage of choice that attracted the most attention. “Waiters were passing trays with shots of Patrón Silver with lime,” he says. “I wanted people to relax, let loose, and have a lot of fun.” A show of fireworks set to songs by Neil Diamond and Bruce Springsteen served as the perfect tribute to the couple’s patriotic wedding date, and contributed to the atmosphere the groom had envisioned. “Good music and tequila are the cornerstones of a good time!”

The couple’s destination wedding was the ideal blend of elegance, fun, and a very special setting. “Looking around and seeing the most important people in our lives celebrating our marriage was one of the biggest joys of my life,” says Mike. “Plus,” adds Leslie, “our guests all walked away completely in love with the country.”