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Walking through the supermarket in Bogota this morning I couldn’t help but notice the number of “gringos” accompanied by Colombian partners. It seemed odd, as if this number of Colombo-Gringo marriages and partnerships is increasingly on the rise. I guess, it shouldn’t be that strange, after all I am one of the crowd who has settled and married here in Colombia. In fact, given the internationally recognized beauties in Colombia I should imagine the practice has been going on for a great deal of time and long may it continue!
Alba and I were married in Cartagena in August 2011. I couldn’t recommend a more atmospheric and fitting place for such an event, so, in order that others can be inspired I am going to detail some of the definite pros of getting hitched on la Costa Caribena.
You too can have your own “Romancing the Stone” moment as if reliving the chemistry between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in this seminal eighties flick by planning your wedding in Cartagena, Colombia.
A long time favored location for the nuptials of society figures from Bogota, Cartagena oozes romance and combined with a certain air of decadence and of course the fact that this city has the ability and infrastructure to cater for such events, La Heroica, is becoming a wedding destination in its own right for foreigners.
The Dominican Republic and other Caribbean islands have long been destinations for beach weddings and for romantic trysts and now Colombia via the city of Cartagena is getting in on the act. This city is offering itself up as an alternative, Caribbean colonial wedding location and it is becoming a major industry here.
Why would you choose Cartagena?
Quite simply because this, the oldest Spanish city on the Latin American main can cater to everyone with its sophisticated selection of restaurants, hotels and atmospheric places for the reception. And of course, the churches range from the ancient colonial to more contemporary and so your wedding is definitely going to be an event whether you decide upon the Santo Toribio, the Santo Domingo or the Tercera Orden.
Of course there will be inconveniences, most notably the cultural differences between the US or Europe and Colombia. Don’t expect things to be organized in the fashion in which you are accustomed and don’t expect things to be done either the phone or the internet. You are going to have to plan a trip down to Cartagena and if you want things to run smoothly there are a number of highly recommended Cartagena-based wedding planners.
Beaches in Cartagena
Unfortunately the beaches in Cartagena are really not up to much…and the city itself should not be pitched as one but more as a gastronomical, cultural and historical destination. However, a short trip to Playa Blanca or to the Islas del Rosario can provide that beach fix. Or, if you and your guests have time, you should travel along the coast to Santa Marta, Taganga, Tayrona, Palomino and the Guajira for better beaches.
Colombia: The Hard Sell
And of course, if you want all of your friends and family to come down to Colombia, then you are going to have to start the hard sell to them early on. Many will be sour and unsure of the idea of coming to Colombia due to its reputation and others will balk at the price of international flights. Our advice is to set up a blog, provide the appropriate information on hotels and flights and then help organize their holidays by suggesting that they make the journey onto the beaches near to Santa Marta, the highlands near to Minca and the colonial towns in the interior.
How to Get to Cartagena
Luckily, since Cartagena is Colombia’s eternal city of tourism, there are international flights from Panama, Miami and Lima providing for some arrival options. And it is worth noting that the low cost airline Spirit from Fort Lauderdale also flies into the neighboring city of Barranquilla. A taxi from here to Cartagena won’t set you back even US$50. Alternatively, should you find more reasonable flights to the capital of Bogota, then internal flights to Bogota, offered by Copa, Avianca and Aires can be quite reasonable and take a mere hour and fifteen minutes.
We had friends fly in from the USA, UK, Canada and as far adrift as Thailand, not only drawn by the nuptial but for the destination itself. No regrets.