For those who have seen the pristine white sand beaches or misty rainforests of Costa Rica, it’s no surprise that this small, tropical paradise has turned into a highly sought-after wedding destination. After just a short visit to this Central American country, the majority of people will describe natural scenes which seem almost too good to be true, but with 12 unique microclimates, ranging from beaches to mountains, volcanoes, and rainforests, there’s something for everyone in Costa Rica.
While a destination wedding in Costa Rica used to be a luxurious and expensive idea, couples are now finding this ideal wedding ceremony to be more convenient than ever. Costa Rica has 2 international airports, and a ticket from the United States to Costa Rica often costs no more than a simple domestic flight. With family and friends spread out throughout the world, it is no more expensive for your guests to fly into Costa Rica than to your home town. Your guests receive a tropical getaway in a safe country while you get the most ideal wedding backdrop you could ever ask for. Even better, the average wedding costing $30,000 in the states totals to about $5,000 in Costa Rica for the same services. Saving money while planning the most beautiful wedding imaginable may seem too good to be true, but there are a couple factors you need to consider while planning your Costa Rican wedding. Being well prepared will make your wedding weekend everything you’ve dreamed of.
What will you need?
Fortunately, a legal marriage in Costa Rica does not require a huge amount of paperwork or legal proceedings. Unlike other countries, you will not need blood tests, civil status certificates, or even a minimum stay in the country to perform a legal ceremony. The best way to guarantee that your wedding goes as planned would be to contact and hire a Costa Rican lawyer. In Costa Rica, all weddings not performed in the Catholic Church need to be performed by a lawyer, so it’s best to do a quick internet search and decide on the lawyer who will perform the ceremony months ahead of time. Hiring a Costa Rican lawyer, even a bilingual one, is not an expensive service in this small country. This lawyer will not only perform the ceremony, but will prepare your documents and file them with the Costa Rican Civil Registry as well as with your country’s embassy, to ensure legal marriage world-wide.
In the months before your wedding, you’ll need to send the following documents to your lawyer for both you and your future spouse: scanned passport identification pages, official mailing address, proof of occupation, date and place of births, parents’ names and identification, and a notarized statement of your civil status. If you have been married before, you’ll need to provide a divorce decree or death certificate dated at least 300 days before you plan to marry again. All of this information will need to be translated into Spanish by a certified translation service with their stamp of authenticity. Your lawyer can also arrange that from Costa Rica with the local universities.
During the ceremony, all you will need is two witnesses not directly related to the couple, so choosing your best friends is the safest bet. Within 3 months of your wedding, all your documents and wedding certificates will be mailed back to your home address. This is all you will need for a wedding in Costa Rica, but it’s best to check with your home country’s government to ensure they do not require any additional information to acknowledge the marriage.
Where to go?
With over 300 tropical beaches, rainforests, mountains, and volcanoes, deciding where to wed may the hardest, but most fun, part of your planning. A quick google search will show you that multiple luxury hotels and event centers can plan the entire affair for you, but for a more personalized wedding, you may want to dig a bit deeper. We suggest planning your ceremony in an area with both an inside and outside view. You will want wedding photos to show the backdrop of Costa Rica instead of an event center, but it’s best to have some inside seating available for the meal. The options for wedding ceremonies in breathtaking scenery are absolutely endless, so here is a quick list of tips while you conduct your search.
- Beach weddings: On both coasts, there are a huge number of hotels and restaurants overlooking the ocean with covered, elegant gazebos for protection against any type of weather. Booking these locales will include the space itself, basic decorating, and the meals and seating for all your guests.
- Rainforest weddings: A hillside wedding overlooking the rainforest is a favorite for Costa Rican locals. Contact a rainforest resort or eco-lodge to see if they can accommodate your party. Most often than not, these resorts will already have experience in wedding preparation.
- Mountain weddings: The mountains offer some amazing options spanning from exotic-rustic to luxury, and most venues will have tropical gardens reserved for these types of events. Again, these bookings will most often include a catered meal and basic decorating.
- Church weddings: There are many beautiful, historic churches in Costa Rica. Contact the offices of your favorite church to understand booking prices and dates. There are always bilingual services in Costa Rica who can help you with these sorts of communications. You can wed in a church, but will still want to book an outdoors destination for the reception.
- National Parks: It is very common in Costa Rica to contact a national park’s visitor center for those who want to marry among the wilderness. Those who offer event services will give you the perfect backdrop and a clean, safe ceremony area. With this option, you will need to hire a caterer as well as rent tables and chairs from another source.
When to wed?
Once you decide on your perfect location, you will want to look up weather patterns. Fortunately, Costa Rica enjoys very predictable weather, where it rains for half the year and stays dry for the rest. For the best weather, book the wedding in April or May. This is also the low-season for tourism, so you are most likely to find open venues, plenty of hotel options, and cheaper prices. More likely than not you’ll want an outdoor ceremony, so make sure you plan accordingly.
If you choose to marry in the mountains, you will get the benefit of breathtaking scenery and sunsets beyond comparison. The disadvantage may be less predictable weather. Plan your wedding for the driest month and make sure you have a canopy for a quick plan B.
How to contract services?
Professional services in Costa Rica will meet the standards you’re used to back home, but can be purchased for just a fraction of the cost. Most professionals run their small businesses with Facebook pages, and you can contact a photographer, bakery, caterer, DJ or band, and wedding decorator all through a quick Facebook search. You will also be able to see their gallery of prior work. A quick google search or a post on a Costa Rican forum will give you plenty of options. After you have all the suggestions, an afternoon browsing their Facebook pages should help you make your decisions. If you decide to hire a wedding planner in Costa Rica (very recommendable), this person can continue contact with all professional services after the decision is made. This way you only need to decide on who you want, after that, your planner will pass them all the information and ensure they are ready for your big day.
Enjoy and go with the flow
In Costa Rica, professionals are well-educated and prepared to make your big day a moment to remember. However, everything tends to run a bit behind schedule. Having a good wedding planner will help get your ceremony off the ground at the right time, but it’s important to have a bit of patience and just enjoy your big day. An extra half an hour waiting on a beautiful beach, in the shade of coconut trees, has never made a wedding party complain before, and we know your guests will be delighted with your wedding locale and scenery. Go with the flow during this special moment, your months of hard work are behind you, there should only be enjoyment and happiness on the day of your wedding.