There are several challenges for Americans getting married in Costa Rica, but careful planning can result in a stunning wedding in this small but richly diverse Central American country.
About Costa Rica
Costa Rica - literally "rich coast" - is nestled on the intercontinental isthmus in Central America, and this tiny nation measures only 2,700 square miles but contains a staggering five percent of the world's biodiversity. That amounts to more than 12,000 different types of plants, 250 species of birds, 200 species of mammals, and more than 650 species of fish, reptiles, and amphibians. To preserve this rich range of flora and fauna, more than 25 percent of the nation's land is protected, which creates stunning vistas and lush natural settings perfect for outdoor weddings.
Furthermore, the more than 1,300 miles of coastline along the Caribbean and Pacific coasts is perfect for beach weddings. Between those coasts, couples can find rugged mountains, towering cliffs, pristine lakes, powerful volcanoes, dense jungles, and a wide range of other settings that may be suitable for their Costa Rican wedding.
A Note on Climate
Costa Rica has a wide variety of climate zones, but couples should be prepared for potentially unpredictable weather. The nation's rainy season is typically from May through November and coincides with the Atlantic and Caribbean hurricane seasons. Tropical temperatures can be uncomfortable during the summer months, and couples should be appropriately dressed to enjoy the climate.
Legal Tips for Americans Getting Married in Costa Rica
Getting married in Costa Rica may be tempting, but couples should be sure to investigate the legal details before arranging their nuptials. Roman Catholicism is the nation's official religion, making it a suitable location for Catholics to elope as well as anyone interested in a unique, tropical event. There are no residency or blood test requirements for foreigners to marry in Costa Rica, and for individuals not of the Catholic faith, lawyers are able to conduct civil ceremonies.
The most tedious part of planning a destination wedding is ensuring that the proper paperwork is completed. Eager couples may need to provide the following documentation at least one month before their wedding in Costa Rica:
- Valid passports
- Birth certificates
- Divorce papers or letters stipulating to their single status (divorce papers may need to indicate the previous marriage ended at least 300 days earlier)
- Police records
During the ceremony, two non-family witnesses must be present, and the lawyers or wedding planners should be able to provide them if necessary. For the wedding to be legal in the United States, Americans getting married in Costa Rica will need to have their marriage certificate translated, notarized, and submitted to the proper authorities - generally, the presiding lawyer will handle those details.
Note: For updated legal requirements, couples are advised to consult a Costa Rican marriage attorney.
Costa Rica Wedding Destinations
Once the legal details are arranged, a couple has the exciting task of choosing where in Costa Rica to celebrate their union. Popular options are:
- Resorts with abundant gardens, particularly adults-only properties
- Beachfront condos or villas
- Near volcanoes, caves, cliffs, or other astonishing geographical features
Planning a Costa Rican Wedding
Because of the heavy tourism of Costa Rica and its popularity as a wedding destination, there are many experienced wedding planners that can help couples arrange their perfect celebration, such as:
Most planners offer different types of wedding packages that may include:
- Flowers, particularly indigenous tropical bouquets
- Photography or video
- Cake and other refreshments
- Music, including traditional Latin music if desired
- Witnesses or other legal assistance if necessary
Wedding packages are generally available for different sizes of wedding parties, from simple elopement arrangements for just the bride and groom to more elaborate festivities for large celebrations. Costs vary based on the provider's available services, wedding location, size of party, and other details.
Americans getting married in Costa Rica can expect a memorable, beautiful experience in this lovely country. With a wide range of cultural and natural diversity as well as a romantic, tropical appeal, a wedding in Costa Rica is one that will be treasured for many anniversaries.