There are few places more beautiful than Costa Rica with its endless miles of flawless beaches fringed by mountains and tropical rainforests. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that destination weddings in Costa Rica are becoming a popular trend among Canadian couples looking to escape the cold. Costa Rica is home to numerous small resorts perfect for intimate wedding celebrations and English is widely spoken, making remote wedding planning a breeze. Weddings in Costa Rica can also be quite cost-effective (roughly $5,000 compared to the $30,000+ you could end up spending at home), providing you and your hubby-to-be are the type of couple who prefer a laidback celebration on the sand to an elaborate affair for 300.
Here we'll give you all the facts you need to know about destination weddings in Costa Rica, from the laws and customs to the best time to plan a wedding and the costs involved with doing so.
The best time to go: For the best weather and prices, book your wedding in April or May. This is the beginning of low season so hotel rates and flight costs will drop significantly but you'll still have the benefit of great weather for all of those sunset wedding photos on the beach.
The flight: The capital city of San Jose is roughly six hours from Toronto and Montreal and about nine hours from Vancouver and Calgary.
The legal paperwork: Getting married in Costa Rica is relatively straightforward. Prior to your ceremony, you and your betrothed will need to visit a notary and present your passports and a certificate of marital status. Two witnesses will also need to be on hand to confirm that you are both single and legally able to marry. A wedding information questionnaire must also be completed prior to the ceremony. You do not need to apply for a marriage license from your home country or in Costa Rica before your ceremony, none of your documentation needs to be translated into Spanish and it is not necessary to visit or reside in Costa Rica for any period of time before getting married -- you can get married the same day you arrive if you wish.
The local customs: A popular wedding custom in Costa Rica is the incorporation of "las arras" -- an old Spanish tradition, which involves the exchange of the thirteen coins. The coins are presented to the bride by the groom (he can either give them to her one by one or pour them through her hands) and represent the groom's promise to provide for his new wife and her family.
The budget (for 50 guests): $5000 is a good starting budget and would cover your venue, drinks, dinner for 50 guests, music, the officiant, flowers and a cake.
The venue: Our pick for a fabulous beachfront location just two hours from San Jose is Alma del Pacifico (pictured above). This luxurious resort on Costa Rica's Pacific coast is just a short drive from the one of the country's top attractions, Manuel Antonio National Park, and boasts 20 spacious rooms, each with a large private terrace with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean or Alma's lush tropical gardens. Several of the rooms also feature private plunge pools on the terrace perfect for stargazing. Choose to host your wedding on the beach at Alma del Pacifico and you and your guests can have full reign of the resort including its seaside spa, thatched-roof beach bar and open-air restaurant with sweeping views of the ocean. An added bonus? The hotel will comp your wedding night as a thank-you gift!
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