Where to get married is a big decision. From the Pacific coastline to the northern lowlands, Costa Rica has a range of romantic options.
Some of Costa Rica’s most popular wedding destinations are along the Pacific Coast. Manuel Antonio, with its white-sand beaches and gorgeous rainforests, regularly tops the list. Beach towns on the Nicoya Peninsula like Tamarindo, Mal País and Santa Teresa are another good option. Their relaxed atmosphere and beautiful coastlines create the perfect ambiance for weddings. If you head towards the central or south Pacific you’ll find other nice spots too, including Uvita, Dominical, Jacó, and Playa Hermosa.
Would you prefer a romantic backdrop in the mountains or forest instead? If so, the Arenal Volcano is an unbeatable location. Arenal boasts beautiful properties with views of the volcano and instant access to hot springs.
Other mountainous destinations can host weddings, but the wedding will probably need to take place at a hotel—these destinations are simply more rural than other parts of the country and have fewer facilities. Another factor to take into account is the weather. Temperatures tend to be cooler at higher elevations.
The technical side of things is fairly simple. If neither of you has been married before, all you’ll need are current passports. You’ll also need to provide basic information – your legal name, birthday, current address, occupation, and the address of your parents.
The wedding ceremony requires two witnesses. If you’re traveling without friends or family, the hotel or wedding planner can usually help you find witnesses.
If either partner has already been married and divorced, the process is slightly more complicated (but only slightly). The partner who has already been married must provide an official copy of the divorce papers.
A lawyer will record the marriage in Costa Rica’s National Registry and the National Registry will issue an official marriage certificate—a process that usually takes 4 to 6 weeks. After this is issued, a lawyer or wedding coordinator will have the certificate translated and certified by both the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry and your home country’s embassy. Once this is done, the marriage certificate will be mailed to you. You can then take it to your local civil or religious authority.
According to national laws, women do not change their last name after getting married. This being the case, your names will appear as they do in your passport on the marriage certificate. You can change your names when you return to your home country and submit the proper documentation.
If you want to get married in a church, that’s easy. Costa Rica is over 90 percent Roman Catholic and there are plenty of Catholic churches scattered across the country. Other Christian denominations are represented here as well, and you can usually find both a church and a priest for the ceremony.
Many travelers do, however, choose to get married in a civil ceremony officiated by a lawyer. Finding a lawyer to officiate your wedding is easy.
Nicer hotels tend to have ample experience hosting weddings. Many will, in fact, have their own wedding planner. These hotels often have areas for the ceremony and reception and can usually cater the wedding with food, drinks, and even music.
A strange component of a wedding in Costa Rica is that the lawyer must read all or at least part of the Costa Rican civil code on marriage during the ceremony. This is a long and boring chunk of text. Many wedding coordinators and lawyers can shorten this if necessary. Ask them to do so.
In Costa Rica, the destinations are beautiful and the wedding planners are professional. But what’s really the best part of getting married in Costa Rica? You’re already on the honeymoon.