From the wild shores of the Pacific Ocean to the tranquil beaches of the Caribbean, Costa Rica provides couples planning a destination wedding with an inspiring assortment of venues and vendors to suit their preferences. In addition to its numerous tranquil locations, Costa Rica has also created a streamlined system where a wedding certificate procured in Costa Rica can be valid in the couple’s home country. So to help you and your special person navigate the exciting journey of planning your big day, here’s our comprehensive guide to making your Costa Rica destination wedding dreams come true.
The Best Costa Rica Wedding Locations
It’s tricky to choose from a handful of ideal locations for a wedding in Costa Rica, as nearly every corner of this highly-coveted country offers something extraordinary. But if pressed to choose our faves, the following destinations are some of the most majestic for hosting a special occasion—and so awe-inspiring that it’s easy to craft nuptials that emanate the vibes of paradise.
Located in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province, Tamarindo is adored for its stunning beaches and epic surf. Wildlife is another draw, as the area includes Grande Beach which is a nesting site for huge leatherback turtles and located in Las Baulas National Marine Park. Howler monkeys and crocodiles also reside in the mangrove-filled oasis of Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge. Because of the captivating organic environment, wild nature, and white sand beaches, Tamarindo is a world-class location to say, “I do.” Plus, the area is full of private villas, so it’s an ideal Costa Rica wedding destination for couples hoping for more intimate nuptials.
Established in 1972, this Costa Rica gem is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world and home to an impressive community of wildlife. A rich tapestry of rainforests, beaches, and coral reefs perfect for snorkeling, Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the best wedding locations for couples with an affinity for eco-travel and adventure. With meandering trails that allow you to cross paths with sloths, iguanas, squirrel monkeys, white-faced monkeys, and colorful crabs, the majesty of Cathedral Point’s forest-topped cliffs, and the enchanting half-mile long beach of Playa Manuel Antonio with its secluded cove and lush forest, this park is the place for a dream wedding set in tropical nirvana.
Home to many of Costa Rica’s most coveted all-inclusive resorts, Papagayo is the place to go for wedding packages and accommodations that can take care of everything from the ceremony to entertainment. Although each resort in this area has its own personality, they all offer extraordinary beachfront venue options for the ceremony and finely-appointed accommodations that will please even the pickiest of guests. Additionally, those that enjoy exploration will find their happy place in Papagayo, as it’s popular for bird watching and provides a wonderland of palm trees, pristine water quality, mesmerizing views, powder soft sand, and limited mosquitoes. This area is close to Liberia International Airport, providing ample convenience for couples and guests to get straight to the task of lounging and celebrating among the natural beauty of Costa Rica.
This energetic beach town offers a laidback, jovial vibe that’s popular for those that enjoy nightlife and communing with friendly locals. Additionally, Jacó features easy access to a variety of beaches such as Playa Hermosa, a famous surfing location for experienced surfers that often hosts the International Quicksilver Championship, and Playa Herradura, a tranquil stretch of coast primed for beach naps and swimming. If you’re hoping to host a beach wedding with a bohemian flair, look into Jacó wedding venues.
San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is one of the most historic and cosmopolitan locations to host a wedding in Central America. With a combination of fascinating landmarks, intriguing architecture, thriving nightlife, and urban-chic accommodations, San Jose is a prime destination for couples coming to Costa Rica to experience its multilayered culture. When couples and wedding guests aren’t celebrating love, they can explore the city’s museums, art galleries, parks, world-class dining, and World War II-era buildings. A few can’t-miss attractions include Central Park, Morazan Park, Spanish Park, National Park, Democracy Plaza, and the Jade Museum.
This dormant andesitic stratovolcano is one of the most famous natural landmarks in Costa Rica. Surrounded by a dynamic mix of boutique hotels, luxury resorts, and outdoor activities, Arenal Volcano can delight everyone from the intrepid adventurer to the poolside sun worshipper. Making the area even more appealing are the extravagant hotels that boast private hot springs, charming bungalows in the countryside, and lakeside accommodations that offer stunning vistas. To top it off, many of the hotels and resorts feature views of the volcano.
Costa Rica Destination Wedding Venues
The eclectic Costa Rica canvas offers a diverse array of wedding venues, many of which double as convenient lodging accommodations for your entire wedding party. Without further ado, here are our top 10 picks for Costa Rica destination wedding venues that satisfies everyone, from eco-conscious couples to those dreaming of a wedding coated in extravagance.
A popular wedding venue in Tamarindo, this luxury vacation home is a fantasyland of Balinese-inspired design, tropical gardens ideal for a wedding ceremony, and sweeping panoramic views of Tamarindo Bay. If you’re planning an intimate wedding, this is a great choice as the home can accommodate 20 guests with its 8 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. Additionally, the home is within walking distance to the beach and offers a multilevel, oceanview deck (great for receptions!), an infinity pool and Jacuzzi, a koi pond, and daily breakfast preparation and housekeeping. And because one of the only downsides of Costa Rica are the bugs, the home uses a mosquito-repellent misting system consisting of a non-toxic plant-based repellent.
Typical Cost: Nightly rate ranges from $699 to $2,898, depending on the season
Capacity: Sleeps 20; can accommodate 40 for a celebration
Celebrate your love along the dazzling shore of Tamarindo Beach, or on a lush oceanfront garden, during a ceremony crafted to your exact specifications by the onsite wedding planners at Diria Beach Resort. For receptions, couples can choose from a seaside restaurant, an open-air setting around the resort’s pool, or the intimate Palapa Restaurant surrounded by gardens. And because tying the knot in a foreign country can seem confounding, the staff supports couples with finding an officiant, flowers, photography, ceremony and reception décor and setup, and anything else they could need for a Costa Rica wedding.
Typical Cost: Inquire for rates
One of the few homes within Manuel Antonio National Park, Los 3B’s is a masterpiece designed to emulate a fusion of architecture from Switzerland, Quebec, and Costa Rica. Feng Shui elements were also used in crafting the house, ensuring that guests have a harmonious and supremely Zen experience. Couples can invite their nearest and dearest to stay with them, as the house accommodates 10 guests in 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, while additional guests can choose from a handful of other vacation homes offered in the park’s estates.
There are numerous areas within and around the home that can be used for a small ceremony and reception such as the terrace with a tiered infinity pool and Jacuzzi and the surrounding grounds that often attract toucans and macaws. When not enjoying wedding festivities, couples and guests can explore 4 miles of nearby trails that lead to lookout points and the private waterfall El Salto that features a natural pool (and a potential choice for a low-key ceremony).
Typical Cost: $876 per night
Capacity: 10 overnight guests; 20 guests for ceremony and reception
The ultimate in luxury, the Four Seasons is an easy wedding venue for those wanting classic elegance to be the primary theme of their nuptials. The chic guest rooms, suites and villas, 5 restaurants serving world-class farm-to-table and sea-to-table cuisine, and 18-hole golf course ensure a posh getaway. Additionally, the resort rests on a hill overlooking the shores of the Gulf of Papagayo and Culebra Bay, offering spectacular views from nearly every corner.
No matter the size of your wedding, the Four Seasons can accommodate with its various wedding venues, packages, and catering options. The numerous enchanting venues sprinkled throughout the resort include pristine expanses of coastline, lush jungle hideaways, romantic eateries, and other sites that please a variety of tastes. For those wanting to celebrate their union with adventure, the resort facilitates zip lining, surfing, and volcano hikes. But for more R & R vibes, couples can utilize the retreat’s 4 swimming pools and the myriad of spa treatments. This is the place to go if a wedding filled with tasteful opulence is what you’re yearning for.
Typical Cost: $7,100 to $12,600
Located in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste region on the edge of the iconic Matapalo beach, the all-inclusive Riu Palace Costa Rica is well-seasoned in the art of hosting stellar destination weddings and is known for attracting couples wanting to enjoy ample ease on their getaway. One of the most popular wedding packages at the resort is offered at the incredible price of free and provides a simple ceremony and reception for up to 10 guests, including the couple.
On the other end of its wedding package spectrum are the Indulgence and Caprice packages that include perks like complimentary room upgrades, a wedding cake and sparkling wine, and many other elements needed to craft an unforgettable ceremony and reception. Between wedding activities, couples and guests can explore the hotel’s 4 swimming pools, Jacuzzi, gym, and sauna and wellness center, which provides spa treatments and massages.
Typical Cost: $300 per person
This idyllic venue is one of the most picturesque destinations for a wedding in Costa Rica, as it can accommodate whimsical ceremonies on a palm-studded beach and receptions that offer breathtaking views of foliage-covered mountains and dense jungles. The wedding coordinators at Dreams pride themselves on crafting individualized weddings by asking couples to send images from wedding blogs, magazines, and a Pinterest board so they can make those images come to life. In addition to the acclaimed wedding services, this all-inclusive hotel offers watersports, land activities, and swimming pools surrounded by thatched palapas. Nightlife is another highlight with entertainment, outdoor bars, and lively lounges.
Typical Cost: Starting at $999 to $3,799
Committed to fostering the perfect beginning to wedded bliss, Los Suenos Marriott has thoughtfully put together a variety of wedding packages that keep everything in mind for those wanting a laidback beach wedding or those hoping for a grand ballroom reception. But no matter their preference, all couples receive a complimentary standard room the night of their wedding day, a bottle of champagne and chocolate strawberries, and an American breakfast for 2 in the room or at the La Vista restaurant. Guests also receive a special group rate on the night of the wedding.
For venues, there’s a lot at this sprawling resort. In addition to the ballrooms and banquet halls, Los Suenos Marriott can set up ceremonies or receptions by the freeform pool, on a variety of locations on the beach, or within one of the many restaurants. And those with a love for sports will find their happy place when they come across the resort’s championship 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, and miniature golf course—not to mention the seemingly endless adventures available in the surrounding area.
Typical Cost: Starting at $855 to $2,000
Yet another Marriott jewel in Costa Rica, this wedding venue is unique in that it includes a 16th-century colonial hacienda surrounded by captivating grounds that encase a lush coffee plantation. And we’re not the only ones who think Hacienda Belen deserves your attention—Conde Nast voted this spot as one of the top 10 wedding hotels in Mexico and Central America. Beyond the exquisite aesthetics, the hotel is known for its attention to detail and a seemingly endless list of services. Couples being wed here can count on receiving a platter of intriguing onsite venues to choose from, customized menus, thoughtfully-prepared cakes and pastries, elegant decorations and flower arrangements, live music, fireworks displays, and pretty much anything else they can dream up.
The hotel itself is nothing to sneeze at either with its 300 expertly-decorated rooms, 2 presidential suites, sprawling grounds, outdoor patios, a Kuö Spa, 2 outdoor swimming pools and a whirlpool, tennis courts, jogging trails, 4 restaurants and lounges, a driving range, a health club, and easy access to volcanic, rainforest, and ecological tours. Essentially, this is a place you’ll never want to leave.
Typical Cost: Inquire for rates
One of the most eco-friendly and nature-centric wedding venues in Costa Rica, Arenal Nayara allows guests to commune with nature in all the right ways. Because of this, many weddings here seamlessly blend with the natural environment and honor the Costa Rican culture with favorite local dishes and beverages, lively music, and an overall Pura Vida vibe. This commitment to Mother Earth is also reflected in every aspect of the hotel, from the large-screened windows on the casitas, suites, and villas that kiss the interiors with natural light and extraordinary views to private gardens with rain showers that allow guests to immerse themselves in the elements in the most lovely ways.
In addition to its eco-goodness, Arenal Nayara provides modern amenities like finely-appointed rooms, world-class cuisine in restaurants that serve international and local dishes, and a pool bar, wine bar, and tapas bar. For couples wanting to unwind before their big day, The Spa at Nayara, which overlooks an emerald forest, is a rejuvenating oasis ideal for bonding and fantasizing about the next phase of their lives together.
Typical Cost: Package starts at $795
Only 20 minutes away from Liberia International Airport, El Mangroove is the closest beach resort to an international airport within Costa Rica, making it a great selection for couples wanting to make travel simple for guests. But it’s not just the convenience that makes this chic hotel an ideal choice—8,000-square-feet of beachfront property offers a gorgeous tapestry of venue options for ceremonies and receptions, and customizable wedding packages allow couples to design the wedding of their dreams with expert onsite wedding planners.
But adventurous couples beware: It might be hard to pull away from the thrills long enough to attend your wedding as rafting, hiking, sailing, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and surfing are all available within a short distance from the resort. Additionally, natural wonders like Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, the famous Río Celeste (“a blue volcanic river”), and thermal mineral pools are nearby.
Typical Cost: Inquire for rates
Costa Rica Wedding Vendors
If you plan to wed at a vacation home, or a hotel that doesn’t provide more than the venue, it can be beneficial to procure the services of an experienced, local wedding planner who is knowledgeable on the best florists, caterers, DJs, and other vendors in the area. Here are our recommendations for some of the top wedding vendors in Costa Rica.
With 10 years of experience planning destination weddings in Costa Rica, Mil Besos is an optimal choice for couples wanting their events to go off without a hitch. Much of this wedding planning company’s success comes from the practice of weaving each couple’s unique life and love story into their celebration, in addition to its long-standing relationship with many of the best wedding vendors in the country.
A wedding planning company that strives to infuse the slow, peaceful lifestyle of Costa Rica into the weddings it plans, Perennial Weddings is the choice for couples hoping for a laidback, no-stress destination wedding. As for an added perk? The owner often handmakes customized details for the celebrations, ensuring they’re truly one-of-a-kind.
Touted as the first established wedding planner in Costa Rica, the owner of Tropical Occasions, Aimee, has planned 1,000+ destinations weddings from concept to completion and has built an impressive roster of artists and service providers who work together to craft stunning weddings for clients. This is easily one of the most trusted wedding planners in Costa Rica.
English-speaking couples in need of an officiant for their Costa Rica wedding will appreciate Marcelo’s sensitivity and care when developing a poignant and memorable ceremony that stays true to the couple. With 20 years of experience and 3,000+ wedding ceremonies performed, he’s perfected his ability to lead a ceremony that’s filled with laughs and happy tears. Additionally, as an attorney, Marcelo provides expert guidance regarding Costa Rica’s marriage license requirements and procurement.
A thoughtful, knowledgeable attorney who’s been a minister/officiant in Costa Rica for 14 years, Noel is honored to officiate the weddings of people that come from the diversity of cultures, religions, sexual orientations, and individualities that make up the global community. Noel views each ceremony he oversees with the utmost respect and brings an impressive level of passion and commitment to his role.
Tip: it’s essential to hire an officiant who is also an attorney in order to be legally wed in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Wedding Tips and Logistics
As you daydream about your Costa Rican wedding, let’s make sure your fantasies don’t dissolve by having to figure out the process of acquiring a marriage license. Luckily, Costa Rica makes it pretty simple for foreigners to tie the knot in their enchanted borders, even allowing couples to have civil wedding ceremonies that are legal in their home country.
Here are the musts for having a wedding in Costa Rica that pleases the legal Gods:
- An attorney to officiate the ceremony
- Copies of your passports, birth certificates, names of your parents, and information about previous marriages (if there are any)
- Two witnesses that you are not related to; these witnesses will have to provide their passports to the officiant before the ceremony
Once you’ve sealed the ceremony with a kiss, your attorney/officiant will register your marriage with Costa Rica’s National Registry. The National Registry will then issue a marriage certificate within 4 to 6 weeks. After the marriage certificate has been received, your attorney will have it translated to English by an official translator, authenticated by the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and authenticated by your home country’s Embassy in Costa Rica.
All steps and services included, you’re looking to spend about $1,500 to $2,000 to be legally wed in Costa Rica. With that said, many couples choose to skip this step by getting a marriage certificate in their home country before or after their ceremony in Costa Rica.
In addition to figuring out the legalities of your Costa Rican wedding, check out this comprehensive destination wedding checklist to help ensure your tropical nuptials are smooth sailing.
Standard Costa Rica Wedding Cost
While costs can vary wildly depending on a couple’s preferences and their number of wedding guests, here’s a peek at what it could cost to have a destination wedding in Costa Rica with 50 guests and a 4-night stay at a vacation home or resort:
- Average cost of accommodations: $200 USD per night
- Average cost for the ceremony: $5,000 USD
- Average cost for the reception: $200 to $400 USD per person
- Marriage License cost: $1,500 to $2,000 USD
- Average cost of a destination wedding in Costa Rica for 50 people: $17,550 to $27,550 USD
Bailey Gaddis is a travel writer and author of Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance and Harmony for Blissful Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood. In addition, she works as a childbirth preparation educator and birth doula who supports mothers-to-be and new mothers. She is also a regular contributor to media outlets including Disney’s Babble, Working Mother, Pregnancy & Newborn, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, and Woman’s Day. In addition to her childbirth-prep work, she volunteers for families in need of postpartum support. She lives in Ojai, California.