Thinking of a Costa Rica destination wedding? What could be better than beautiful white sand beaches, friendly locals, tropical jungles, huge volcanic mountains and sunny, warm weather? All of that plus spending time there with the love of your life and closest friends and family members. A Costa Rica wedding would offer all that and so much more. It’s no wonder why we’ve seen a skyrocket in the number of Costa Rica destination weddings over the past decade, and it continues to grow as the top place in Central America to get married. Having shot a number of Costa Rica destination weddings, I’m happy to share a few secrets, tips, and advice for those couples looking to get married there.
Combine your Wedding and Honeymoon in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a lot to offer, and I mean.. a lot. It’s not common that a couple can get married and honeymoon in the same spot, but the diversity of this country offers just that. From the east to the west coast of Costa Rica, there’s something for everyone. With the culture and rich history of San Jose, the proud people that live along the coast, and friendly locals high in the mountains, everyone wants you to enjoy your experience in this great country. Whether you prefer sitting on the beach and lounging, surfing or fishing, skydiving, hiking/backpacking through the jungle, or indulging in local culture, Costa Rica offers it all. Costa Rica is a great spot to combine your wedding and honeymoon for all couples.
Having a destination wedding in Costa Rica is no different. We’ve done a number of weddings in Manuel Antonio, we’d definitely recommend considering it.
Costa Rica Destination Wedding Recommendation – Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio is a National Park along the west coast of Costa Rica and combines rich jungle with beautiful beaches. An idea of a destination wedding in Manuel Antonio can be daunting at first, it’s far from the nearest airport and seems pretty remote. It’s actually not that bad, and the resorts there are accustomed to exactly what you’re looking for. There are many large houses you can rent out for your wedding, accommodating you, your bridal party and all your guests. You can get ready there and have your reception dinner there as well. Wedding ceremonies tend to happen right on the beach, and with good reason. The water reflects the sun as it sets, creating beautiful hues of pink, purple and red.
Locals offer many fun tourist activities, so you can go on jungle expeditions or lounge on the beach while you’re there. One of the weddings I shot there included an excursion into the forest where we saw howling monkeys, tropical birds and sloths. For venues, I’ve shot a number of weddings that start and end at Punda De Vista in Manuel Antonio. Punta de Vista is an amazing huge house that can fit all your guests, and doubles as a reception venue. The beach is close, we walked down and back for the ceremony, and the helpful staff made everything work flawlessly.
Getting to Manuel Antonio
Last year I shot a Costa Rica destination wedding in Manuel Antonio, I flew into the Liberia airport, it’s smaller but pretty easy to catch flights there from the mainland United States. It’s a lot closer than San Jose, and there are services that will take you and your guests by bus to your hotel.
Wedding at the Four Seasons Papagayo
For those couples looking for something a little less DIY and a little more all-inclusive, there’s no better brand in the world than the Four Seasons Papagayo. Having a Four Seasons wedding at Peninsula Papagayo means your guests can enjoy the beaches in true luxury. The food is local and delicious, the service is top-notch, and the pool is… well… empty because everyone’s on the beach. The Four Seasons at Peninsula Papagayo sits on a strip of land that jettisons out into the ocean but has beaches on either side, this is typically where they have the wedding ceremony.
The white sand ceremony is beautiful, but the beaches are a bit smaller, so I’d recommend this venue for 60 or fewer guests. The Four Seasons offers all-inclusive packages that include a photographer, flowers, chairs, and more. They’ll allow you to bring in your own photographer if you choose. The reception can happen in their private dining room or out on the lawn in front of the reception area.
The location is much different than the rest of Costa Rica, it’s positioned in an area called Guanacaste. This area has beautiful cliffs that drop straight into the ocean, and while it does have beaches, most of the beauty comes from a higher elevation. There are other hotels nearby like the Marriot or Hilton that your guests can stay at if they can’t afford the Four Seasons. However, I’ve found that prices can be somewhat comparable and the Four Seasons offers smaller rooms near the pool that are reasonably priced. Let’s not forget about golfing! This beautiful Four Seasons property offers a full 18 hole golf course that you pass on your way in, for all those that enjoy golfing as part of their getaway. When you’re having a destination wedding at the Four Seasons Papagayo, the concierge will handle everything – so you don’t have to sweat the details.
San Jose Costa Rica Wedding
You can also get married in the wonderful city of San Jose. We did a wedding at a private residence way up high in the mountains overlooking the city. It was beautiful and you could see everything, but I missed the beaches. I feel like part of having a destination wedding in Costa Rica should include the stunning beaches and jungle. The couple was from San Jose though, so it meant a lot to them to include the backdrop of the city in their wedding photos.
As far as transportation for your destination wedding in Costa Rica, I’d recommend NOT renting a car. In most of the 50 countries I’ve traveled to I rent a car, but the roads in Costa Rica are winding and confusing, and if you don’t know what you’re doing it can be dangerous to drive. I spend more money on cabs and riding the bus than if I just rented a car. In the end that it was worth it because I actually got to my location without getting lost. I speak very little Spanish but found it quite easy to get around anywhere in the country.
Photography tips for your Costa Rica Wedding
We’ve shot a number of Costa Rica weddings, and the photography is very different than that of our USA weddings. The sun is very hot and bright, so couples tend to sweat a lot. Consider taking breaks when you’re doing photos on your big day. Even if you’re having a beach wedding, be sure to bring lots of water and find spots to break in the shade. Sweat in photos does not show up well, it’s hard to photoshop out, so try to stay cool! Since you’re closer to the equator, the sun sets earlier (or later) than in the US, depending on where you live. Be sure to check the solar schedule to know how to get the perfect shots right at sunset.
Costa Rica offers the opportunity for beautiful sunset wedding photos on the beach. If you’d like sunset photos on the beach, be sure to time your wedding ceremony accordingly.
Costa Rica Weather
There are also some unpredictable weather patterns in Costa Rica, especially in the summer. Be sure to check the weather patterns with a better app than the standard “weather” that comes on your iPhone. I’d recommend the app “Dark Sky”, as it offers more accurate weather updates and doppler radar, something other apps don’t. Stay on top of things with your wedding photographer, and your Costa Rica wedding photos will be better than you could ever imagine.
If you’re having a Costa Rica destination wedding and want more tips or advice, please drop us a line. We’re happy to respond and want every bride to have an amazing “best day ever”. If you’d like wedding photos like these, feel free to reach out to us and see if we’re available to photograph your big day. All travel to Costa Rica is complimentary, as are our accommodations. For every destination wedding we do, we’ll be there early to scout out the territory and offer you some ideas on the very best locations for photos.
If you’re recently engaged and want your destination wedding photos to look like these, contact us today. We’d love to be a part of your wedding in Costa Rica.
Want to view more beautiful wedding images? Check out our galleries here.
Article by Clane Gessel Photography