We had lived in Costa Rica for about two years when we started planning our wedding and we had been trying to get all our family and friends to come to visit us for so long. So, having our wedding in Costa Rica was the absolute perfect opportunity to get everyone here. After that decision was made we had to choose a Costa Rica wedding venue. That decision was not as easy one to come by.
Here is what we learned along the way when choosing the perfect Costa Rica wedding venue.
Before we get started, if you haven’t read it already, here is part one of this four-part destination wedding series. The first article discusses how to decide if getting married in Costa Rica is the right choice for you.
Choose a Wedding Venue in Costa Rica – Hotel
The most popular option for planning a destination wedding in Costa Rica seems to be the hotel wedding. There are tons of hotels in Costa Rica which will be more than happy to host your wedding. In fact, the fancier hotels which are used to hosting weddings usually have a wedding planner on site, which will make your planning process a piece of (wedding) cake!
I think having a hotel wedding is great if you want low stress. See, with a built-in wedding planner there is not much you will have to do. The wedding planner will send you pictures of a few flower arrangements and all you have to do is pick your favorite. The hotel will already have a restaurant for the reception, accommodations for everyone on site, a DJ they know is amazing etc.
Having a wedding tends to be expensive! If you would like to keep things on a tight budget it can be difficult to do that with a hotel wedding. Also, with a hotel wedding, they say something like, “You have the venue from 4pm until 10pm.” There is not a whole lot of flexibility for how long your wedding can last.
We looked into having a hotel wedding. In fact, I contacted A TON of hotels on various beaches. The reason we ultimately chose not to have a hotel wedding in Costa Rica is that most of the hotels we liked wanted the guests to also be staying at the hotel. If our guests were staying at an off-site location it would have cost a lot more per person.
A lot of our friends were traveling from Germany and can not afford to spend several hundred dollars a night on a hotel room so that we can have our dream wedding. We wanted for as many of our friends and family as possible to attend so we needed to find a more budget-friendly option.
Another big thing that turned us off from having a hotel wedding was that a lot of the hotels only hosted weddings as part of a package. These packages included things like a couples massage and bottles of champagne in the Honeymoon Suite. These were not things we needed and we didn’t want to spend money on them.
Our Hotel Suggestions:
Choose a Wedding Venue in Costa Rica – Rent a villa
We hadn’t even considered renting a villa until we started doing some research. Wow! There are some amazing villas in Costa Rica!
You have the whole wedding location to yourself and can do what you want with it. You can also save some money by renting a villa if you have some of your guests staying at the villa with you and they pay for their stay.
You either have to hire a wedding planner or you need to plan everything on your own. This can be really difficult if you are not familiar with the area and are arriving right before your wedding. Most villas will charge you an event fee to have your wedding at their location. This is often at least $500 on top of your house rental costs. Also, you may have to rent table, chairs etc. if the villa does not have enough stuff for all your guests.
Renting a villa is ultimately what we chose to do. We wanted a place where all our family and friends could hang out on the day before and after our wedding, even if they weren’t sleeping at the villa. We also wanted the flexibility to plan the ultimate party any way we wanted it. Choosing this route was not easy (planning is horrible) but ultimately we were so happy with our decision.
Our Villa Suggestions:
Luxury Retreats has amazing places throughout Costa Rica. In fact, they rent out the villa that the Kardashians and Justin Bieber stayed in when they visited Costa Rica. Don’t worry, it will only cost you around $17,000 a night.
Our last pick for great villas is the villas at Tulemar Resort in Manuel Antonio. These villas are great because you can use the amenities at Tulemar.
Choose a Wedding Venue in Costa Rica – Restaurant
There are some really amazing restaurants in Costa Rica! We personally love anything on the beach or with an amazing view.
If you pick a good restaurant you can guarantee that you will have an amazing meal! You don’t have to worry about renting tables, chairs etc. If the restaurant regularly hosts weddings they likely either have a wedding planner on staff or can at least suggest vendors for things such as a DJ who they typically work with.
You could also make things really low key and do the ceremony on the beach and just go out to dinner with your guests after. This would be the best way to do things on a budget.
Your wedding time length is limited. You will probably only be able to rent the venue for five or six hours.
Having a wedding at a cool beachfront restaurant with tasty food sounded like a great option to us! It would have saved us a bit of money and stress for sure. The only reason we chose not to do the whole restaurant wedding thing is because we wanted a place where all our guests could gather in one spot for longer than a few hours.
Our Restaurant Suggestions:
Alright, guys, just a warning, a lot of restaurants in Costa Rica do not have a website. However, most do have a Facebook page. Getting them to actually answer their messages on Facebook can be another story. Yes, we had a difficult time getting in contact with restaurants.
I’ve seen some really pretty photos from Langosta Beach Club in Tamarindo as a wedding venue, but I never contacted them so I can’t tell you how their prices are.
Choose a Wedding Venue in Costa Rica – Unique places
You don’t need to limit yourself to a hotel, villa, or restaurant! There are so many unique places in Costa Rica, why not contact some of them and ask if you can host a wedding there?
Our Unique Wedding Venue Suggestions:
Some ideas which spring to mind are La Paz Waterfall Gardens (also has a hotel), get married on a catamaran (just Google “catamaran Costa Rica) for tons of companies, have a low key wedding and picnic on the beach (this will save you TONS of money).
Choose a Wedding Venue in Costa Rica – How we went about it
How to choose a wedding venue in Costa Rica was something we literally knew nothing about. Plus we are budget travelers. We’re not experts on the types of hotels which host weddings. However, we knew which area of the country most appealed to us, so that made searching a bit easier. In case you missed it, we discussed location in the previous article here.
Anyway, first we did a Google maps search for “beach bars”. We then checked out every beach bar in Costa Rica and contacted the ones which appealed to us to ask about their rates etc. We then typed in “wedding” on Google maps and contacted all the places (mostly hotels) which matched that search. We then typed in “resorts” and contacted all of those places. It was getting exhausting!
At this point, we hadn’t considered renting a villa. As the replies started rolling in (most places answered really fast), we started to realize that a hotel or resort wedding wasn’t really our thing. A wedding at a beach bar still appealed to us, but we really wanted a place where everyone could gather for longer than just our wedding. This is when we thought to look at villas.
Ugh! Looking at villas was miserable. A good kind of miserable, but still miserable. I mean, there’s only so many infinity pool pictures you can look at before they all look the same. Total first world problems!
To find villas we searched on VRBO, Airbnb (get $20 off your first stay with this link), and TripAdvisor. We then just started Googling “villas in Costa Rica” and checking out those as well. There are so many great options that it was hard to keep them all organized, so I created a handy-dandy spreadsheet on Google Drive. I can’t recommend this enough! It was a lifesaver.
Here’s our spreadsheet. Really I just want to share it with you because it is possibly the most organized thing I’ve ever done. Usually, I leave this type of organizing shenanigans to Thomas.
As you can see I made columns for the name, the link, the location, the type of location, cost per night, minimum length of stay (some places require you to stay for a week), and other notes.
Ultimately we chose the location we got married at based on the fact that we were able to stay there for three nights and didn’t have to reserve a whole week and it is located directly on the beach. In fact, it is the only place we found that is directly on the beach within our price range.
Choose a Wedding Venue in Costa Rica – Our last tips
– If you are considering a villa don’t forget to ask the rental company if there is an event fee.
– Don’t forget to ask what the payment schedule is like for your venue.
– Make sure you have everything in writing before you pay for/ sign any venue contract.
– Don’t forget to ask what you need to do in order to get your security deposit back (and get it in writing). This is really important! We had some problems with this which we will get to in our fourth part of this article series.
– Don’t hesitate to ask a venue if they have held a wedding at the location before and if they can give you more info on how the event was organized. It is so helpful to get ideas from what other people have done.
Pro Tip: We suggest directing your guests to our website as well. Tell them to check out our destination page and itinerary page for ideas of places to travel. A good way to do this is by including a link to our site in your wedding website. That way your guests will know exactly where to look in planning their trip and you won’t get bombarded with questions.
This was part two of our Costa Rica Destination Wedding collection. Head on over to our next article on planning your wedding details!
Also, if you missed part one, head on over here.
We hope this guide to choosing a wedding venue in Costa Rica was helpful! As always, let us know if you have anything other travelers should know or if you have any questions in the comment section below. We love to hear from you and more than happy to help you out..
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