Are you dreaming of a romantic, intimate wedding surrounded by tropical beauty? If so, consider eloping in Costa Rica! Here you have so many choices ranging from the top of a volcano to a stunning Pacific coast beach at sunset.
In this post, we’ll explore the best resorts for eloping in Costa Rica, other unique venue options, and advice on how to legally tie the knot in the land of Pura Vida.
Resorts for Eloping in Costa Rica
We suggest planning your elopement at a resort if you would like a packaged deal. A Costa Rica elopement package will take almost all the stress off of you.
The resorts I listed below are experienced in the whole wedding planning thing and most likely have a wedding planner on staff who will take care of everything.
The Westin All Inclusive Resort
Other Venue Options
You don’t have to go the resort route on this. One of the perks of eloping is that you can kind of choose any venue.
So, here are some other options to consider….
With an extensive coastline on both the Pacific and Caribbean, you really can’t go wrong with a small beachfront ceremony.
Tip: Make sure to consider when high and low tide will occur on the day of your ceremony. There are some beaches that are hard to access during high tide.
The Top of a Volcano
I suggest Poas Volcano or Irazu Volcano because they are the easiest to access at the crater. For a nice view of a volcano to exchange your vows, I suggest somewhere in La Fortuna with views of Arenal Volcano.
Tip: Keep in mind that you need to pre-book tickets for Poas Volcano.
In Front of a Waterfall
I suggest the La Fortuna Waterfall, Llanos de Cortez, or Montezuma Waterfall because all are semi-easy to access without strenuous hiking.
Tip: Wear your bathing suit underneath if you choose Llanos de Cortez. You can then hop in the water after saying your vows.
On a Catamaran
It is possible to take a catamaran tour almost anywhere on the Pacific coast. I suggest asking before booking anything. They might have some type of elopement package available.
In a National Park
To be honest, I don’t really know the legal implications of this. I’m sure nobody will likely stop you. But, it might be best to ask your efficient if they know anything about this before finalizing your plans.
Rent a Villa
You can always rent a villa and have your ceremony there. There are so many unique places in Costa Rica from treehouses to beachfront places.
We like VRBO for villa and house rentals.
At a Hot Spring
There are tons of hot spring options in La Fortuna. Some of them are listed above in the resort section, but there are also hot springs you can visit on a day pass.
For a budget-friendly nice experience, I suggest contacting Termales Los Laurales in La Fortuna. It seems their website is down, but they are active on their Facebook page here. This property is large and has covered picnic areas with charcoal grills.
You could easily have your ceremony here with a nice view of Arenal Volcano and then enjoy the day grilling and soaking in the hot springs.
How to Plan Your Elopement Yourself
If you opt not to have your ceremony at a resort with a set package, you will need to hire a wedding planner or plan things yourself.
Personally, I feel that if the whole resort thing is not your vibe you can definitely save a ton of money by planning everything on your own.
You will just need to choose a venue, find an officiant, and organize the other details.
Some things you will need to consider are:
– Would you like a flower bouquet? If yes, to save money I suggest going to any florist in the town you are having your ceremony and buying a bouquet. Companies that cater to weddings tend to charge a lot more (we know from experience).
– Do you need a makeup artist or hair stylist? You can definitely find a local person to do this at a salon in almost every town.
– Are you interested in hiring a photographer?
– Would you like to go out for a nice meal after? We have restaurants divided by price range in all of our destination guides. TripAdvisor is also a great place to look for the top restaurants in each town.
Also, if you are getting legally married before your elopement ceremony you will need to find someone to officiate your Costa Rica ceremony.
How to Legally Get Married in Costa Rica
Unfortunately, in Costa Rica, you need to have a lawyer conduct the official ceremony and file your wedding certificate.
Once you find a lawyer, the process is….
- Obtain necessary documents: You will need to obtain a few important documents, including your passport, birth certificate, and a document stating that you are single or divorced. If you were previously married, you may also need to obtain a divorce decree. Note that necessary documents will need to be translated into Spanish.
- Hire an attorney: In Costa Rica, it is required that you have an attorney present during the wedding ceremony to act as a legal witness. You can either hire an attorney on your own or ask your wedding planner to help you find one.
- Get married: You will need to have two witnesses present during the ceremony.
- Obtain your marriage certificate: After the wedding, you will need to obtain your marriage certificate from the Registro Civil (Civil Registry). This document will serve as proof of your marriage. Your lawyer should be able to get this for you and mail it to you (if you have already left Costa Rica).
It is important to note that the requirements for getting married in Costa Rica can vary depending on your nationality and other factors.
We recommended that you consult with a lawyer or a wedding planner in Costa Rica to ensure that you have all the necessary documents and meet all the requirements for getting married as a tourist.
How to Find a Lawyer
I suggest asking your wedding planner or the resort in which you are considering having your ceremony. They should be able to direct you to a lawyer that can do this for you.
Just note, this usually doesn’t run cheap. You are most likely better off getting legally married at home and having a symbolic ceremony in Costa Rica.
Having a Symbolic Ceremony
If possible, it will save you a lot of hassle and money if you can get married at the courthouse in your home country and have a symbolic wedding in Costa Rica.
This way you won’t have to hire a lawyer and can instead just pay someone to officiate.
We definitely suggest traveling around the country after and enjoying a little Costa Rica honeymoon. We created a complete honeymoon guide to help you plan this.
Time of Year
Keep in mind that the dry season runs from mid-December until May. You will have the best weather at this time, but it is also the most expensive and busy time.
Later in the year, you might have rain.
For example, we had our beach wedding in early July and the day before our wedding there was a crazy two-hour storm with tons of lightning and flooding.
On our wedding day, there was zero rain.
If you are debating between eloping and having a full-on destination wedding, I suggest checking out our destination wedding guide. I made it super detailed with all the info we wish we had known.
If you plan to do a lot of traveling around the country we suggest renting a car. It will give you the most flexibility in your exploration.
We suggest booking your rental car with our favorite local company, Adobe for a 10% discount and excellent service!
If you will be having a resort ceremony and plan to stay there for your honeymoon, we suggest taking a taxi or shuttle from the airport to your resort.
Wedding Dress/ Suit
In most places in Costa Rica you can expect warm weather and possible humidity.
For our wedding, Thomas opted for lightweight linen pants and a thin button-down shirt.
I opted for a more casual wedding dress that I bought from Lulu’s and had altered. I also looked at dresses from ASOS.
Both of those sites had the more relaxed and affordable vibe I wanted.
We went a bit all-out crazy for our Costa Rica wedding. It was totally out of character for us, but we figured if we were having family and friends travel all the way from the US and Germany, we needed to make it memorable.
However, before our elaborate wedding on the beach in Playa Langosta, we needed to have an official ceremony.
This was conducted with our lawyer who then did all the paperwork to make our marriage legal.
She had told us that we could go anywhere we wanted for this, so we opted to do the ceremony at the top of Irazu Volcano.
We went about two weeks before our beach ceremony and drove to the top of Irazu Volcano. Two of Thomas’s friends and their partners who had already flown in from Germany as well as our lawyer and her husband joined us.
Unfortunately, we paid for everyone to enter and it started torrential downpouring. It was absolutely miserable up there. So, we had to last minute pivot on that plan.
Instead, we drove to the house of the mother-in-law of our lawyer. She planned a last-minute ceremony for us with flowers from her garden and everything. It was so cute and sweet. And, it was definitely a memorable experience!
So, in a way, we had our own little Costa Rica elopement before the bigger wedding.
And, in all honesty, it was great. It was relaxed. I didn’t even dress up. We had fun. We watched the World Cup on TV with everyone after.
I loved it.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I loved our big wedding day that we got to share with all our family and friends, but I can also see the appeal of eloping. And, if you are considering an elopement in Costa Rica, you really can’t go wrong. It will be such a unique experience.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out!