Yeay! You’ve decided to get married in Costa Rica and you’ve picked a venue (if not, head over to our post about choosing a venue)! Now it is time to plan all your wedding details in Costa Rica. This is about the time we started getting stressed like crazy! Fortunately, you can learn from all of our mistakes so you can plan the destination wedding of your dreams.
As always on this site, this guide was created with people on a budget in mind. Alright, let’s get down to business people!
Wedding Details in Costa Rica – Guest List
The first thing you need to do is establish your guest list. Who is going to make the cut? In order to establish your guest list, you first need to see how many people your venue can hold. This will help you make your list.
As we made our list we counted out who we actually thought would come. In the end, most of the people we thought wouldn’t be able to make it, were the people who came and the ones we thought would come unfortunately could not make it. Funny how things work out sometimes! Anyway, we invited about 70 people and in the end, about 35 people came. We were hoping for between 30 and 40 people, so this worked out great for us.
Invites are hard, especially for a destination wedding. I feel that you can’t really invite over the number that the venue can hold because of the off chance that everyone can make it. I saw some wedding sites suggest to have a tier two list of people that you can invite after you figure out how many people on your tier one list can make it, but I didn’t want to do this because people talk and I didn’t want our friends to hate us.
We sent out our invites really early as far as weddings are concerned. We told everyone the wedding date and location in mid-November for a July wedding. We asked everyone to RSVP by January 1st. The reason we asked everyone to plan so early is that we had to organize the travel for after the wedding. We wanted a head count so we could book out enough rooms at hotels before things filled up. Plus, with a destination wedding, we figured it was best to tell people as early as possible before they made other summer vacation plans.
To make the whole wedding guest thing easy I created a spreadsheet. I’m really into the spreadsheet thing with this wedding! We were traveling with our guests after the wedding, so having a spreadsheet was a great way to stay organized.
My spreadsheet had columns for guest name, invite sent?, coming?, flying into San Jose or Liberia?, date arriving, flight number, coming on trip after?, date leaving, other info. It has been a lifesaver for us and I highly suggest making your own spreadsheet. It is difficult to coordinate everyone with a destination wedding, so this really helped.
OK, the rest of this guide is mostly aimed at all of you who are planning your wedding yourself. If you are getting married at a resort where all the planning is done for you, you can skip down to the Packing section of this guide.
Wedding Details in Costa Rica – Wedding Planner
There are tons of great wedding planners in Costa Rica who cater towards destination weddings. Just be aware that wedding planners aren’t cheap, but they will save you a lot of hassle.
What we did:
We opted not to hire a wedding planner and planned everything ourselves instead. It was a bit stressful (and we live in the country).
We did consider hiring a day of coordinator, but eventually opted not to. If you don’t know, a day of coordinator is someone who you hire just for the day of the wedding. They make sure everything runs smoothly and on schedule. We opted not to hire a day of coordinator because we found a great catering company who were very organized as far as the timetable and we have a few friends and family members who we recruited to have certain jobs at our wedding to keep things flowing as they should.
Wedding Planners we suggest:
Thomas and I went up to Tamarindo for a few days to check out our wedding venue and to organize catering. We were having a hard time finding a caterer so we asked our Airbnb host if she knew anyone. She said she had a friend who was a wedding planner and she’d ask her. Her friend emailed us right away and suggested two caterers (one who we ended up going with). She was so helpful and nice that I highly suggest contacting her if you need a wedding planner or day of coordinator. Her name is Misty Maxwell and here is her wedding planning website.
Another great wedding planner is the company Tropical Occasions. One of their employees is a friend of a friend and they were really helpful in finding someone to officiate our wedding.
Wedding Details in Costa Rica – Ceremony
What we did:
We had a lot of trouble finding someone to officiate our ceremony. We had contacted multiple people and they were always really bad about getting back to us. Eventually, we were given the name of the guy who owns Cabo Luna furniture rentals. He was great! If you are having your destination wedding in the Tamarindo area we highly suggest contacting him. You can just email Cabo Luna and they will make sure he gets in contact with you.
Money Saving Tip:
If you are only having a symbolic ceremony in Costa Rica you could always ask one of your friends or family to act as your officiant.
Wedding Details in Costa Rica – Catering
There are a lot of catering companies in Costa Rica, but we found it was difficult to find one which was right for us. In fact, catering was our biggest headache until we found the absolute perfect company.
What we did:
The first thing we did was to ask the concierge at our wedding location if she could suggest anyone. She gave us the name of a company they usually work with. The woman was nice and really helpful but ended up not being exactly what we were looking for. I then started searching online for catering companies in Tamarindo and emailed every place I found. Most of them never got back to me. I was really surprised by this because I would think people would be eager to have the business, but apparently not! I then contacted a company who responded right away, had their sh*t together, and had amazing menu choices. I was sold!
Catering company we suggest:
If you are getting married in the Tamarindo area I suggest Belly FedBetter Catering, Dragonfly Restaurant (they do catering) or Catering Costa. Catering Costa is the company we went with. Jean-Luc (the owner) is on top of things! He is a pro at catering and knew exactly how to organize everything. He seriously saved us so much hassle and I can’t recommend Catering Costa enough. Also, no he’s not paying me to say this. I’m just really really happy with our catering choice.
Money Saving Tip:
We knew we wanted to have an open bar at our wedding, but we also didn’t want to pay the hefty price to have an open bar through a catering company. We opted to have an open bar of non-alcoholic drinks through Catering Costa and provided the alcohol ourselves. In the end, we had tons of alcohol left over, but since we were traveling with all of our family and friend after the wedding we were able to drink most of it on our travels.
Wedding Details in Costa Rica – Furniture Rentals
One thing we didn’t consider when we opted to rent a villa is that there probably wouldn’t be enough chairs, tables, silverware etc. for all our guests. This means you will have to rent all these things for your wedding. Rentals are expensive!
What we did:
I contacted a company called Eventos Artesanos in Tamarindo to ask for their rates. They were great at answering right away and sent me a PDF with their options and rates. We planned on renting tables and chairs from them but luckily Catering Costa has enough tables and chairs for our guests that they were willing to bring for us. They charged us a percentage of our total catering bill for the tables and chairs. The tables and chairs from Catering Costa are not as fancy as the ones you can rent from other companies, but we didn’t care.
We did still end up using Eventos Artesanos to rent a tent (we were really worried about rain), a few cocktail tables, and a few lounge tables for down at the beach.
Furniture rental company we suggest:
If you are getting married in the Tamarindo area we suggest contacting Eventos Artesanos (they even have a teepee you can rent), Cabo Luna (the owner officiated our wedding and we loved him), and Los Primos Designs.
Money saving tip:
See what you can do without or make yourself once you are there. For example, there were two things (a wedding arch for the ceremony and a standing chalkboard for the dinner menu) that we opted to make ourselves rather than rent. See, the rental companies here know that most people are coming for a destination wedding and can’t bring furniture with them. Because of that, their prices for some items seem ridiculously high to me. Obviously, you probably won’t have the luxury of being able to build your own wedding arch, but you could opt to forgo the arch and do some nice flowers in pots instead.
Wedding Details in Costa Rica – Flowers
You will most likely want flowers for your Costa Rica destination wedding. You will have no problem finding beautiful flowers in this country.
What we did:
We originally planned to cut costs with flowers by getting flowers from our local flower shop and arranging them ourselves. We wanted a really minimalist tropical feel with our flowers. The villa we rented for our wedding is beautiful and we felt like the location really spoke for itself. Having tons of flowers wasn’t really necessary.
Anyway, about a month before the wedding we decided maybe it would be best to get flowers in Tamarindo instead of bringing them up from San Jose. We were already a bit stressed and didn’t want to add arranging flowers the night before our wedding to our to-do list. So, I asked the concierge at the house we rented and as always she was super helpful and gave us the name of a great florist in the Tamarindo area. I told the florist everything we were looking for and she gave us a quote. Their ideas were wonderful, but we get a bouquet of flowers every week from our local florist and we know how affordable flowers can be here. We were starting to learn the complete markup that companies charge when they cater their business to foreigners.
Anyway, we ended up going to our local florist with our ideas and they were able to create our vision for a lot less.
Wedding Details in Costa Rica – Photographer
What we did:
We opted not to hire a photographer. I know this is crazy, but they are just so expensive! Instead, we had good friends take group shots with the families. Besides that, we asked our friends to take plenty of pictures on their phones and they sent them to us after. As you can see, they totally pulled through!
Wedding Details in Costa Rica – DJ
What we did:
We originally planned on not hiring a DJ. I’m big into music so I had created multiple playlists ahead of time for the wedding. About two weeks before the wedding we decided it would probably be a good idea to hire a DJ for at least the dancing part of the evening. We ended up hiring Zach from Tamarindo Concierge Services. He was amazing! Seriously, hire him. You won’t be disappointed. He also provides tons of other great services. You can find out more and get in contact with him via his website here.
Wedding Details in Costa Rica – Decorations
What we did:
As I mentioned, our catering company is providing all table linens. That definitely helped us in the decorations department. The rest of the decorations we purchased on Amazon or at Target. One thing that we bought which we love are these string lights to set up at the reception area.
Wedding Details in Costa Rica – Packing
When coming to Costa Rica for your wedding you will likely have a lot of stuff with you. You’ll have to pack your wedding dress, suite, clothes for your trip, any decorations you are bringing etc.
What we suggest:
Ask your family or close friends if they can fit any of your stuff in their suitcase. Also, pay attention to bag allowance when flying. For example, I bought some decorations while I was in Florida. I knew I would be doing this and would probably need to bring two suitcases back to Costa Rica with me. When I was looking at flights I debated booking a ticket with Spirit or on Copa. The Copa flight was $20 more but included two free checked bags. With Spirit I would have been paying almost $100 more to bring two suitcases. I opted for Copa and was able to save a bit of money.
Wedding Details in Costa Rica – Organizing Your Guests
In all honesty, planning a wedding was a breeze in comparison to organizing our guests. We may be a bit over the top, but we figured our guests were traveling from all over the US and Germany for us, we needed to make sure they had the best time in Costa Rica as possible. To ensure this, we decided we would travel for two weeks after the wedding with whichever guests wanted to join. In total, we had about 13 people traveling with us. This means we had to organize rental cars, places to stay, etc.for everyone
Even if you don’t travel with your guests after, I still think it is important to help people out with ideas for accommodations, transportation options etc.
Feel free to send your guests to our site! Our Destination page will give them a better idea of things to do and places to stay in each location of the country. We have a 10% rental car discount for your guests if they opt to rent a car. They will also appreciate our Must Know page for all the things they should know before traveling to Costa Rica.
What we did was just put a link to the Costa Rica Vibes website on our wedding website. This worked really well in directing people here to plan their trip.
Wedding Details in Costa Rica – Last Tips
– We made a budget and then went through all the topics we discussed here and considered how much we felt comfortable spending on each thing. For us, location and food were the most important things. We were willing to skimp in other areas to get the things we really wanted. I suggest thinking about the same things when you organize your budget.
– If you need to buy budget items when you arrive in Costa Rica there is a store called Pequeno Mundo which is great for things such as affordable vases, candles, frames etc. We bought all the vases for our wedding here for about $4 each. There are also a few Walmarts throughout the country if you need little things.
– Ladies, if you are looking for affordable beach wedding dresses I have a few suggestions for you. I bought my dress from Lulu’s and they have a great selection of long white dresses for about $100. They also have free returns within 10 days. I just ordered pretty much every white long dress they have and chose that way. The dress I ended up wearing was this one. I then bought lace to add at the bottom as a hem. Vici Collection has a great selection of white boho beach dresses for under $100. A lot of people suggested ASOS bridal to me but I actually didn’t find anything I loved from them. My other favorite site was 1861.ca. They have a nice collection of vintage looking dresses at a great price point.
Make sure to check out our last article in this series on what worked well and what we wish we did differently in our Costa Rican wedding.
Let us know if you have any questions about this guide in the comment section below. We are more than happy to help you out!
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