When you close your eyes and picture the place you want to have your elopement, what do you see? What is the scenery like? How about the weather? What activities do you imagine you and your partner doing?
Let me set a scene for you.
The sun shines brilliantly overhead as you and your partner start your day in a beautiful lakeside villa. You sip coffee together on the deck as you watch flocks of parrots parade about in the trees outside, and you even catch a glimpse of an iguana or two as they munch on hibiscus flowers nearby. After a quick breakfast of a tasty local pastry, you and your partner part ways briefly to get ready for your elopement. After a sweet first look on your deck overlooking Lake Arenal, the two of you head out for the first part of your adventure – a quick hike to La Fortuna, a stunning waterfall tucked away in the rainforest. If you’re lucky, you’ll even spot a coati on the trail as you make your way down to the base of the falls. After an afternoon of exploring around the waterfall, you head out to Arenal – an active volcano. A quick 30 minute hike brings the expanse of the volcano into view, and you share your vows as the sun sets behind you.
This country seriously has it all. The weather is perfect, the people incredibly welcoming. In Costa Rica you’ll find endless sunshine. Warm evenings watching the sun set over the ocean. Miles and miles of epic rainforest teeming with wildlife. Refreshing waterfalls you can swim under. Endless, like seriously ENDLESS and beautiful beaches. And the best part? Costa Rica is seriously meant for any and all adventure level. So many stunning locations are highly accessible – no type 2 adventuring required. But if you want something a little more adventurous, grueling – but rewarding – hikes through the jungle are just down the road.
The biggest factor in deciding on a location is in determining what sort of scenery and activities you want to incorporate into your day. Do you want to share your vows on a beautiful white sand beach? Would you like to spend your day hiking in the lush greenery of the jungle? Do you want to do something a bit more adventurous or informative – like spend an afternoon ziplining or surfing, or a go on a guided tour to be sure you can spot some sloths? We’re of the opinion that there’s no wrong place to elope in Costa Rica – but here are a few of our favorites.
Volcán Arenal (or Arenal Volcano) is a 5357 foot tall volcano northwest of the capitol city of San Jose. Though the volcano is currently in a “resting phase,” with it’s last eruption in 2010, it remains active and was the country’s most active volcano for 43 years. There are several trails in the area that offer stunning views, and there is a small observation area that can accommodate elopements with a few guests.
One of many waterfalls in Costa Rica, Catarata Fortuna is a 230 foot cascade in the middle of the rainforest that plunges into a beautiful swimming hole. The hike down is short but a bit steep on the way back (500+ stairs) and there is an accessible observation deck close to the parking lot if you’re wanting to do a slightly larger elopement ceremony. The waterfall is close to Arenal Volcano as well, and it’s possible to do both in one day.
Bonus tip: La Fortuna is super close to Sloth Park, which offers an hour-long stroll through the trees – and a guarantee of seeing sloths, particularly right after it rains!
One of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations, great for families with kids and plenty of accommodations. Tamarindo has some of the best sunsets in Costa Rica and some of the best surfing as well since the water is warm all year. There are plenty of restaurants, both local and international to explore, and there’s even a bit of nightlife.
Situated at the southern tip of the Nicoya peninsula, Montezuma is a great village to get away from it all. There are some lovely multi-tiered waterfalls here as well.
Black sand beaches and jaguar rehabilitation reserves are just a few of the extraordinary things you can experience at Puerto Viejo. Situated at the southeastern end of the country right outside the Gandoca Manzanillo national park, there’s plenty to do and see here including some legendary surf spots!
One of Costa Rica’s prime eco tourism destinations, Monte Verde is known for its cloud forest and all that it has to offer. Here you can find numerous different species of flora and fauna (including over 500 different orchids!) while walking along the suspension bridges through the treetops. This is one of Costa Rica’s prime destinations.
Nestled in the Central Pacific Coast, a mere 3 hours from the capital, Manuel Antonio National Park is the perfect location to experience Costa Rica’s abundance of wildlife. It has some of the most serence beaches in the entire country and plenty of accommodations just outside the park. There’s plenty of room to spread out if you’d like a more private ceremony as well.
While planning a destination definitely necessitates some additional considerations that a local elopement in your hometown may not, planning an elopement in Costa Rica really isn’t too complicated – plus we’re here to help you every step of the way.
Short answer – no! While the ability to speak Spanish is definitely a plus, it’s not required to get by in most areas. But fun fact – Michael is fluent in Spanish, and we have no problem helping you with any language barriers in planning your day!
While the temperature itself doesn’t fluctuate much (the average annual temperature is between 71°-80° Fahrenheit), Costa Rica has two distinct seasons – dry season, which typically runs from December-April, and rainy season from May-November. The main exception to this is in the Northern Lowlands, where Arenal Volcano is located. Dry season in that area is May-November, with September and October being the best months to see Arenal. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to have glorious days here the rest of the year – we visited La Fortuna and Arenal in mid-January, and while it poured on us in the morning, the rain had cleared up by the afternoon for a glorious sunset.
While officially getting married in Costa Rica is not too complicated, the simplest way to sidestep all the logistics is to complete all the legal paperwork in your hometown either before or after you actually elope.
However, if your heart is set on making things legally official actually in Costa Rica, you’ll need to provide your passports and some basic information. Most travelers who get married in Costa Rica have a local lawyer officiate their legal ceremony. Costa Rica’s National Registry will then issue a marriage certificate within 1-2 months, which can then be translated and certfied by the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry and sent to you, where you can file it in your home state if necessary.
Your elopement in Costa Rica can be as simple or extravagant as you’d like. Want to get married just the two of you on the beach in a dress you found in a thrift store? Super do-able. Want to invite 20 guests and stay in a resort? Also a super legit way to get married! Here’s a breakdown of the typical costs you should expect in planning your elopement in Costa Rica. Let’s assume you’re going to stay for 4 days:
Travel + Accommodations
Average round trip flights: $674 each
Rental car: $40 per day
Lodging: $100-$300 per night
Dress/Suit: $300-$1000 each
Tours, renting kayaks, national park fees, etc: $0-$200
Restaraunt vs. Private Chef: $30-$1000
Total cost estimate: $6,438 – $15,108
The best part about hiring us to photograph your incredible and adventurous elopement in Costa Rica? We’ve got your back with planning and logistics every step of the way. We both absolutely ADORE Costa Rica, and we love helping couples plan intimate wedding days here.
We know first hand how overwhelming it can feel planning a destination wedding or elopement, especially in a destination you’ve never been before. As avid travelers and explorers with a combined 24 countries under our belts, we love helping couples navigate the logistics of planning a destination elopement. We are committed to making this process as easy as possible.
We can’t wait to get started helping you make all your wedding dreams come true. With 3 years of practice helping guide couples in crafting their perfect wedding day experience, we’ve got all the tools you need to make your dreams a reality. We’re ready to help you pick the best, unique location, connect you with local vendors, and create an adventure-filled and stress-free day. All you have to do is have an amazing time together and get married! We can’t wait to be your elopement photographer and wander with you.
All photos taken around Costa Rica while on a collaborative trip with Jenn of Wild Coast Photo.