Your dream Costa Rica elopement – the ultimate planning guide
UPDATED FOR 2024-2025
Costa Rica is a rugged, tropical country in Central America that’s absolutely perfect for an adventure! If you’re planning to tie the knot with a unique, one of a kind wedding, a Costa Rica elopement is the perfect way to ditch traditions and think outside of the box.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know to plan your Costa Rica elopement – from beginning to end!
Let’s dive in…
Welcome to the Adventure of a Lifetime
Hey there, I’m Amber! I’m your elopement photographer and planner – your one-stop-shop for absolutely everything you need for a magical, incredible elopement day.
I offer all-inclusive elopement packages for couples who want to relax and let me handle absolutely everything, as well as options for couples who like a little bit of DIY! I’ll find the perfect place for you to exchange vows, recommend vendors, help you figure out travel and lodging, make a timeline, and more – personalizing each part of your elopement day to perfectly suit the two of you. And of course, I’ll be there to take the photos and document this once in a lifetime adventure.
You aren’t like every other couple, and your wedding day shouldn’t be either! I’ll help you craft a day that’s true to you, authentic, and real, allowing you to immerse yourselves in the experience as you say your “I dos.”
First, let’s be sure we’re talking about the same thing:
What is an elopement?
Before we start planning your Costa Rica elopement, let’s talk about what it actually means to elope! The definition has changed a lot, and today, eloping means putting yourself and your wedding day experience first. No more giving in to the pressure and expectations that the wedding industry imposes – you’re making the brave decision to elope in a way that feels right to you, and to get married in a way you’ll love!
Why Elope in Costa Rica?
Of course, one of the best reasons to elope in Costa Rica is the incredible scenery. With rainforests, beaches, volcanoes, and more, there’s no shortage of nature! It’s the perfect destination for couples who want to explore the outdoors, and the jaw dropping natural beauty of Central America.
Amongst the scenery, you’ll also find incredibly diverse wildlife. From tiny hummingbirds to agile spider monkeys, there are so many different species and animals to see in Costa Rica!
Zip lining, scuba diving, hiking, bungee jumping, horseback riding… there’s no limit to the adventures you can have in Costa Rica! It’s the perfect elopement destination for couples who want a one of a kind experience on their wedding day.
How to Legally Elope in Costa Rica
Many people choose to get legally married at home, because it’s easier than dealing with marriage laws abroad. You can definitely choose to do the paperwork at home, and save your elopement day for the fun stuff!
Luckily, if you do decide to get legally married in Costa Rica, the process is more straightforward than many other countries!
At least one month before your elopement date, you’ll need to complete an application, and send scans of your passports. An officiant is required to legally marry you – this can be a judge or lawyer, or if you’re having a religious ceremony, a priest can officiate. Two witnesses are required as well, and your officiant will file your marriage license after the ceremony!
For couples from the US:
In certain states, you can ask your county clerk the authorization to sign your wedding license abroad. If they agree, as a registered minister, my team and I will be able to legally marry you without the hassle of a legal wedding ceremony in Costa Rica.
How to Get to Costa Rica for Your Elopement
To get to Costa Rica for your elopement, you’ll most likely be traveling by plane. Here’s how to get to Costa Rica by air:
Choose Your Departure Airport
First, determine your departure airport. Depending on your location, you may have several options for international airports. Common departure cities include major hubs like Miami International Airport (MIA) in the United States, Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in Canada, or various European airports.
Costa Rica has two main international airports that you can choose from:
- Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in San Jose: Located in the capital city, this airport is a common choice for travelers visiting the central and southern regions of Costa Rica.
- Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in Liberia, Guanacaste: This airport is closer to the popular beach destinations in the northwest of Costa Rica.
Ensure that you have a valid passport with at least six months of validity beyond your planned departure date. Depending on your nationality, you may also need a visa to enter Costa Rica. Check the specific visa requirements for your country of origin and apply if necessary.
Getting Around Costa Rica During Your Elopement
The easiest way to get around Costa Rica and explore its diverse landscapes, including for your Costa Rica elopement, is by renting a car. Renting a car provides you with the flexibility to navigate the country at your own pace and access remote locations that may not be easily reachable by public transportation. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car in Costa Rica:
- You must be at least 21 years old to rent a car in Costa Rica.
- A valid driver’s license from your home country is generally sufficient. However, an International Driving Permit (IDP) can be helpful, especially if your license is not in Spanish.
- Most rental car agencies in Costa Rica require a major credit card for the rental deposit.
- Costa Rica has several rental car agencies, including both international chains and local companies. It’s advisable to book with a reputable and well-known agency.
- Rental car insurance is mandatory in Costa Rica. The rental agency will typically offer you insurance options, including basic coverage and additional packages.
- It’s recommended to opt for full coverage insurance, as it provides greater protection in case of accidents or damage to the vehicle.
- Costa Rica’s road conditions can vary significantly. Major highways are generally well-maintained, but rural roads may be narrow and unpaved.
- Be prepared for changing road conditions, including potholes, gravel roads, and mountainous terrain.
- Download offline maps in advance, as internet connectivity in some areas may be limited.
- Drive cautiously, as road signs and traffic rules may differ from what you’re accustomed to.Be prepared for wildlife on the roads, especially in rural areas.
Renting a car in Costa Rica gives you the freedom to explore the country’s beautiful natural settings, reach secluded elopement locations, and create lasting memories on your special day. Be sure to plan ahead, research road conditions, and drive safely to make the most of your Costa Rica elopement adventure.
Did you know?
As a guide and photographer specialized in Costa Rica elopements, I extend a comforting service to all my couples by providing complimentary transportation on their elopement adventure. This ensures that they can fully immerse themselves in the joy of their elopement experience while I handle all the logistics with care and expertise.
Lodging for Your Elopement in Costa Rica
Costa Rica offers a rich tapestry of lodging options, each weaving its own unique narrative into the fabric of your Costa Rica elopement or travel adventure. As you embark on your journey in this vibrant Central American nation, you’ll find accommodations that cater to various tastes and desires, promising a memorable stay amidst stunning landscapes.
For those seeking luxury and pampering during their Costa Rica elopement, the country boasts an array of exquisite hotels and resorts that adorn its coastal regions. These lavish establishments often sit along pristine beaches or nestled within lush rainforests, presenting the perfect setting for a romantic elopement in Costa Rica. Immerse yourself in opulence with all-inclusive packages, indulgent spa treatments, and gourmet dining experiences. Luxury retreats create a tranquil oasis where you and your partner can relax, unwind, and celebrate your love in style.
For a more intimate and personalized experience, boutique hotels in Costa Rica are scattered throughout the country. These hidden gems provide a charming escape into Costa Rica’s heart, offering cozy accommodations that blend harmoniously with their natural surroundings. It’s here that you can savor a sense of exclusivity, where the friendly staff knows your name, and every detail is designed to make your Costa Rica elopement truly exceptional.
In the spirit of eco-conscious travel, Costa Rica beckons you to its eco-lodges and rainforest retreats. Nestled deep within the country’s verdant landscapes, these accommodations seamlessly integrate sustainability with serenity. Wake up to the sounds of the jungle, explore eco-friendly practices, and savor a genuine connection with nature during your Costa Rica elopement. These eco-lodges are the perfect refuge for couples who wish to celebrate their love while treading lightly on the earth.
For travelers seeking a home-away-from-home experience, vacation rentals in Costa Rica offer the perfect solution. Whether it’s a charming villa, a secluded cabin, or a beachfront apartment, vacation rentals provide spacious and private accommodations ideal for extended stays during your Costa Rica elopement. Enjoy the freedom of self-catering, and relish the feeling of having your own sanctuary in paradise.
Costa Rica’s diverse lodging options also include hostels, which cater to budget-conscious adventurers and backpackers. With dormitory-style rooms and communal spaces, hostels encourage social interaction and create an atmosphere of camaraderie among travelers from around the world. These vibrant hubs offer a place to rest your head and share stories of your Costa Rica elopement or journey.
Nestled high in the mountains or perched on the edge of a cliff, mountain lodges in destinations like Monteverde and Arenal beckon those seeking breathtaking vistas and thrilling adventures during their Costa Rica elopement. Wake up to panoramic views and embark on hiking excursions, canopy tours, and zip-lining escapades, all within arm’s reach of your mountain retreat.
Costa Rica also embraces the spirit of innovation with unique lodging options such as treehouses and floating lodges. Experience the thrill of sleeping amid the treetops or gently floating on the water, allowing you to forge an unforgettable connection with the natural wonders of this enchanting country during your Costa Rica elopement.
Whether you choose to luxuriate in opulence, find solace in nature, or embark on an adventure like no other, Costa Rica’s diverse lodging offerings ensure that your elopement in Costa Rica or travel experience becomes a captivating chapter in your life’s story. Each accommodation whispers tales of love, exploration, and discovery, inviting you to create your own narrative amidst the splendor of this tropical paradise.
Did you know?
When you book your elopement experience with me, I’ll give you access to my concierge service and recommend incredible hotels and talented local vendors.
Top 5 spots to Elope in Costa Rica
There are countless stunning places to elope in Costa Rica – but here are just a few ideas!
Poás Volcano National Park
To see an active volcano during your Costa Rica elopement, head to the Poás Volcano National Park! There are hiking trails, scenic viewpoints, and amazing views of the crater surrounded by forests.
La Fortuna Waterfall
A walk through the rainforest will take you to La Fortuna Waterfall, an epic stream plunging down into the canyon. If you want to venture farther, you can hike down to the bottom for more waterfalls and more views – and this is definitely one of the best places to elope in Costa Rica for hikers!
In Guanacaste, you’ll find gorgeous beaches. This is the ultimate tropical paradise – white sand, clear waters, and a vibrant underwater ecosystem. You can swim, dive, or snorkel, but even if you stay on the shore this is an epic place to elope in Costa Rica!
This remote island requires a boat to get there – but you’ll find lush greenery in the tropical rainforest, with the opportunity to see some of the most incredible wildlife, on shore and in the water.
Rio Celeste is a dazzling turquoise blue river that runs through Tenorio Volcano National Park. Around here, you can hike the trails to reach natural hot springs, a tall waterfall, and clusters of colorful butterflies!
Did you know?
There is so much more in Costa Rica than its pristine beaches. When you choose to book your elopement with me, I will provide you with a personalized list of 4 to 5 extraordinary off-the-beaten-path locations that perfectly align with your preferences. Allow me to lead you to the hidden treasures of Costa Rica, far from the usual tourist spots.
When to plan your Costa Rica elopement
Costa Rica is always warm – but the rainforest ecosystem means there’s a lot of rain! Here’s what you can expect throughout the year, and some things to keep in mind when you set a date for your Costa Rica elopement.
Winter in Costa Rica
Winter is the most popular time for tourists to come to Costa Rica. December through March, people try to escape the cold weather of other parts of the northern hemisphere and flock to Costa Rica! This is also the driest season in Costa Rica.
Spring in Costa Rica
Spring is gorgeous in Costa Rica. It’s still pretty dry, until showers begin in May. The weather cools down a little, which can be better for hiking.
Summer in Costa Rica
The weather is warm year round, but summers in Costa Rica are typically pretty riany. It’s humid, and showers are common. There are way fewer people around, so it can be a good time to elope for some privacy!
Fall in Costa Rica
Fall is very rainy, until it starts to let up in late November. The Caribbean side, however, actually has its driest months in September and October, so depending on your elopement location, fall can be a good time to elope in Costa Rica!
Example budget of an elopement in Costa Rica
When it comes to elopement budgets, I understand the challenges of providing a precise estimate for vendors outside of my own expertise. The cost can greatly vary depending on your chosen destination and the quality of vendors you desire.
Elopement expenses are significantly influenced by factors like your chosen location. Rather than providing generic budget estimates for vendors I don’t work with, I recommend exploring my elopement packages. They include all-inclusive options, giving you a clearer view of your budget and costs.
Unique Things to Do When You Elope in Costa Rica
Costa Rica offers a treasure trove of unique and adventurous activities that go beyond the usual tourist spots. Here are three off-the-beaten-path experiences to consider during your visit:
Cave Rappelling in Venado Caves
Located near Arenal Volcano, the Venado Caves are an underground wonder. Exploring these limestone caves involves caving, spelunking, and even rappelling. You’ll navigate through narrow passageways, marvel at intricate cave formations, and descend into the darkness, all while guided by expert spelunkers. It’s a thrilling and surreal journey beneath the Earth’s surface that promises an adrenaline rush and a deeper connection to nature.
Nighttime Bioluminescent Kayaking in Golfo Dulce
Venture to the remote Osa Peninsula in southern Costa Rica for a mesmerizing bioluminescent kayaking experience. Paddle through the calm waters of Golfo Dulce under the cover of darkness, where the bioluminescent plankton put on a natural light show. With each stroke of your paddle or movement in the water, you’ll witness a radiant display of shimmering blue lights. This ethereal phenomenon creates an otherworldly atmosphere and offers a unique opportunity to connect with the marine life in a magical way.
Waterfall Rappelling and Cliff Jumping in Nauyaca Waterfall
Deep in the lush rainforests near Dominical, you’ll find the Nauyaca Waterfall. This adventure takes canyoning to the next level. After hiking through the jungle, you’ll reach the cascading Nauyaca Waterfall, which stands at over 45 meters tall. Here, you’ll have the chance to rappel down the waterfall’s face, surrounded by the beauty of the rainforest. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, there are cliff-jumping opportunities into the crystal-clear pool below. It’s an exhilarating way to experience the natural wonders of Costa Rica in a truly unique way.
Horseback Riding to Turquoise Waterfalls in Rincon de la Vieja
Discover the rugged beauty of the Rincon de la Vieja region on horseback. Your journey will lead you through lush forests and volcanic landscapes, culminating in a visit to the breathtaking turquoise waterfalls hidden within the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Here, you can take a refreshing dip in the natural pools, surrounded by the sounds of the forest and the vibrant hues of the waterfalls. This horseback riding adventure combines exploration, nature, and relaxation in an off-the-beaten-path setting.
What to Wear to Elope in Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s weather is hot, and humid – so what you wear can have a big effect on how you feel!
I recommend lighter dresses – opt for lightweight, thinner fabrics that will be more breathable. For more casual beach elopements, a sundress style, or shorter dress will look great and be super comfortable! In general, opt for styles with loose skirts, so that you can move, hike, and explore easily.
If you’re hiking, definitely opt for hiking boots! For any elopement, make sure your footwear is comfortable, breathable, and will protect you from the terrain. If you elope on the beach, barefoot is always an option too! If you get new shoes, make sure to break them in – there’s nothing worse than getting a blister.
In Costa Rica, a full suit might be too hot! I recommend dress pants and a nice shirt, but skipping the jacket may be more feasible.
Typical food and dishes from Costa Rica
You might want to integrate into your elopement day
Considered Costa Rica’s national dish, Gallo Pinto is a flavorful and hearty combination of rice and black beans, typically mixed with onions, bell peppers, and spices. Often enjoyed as a breakfast staple, it’s often accompanied by eggs, fried plantains, and a side of sour cream or cheese. The blend of savory and slightly spicy flavors makes it a must-try dish that embodies the essence of Costa Rican cuisine.
A traditional lunchtime favorite, Casado translates to “married man” in Spanish, symbolizing the marriage of various ingredients on one plate. This dish typically features a protein like grilled chicken, fish, or beef, served alongside rice and beans, fried plantains, a cabbage salad, and a dollop of Lizano sauce. The combination of textures and flavors creates a harmonious and satisfying meal that reflects the diversity of Costa Rican culinary traditions.
Costa Rica’s coastal regions offer a delightful take on ceviche, a dish consisting of fresh seafood marinated in citrus juices, often lime or bitter orange, mixed with diced onions, bell peppers, cilantro, and a touch of spicy chili. The result is a zesty and refreshing concoction bursting with the flavors of the sea. Variations may include fish, shrimp, or mixed seafood. Enjoying a plate of ceviche by the beach is a quintessential Costa Rican experience.
Costa Rica elopement – your checklist
Choose a Location
One of the most exciting parts of your Costa Rica elopement is finding the right spot! You can choose from rainforests, waterfalls, beaches, mountains, and some of the most epic tropical scenery in the world. Part of my job as your elopement photographer is to help couples find the perfect place to tie the knot and say their vows. As a travel planner, I’m always exploring to find the best secret spots! Once you’ve decided to elope in Costa Rica, don’t hesitate to get in touch for planning assistance.
Pick a date
After you learn a little bit about weather and crowds, decide on a date for your Costa Rica elopement!
Find more information about travel visas
You most likely won’t need a visa to travel to Costa Rica, unless you’ll be staying for more than 90 days.
Book your flights and accommodation
Doing this early on can save you some stress, and will ensure you get the best deals! Find a place to stay close to your elopement location.
Book your other vendors
I can help you find some vendors for your Costa Rica elopement – they usually fill their calendars early, so reach out as soon as possible!
Elope in Your Dream Location!
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! Your ceremony in Costa Rica.
DOES COSTA RICA SOUND LIKE YOUR DREAM?
How to plan your peaceful COSTA RICA elopement with me
Let’s dive in, so you can start your journey right away!
Imagine a wedding where you can be you. Breathe. Bask in each other’s love.
Experience a place close to your hearts, or a bucket-list dream.
Are you eager to start planning your elopement in Costa Rica? I’m here to help you envision, plan and immortalize this beautiful adventure! Contact me now for a free consultation!