It’s a scene straight out of a reality TV series about the glitzy and glamorous lifestyles of the rich and famous: a young beautiful couple, in love, exchanging their vows on a white sun-soaked beach flanked by linen-clad groomsmen and bridesmaids in sundresses, surrounded by coconut palms, crimson hibiscus flowers, and the surf lapping at their bare feet. Only for the millionaires, right? Wrong. It could be you!
A wedding in a tropical paradise such as Costa Rica is more affordable than you think. In fact, a Costa Rica wedding cost is probably less than anywhere else in North America. Your money goes farther and your destination wedding will be unique – one your guests will be talking about for years to come.
So today we are going to lay out some of the typical Costa Rica wedding costs to help you budget and plan – from venues to cake.
The Venue: and One Thing to Avoid
Obviously a DIY wedding will be cheaper than an all-inclusive wedding at a large resort. However, DIY weddings are much more work (see our article on hiring a Costa Rica wedding planner) and we don’t recommend planning your Costa Rica wedding without outside help.
That being said, you can budget between $200 – $400 USD per guest for a package wedding. That would mean that if you are planning on inviting 40 guests/family, then you could be spending $8,000 for the ceremony and reception. Venue wedding packages usually include the paperwork, chairs, podium, bouquet for the ceremony, and dinner, music, and bar for the reception.
Here’s what to avoid: venue fees. Some hotels and resorts charge an extra venue fee of anywhere between $1,000 and $2,500 – that is on top of all the products and services your are purchasing. Don’t throw your money away! Look for hotels, eco-lodges or other venues that don’t charge an extra venue fee.
Contact us at the Drift Away Eco-Lodge in Playa Avellanas to get a Costa Rica wedding cost – without extra fees.
Costa Rica Wedding Planner
Some couples prefer to do everything DIY. Great. Good luck! However, if you want to keep your Costa Rica wedding cost under control, to look for a Costa Rica wedding planner. It may seem counter-intuitive to pay somebody else to save some money.
But do you really know where to find the best deals in a foreign country where English is not the primary language? A local wedding planner already works with vendors and service-providers and can shave some dollars off your total Costa Rica wedding cost.
Wedding planners charge according to the type and length of service.. If you want them to be in charge of logistics only on the day of your wedding it will have one cost, but a wedding planner helping you from day 0 until the first day of the honeymoon will have a different cost.
They may charge around $600 USD to plan and organize your elopement, or a flat fee for full service that could go from $2,000 to $4,500. Some prefer to charge by the hour.
In Costa Rica, wedding planners usually chargea flat fee thatchanges according to the location, number of guests and the services that you want to hire. But a wedding planner is a great investment to manage your Costa Rica wedding cost.
The Costa Rican government sets minimum prices for lawyers’ fees, which in the case of marriage is about $200. According to the location and availability, this price may vary from $600 to $1,200. Many hotels and resorts include this fee in their packages, but others don’t so when purchasing a package make sure to know what is included. Some couples decide to have only a symbolic event in their Costa Rica wedding. In this case, the officiant does not need to be a lawyer and fees will not be regulated by the government. They could be cheaper, in the neighbourhood of $400. Just remember that these events will not have a legal value when you return to your home country. These types of weddings are usually the symbolic celebrations after an official, legal ceremony has been done at home.
Photographer or Videographer
There are so many details and micro-events happening on a wedding day that it is almost impossible to remember it all. Children playing, family members having a great time, you and your significant other having a moment while dancing; you just can’t be in multiple places all at once. This is why photographs and videos have become such an important part of a wedding. Everyone wants to have a piece of the story printed and recorded so that it can be accessed at any time in the future.
Photographer fees can make your Costa Rica wedding costs vary a lot. Similar to wedding planners, photographers, and videographers can choose to charge by the hour, flat fee for the event or by the number of pictures they take. Prices usually start at a $900 flat fee that might include some engagement shots and a one-day event in high-resolution images delivered digitally.
Floral variety in Costa Rica is rich and beautiful. Many florists offer wedding services and are prepared to set flowers as part of the venue decoration.
The average price for a bridal bouquet is $70 while the bouquets for the bridesmaids can cost around $40 each. Low table arrangement, elevated table arrangements, and boutonnieres and more can add up to $600 or $800 in total. Ask your wedding planner for those florists with the best prices to manage your Costa Rica wedding costs and keep your event on a budget.
The type of wedding you choose will dictate the number and types of items you will be required to rent.If you are planning a toes-in-sand beach wedding, you should definitely rent a tent for your guests – for protection from the sun and from rain (Costa Rican weather can change quickly).Tables and chairs are an absolute must (if you paid for a package with a venue, remember to check if this is included). You may need to rent a dance floor, or access electricity in remote areas. Also on the rental list are linens and napkins, dinnerware, flatware, lounge furniture or even restrooms. Prices in this area will vary greatly according to the items you select and rent.
Hair and Make up
Among other Costa Rica wedding costs, the amount of money used in professional hair and make-up is definitively worth it. Getting married in an adventure destination in Costa Rica will need some waterproof and durable makeup. The hair for the bride should also go in a fashionable way but prepared for strong winds that might want to catch her off guard. The groom can also take advantage of those services and have a nice facial to prepare his skin for many pictures and videos.
Bridal make-up could cost $70 (eyelashes included), $20 for a manicure and $20 more for a pedicure. If services are hired for more people, let’s say, family members, they could have a lower price since their make-up should not be brighter or more fabulous than the bride’s. Hair up-do’s cost also around $70 for the bride, and $60 pp for more family members.
Catering services vary so much that it is difficult to give a price range. Some services include buffet dinner, some hors d’oeuvres, wedding cake, and dessert table for around $4,500. If you want to have an open bar that is paid by the hour, it will cost an estimate of $1000 per hour (for 80 guests). Your Costa Rica wedding cost should also add cake (if it’s not included in the catering service), which can add $4 to $10 per person.
From DJs to instrumentalists, professional artists will provide the soundtrack for your wedding day. Most popular music packages include consultation, a disco ball and lights, a sound system and microphones – and they usually start at around $800. Playlists can be previously agreed and various genres can be included, such as Acoustic, blues, folk, jazz, pop and more. Instrumentalists can also provide a variety of covers and original music, with a more intimate feel.
Other Costa Rica Wedding Costs
The more elements you want to include in your wedding, the more expensive it will be. If you want your open-bar to last longer you could hire extra hours for a lower fee but it will double your expenses anyway. Some other extras can include live performers that will dance or sing for your guests, or giftbags for guests (for instance a cute bag with sunglasses, organic bugspray and sunblock for beach weddings).
The Grand Total
Every individual Costa Rica wedding cost will be different. Simple elopements or small ceremonies for less than 20 people can be done for around $5,000 USD. A few more guests and family members may see that price go up to $8,000 – $12,000.
Larger, more formal weddings at all-inclusive resorts with everything taken care of can be done for $20,000. A great price for a great destination wedding! And don’t forget, you’re already in paradise, so extend your wedding holiday and make Costa Rica your honeymoon destination, too!