What is more romantic than a destination wedding in Tamarindo? Tropical foliage, wedding canopies in the sand and warm weather year round. I was fortunate to have the first ‘destination’ wedding in Tamarindo before destination weddings were even a thing. At the time there were only a handful of people living in Tamarindo so everyone was invited. The local Belgian baker made our wedding cake, the marimba band was from the next village over and I struck a deal with the (then) owner of the Hotel Diria to hold the ceremony in the rancho right by the beach. He threw in a couple of cases of champagne and gave free lodging to visiting family members. It was mid June in the 1980s so there were barely any tourists and we had the hotel to ourselves. It was a magical wedding with a glorious sunset, amazing food, drink and music and fun was had by all. The entire cost of the wedding was under $500.
Since tourism has grown exponentially since then it is very hard to plan a wedding for that price. However the ambiance of that Tamarindo 1980’s wedding is still easy to replicate. There is a plethora of music options available, delicious food and often glorious sunsets. To make things even easier there are wedding planners now that will help you arrange your perfect destination wedding.
Costa Rica wedding planners
Destination weddings are a lot of fun but can certainly be a challenge as you are far away from the location where your wedding will take place. Unless you plan to move to Tamarindo a few months ahead of your wedding, it might be easier to hire wedding planner. A planner can tell you which are the more reliable florists, which venues allow late night music and which documents are needed to legalize your wedding. Many Tamarindo wedding planners like to do an interview over the phone, which is a great way to find out if you will be compatible. Make sure that your planner is fully bi-lingual and has planned weddings in Tamarindo and not just in the capital city. Get references and find out which venues they work with. Best scenario is to come to Tamarindo one time before the wedding, check if it is truly the location you are looking for and meet with your wedding planner.
Tamarindo wedding venues
There are many wedding venues in Tamarindo. The easiest choice for your wedding reception and ceremony is probably a hotel. Many hotels have a resident wedding planner to help you organize your perfect day. Cala Luna is a very romantic hotel in Playa Langosta. The last wedding I attended there had guests walk on a candle lit path through lush foliage while being serenaded by a cellist. The path led to a flower covered canopy on the beach. I am sure it was a pricey set-up but it felt like something out of a movie. Other hotels include Capitan Suizo, Occidental, and Tamarindo Diria.
Another great option is to rent your own villa. Not only can you hold a private ceremony and reception there away from prying eyes, but it also offers the flexibility of being an accommodation at the same time.
Tropical wedding flowers
A tropical wedding calls for gorgeous tropical flowers. The national flower of Costa Rica is La Guaria Morada, a purple orchid. There are over 1400 species of orchids in Costa Rica and as they don’t wilt, they make for a great wedding flower.
Nothing says the tropics quite like birds of paradise. Its flamboyant colors make for a vibrant table decoration and a unique bouquet.
Hibiscus and bougainville are very abundant in Tamarindo and you could almost go and pluck them yourself by the side of the road. Though we don’t suggest you are actually do that! Hibiscus flowers only bloom for a day though and might look a little tired once nighttime falls, so they are better suited for a daytime wedding.
Incorporate a Costa Rica wedding tradition
A fun Costa Rica wedding custom is to have a Serenata the day before the wedding. Traditionally the groomsmen would serenade their bride-to-be. However since not everyone can hold a note, it has evolved into a performance by guitarists, mariachis, or other small bands. Yours truly and future spouse, were serenaded by the local band Los de la Bajura the night before the wedding. I am very happy that a dear friend gave us this gift as my spouse is certainly musically challenged.
Best time to get married in Tamarindo
We have two distinct weather seasons in Tamarindo. The dry season which runs from about November through April, and green season from May through October with a month of sunshine in July.
The dry season has the obvious advantage of no rain, no clouds, fewer bugs and great sunsets. It also has the disadvantage of everything being more expensive as it is the high season. Since it will be busy, dry season weddings need to be booked as early as possible.
The rainy season is the prettiest (and cheapest) time of year as all the dry dusty trees are exploding with lush foliage. If you book your wedding in rainy season make sure that your venue has a covered roof. Don’t book your wedding in September or October as it can rain all day long at that time of year. If it rains enough, rivers will flood making traveling cumbersome.
What do you need to make your wedding legal? For starters you’ll need a valid passport, the wedding has to be officiated by a lawyer, and you need two non-family witnesses. Many couples decide to hold a simple courthouse wedding in their home country before heading to Tamarindo to avoid having to deal with paperwork. Blood tests are not required. The lawyer will have your marriage certificate notarized in Costa Rica, which will take about 3 months to process. Once you have your certificate make sure to get it registered in your city. Since Costa Rican woman do not take their husbands last name after marriage, the certificate will list the bride’s maiden name.