It’s always been a dream of mine to have a destination wedding. I didn’t know where or how…but I knew there was no way I was going to spend $60K+ to get married at a restaurant or hotel venue in New York or New Jersey.
I got engaged in Sept 2019 in a hot air balloon in Kapadokya, or Cappadocia, as you may know it as (find my Wild Bum Guide to Turkey here). In the beautiful dawn skies of Turkey… and it was truly magical.
As soon as I got home, I called some venues and the lowest quote for a thirty person wedding was $60K! This rate was for renting out a restaurant on a Thursday night. It did not include a dress, flowers or anything else…
Therefore, I did some research and realized that I could have my dream wedding at a fraction of the cost in a country outside of the United States. The proximity and warm weather led me to Costa Rica. I googled unique venues to get married at and came across Hotel Costa Verde, a hotel that converts old bodies of planes into hotel rooms and restaurants.They also had a helipad which has the best view of the Pacific Ocean that we were OBSESSED with.
As soon as we saw photos of this hotel, we knew this was the place. It wasn’t ultra luxury, but it wasn’t a cheap-looking NYC restaurant that’s $$$$ signs on Google reviews. We confirmed this venue in December of 2019 and secured to be married on June 27th, 2020.
How I began to plan my Costa Rica Dream Wedding…
Six months to plan a wedding was not a challenge for me. In fact, having less time meant making meaningful decisions without all the back and forth. “Should I do this… no, I should pick that one and so on.” The challenge was the COVID-19 pandemic.
As you know, the world was shut down in 2020 and this delayed my wedding for almost two years…until we finally rescheduled for the 4th time! We officially got married on Feb 26, 2022!
Destination Wedding – Seasons and Location
November through April is the dry season in most of Costa Rica and May through October is the rainy season. Prices are cheaper during the rainy season, but you risk having a rainstorm on your wedding day. Of course, during the dry season, there is always a small chance that it will rain on your wedding day (the same as if you had your wedding in the US).
The north of the country is the volcanic, rainforest region. The most popular area is Arenal. We wanted to avoid that area for the wedding because it can get chilly during the day and rainy (even during dry season). However, the region of Quepos and the Manuel Antonio area provided so many fun activities from surfing to visiting the National Park, watching monkeys and sloths. This provided our wedding guests an area to go on many excursions and turn this trip into a mini vacation/getaway.
We envisioned a beach vibe wedding without being on the beach which meant we should stay around the south of the country (although there are some beautiful beach towns in the northwest of Costa Rica). So we graciously signed the helipad at Hotel Costa Verde for our wedding ceremony which gave us the best of both worlds. We had a beautiful view of the ocean and didn’t have to deal with sand getting in between our toes or ocean mist ruining our hair (or our guests’ for that matter).
Wedding Coordinator for a Destination Wedding
We met our wedding coordinator through Hotel Costa Verde. Her services were included in the package we booked through the hotel. I cannot say it enough – Isabel is one of the best event planners (from my experience in the US). There’s always going to be a few snags, but she’s quick on her feet and has relationships all over the town to get you what you want at your wedding. I asked for engraved coconuts, chocolate fountains and vegan chocolate mousse desserts which she was somehow able to acquire for our rehearsal dinner. If you’re looking at a wedding in Quepos/Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica, she’s your gal!
Not only does Isabel have connections with florists, photographers and DJs/live bands, she also works with many other hotels. Hotel Costa Verde was the perfect, unique, travel themed hotel for me, however, there are many other hotels you can work with her on. I never felt pressured to work with one photographer or another. She gave me plenty of options for each vendor I wanted for my wedding.
Destination Wedding Timeline
In the United States, if you’re looking for a venue, it’s possible you could wait 1-2 years. However, in Costa Rica you really only need 1-2 months notice, IF THAT! So if you’re looking to get married and you don’t want to wait a year in the US or pay $60K, then Costa Rica is the place for your own dream destination wedding! (Just make sure that wedding date is not taken already by the hotel you want as most hotels do one wedding per day even if they have various venue locations within their hotels.)
Please see photos below from my wedding!
If you’re interested in visiting Costa Rica, check out my guide!