What’s the cost of a wedding in Costa Rica?
You are engaged! There are not enough words to describe your happiness, and now you are looking into your options and a destination wedding to Costa Rica sounds more and more like the way to go. Amazing rain forests, pristine beaches, sunsets, national parks, adventure tours, exotic cocktails, delicious fresh meals, swimming, and wild life observation are just of few of what seem like countless opportunities awaiting you there.
The promise of a romantic ceremony at sunset and dancing barefoot under the starry sky is very tempting. You don’t want a cookie cutter wedding. But at this point, not knowing the cost of the services and excursions you are dreaming about can be stressful enough to kill the dream entirely.
The amount of information you find in internet is overwhelming and difficult to figure out. There is literally too much information, and there is no clear way to go. And still your biggest fear is how much the wedding is going to cost.
Well, don’t despair!
From experience, I can tell you the price of a wedding can vary from simple and affordable to over the top and luxurious. But the good news is, every wedding here can be beautiful. Most of the locations are already gorgeous, with gardens, beaches, bamboo palapas, wood furniture, and green mountains. There is no way to have a tacky or ugly wedding with this background!
There are many hotels where you can host a wedding. Popular destinations include the area of Guanacaste in the north pacific and Manuel Antonio along the central pacific coast. Other popular destinations include the stunning Arenal volcano, or even Monteverde, if you want a rain forest wedding.
The price of accommodation should not be considered as part of the wedding budget, but definitely is important to take it into account, because it would affect you and your guests. A reasonable place would start at $150 per room, and you can go as high as $300 or $400 for deluxe rooms or villas at more exclusive resorts. The more developed the town is, the more options your guest can find. Some areas like Tamarindo and Manuel Antonio offer cheaper lodging because of the plethora of hotels.
Now in regards to the wedding, some locations will charge a site fee. This often can represent a big portion of your budget, but the advantage is total privacy. But if you know who to ask, you can find a location without a site fee and have an instant savings you can invest elsewhere.
Food and drinks usually make up about 50% of your wedding budget, assuming hors d’ouevres for cocktail hour, and dinner and drinks for at least 5 hours. Unlike in the United States, open bar is not the best option in Costa Rica. The prices per hour are very high and the drink serving becomes very slow.
A good meal will cost an average of $50, but once you add the rest of the expenses, the total cost of food and beverage, including taxes and gratuities, could well be around $80 to $150 per person, or higher if you want a gourmet experience.
Another cost to remember is the rental equipment, including linens, glassware or china, because some locations won’t provide it or you want to upgrade the look of it!
Beyond this, the other 50% of your budget should be reserved for your wedding planner, flowers, music, photography, wedding cake and anything else you are planning to include. Every couple will have different priorities. Some will choose to put more into photography. And while a recognized photographer can be as much as $4,000, other excellent vendors will provide great service for less. Other brides focus on the flowers, or want to hire a professional designer. Don’t forget these options when setting your budget. If you stay “tropical,” the price will always be lower and the final look much more colorful and pretty.
It is always best to go is with local vendors, but this can tricky at the same time. The language barrier, the different legal system, payments, and negotiations are much different in Costa Rica. The best way for you to avoid making a mistake is by hiring a local planner.
In order to be able to take advantage of the many great services and low rates the country offers, you need to connect with a local planner who will act in your best interest. She can help you access the best vendors, and can review and translate the contracts and make sure you pay the right prices. She handles all of the logistics so you can focus on the magic of your special day.
It is wise to work with a preliminary budget in order to avoid surprises. A good range is $200 to $400 per person for a wedding in Costa Rica. Of course, only by consulting with a professional planner can you get a more accurate idea of all that is possible within your budget, and still be guaranteed a great experience.