Planning a destination wedding to Costa Rica is one of the most enjoyable things to look forward it. Considering the country is brimming with exceptional wedding venues and experienced planners, you’d be surprised how seamlessly easy the whole process can be. Yet no ‘wedding planner magician’ can possibly solve all the conundrums you’ll inevitably face. Who will you invite? Who should you invite? What are you expected to pay for…and what should you leave up to your guests?
These are just a few etiquette puzzles you may be faced with when planning your Costa Rica destination wedding. But never fear…we’re here to help!
Follow our Guide to Costa Rica Destinations Wedding Etiquette and sort out the do’s and dont’s before you go. You’ll be mighty glad you did, we assure you.
Get Your Dates Right
Save-the-date invitation should go out no later than 6 months before the wedding and, ideally, closer to 10. Naturally, you’re not inviting people to just a ‘wedding day’ but you’re asking them to plan their (probably) only yearly holiday to come share the big day with you in Costa Rica. Although we’re quite sure they’ll be just as excited as you to head to this powerhouse of nature, adventure, culture and history, you still need to give them plenty of time to organize work/school timetables – as well as budget. Make sure you include the location on your initial invite, so people can start booking early bird flights if they wish.
Once you have the date set, you can send formal invites about 3 months before your wedding date. Include as much info as possible, such venue, country info, transport options and accommodation choices too. The latter will help burst illusions anyone may have that a ‘destination wedding’ means the bride and groom are paying for their entire holiday abroad. Including a few links to the also gives guests a chance to research the region of Costa Rica where you’ll be married, and work out ways to enjoy day trips or extended vacation after the vows are exchanged. Don’t forget to add a website of your chosen wedding venue and, if you really want to get their excitement to build, our Costa Rica Rios collection of outstanding getaways which make ideal pre or post-wedding vacations.
Who Should You Invite?
Costa Rica destination weddings tend to be small and intimate affairs, with many couples choosing to invite only their closest friends and family members. Although you may be tempted to invite a close(ish) friend or work colleague whom you think wouldn’t come anyway, do be careful. You’ll be surprised what kind of magnetic pull Costa Rica has on people! Our advice is to only invite those people you’d be ecstatic to see on your wedding day. No matter how ‘distant’ you think a friend or colleague may be, they may see it as an brilliant way to strengthen the friendship and enjoy a superlative holiday.
Moreover, even though traditionally whomever you invite to your engagement party should be invited to your wedding, the waters are a little murkier when it comes to destination weddings. Nowadays, it is very common to have a large engagement party with many guests, and a very intimate wedding in Costa Rica for only your closest circle of love. A little post-wedding do at home, for those who didn’t attend the weddng, is also a terrific idea.
Who Pays for What?
It goes without saying that the couple who’s getting married is responsible for the ceremony, reception, entertainment and pre-wedding rehearsal dinner. Having said that, destination weddings are not usually one-day affairs so including a couple more group activities during the course of 2-3 days would be ideal, and rather classy. Luckily, no matter where you choose to marry in Costa Rica, you’ll have a bundle of choices! Take your wedding party whitewater rafting for a day! Or perhaps kayaking, horse-riding, or on a memorable sunset cruise. A farewell brunch will also be appreciated, so pick and choose what you prefer (two is more than sufficient) and do make separate invite cards for each event. Guests are expected to pay for their own flights, transport, accommodation and any extra expenses that isn’t expressly paid for by the bride and groom.
Except, Perhaps, for the Bridal Party Members…
Technically speaking, you are not required to cover the costs of the wedding party members attending your big day. However, being asked to be a bridesmaid or better still, a witness, is a whole different ballgame than just being asked to attend. The latter they could politely decline, the former not so much.
The etiquette for this is somewhat simple. If you can afford to pick up the accommodation (and even flight) tabs for your wedding party, then you’ll certainly win huge brownie points with all involved. After all, for a small intimate Costa Rica wedding these are bound to be your bestest friends. If not, don’t feel bad, but be very active in researching special group discounts. Renting a villa (or two) for your wedding party and perhaps contributing a token amount to the overall cost, will surely also be very appreciated.
Can You Help Pay for a Friend in Dire Financial Need?
This scenario is more common than you imagine and as far as we’re concerned, we say ‘go for gold’ and help them attend by covering their expenses, if you really couldn’t imagine your wedding without them. You may just want to keep it a little on the secretive side so no one else feels unfairly treated. No need for loudspeaker announcements here: love for a special friend to be there? Keep it between you two and you’re sweet to go.
Skip the Registry
Gift registries are nowadays as common as multiple-toaster-giving was a mere generation ago. Yet a little word of caution. A destination wedding can be financially straining for some guests, so showing appreciation for their efforts (to fly abroad for your wedding) by omitting a gift registry, will take a lot of pressure off. Even your closest friend will possibly spend more on attending your wedding in Costa Rica than they would if you got married at home. To avoid any doubt, do state your intention on the invitations by telling guests that your most treasured wedding gift would be their company. It’s a win-win.
Gifts and Keepsakes
Turn the traditional tables around. Instead of receiving gifts from your guests, why not organize a gorgeous welcome gift for them? Popular choices are hampers with traditional Costa Rica products like coffee, vanilla beans, wine, and a totally fun and kitsch souvenir.
What if You Want an Adult-Only Affair?
Ouch. Tact can go a long way if you wish for an adult-only destination wedding. Being brutally honest, in this case, is a no-go. “Sorry but I don’t want your spoilt brat at my idyllic Costa Rica destination wedding” is the ultimate friendship-executioner. Instead, make sure only the names of your adult friends are included on the wedding invitation (an old school etiquette which is actually lost on many people today) and then let your closest friends know that they can be honest should they be asked about your ‘children or no children’ intentions.
And on a last note: do know that Costa Rica is an exceptionally child-friendly country to visit and many resorts offer childminding services for any of your guests who will fly with kids in tow. Just like people shouldn’t expect that their entire brood be invited to an overseas wedding, you should also not expect parents (especially of very young children) to fly to Costa Rica minus their little ones.
It’s possible that we’ve answered some questions you probably hadn’t even thought about. You’re welcome! A Guide to Costa Rica Destination Wedding Etiquette ought to help relieve some of the anxiety you may be feeling about the logistics of organizing a wedding abroad.
And when you’re ready for some post-wedding fun…join us on a romantic, relaxing or totally adventurous Costa Rica honeymoon vacation that you’ll never forget.