6 Tips for an Amazing Beach Wedding in Costa Rica
If you are considering - or are already planning - a beach destination wedding in Costa Rica, these are 6 tips you must read before finalizing all the details .
We take for granted knowing knowing the ins and outs of where we live and don't really give it a second thought when planning an event in our home town. When planning a destination wedding in another country, we don't tend to pay them much mind, and given that there are many other things to consider - floral arrangements, the cake, flights, invitations, your dress , and . . . - there's no wonder these important details can escape your attention.
There are many beaches here, and most of them are gorgeous, and quite a few are divine. They can be unforgettable and amazing places to tie the knot in Costa Rica. These 6 tips will help your find the right beach venue for your wedding, make the planning process a bit less stressful, make sure you look good in your wedding photos, and make your wedding day and time in before and after in Costa Rica more memorable and enjoyable,
1. When / Where to Plan Your Sunset Beach Wedding
The sun sets early and it sets quickly in Costa Rica! We recommend not having the ceremony any later than 4:00 p.m. By 5:30 - 5:40, the sun's pretty much set and all that's left is a bit of glow. If you want post-ceremony bride and groom beach portraits - as well as family formals - with the setting sun in the background and have the gorgeous scenery visible, keep this in mind.
There is always at least one delay on a wedding day, usually between getting ready and the ceremony. If your ceremony is at 4:30, and there is a 30-minute delay - which is short in the world of weddings - your portrait session just lost 30 minutes of valuable and unrecoverable sunlight. Another possible complication happens after the ceremony when the bride and groom tend to spend at least 15 minutes with family and friends before the portrait session. The larger the wedding, the more time this takes.
The photo above was taken at 5:05 p.m. The sun is setting just behind the hill on the right. There's still plenty of light, but it goes fast. Note: used flash to illuminate their faces.
The above photo was shot at 5:35 p.m. There is actually much less natural light in this photo than there appears to be. We had to increase the exposure quite a bit so the hills in the background did not look like black blobs due to the lack of light and we used flash to light the couple. 15 minutes later, this photo would not have been possible, as you'll see in the next photo.
We took this photo at 5:45 p.m. There's very little natural light, leaving the scenery indistinguishable.
Not all beach wedding venues in Guanacaste and Puntarenas have a view of the sun setting. Many resorts are in coves and never have a direct view of the setting sun regardless of the time of year. Other resorts are on stretches of beach that face southwest or northwest and may only have a peripheral view of the sun, whereas other may have a view of the sun, but will have a large land mass that blocks the view as it sets. A beach may be sublime and a resort to die for, but if it does not have the view you want, it will just not do.
Your wedding planner should know if a beach resort has an unobstructed view of the setting sun. Google Maps can be helpful. Input the name of a resort and view it up close and then farther away.
2. Choose the Ambiance - Touristy or Tranquil?
How do you imagine your perfect Costa Rica beach wedding? Are there palm trees rustling in the wind, warm beach sand under your feet, a salty breeze, the sound of waves crashing in the distance as you tie the knot? Not all beaches are equal. Some beaches are more tourist-oriented than others. There will be many people on the beach at all times of the year, and even more during peak season, and there can be many locals selling trinkets to tourists and people panhandling, as it is in most popular tourist destinations.
The photo - with all the people in the background - was taken at Playa Langosta, a popular beach in Tamarindo that is a 10-minute drive from the busier Tamarindo beaches. The second photo was taken at Playa Ventanas, a less-traveled beach in Ojochal, Puntarenas.
All beaches in Costa Rica a public. Everyone has the right to access any beach, even one in front of a resort whose rooms run $700. per night for their least expensive accommodations. For a more private and intimate beach wedding, choose a beach resort outside of the touristy popular beaches that does not have public access points. Although all beaches are public, non-guests are not permitted to access a beach via a resort. They must use public access points.
* There are exceptions, so do your research. We shot a wedding at a resort in El Jobo, Guanacaste we considered extremely remote. The number of non-guests and people selling items and panhandling on the beach was shocking. There were so many people we had to shoot the entire ceremony with zoom lenses to crop them out of the photos.
3. Use Sunblock!
It's the beach! Whose not going to go to the beach before their wedding day, especially if you and your families arrive before the big day? If prefer no looking like a lobster in your wedding photos or having very obvious tan lines, peeling skin, cracked lips, or heaven forbid blisters, use sunblock, and the strongest you can find.
We can fix most if not all of these issues in post processing. If it's a tan line here and there, or a bit of peeling skin, we just fix it. Not all wedding photographers can or will. If it's extreme, however, and if you want it edited, it's extra. Sorry! I t really is a lot of extra work.
Don't forget to use sunblock, and ask your bridesmaids and groomsmen to wear it too!!
4. Choose the Righ Season - Rainy or Dry
If you prefer to not have your dream Costa Rica beach wedding marred by rain, it's better to plan your it during the dry season. In general, the rainy season in Costa Rica is from May to Mid December, and the dry season is from December to mid May. This does not mean it can't rain at any moment. In Guanacaste, which is in a dry rainforest (yes it's an oxymoron), the chance of rain during the dry season is very small. This does not mean you cannot have an amazing beach wedding during the rainy season in Guanacaste or in Puntarenas. We've photographed them.
5. Don't Give Up!!! Patience is Priceless in Costa Rica
Things move at their own pace and in their own way in Costa Rica, and that includes wedding organizers, especially those who work for wedding destination resorts, regardless of how expensive the resort. We've had to intervene on a number of occasions over the years for clients whose wedding planner would not respond to emails or answer calls, only to find out they were on vacation or had been fired and the manager did not assign another employee, or take it upon himself, to tend to current an potential clients. It's nothing personal. That's life in Costa Rica, and it has nothing to do with you. Just be persistent. It will all work out.
6. Use Bug Repellent & Keep Door Closed
Catching a tropical disease or being bitten by an venomous insect or reptile in your room is not conducive to your dream beach wedding. Malaria, dengue, and yellow fever are transmitted by mosquitos and still contracted in Costa Rica. It's tropical, most of the country is covered in dense rainforest, and there's lots of water for mosquitos to reproduce.
The amount of mosquitos pales to that in Florida, so don't get the impression there's a scourge. It's just that it's possible to contract one of these rather unpleasant mosquito-borne diseases. It's just a small precaution to not ruin your big day. Just buy a can of bug spray from a local mini store. Resorts often have then in the lobby for guests leaving on an adventure.
There are all sorts of critters that live in Costa Rica. It's better to avoid some - venomous snakes, spiders, and scorpions, for example. Don't invite them into your room. Keep the door closed. Your'e unlikely to be bitten in your room by one of these creatures, but you never know. I've never encountered one, but Lindsay has.
That's it! Though they're just 6 of them, these tips can and will make your wedding day an amazing experience, from helping you choose the right resort for your sunset beach wedding to making sure you look great on your big day and in your wedding photos, as well as avoiding the sting of mosquitos.