U.S. football star Tom Brady and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen got married in Costa Rica, and they weren’t the first foreigners to do so. With companies that plan everything from the arrival to the honeymoon, the breathtaking aesthetics and the deflated prices, tying the knot in Costa Rica is all the rage.
While Brady and Bündchen chose to wed on northwestern Costa Rica’s NicoyaPeninsula, the Central Pacific region, one of the most popular wedding destinations in the country, offers some beautiful venues and great deals.
The most popular locations for weddings along the central Pacific coast are Los Sueños Marriott Ocean and Golf Resort in Playa Herradura (www.marriott.com, 2630-9000) and Villa Caletas (www.hotelvillacaletas.com, 2257-3653), north of Jacó, which both offer beautiful, green expanses set next to tropical beaches, said Randy Gritz, a wedding planner with Weddings Costa Rica (www.weddingscostarica.net, 2203-7576). The first-class accommodations and beautifully adorned sites for the ceremonies make these spots perfect for a couple’s nuptials.
“It’s a one-of-a-kind location,” Gritz said of Villa Caletas. “There’s nothing like it in Costa Rica. … The food is good, the service, the view. They have a place there called ZephyrPalace, which is very upscale and very nice.”
Normally, people coming to Costa Rica are looking for a beach-themed wedding, and Weddings Costa Rica tries to make each one different and special for its clients, even providing for the groom to arrive on the beach on horseback, Gritz said.
Another big wedding destination is Manuel Antonio, between the national park of the same name and the port town of Quepos. Costa Verde Hotel (www.costaverde.com, 2777-0584) is an expansive compound, with the buildings and furniture encrusted in golden-hued wood.
At the highest point of the property sits a large venue with a view over the bay and its three islands, where an altar arch placed against the horizon creates a stunning spot to exchange vows.
The economic crisis hasn’t affected anything more than the number of guests, Gritz said. With the astronomical costs of bridal bashes in the United States, the prices offered in Costa Rica come as a welcome relief to any couple working with a budget.
The weddings here are “usually less expensive than having a wedding in the States,” she said, adding that a $400 bouquet in the United States could come in about $80 in Costa Rica, “and that’s just for flowers. You can get a lot more for your money here.”
The number of guests usually diminishes when invitees must travel to another country, so someone who wants a large blowout is going to have trouble convincing everyone to buy the tickets to attend. Then again, smaller ceremonies are usually the most intimate, with only close family and friends.
Weddings Costa Rica takes care of everything so the bride and groom don’t have to worry, Gritz said. From the music to the food to the venue, the agency talks with couples to get an idea of what they’re looking for and works with them to make it happen in line with the couple’s wishes.
The agency even sets clients up with another company that arranges honeymoons. Latitudes – The Adventure Company (www.latitudesadventure.com, 2203-7576) usually organizes travel and hotels for everyone involved with the wedding, said tour manager Susan Schuetze.
The company sets up an Internet page with a number of options for each wedding, where everyone can check out which tours they would like to get involved with and what activities they’ll be able to attend.
Latitudes also organizes fishing expeditions for the groom and his wedding party the day before the ceremony – replacing the traditional round of golf – and days at the spa for the bride and her attendants.
One popular place for couples on their honeymoon is Corcovado Adventures Tent Camp (www.corcovado.com, 8384-1679), a beautiful luxury camping area near Drake Bay, on southwestern Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula.
Another recent trend has been a few days of relaxation or adventure travel combined with days of volunteering, Schuetze said.
“I hope in the future it’s going to become a trend,” she said. “What better way to start a life together than to give back together?”
But most couples are looking for excitement and stimulation during their honeymoons, and often lean toward adventure activities in any number of Costa Rica’s naturally stunning regions.