To avoid bureaucratic procedures, we recommend you make arrangements through the hotel or resort where you want your wedding and honeymoon to take place. Otherwise you'll have to make arrangements on your own, and it will definitely take longer. Remember to choose a place that best suits your interests.
Civil weddings are not complicated. You only need to have both passports at hand, and find a trustworthy and bilingual lawyer, which you can achieve by hiring the hotel's own. To proceed with the wedding, the lawyer will need the following information about the groom and the bride, in advance:
- Exact address: city, street, building, etc.
- Professional degrees or line of work.
- Parents's names.
Before the wedding takes place, you will have to make a sworn statement on your actual marital status, whether divorced, widow or single. The presence of two witnesses is required for the wedding to take place. If you have your own, make sure they bring their passports, too. You can also find people here in Costa Rica that will be willing to stand as witnesses, such as hotel employees or new friends.
In order to register the wedding back home, you will first have to register the marriage at the Civil Registry of Costa Rica. You will then need both a certificate from your embassy authenticating all signatures, and official translations on all documents. This procedure might take up to 2 months, but the same lawyer handling the wedding can do all this paper work for you, and mail it to your home address at your convenience.
A religious celebration could be more complicated, since most Catholic priests encourage couples to take a course on spiritual guidance before marriage. Also, according to a new regulation, weddings may not be held in the open air; they have to take place inside a sacred building such as a church or chapel. Bilingual priests are scarce, specially in the back country. Your best choice will be to arrange with the priest serving mass at the hotel on weekends. The town where you stay at will have its own church also, and you could arrange a wedding service with them.
All in all, tourists have had religious weddings here in Costa Rica, and instead of listening to the music from a piano, they heard a beautiful melody of waves, ocean and wind, and nature overwhelmed their improvised chapel on the beach. So, don't let the paper work and legal talk put you down. Make arrangements at the hotel of your choice, and follow your heart.