Getting Married

Getting married in Costa Rica can be a gorgeous experience in a picturesque setting and for just a fraction of the price you would pay in North America. We gave a wedding for 100 people including EVERYTHING food, even the rings, dress, tux, cake, you name it we only paid about $3,000 and it was quite lovely. Of course with alcohol the price could raise that cost significantly. You don't have to pay for decorations if you pick a naturally beautiful place which saves you a lot.

Plus, there are hundreds of places you can immediately jet to for a honeymoon here in Costa Rica or surrounding areas that are totally romantic. I will not recommend any specific event planning or wedding companies, because even the best companies are not good enough for the worst bridezillas and everyone has very different wants and needs for their special day. My best advice is just to keep things as simple as humanly possible so you can simply focus on your partner and enjoy your guests.

Depending on who is getting married to who the process will vary slightly. Here is the process in general for a civil marriage:

  • You will need a valid id which can be your cedula (Costa Rican identification card) or passport with a stamp permiting you to be in the country.
  • If you will be applying for residency you will need to bring your birth certificate, among other official documents (see instructions in residency section).
  • A sworn statement notarized in Costa Rica that you are not currently married in any other country. If you are marrying a Costa Rican you need a report stating that the Costa Rican citizen is not married from the Civil Registry. If you have been married before you will need to present divorce papers or a death certificate of your previous spouse.
  • You will need to give your lawyer the following information at least 7 days in advance of the wedding so that he/she may prepare the data in their protocol book for the date: full names, parents names& nationalities, birth place, nationality, identification number, profession, and address. You can also provide a phone number and email address.
  • You will also need to provide two witnesses and all of their information. Technically, the witnesses are not allowed to be family, they should be third party witnesses like friends.

Then on your wedding day you, your new spouse, and your two witnesses will sign this book. The lawyer/notary will then register this information at the Civil Registry which takes about 3 months to process before the official marriage certificate is ready.

If you are in a hurry, a rush option is available for an additional fee. In this case, the certificate is ready in about 10-12 business days. To have your marriage recognized in your home country you need to have the certificate:

  • Translated into English by an Official Translator accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Relations
  • Authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Relations.
  • Notarized by a Notary.
  • Certified and signed by your embassy's Consular Section.

You can have the certificate mailed via Fed Exed to you after the above process. Once the certificate is received, it must be registered in the city of residence of the couple at the local City Hall.

Costa Rican marriages are recognized all over the world. However, please note that gay marriages are currently not permitted or recognized in Costa Rica, mainly due to Costa Rican's devotion to the Catholic religion which prohibits these types of unions.


If you get married in the church the process is very different. Honestly, if you do not have your heart set on this type of marriage and are not very religious this option should be out of the question because it is rather complex. You will need to provide the same information as above. However, you will also need to:

  • Take premarital classes which take about 8 weeks if you are lucky with your soon to be spouse.
  • Take a final exam in your class. I will tell you  that if the priest ask you who is the boss of your household, neither better answer one or the other. The correct response is both of you or God.
  • You will need to reserve the church at least 6 months in advance. For more popular churches like the one in Cartago the waitlist is sometimes over a year.
  • The couple must present certifications of any of the seven sacraments they have completed and prove their faith by demonstrating things from their first holy communion and confirmation.
  • Then your selected witnesses will need to go in for an interview with the priest who will be preforming the ceremony and they ask TOUGH questions. Basically, if you are willing to swear on your life that the couple in question will NEVER get divorced. Plus they try and verify information to make sure it is not a pressured or false marriage.
  • Then the couple has to do this same interview and give correct responses. The interrogations can last up to an hour.






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