Here’s a question we run across a lot – what are the requirements to legally marry in Costa Rica? There is a lot of misinformation swirling out there on the internet so here is the scoop…
What paperwork is required? Any wedding outside of a Catholic Church here in Costa Rica must have a lawyer present and file the paperwork to the Civil Registry. If you are working with a lawyer who specializes in weddings, the process will be very straightforward and easy.
The lawyer sends you a simple questionnaire a month before the wedding, asking you questions such as your parents’ names, your date of birth, profession and address. If you’ve been divorced, you’ll be asked for the date and court that gave the decree. If you’re widowed, you’ll need to provide the date of their passing. This is then sent back with scans of your passport (the pages with your info and photo). They need a clean copy (so no faxes, only scans). Two witnesses are also required (these cannot be family members) and they’re names and passport numbers will be required. The lawyer prepares all the paperwork and will have you sign an affidavit in which you legally swear you are free to marry.This affidavit precludes you having to get a civil status certificate certified by the Costa Rican embassy in your home country (major hassle – I speak from experience!).
You may see on some websites that women divorced less than 300 days from the new wedding date must have a pregnancy test. This archaic law was tossed out two years ago (finally!).
That’s it! The lawyer will prepare the documents using the information you’ve sent and all you’ll need to do is sign the papers at the wedding ceremony.
Is the marriage legal in other countries? Yes. After the lawyer registers the marriage in the Civil Registry here (which can take up to 90 days), they will have it translated and authenticated by your country’s embassy here in Costa Rica. Then, it’s mailed to your home and you take the paperwork to your local Vital Statistics office (or equivalent) to have your marriage abroad registered in your country. But from the moment you sign the paperwork in Costa Rica, you are legally married.
Does a lawyer have to perform the ceremony? No. As Costa Rica is a Catholic country, any marriage outside of a Church must have a lawyer present and fill out all the paperwork (if you are married in the Church, the priest can do the paperwork). You can have a pastor, a Rabbi, a family friend perform the ceremony, as long as the lawyer is present and witnesses it. The wedding lawyers have a variety of wedding ceremonies to choose from and most will work with you to personalize it. Any lawyer can perform a wedding but our experiences over the years have left us willing to work with only three lawyers for weddings so be choosy about whom will be handling your paperwork.
Are there any blood tests reqired? No.
Is there a waiting period? Unlike other countries, there is no requirement to be on Costa Rican soil XX number of days before you can marry. You can literally walk off the plane and marry if you wanted (although the airport is not the most romantic locale).
Can I marry in the Catholic Church? Yes but it’s a huge hassle. The reality is that the Church here does not want to marry non-parishoners. They do not understand why couples would want to marry in Costa Rica rather than their home parish. In short, they are not interested in destination weddings. And they will not conduct a ceremony outside of a Church (so no beach weddings). We at Weddings Costa Rica will not work with the Church on trying to plan a Catholic wedding but we are able to offer a blessing from a Catholic priest at the ceremony but he will not be able to perform an actual wedding mass.
So there you have it in a nutshell, folks. Getting legally married in Costa Rica is a straightforward process and one that you can personalize to make it all you want.
Photo by Lifetime Digital
Archives for June 2010
Continuing with Lindsay & AJ’s beautiful wedding at Villa Caletas, we’re moving on to the reception at the stunning Zephyr Palace. Although we were spared rain during the day, at the end of sunset, a sprinkling gave a sheen to the pool terrace, with this beautiful photo result (note – always be prepared for rain May – early December!).
This is the entrance to the Palace – can you say amazing?! Each of those imposing terracotta urns and columns were custom made by artisans.
As guests entered the Champagne Salon at the Palace, they were greeted by seating cards on ribbons, decorated with loose orchids buds. After finding their names, they looked for their table, named after a term of endearment in Spanish.
Guest book table featured long-stemmed calas in large vases. Simple yet stunning.
Tables featured a mahogany charger, teal napkin, sliver of thin bamboo and an orange mokara orchid.
In the Sala Manger, we set up an acrylic bar lit from inside with a canopy of white fabric, crystals, calas, orchids and hydrangeas. A funky little lounge to get away and enjoy some couple time.
Table arrangements featured calas and orchids in blue water.
The cake was adorned with the couple’s initials and live orange roses.
And here’s how everything came together. The dance floor had a canopy with three ‘chandelieres’ made out of hydrangeas, calas and crystals.
And I love this shot of Lindsay walking up the terrace steps, flanked by tons of votive candles!
Thanks again to the uber-talented Mark Pennington of Mark Brian Photography for his fabulous shots!
This may be an oldie (almost two years ago) but it’s still a goodie so I thought I’d post all the delicious details from this wedding onto the blog. Lindsey and AJ were married at Villa Caletas in July, requiring a good rain backup plan to ensure their 70 guests didn’t get wet so we held the ceremony at the Mirador Terrace on the property. White chairs with arrangements of white calas, white hydrangeas and mano de tigre leaves added a nice pop of color while two huge wooden pedestals held long stems of skinny bamboo and white dendrobium orchid stems for a dramatic, elegant altar area.
Fans handwoven by an indigenous women’s cooperative in the mountain village of Puriscal helped guests keep their cool
Colour scheme was white, teal, aqua and orange as an accent colour. A lovely white cala bouquet with orange ribboning contrasts beautifully against the aqua of the bridesmaid’s dress.
Without a doubt, this is the favourite bouquet photo on our site with brides! A classic clutch of orange roses, with just a touch of blue ribboning. Gorgeous!
Villa Caletas has so many amazing little nooks and crannies to steal away to and this shot of AJ and Lindsey canoodling against a rock wall is hyper-romantic!
Stay tuned for shots of the amazing reception! Huge thanks to Mark Pennington for his stunning photography!
Just an update on the closing of the Cala Luna – it’s still closed and unlikely that it will ever open again. So sad as it was a wonderfully unique hotel. Cross that one off the list, folks, as it’s gone gone gone 🙁