Popular Costa Rican Wedding Traditions You Need to Know

A bride and groom in their marriage incorporated with Costa Rican wedding traditions.
Costa Rican wedding traditions include Catholic Hispanic elements, music, food, and all-night celebrations.

Dreaming of that perfect Costa Rican Wedding?

You may be imagining a picturesque ceremony with an awe-inspiring bride walking down the aisle, the romantic exchange of vows, and the fantastic celebrations that ensue. But if you’re marrying a Tica bride, that won’t be complete without the well-loved Costa Rican wedding traditions.

Costa Rica is a Central American paradise known for its beautiful beaches, happy people, and diverse wildlife. Its culture, steeped in its native and Hispanic roots, brings a different taste to your usual nuptial customs.

Whether you are tying the knot with a local or wondering how to plan a destination wedding in Costa Rica, these are some of the important points you need to know.

Wedding Traditions in Costa Rica and Hispanic Countries

The propagation of Spanish culture through colonization has had a diverse and lasting influence on the nations they’ve occupied. We see that most evidently in the language and religiosity of the people in Hispanic countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and others in South and Central America.

Weddings, which are one of the most important social customs, are replete with such distinct traditions handed down by the first Spanish settlers to the natives of these nations. Although each country has a special way of integrating these customs, there are nevertheless common features shared across the board.

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If you are thinking of how to get married in Costa Rica, learning about its Hispanic background will give you an introduction to its rich and unique customs. Along with dancing, music, food, Catholic rituals, and big family attendance, here are other highlights of a Hispanic wedding:

1. The Godparents (los Padrinos y las Madrinas)

The Godparents are a couple, usually older, that the bride and groom choose to be their mentors and guide. They help them with the wedding needs and preparations but more importantly with navigating married life later on. Their love and fidelity serve as an inspiration for the newlyweds, who would turn to them for advice and assistance.

Since the godparents’ roles already include what commonly is given to bridesmaids and groomsmen, the couple may opt to do away with the latter. However, with recent traditions, some couples still decide to include them in addition to their godparents, adjusting their roles.

A woman getting married in Costa Rica wearing a black dress.
Brides wearing a black dress is one of the traditions when getting married in Costa Rica.

2. Black Dress

White dresses are the most popular bridal outfit nowadays. It can be shocking to know that traditionally, Hispanic brides wore a black dress to say “I do.” Black symbolizes death, but not in a mournful way as we do during funerals. On the contrary, it is a bold gesture of love as the color affirms the couple’s faithfulness to their vows, “til death do them part.”

This is also the traditional Costa Rican wedding dress following the custom in Spain, where it started. However, in modern times the white dress has gained more popularity and is now more common in Hispanic weddings.

3. Marriage Coins (Las Arras)

A distinct part of the church wedding ceremony, the groom gives the bride Las Arras or the Marriage Coins, one of the oldest wedding traditions originating from Spain. Consisting of 13 silver or gold coins, this gift to his wife professes the husband’s dedication to serve and materially provide for her and their family. It also emphasizes the central role of God and the Church in their marriage as the number represents Jesus and the 12 apostles.

4. Money Dance

One of the fun features of a Hispanic Wedding is a dance with a twist. During the reception after the marriage ceremony, the couple takes the floor for their first dance. Family and friends then come to pin paper bills on the couple’s dress and suit while they sway and groove. The amount collected would be used to cover some wedding or honeymoon expenses.

A woman looking at a man who is looking at a phone. A woman looking at a man who is looking at a phone.

Costa Rican Wedding Expectations

While all these Hispanic features are present in the wedding traditions in Costa Rica, there are special customs you would only find locally.

1. Serenata or Serenade

Getting married in Costa Rica means music and romance even before the big day. A few days before tying the knot, the groom comes to the bride’s house to serenade her with love songs. He usually brings his friends or groomsmen to sing with him or support him. The bride with her friends listens from the house, swooning over this dreamy gesture.

If you are hesitant with your vocal cords and musical skills, worry not, because you can also opt to hire a mariachi band or guitarist to do it for you. This doesn’t make it any less romantic. Your lady will appreciate it just the same because it’s the effort that counts.

2. Big Servings

During the reception, the married couple likes to show their appreciation to their guests, especially through food. If you’re given a whole pile on your plate, don’t be surprised because it must be one of the Costa Rican love languages. The generous portion traditionally shows their respect and honor towards the person they are serving. It is also common to see the newlyweds themselves serve food to their guests.

A Nativity scene gift, part of wedding traditions in Costa Rica.
Presenting the couple with a Christmas Nativity Scene gift is one of the wedding traditions in Costa Rica.

3. Gifting a Portal or a Christmas Nativity Scene

Gifts are important ways to shower the couple with love and blessings on their big day. When you get married in Costa Rica, you’re sure to receive one specific present. Friends and family often offer the couple a “portal,” which is a Christmas Nativity Scene as a wedding gift for them to put up year after year in their home.

This gesture hopes for and anticipates a long union characterized by joyful celebrations such as Christmas. Other decorative items may also be given to the couple with the same thought of marking each year that passes with joy and togetherness.

4. All Night Parties

It is expected that marriage in Costa Rica means having a reception that will not end before your bedtime. Be ready to party all night long and even until dawn with abundant food, music, and alcohol. Some of the party essentials include casados, a special wedding dish that means “married.” It combines their favorite foods like black beans, rice, sweet plantains, stewed meat, and salad.

Hispanic wedding invitations will also give you non-stop music and dancing and a continuous flow of drinks to go with it. The couple usually hires a mariachi band, cimarronas (live musicians forming a band), or a DJ to liven up the night.

These Costa Rican wedding traditions will surely make your big day remarkable, especially so when you are marrying a local. Knowing her heritage and incorporating it into your special day will be a great way to start your lifelong partnership. On top of that, you won’t have any regrets because nothing beats celebrating the Costa Rican way.

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