A Costa Rican destination wedding – there’s something inherently romantic in the thought of it, isn’t there?
You have a wedding vision in mind. Chances are, it includes the melodies of crashing waves and harmonizing bird song. There’s soft sand and cerulean backdrops to your photos. And, most likely, your dream day includes the warm Costa Rican sun.
Aaaand, end scene.
Because, for reasons beyond your control, you cannot schedule your wedding during the high season – during those golden months that all the wedding advice seems to tell you are the “best months.” December, January, February, March… well, they don’t work for your schedule.
And now, you’re frantically googling Costa Rican destination weddings in the rainy season. How much does it really rain? Are we talking a few sprinkles or more like apocalyptic, monsoon-level downpours? Are any venues equipped for the rain? Does everything shut down? Mayday, mayday!
How realistic is your dream of a wedding during Costa Rica’s “rainy” season?
As it turns out, pretty realistic! So, take heart. We’ll help you navigate the path from here to destination wedding during rainy season. No ponchos required.
First Things First: What is Rainy Season Really Like?
Actually, before we get to the first thing first, let us be clear: Our expertise relates to Tamarindo, an oceanfront town on Costa Rica’s northwest coast. (Note: Weather can vary greatly by region.)
This is where we live, this is where we play, this is where we do business. And, yes, this is where we survive the rainy season. Year after year after year. So, let us skip right to the chase: It’s not that bad.
We’ll be more specific.
Wedding Weather in Costa Rica: April-November (aka Rainy Season)
Look at the map, and you’ll see that Costa Rica is a small country. Don’t be fooled: Small countries can bring big weather.
First, the basics: Costa Rica is just 9º north of equator, which means we get 12+ hours of sunshine, year-round. What’s more, the sun rises and sets at about the same time every day, year round: 5:45 a.m. up, 5:45-6:30 p.m., down. Temperatures are also relatively stable, with only a few degrees of variation throughout the year.
Sounds like steady, even-keeled weather, doesn’t it?
Enter: Rain. And, from April through November, you have very, very good chances of seeing some.
Why We (and You) Love Rainy Season Weddings
Green season is beautiful. There, we said it. The reality is, most people who live in Costa Rica have a strong preference for the rainy season. Why? It’s not so much because we love the rain – although, we do love a tropical rain shower – but that we love what the rain does for us.
Cloud-dotted blue skies. Brilliant rainbows. Scenery blanketed in green. (Hence, the name, green season.) And the most spectacular sunsets you’ve ever seen. Truly, it’s the definition of the calm after the storm: The sky is a brilliant kaleidoscope – Mother Nature’s wedding gift to you (and your photographer).
Beyond the beautiful weather, we’ll be blunt: Because it’s not the high season, the green season also afford superior negotiating power.
It’s more than your accommodations: Your venue, your catering, your flowers – these all either drop in price or minimum requirements. Here’s the deal: During high season, most venues build their fee structure based on lost revenues: what will they forfeit, by closing their doors for your private event?
But in the green season, expected revenues are lower, which means venue fees are lower. In fact, you’ll benefit from all-around lower prices and lower/fewer minimums. Plus, low- and mid-season offer a better value to your guests, too. And, who doesn’t hope for a bigger party?
Month-by-Month: What to Expect of Your Rainy Season Wedding Weather?
In general terms, there are actually two wedding seasons during the rainy season: mid-season and green season. Here’s how they shake out:
Mid-Season (Post-Easter through June; November to mid-December)
Mid-season is arguably our favorite season for a destination wedding in Tamarindo. Why, you ask? Why would we not choose the highs of the high season?
Because, mid-season means you’re likely to have spectacular weather: Mostly sunny, most of the time, with a sprinkling of showers to green up the scenery. In our opinion, it’s the perfect backdrop for your wedding photos, with blue skies, puffy clouds, and verdant scenery as brilliant contrast.
But, here’s the downside (because honesty is the best policy): Mid-season is mid-season for a reason: sunshine isn’t guaranteed. When you book a mid-season wedding, you’re assuming the risk that it might rain.
(Tip: The earlier into mid-season you book – say, April instead of June – the lower the risk of rain. Still, stay on the safe side and book a covered venue or backup tent.)
Green Season (August through October)
The true “green,” “low,” or “rainy” season offers huge negotiating power when it comes to a Costa Rican destination wedding. Or, let’s put it this way: There’s little competition for accommodations, venues, and other wedding services, so you not only have your pick of almost everything, but you’ll also be able to negotiate much better prices, too. This can be invaluable, especially if you’re on a tight countdown schedule.
Big bonus: There are no event fees to pay during the green season! Talk about a great deal.
But, again, the downside: The weather. That’s what this post is all about, right? And again, since we’re on an honesty roll, let’s dish some up: It’s called the green season for a reason: It’s going to rain. Usually, every day. And we’re not talking about a gentle drizzle, either; during the height of the rainy season, daily thunderstorms and torrential downpours can be de rigueur. Especially in September and October.
Here’s the upside: Rain can be quite romantic! There’s nothing cozier than relaxing in a hammock, a fruity drink by your side, during a tropical rainstorm. And, did you know? Rain on your wedding day is good luck!
So, be sure to book a wedding planner – an absolute must during the green season – and either book an indoor/covered venue or make provisions for rain, and then sit back and enjoy your fantastic savings (=more funds for your honeymoon!).
Now that you have the basics, let’s break it down a bit further:
Wedding Month: April
You know the old rhyme, April showers bring May flowers? Well, that’s only partially true in Costa Rica, where April is still mostly sunny. If you plan your wedding in April, plan on the occasional shower or an unseasonal thunderstorm, especially in La Niña years. (El Niño years are drier than usual, take note!) Consecutive daily rains would be uncommon (but not impossible) in April.
Wedding Month: May
May is considered a transitional weather month here, so if you book your Costa Rican destination wedding in May, prepare for fairly frequent rain. What do we mean by “frequent”? Well, depending on your location – for example, Tamarindo is much drier in May than, say, the Central Valley – you could experience anything from no rain for a week, to everyday rains. When thunderstorms do occur, they are impressive.
Wedding Month: June
By June, we are well into the rainy season: daily rain is common, if not guaranteed. Prepare for showers to last just an hour or two.
Wedding Month: July
Rainy season is in full swing, with daily showers, usually in the afternoon. (A morning wedding, anyone?) Thunderstorms are still common but are not as vehement as in May and June.
Wedding Month: August
Rainy season continues with daily showers, usually in the afternoon. Thunderstorms are still common but, at least in most of the country, are not as intense as in May and June.
Wedding Month: September
And, here we are: In September, the second-rainiest month of the year, especially during La Niña years. Now, when we say “second-rainiest,” what we’re saying is that it can rain for hours. All-day rain is not common but not unheard of, either. Still, a typical September day witnesses sunny mornings and all-afternoon rains. Guanacaste and Tamarindo have slightly better (= drier) weather.
Wedding Month: October
And finally, we arrive at the rainiest month of the year. In October, all-day rain is possible if not expected. Most days, you’ll have sunny mornings – and, when we say morning, we’re talking a strict noon cutoff – and, most likely, all-afternoon rains. Guanacaste and Tamarindo have slightly better (= drier) weather, but don’t bank on full days of sun.
Wedding Month: November
We’ve made it round the rainy bend. November is a transitional month when it comes to rain, and you’ll see a distinct decrease in daily rain quantity. Hence, our re-entry into the official wedding mid-season.
Special Considerations + Provisions for a Green Season Wedding
We’ll jump right into the fray with our top suggestion: Hire a wedding planner.
If you plan a green season wedding, you’re assuming a risk. It’s not a terrible risk – after all, rain does not mean you’ll call off your ceremony – but it is a risk to your wedding fantasies.
From April through November, you run the risk of your rehearsal dinner, your wedding ceremony, or your primary reception venue getting rained out.
That is, you run that risk if you don’t hire a wedding planner. On the flip side, an experienced wedding planner knows the best roofed party spots and, when there’s no roof, knows exactly where to go for the best rain-resistant event tents.
What’s more, remember how we mentioned your green season negotiating power ? Well, that power is even more commanding when you have a wedding planner by your side. A seasoned pro knows exactly where the best deals, the most reliable vendors, and other wedding services can be found during the low season: Who stays open? Which florist has the best rainy season blooms? And so much more.
And, of course, your wedding planner also knows that there are no event fees to pay during the green season.
Here are a few ways your wedding planner will help your rainy season wedding go exactly as planned (even if it’s plan B):
The backup plan: We’ve mentioned it a few times, and that’s because it’s important. The key to a successful ceremony and reception in the rainy season, is a great backup plan. Because, even if you plan your events for the morning, it could still rain.
The tent: The most important part of your backup plan is the event tent – a cozy, romantic setting and rain protection, to boot. Your wedding planner not only sources the best, most wind- and rain-resistant tents, but will decorate them in beautifully strung lights and lanterns, draped curtains, and other accouterments to make it all perfect.
And, the flexibility: Here’s the most important ingredient in your green season wedding. Given the unpredictability of the weather, you’ll need to be adaptable. More specifically, your wedding planner will. Because, it’s your wedding day and you’re in not even saying “I do” at home: Changes to the plan, last-minute scrambling – these are things you don’t want to deal with on your wedding day. A great planner will do it all and will never even let you know it has been done. It’s seamless.
Beyond googling until you can no longer see straight, what’s the next step to take?
To begin, you may want to peruse our Tamarindo wedding guide, which should provide both further inspiration and cold, hard facts – mostly, unrelated to the season. We’re talking about the venues and views to fuel your dreams, with the who, what, where, and when kind of details that will make those dreams come to life.
We’d also – and, we know, this is a blatant plug – have a look at some of our top choices for Tamarindo wedding venues, including seven of the country’s most spectacular vacation rentals that double as wedding venues. Bear in mind, many of these venues book up fast, especially if you’re getting married in high or even shoulder season. Booking 12-18 months in advance is not uncommon, so it’s a good idea to start this research early.
If you have any questions, know that we’re here to help – no strings attached. We’re happy to offer advice and link you to everything we know, and we can even hook you up with a few of our favorite Costa Rica wedding planners. Don’t be shy. This is your day and we’d be delighted to have even a small part in it!