Are you dreaming of a Tamarindo destination wedding? We are too. Always. Because Costa Rica is both a tropical paradise and a photogenic backdrop – the perfect choice for your jet-set “I dos.”
But, let’s sprinkle a dose of reality into the mix: A destination wedding requires serious planning and firm organizational hand. From long-distance decision-making to the possible language barrier, things can get a little complicated.
Advanced planning and reliable local experts are key. So is our comprehensive Tamarindo destination wedding checklist. Together, we’ll send you sailing off into the sunset. Literally, if you’d like!
Tamarindo Destination Wedding: 12-18+ Months Before
☐ Set Your Budget
When it comes to destination wedding planning, the earlier you can set a budget, the better. This is probably the hardest part of your wedding equation, as it depends on destination weddings can incur more expenses than their domestic counterparts: Not only do you have to consider your own airfare and accommodations, but you must also consider whether you will cover your wedding party’s accommodations, group activities, and other destination expenses.
Easy button! If you’re looking for some guidance on budgeting for a Tamarindo destination wedding, please get in touch. We’ve worked with brides and grooms for years, and we have connections with some of the best wedding vendors in Tamarindo and Costa Rica. We can offer tips, provide information, and point you in all the right directions for your budgeting needs.
☐ Draft the Guest List
A guest list is even harder for a destination wedding, given all the related costs you and your guests will assume. (Side note: It’s impossible to set a budget without drafting your guest list.) Not only should you create your guest list well in advance, but you also should send out Save the Dates at least 10 months in advance.
☐ Choose Your Locale
Provided you’ve already settled on a destination wedding in Tamarindo, you may think you have this checkbox under control. Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that: You need to lock in not only your destination, but also your ceremony and reception venues, as well as your guest accommodations and honeymoon locale. Especially if you’re getting married during high or midseason, venues and accommodations book up quickly, often a year or more in advance. Don’t miss out on your perfect Tamarindo wedding venue!
Tip: See our section below on When to Plan Your Tamarindo Destination Wedding, for more information (and the pros and cons) of each wedding season in Costa Rica.
☐ Hire Your Wedding Planner
Do not skip this step! Never is a wedding planner as essential as when you’re planning a destination wedding. An experienced, on-the-ground-when-you’re-not local who understands your vision, a wonderful wedding planner marks the difference between smooth wedding planning and a total planning nightmare. (Tip-within-a-tip: If you need help finding a local pro, get in touch for our top recommendations.)
☐ Make a Planning Visit
A wedding planner, even the best wedding planner in Costa Rica, does not [necessarily] your dream wedding make: If at all possible, plan an exploratory trip at least 12 months in advance of your wedding. Visit potential venues in person. Scope out honeymoon locales. Speak with local florists. Interview your top choices of wedding planner. One in-person visit can make a world of difference to your Tamarindo destination wedding – and your experience throughout it. Bonus: This is the perfect chance to take lovely engagement photos!
☐ Choose Your Wedding Party
As with your guests, your wedding party will have extra planning and responsibilities associated with your Tamarindo destination wedding. It is courteous to give them as much lead time as possible, so they can also budget. After all, your wedding doubles as their vacation in Costa Rica!
☐ Get Your Passports
Visitors from most countries do not need a travel visa to enter Costa Rica, but you will need a valid passport, preferably one 6+ months from expiry. You could do this step last minute, but why wait?
Tamarindo Destination Wedding: 9-12 Months Before
☐ Send Save-the-Dates
If you haven’t already, now is the time to send your Save-the-Dates to guests. Unlike with hometown weddings, it’s important to send Save-the-Dates early, to give your guests enough time to budget, request vacation time from work, and make travel arrangements.
☐ Work Out Travel Details with Your Bridal Party
Make sure they have their passports and any other required paperwork to travel. Another detail better not left to the last minute.
☐ Reserve Group Accommodations
If you haven’t already, reserve Tamarindo vacation rentals for your destination wedding guests. From cozy 2-bedrooms to luxury complexes that sleep 30+, we can help you choose the perfect spot to house your nearest and dearest.
☐ Create a Wedding Website
It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, your wedding planner can probably recommend an easy website solution – or you can google for your own. Either way, be sure to pull together a basic online hub that details your wedding venue, accommodations options, and other related information. You’re also welcome to link to any of the information contained within our Tamarindo wedding guide, including our complete Tamarindo wedding guest guide, as well as our general Tamarindo travel guide.
☐ Research Wedding-Adjacent Events
Whether you’re planning an unforgettable bachelor or bachelorette party, gathering together your nearest & dearest for some adrenaline-packing bonding, or simply hosting a rehearsal dinner before your ceremony, it’s time to making plans. (Especially if you’re traveling during high or midseason.) A good rule of thumb: Plan one excursion per day.
☐ Choose Your Dress
Oh yes, yes to the dress! Whether you’re going barefoot-chill or maxing out on chic luxury for your Tamarindo destination wedding, your dress shouldn’t wait any longer.
☐ Optional: Build Your Gift Registry
Bearing in mind how much your guests are spending to travel to Costa Rica, you may want to let your loved ones know that their presences is present enough. That said, many may still want to gift you something to commemorate your special day, so start thinking about what you’d like to add to your registry. (Fun tip: Have you ever considered registering for honeymoon experiences, not things?)
☐ Begin Choosing Vendors
Your wedding planner will spearhead this checkbox, but it’s around this time that you’ll start choosing your wedding vendors. If you can, try to plan a Skype “meeting” before you commit.
☐ Begin Researching Airfare
Typically, international airfare dips around the six-month mark but A) the market is ever-fluctuating; B) it doesn’t hurt to start researching early; and C) this is your wedding. There’s no shame is getting a jump on planning.
Tamarindo Destination Wedding: 6-9 Months Before
☐ Create Your Menu
Another important budget consideration? Your menu. Sure, you’ve already determined your range but now’s the time to hone in on the perfectly palatable details.
☐ Order Your Invitations
Destination wedding timetables are always a few months ahead of their hometown counterparts. Order your invitations at the long end of this range – around 9 months out – because you’ll be sending them about 6 months before the Big Day.
☐ Reserve Your Rehearsal Dinner Location
If you haven’t already, this is the time to book your rehearsal dinner locale. Note that, if you’re renting a luxury Tamarindo villa – for your wedding party, your ceremony, or your reception, for example – then you already have the perfect built-in locale. Just add a private chef! Tip: This is also a good time to reserve spots for your bachelor and bachelorette parties, if you’ll have them.
☐ Schedule Your First Dress Fitting
A good seamstress prefers several months’ lead time to begin fitting a dress. Don’t leave this to the last minute!
☐ Select Attendant Attire
Let your bridesmaids and groomsmen know what they’ll be wearing at the wedding.
☐ Take Engagement Photos
If you didn’t take your engagement photos during your planning trip, this is a perfect time.
☐ Lock in Your Vendors
From the officiant to the florist, your cake baker to your wedding photographer, by now you should have all your vendors reserved for your wedding day.
☐ Arrange Pre-Wedding and Wedding-Day Transportation
Whether you need private airport transportation or wedding-day chauffeur service, arrange for your transport needs in advance. Drivers book up quickly, especially during high and midseason.
☐ Review Contracts
Get everything in writing. Everything.
Tamarindo Destination Wedding: 3-6 Months Before
☐ Send Your Invitations
Finalize your guest list and get those invitations out! Yes, it’s earlier than the typical timetable but, when it comes to a destination wedding in Tamarindo, you need that extra lead time. Be sure to have a fool-proof system for recording RVSPs and meal choices.
☐ Reserve Informal Activities
Whether you’re treating your bridal party to a spa day or planning a Tamarindo day trip for your entire family, this is the time to finalize preferences and make those reservations.
☐ Purchase Wedding Accessories
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue – plus, your rings, your veil, your wedding footwear (heels or flip-flops?), and all the other accouterments that put the finishing touches on your special day.
☐ Finalize Honeymoon Plans
Even if you’re a pretty laid-back couple, your honeymoon is one trip that should be stress-free. Secure all the details well in advance – all of them – so you can focus all your energy on the remainder of your wedding planning.
Easy button! We’re happy to help you plan an unforgettable honeymoon – completely free of charge! Please get in touch.
Tamarindo Destination Wedding: 1-3 Months Before
☐ Collect Final RSVPs
For a Tamarindo destination wedding, expect to have all your RVSPs by 3 months out. Call any stragglers to confirm attendance.
☐ Send Out Your Schedule of Events
And not just your wedding day events, but all your group activities, rehearsal dinner, wedding-day brunch, spa options, and other destination activities, leading up to and after your wedding day.
☐ Finalize the Details
From your menus to your day-of hair and makeup appointments, every detail should be 100% solid by now.
☐ Schedule Dress Fittings
For both you and your bridesmaids.
Tamarindo Destination Wedding: 1-4 Weeks Before
☐ Write Your Vows
The day is nigh!
☐ Finalize Welcome Bags, Favors & Wedding Party Gifts
If you’re treating your guests to these extras, finalize all details – preferably, in country so you don’t have to pack anything in your suitcase – around a month before your flights. Don’t forget a wedding gift for your fiancé(e)!
☐ Write a Welcome Letter
We or your wedding planner will be happy to leave it in each of your guest rooms.
☐ Have Your Final Gown Fitting
You look beautiful! Be sure to also make arrangements to pick up your dress or have it delivered, several days before your flight.
☐ Check in on Last-Minute Arrangements
These include seating charts, table place cards, and ceremony programs.
☐ Confirm EVERYTHING
Double-check with your wedding planner to confirm all wedding-related reservations. Also confirm flights, airport transportation, villa bookings, and other trip details. Make sure nothing has fallen through the cracks.
☐ Begin Packing!
Create a packing checklist and start packing at least a week or two in advance, to ensure nothing is forgotten.
Congratulations! You’re ready to go. We hope your wedding day – and your entire wedding trip – are everything you’ve dreamed.
So, When is the Best Season for your Tamarindo Destination Wedding?
There are four distinct wedding seasons in Costa Rica – and each has its advantages (and disadvantages):
High Season (Christmas through Easter; July)
Upside: Costa Rica owes its high season to weather: from mid-December through March, it’s perfect! All-day, everyday sunshine, no rain, no clouds, and unbelievable nightly sunsets make for a perfect vacation – and ideal destination wedding weather.
Downside: Perfect weather comes at a price – literally. Costa Rica’s high season is the most expensive time of year. It’s also incredibly popular, so accommodations, venues, caterers, and other wedding providers book up early. Years early, sometimes.
If you’re planning a destination wedding during this season, book as early as possible and be prepared to pay top dollar; you won’t be able to negotiate a discount during high season.
Mid-Season (Post-Easter through June; November to mid-December)
Upside: Mid-season is our favorite time for a Tamarindo destination wedding. Why? Because you’re likely to have incredible weather – mostly sunny, with maybe a few showers to green up the scenery for perfect photos – while you enjoy the superior negotiating power of non-high season travel.
And, it’s not just your accommodations that come cheaper; your venue will, too. During high season, most wedding venues essentially charge you what they lose for reserving their space exclusively for your wedding. In high season, those lost revenues can be quite pricey. But in mid-season, they’re lower, which means you’ll benefit from all-around lower prices. What’s more, it’s easier to book private events, period. And for your guests, mid-season travel is a better value, too. And who doesn’t hope for a bigger party?
Downside: 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.) Stay on the safe side and book a covered venue or backup tent.
Green Season (August through October)
Upside: The “green” or low season offers huge negotiating power. Or, let’s put it this way: There’s little competition for accommodations, venues, and other wedding services, so you’ll not only have your pick of everything (even if you’re on a tight countdown schedule), but you’ll probably be able to negotiate incredible prices, to boot. And, did we mention? There are no event fees to pay during the green season! Talk about a great deal.
Downside: Weather. It’s called the green season for a reason: It rains. Usually, every day. And we’re not talking drizzle; during the height of the rainy season, you could see thunderstorms and downpours every day.
That said, rain can be quite romantic. (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!).