LivingTravelA guide to the traditions and customs of the...

A guide to the traditions and customs of the Costa Rican wedding

Destination weddings in Costa Rica (especially on the beaches of Costa Rica) are tropical fantasies by definition. All that is required are bare feet or sandals, long dresses, and of course, tropical flower bracelets. Destination weddings in Costa Rica reach their exotic potential when the cultures themselves marry, both their culture and that of Costa Rica.

Wedding traditions

Wedding traditions in Costa Rica are similar in many ways to those in the United States: friends and family gather to witness vows, most often in a church. The bride generally wears white and the groom a tuxedo. The bride throws her bouquet of flowers at the single guests, and the groom shoots his garter at the single men. They throw rice on their heads when they leave the church for good luck.

But Costa Rica has traditions that are unique to its culture. Here’s a sweet one: A few days before the wedding, the groom, his friends, and a band show up at the bride’s house for a love song serenade for her. He often brings her roses too. At the reception, there is dancing, as in the United States. But in Costa Rica, they traditionally have what is called Money Dance. The guests invest money in their clothes as a kind of payment to dance with the bride or groom, and the money is collected as a savings egg to start the new couple in their new life together or pay for a honeymoon.

This is similar to the tradition at Italian weddings where the bride carries a bag called “la borsa” to the reception and the guests place envelopes filled with money in the bag. Americans of Italian heritage often follow this tradition as well.

The reception

Food is plentiful at Costa Rican weddings. “Casados” – literally, “marriages” – are common dishes on Costa Rican wedding tables. The casados ​​feature meat, salad, bananas and the ubiquitous Gallo Pinto. Many Costa Rican couples choose seafood barbecues for their celebratory meal after a beach wedding. If you’re tying a knot at an inclusive resort, a wedding dinner is often part of the package. Package options differ, but it’s typical to order a resort-specific menu for hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and dinners.

In that case, you will have the option of gourmet specialties and first-rate alcoholic beverages with a Costa Rican touch.

Live music and dancing are a must at weddings in Costa Rica among the locals. What a great tradition to follow. There could be groups of guitarists, an entire dance band, or a DJ, or a mix of these as the party goes late into the night and the dancing really gets (rocking) sometimes until dawn. If you think your guest list won’t be good, plan a celebratory wedding breakfast.

The music ranges from traditional Latin music to the top 40 picks, new or old. If you are getting married on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, you can choose a reggae band or a group specializing in island-themed tunes.

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