Planning a Vow Renewal in Costa Rica
Planning a destination vow renewal in Costa Rica can be as extravagant or as simple as you like! This process can feel a lot like planning a wedding (but luckily a vow renewal is usually a bit more budget-friendly, depending on how many guests you’re inviting).
Here are some things to consider:
Location, Location, Location
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already chosen Costa Rica for your destination vow renewal. Great choice! Now let’s get more specific. Will this take place in Guanacaste, or Puntarenas? In Tamarindo, Langosta, Flamingo or Hacienda Pinilla? Will this be at a house, rental or hotel with a view? Or right on the beach? I’ve photographed vow renewals in locations ranging from enormous luxury homes to beachside cliffs to super basic backyards. There are so many great options -- you really can’t go wrong.
Choose your date. If you can, try to pick a date that will be convenient for your guests. Remember, planning a destination vow renewal means coordinating vacations. Is it easier for friends and family with kids to take off during the summer, when the kids are out of school? Or maybe around a holiday? Or during green season, when flights and hotel prices tend to be lower?
Sunset is almost always the best time of day for a vow renewal in Costa Rica. This is when the light gets soft and golden, the temperature drops several degrees, and the sky can light up with magnificent colors. But if you’re coming during green season (particularly in in Sept/Oct – the peak of rainy season) you might want to schedule the vow renewal for early morning, just in case. Or be prepared to have your vow renewal with umbrellas (which can actually be quite romantic!)
Set a (Realistic) Budget
Do some homework about basic costs, and set your budget accordingly. While Costa Rica is less expensive than many North American destinations, it’s certainly not cheap -- it’s among the most expensive of all of the Central American countries. It is possible to plan a Costa Rica vow renewal on a budget, if you keep it simple and aren't inviting too many guests.
How many people will you invite? Will this be elopement-style, with just the two of you? Or will you have 10, 20, 50 or 100 people in attendance? How will everyone get from their hotel to the vow renewal? Will everyone be seated, or do you need to rent chairs? Will they be close enough to hear you on the windy beach, or do you need to rent a speaker?
This brings us to the next item on the list: rentals. Would you like to rent an arch, or benches for your guests to sit on during the ceremony? How about tables/chairs/settings for the reception? I’m happy to recommend my favorite rental companies.
Vow renewals are purely ceremonial. Having an officiant is a matter of personal taste. If you have the budget, it can be quite nice to add to the formality of the event with a professional to administer the ceremony. Or it can be intimate to read each other your vows without any outside help. It’s completely up to you. I work with several amazing officiants, so if you need a recommendation feel free to email me.
Writing your vows for your destination vow renewal is extremely personal. If you’re having guests, make sure you write something you feel comfortable reading in front of friends and family. If it’s just the two of you, say whatever you want! As your photographer, I won’t be able to hear what you’re saying. Here is a great resource on writing your own vows. And if you prefer not to write your own vows, don’t! There are plenty of examples you could borrow or tweak from the internet.
You’ll definitely want to shop for your dress at home. Don’t leave it to chance when you get here. Store options are limited, and there are no guarantees you’ll find what you want in your size. Wear something cool. If the groom sweats a lot, he can wear a white cotton undershirt under his dress shirt to wick away the sweat so it doesn't bleed through.
I work with several hair and makeup artists who can take care of this for you. Or, if you're capable, you can do it yourself and save some money! I bring blotter sheets in case you find yourself a hot mess the day of -- they absorb the sweat without taking off your makeup.
Will you have a bouquet of flowers, a flower crown, or boutonnieres? Will there be flowers at the reception? There aren't that many flower shops around, so it's important to order flowers in advance.
Will you have a reception with a catered meal and/or cake? If the vow renewal is small, you can probably just go out to eat afterward at a restaurant and call it a day. If you’re having a larger vow renewal, you’ll need to figure out how to feed everyone. Do you want to hold this at a restaurant like Pangas Beach Club, or should you hire someone for private catering?
Will you have live music, or a DJ? There are some really great options for both in the Tamarindo/Guanacaste area. If you're on a budget and your vow renewal is on the smaller side, you can also bring a speaker and make a playlist.
It helps to have a support person on the ground when planning a destination vow renewal. I'm happy to recommend my favorite vendors, but I am not a planner. if you’re having a large vow renewal it’s well worth it to hire an event planner to make sure everything goes smoothly, and everyone is in the right place at the right time. Email me if you need some ideas. I work with several lovely wedding planners, and can recommend someone depending on your needs. On a larger scale, it really doesn’t cost that much more than doing it yourself, and takes a lot of stress off.