Richard May Photography


Ring Exchange

Marriage Customs in Costa Rica

As a wedding photographer it is one my challenges to stay on my toes and be ready for anything that can happen. As a result I have been privvy to many of Costa Rica’s different marriage customs.

Marriage customs in Costa Rica are based on Roman Cathoic tradions from around the world. The bride wears and elegant white gown and the groom dresses in accordingly proper attire, vows are made and rings are exchanged. However a few additional rituals will often be found in a Costa Rican wedding.


An interesting feature of Costa Rica are its painted oxcarts. These tradional carts are often found in the central area of the country and are still used by many small agriculturalists.

A rosary is placed on the couple and said to represent the “soft yoke of love”. In the same way that two oxen must pull together for the cart to move the couple are must work together if their marriage is to succeed. If the oxen pull in different directions or one does not pull at the same pase then the cart will not move.


This tradition reflects the contractual nature of a marriage and symbolises the material goods a couple will share. Traditionally the grooms hands these coins to his bride speaking “These coins represent the material wealth we shall own and share” the bride takes the coins saying “I receive these coins and will care for our phisical well being”.

Thus the agreement is made and reinforced that the husband is the principal porvider of the family and the wife is the care taker. In fact, the standard matrimonial agreement in Costa Rica is that the husband must bear the prinicipal financial burden unless his wife has an equivalent or greater income.

The Reception

Tequila Table
One of Costa Rica’s interesting features is that it acts as bridge between North America and South America. As a result we tend to mix and match marriage customs from North and South.

Receptions will typically have a Mexican tequila table followed by or, along with, a Brazilian style carnaval troupe.

Tequila Table

The tequila table is just that. A waiter dressed in a ’sombrero’ and a ‘poncho’ will roll out a table full of shot glasses and tequila. This is where most guests end up getting hammered.

Carnaval Troupe

But Carnaval dance troup will usually get most people dancing with high energy and help burn off some of the fuel.

Carnaval Dance Troupe