Want to plan a gorgeous destination wedding in the Caribbean? Puerto Rico has our hearts! We are breaking down the ins and outs of planning a destination wedding in Puerto Rico. From the legal requirements to travel tips and even some of our favorite venues! All the details are in the blog below.
Why Plan a Destination Wedding in Puerto Rico?
Planning a wedding in the Caribbean is such a dream for so many couples. But Puerto Rico has to be one of our favorite island destinations for an unforgettable wedding experience! With its breathtaking scenery, tropical climate, and it’s unshakeable vibrant spirit, Puerto Rico is an amazing place to say I do. Can you imagine marrying the love of your life while taking in the views of the Caribbean, or the Atlantic?
The unshakeable inviting vibrancy of Puerto Rico is not only seen in the spirit of its people, but it translates to their dining experience as well! Puerto Rico has some of the most amazing flavors that you will ever experience or indulge in! Some must-try dishes to add to your list while you’re visiting Puerto Rico are mofongo, tostones, pasteles, arroz con gandules, tembleque, and of course, coquito!
Passport Requirements for Traveling to Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico also makes an amazing destination wedding location for couples and guests traveling from the US. Because Puerto Rico is a US territory, no passport is required to visit this tropical paradise! Clearing one obstacle out of the way of your guests to make traveling to your wedding easy and uncomplicated.
However, it is important to note that as of May 2023, the Real ID Act will be in effect. So if you are traveling in from the US, it’ll be important to know in advance if your state is compliant with this law. Otherwise, depending on the state you and your guests are traveling from, you may need a valid passport for reentry.
For you or any guests visiting Puerto Rico from outside the US, the same visa and passport requirements would apply as if visiting the mainland in the US.
Typically, planning a dreamy destination wedding in a tropical oasis comes with the knowledge that you have to book an amazing resort in order to gain prime access to the beach. However, in Puerto Rico, there is no such thing as a private beach! Each and every beach is public. That may seem like a downer and you might be wondering if you’ll be fruitlessly trying to find the best beach with the least amount of people. All in an effort to enjoy so much-needed tranquil time by the water. But, take heart! Puerto Rico is an island where there are more beaches than people. So it’ll be pretty easy to find a gorgeous beach without many beachgoers!
Getting Married on The Beach in Puerto Rico
You might be wondering if you could use one of these gorgeous public beaches as the location of your wedding ceremony. There are plenty of all-inclusive resort wedding venues and private wedding venues to choose from in Puerto Rico. But, if you wanted to, you absolutely can get married on the public beach! The cost to get married on a public beach in Puerto Rico will include a required permit. As well as any setup needed for your ceremony like chairs, a wedding arbor, decor, and the cost of your wedding planner or coordinator.
Legal Requirements for Getting Married in Puerto Rico
Unlike many other Caribbean nations, Puerto Rico is one of the very few countries that legally performs same-sex weddings. Additional legal requirements for getting married in Puerto Rico are as follows!
To be legally married in Puerto Rico you don’t need to be an American citizen or even a local resident.
You and your partner must present a valid government-issued ID, such as a passport or state-issued driver’s license. Your ID must be current and cannot be expired or in poor condition.
In addition to your ID, you and your partner must each present your birth certificate. If you do not have your original birth certificate, you can provide a high-quality photo-copied version.
A Sworn Affidavit
You and your partner will also need to provide a sworn statement or affidavit that states that you are not residents of Puerto Rico and that the sole purpose of your visit is to get married. The affidavit will also need to state that you plan to return to your home country shortly after the wedding. If you are a non-US citizen, your affidavit will also need to state that you will not stay in Puerto Rico longer than the listed allowable time. If your sworn statement or affidavit is drafted in the US, it must be signed and notarized. Additionally, it must be authenticated by the state County Clerk or the secretary of state.
A marriage license is required for your ceremony in Puerto Rico and must be requested in writing. Both you and your partner must appear in person at the time of applying for the marriage license.
A blood test must be performed by a federally certified lab and is a non-negotiable when applying for your marriage license in Puerto Rico. This blood test must be performed at least 14 days prior to your wedding. Once the results of the lab have been obtained, a Puerto Rican doctor will review the results and sign your marriage license.
You will be required to get your marriage license authenticated by the Demographic Registry. This will include a $30 fee for the authentication. From there, you will be ready to say I do in Puerto Rico!
Pro Tips For Planning a Destination Wedding in Puerto Rico
Ok, now that we have all of the formalities and legalities of planning a destination wedding in Puerto Rico out of the way, let’s skip to the good part! We want to provide you with the best tips available. Ones that will make your destination wedding in Puerto Rico an experience you will never forget. But above all, we also want to help you minimize the inevitable stress level that comes along with planning a wedding!
Hire Local Wedding Professionals
A quick Google search will provide you with an endless stream of available wedding pros who are dying to jet off to Puerto Rico and help you plan or capture the wedding of your dreams. But, we say when planning a destination wedding, hire local wedding pros! Or, at least wedding pros who frequently work in the location where you’ll be getting married. Local wedding professionals will have the best network of connections with each other. Additionally, they’ll also have the most knowledge about the island!
Avoid Hurricane Season When Planning a Destination Wedding in Puerto Rico
One big factor in planning a tropical destination wedding in a location like Puerto Rico is hurricane season! Nobody wants to be stranded, or have their wedding day rained out because they weren’t familiar with the climate.
If you want to avoid Puerto Rico’s hurricane season altogether, then a summer wedding will be off the table! You’ll find some of the best weather in Puerto Rico from October to December. Temperatures will be in the mid-70s with little to no humidity. However, if you were hoping to spend most of your free time by the beach or poolside, you’ll want to plan for April, which is when the temps hit the 80s. But, be prepared for humidity on the day of your wedding which can affect hair and makeup!
Introduce & Communicate With Your Guests
There are so many moving parts when it comes to a destination wedding, and your guest’s experience is just as important as your experience. They’ll more than likely be taking time off from work and their weekly schedules in order to celebrate you on their wedding day. And if they’re traveling to be there with you, there will be questions, lots of them!
One way to keep everything organized and streamlined between you and your guests is to introduce them to each other through your Guestie event! That way, they won’t arrive at a new place to celebrate with a group of strangers. They’ll be on an extended vacation with a group of new friends that just so happens to include a wedding!
Once your guests are all introduced through your Guestie event, you’ll be able to easily communicate with them any important details, reminders, or changes about your day. We love utilizing the message board of your Guestie event along with the text reminders to make your guests feel like VIPs!
Here Are A Few More Of Our Favorite Tips For Planning A Destination Wedding In Puerto Rico!
- Carry your wedding day attire with you on the plane in a garment bag. Plan in advance to have it steamed or pressed upon your arrival at a location near your venue.
- Try to arrive *at least* two days early. This will allow you time to meet with your vendors in person to finalize any necessary details. You’ll also have time to commit to spending time with your guests at your welcome party & rehearsal dinner!
- Celebrate the local culture! If you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, try to get out and enjoy all that the area has to offer! After all, how many times in your life will you be in Puerto Rico getting married?
5 Wedding Venues In Puerto Rico That We Love
You have our top tips, the legal requirements, and the details on connecting your guests ahead of the big day. Now you need an amazing wedding venue to host your unforgettable destination wedding in Puerto Rico. Here are 5 venues that we love!
1) St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort
Location: Río Grande, Puerto Rico
The St. Regis Bahia Beach resort is located 27 miles from San Juan, and it is tucked away in the outskirts of the El Yunque (the only tropical rainforest in the U.S). This grand wedding venue is exquisite and ethereal and has the ability to accommodate up to 620 guests! There are a total of 8 event rooms to choose from and including the event lawn and the indoor ballroom. If your guests will be staying on-site, they’ll be treated to the views of the oceanside swimming pool, a world-class spa, a golf course, and three five-star restaurants! To take a more in-depth look at the event spaces they have to offer, you can find them online here!
2) Condado Vanderbilt
Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
A fairytale wedding venue with breathtaking views of the Atlantic, The Condado Vanderbilt was built in 1919 by Frederick William Vanderbilt. The completely restored venue stays true to its roots and embodies the splendor of its 1920s heyday. The venue has ceremony & reception spaces locations that can accommodate an intimate guest list of 20, as well as spaces that can accommodate a large-sized guest list of up to 500 guests!
The decor at Condado is gilded, much like the age of its inception. You’ll also find a shark-filled aquarium and inviting art deco decor in the lobby. The venue is bold and vibrant and in close proximity to all that San Juan has to offer! If you and your guests will be staying on-site you’ll find a casino, three swimming pools, a beach club, a space, and a delectable restaurant with a Michelin Star chef at the helm! For an overview of their wedding packages, including floor plans and menus, you can find it all here!
3) Hotel El Convento
Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
A luxury standard in a unique space, the Hotel El Convento provides space for your welcome party, rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception, after-party, you name it! This venue also offers a number of rental items such as chairs, tables, linens, glassware, and flatware, so you don’t have to coordinate anything with off-site rental companies. Their expert staff is on hand from setup to cleanup to make sure that the experience of your wedding day is nothing less than fully accommodating.
The Hotel El Convento also provides in-house catering (which by the way is optional!) and they craft everything from cocktails and soups and salads to mains and side dishes! A major bonus of planning your wedding here is that is located across the street from the San Juan Bautista Cathedral and within walking distance of Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Both of these historic locations are amazing for capturing your wedding day portraiture!
4) Hacienda Los Pablo
Location: Lajas, PR
A little bit of a departure from the other three venues listed above, Hacienda Los Pablo is a private luxury rental properly with a timeless charm! This inviting space combines the natural beauty of Puerto Rico with its own private luxurious grounds. Your guests will enter the property through the front gate before laying eyes upon the meticulously manicured lawn. The impression of Hacienda Los Pablo is unforgettable and the space is made to celebrate life’s occasions.
There are six spacious guest suites on the property that can accommodate up to 26 guests. Guests staying on-site will have access to all of the modern amenities offered. Including one very special caveat! The venue is a fully licensed exotic animal exhibitor, so guests of the property can meet with all the animal friends on site! For information on their facilities and capacity for your destination wedding in Puerto Rico, you can find Hacienda Los Pablo, here!
5) Hacienda Ilusión
Location: Naguabo, PR
Nestled on 300 sprawling acres, Hacienda Ilusión is a grandiose, charming wedding venue located in Naguabo, Puerto Rico. The ambiance here is festive and romantic and the Spanish architecture and sophisticated decor set the stage for a fully immersive experience for your destination wedding in Puerto Rico! This venue has eight event spaces to choose from for your wedding day!
Their Central Patio is an outdoor space with a backdrop of the mountains, and is perfect for your ceremony space. The dedicated staff at Hacienda Ilusión will assist you in all of the details of your wedding planning with the aim of designing an experience that is unique to your personality. Hacienda Ilusión also offers on-site catering that ranges from buffets to cocktail receptions, family-style service, hors d’oeuvres, stations, tastings, and so much more. To make Hacienda Ilusión your chosen venue for your destination wedding in Puerto Rico, you can find them online here!