Getting married is a very important social event in Costa Rica, as it symbolizes a new stage in life. A tradition still practiced today is the "serenata ", which usually takes place some days before the wedding ceremony. The groom arrives at his girlfriend's house, by surprise, with his friends and a group of musicians who sing traditional romantic songs while the bride, her family and friends listen to it inside the house for some minutes before going out. In addition, it is customary for the groom to bring some roses for the bride.
The day of the wedding ceremony, the bride wears a white dress and the groom wears a tuxedo. Relatives and friends on both sides of the family go to the church to attend such a big event, and they all dress up for it. At the end of the ceremony, it is common to sprinkle uncooked rice over the newlyweds as a way to wish they will have everything they need to live well. Sometimes, soap bubbles can be used instead of rice.
If there is a reception after the religious ceremony, the father of the bride dances a waltz with her. One of the most traditional activities is the " baile del billete " (Money Dance): guests dance with the newlyweds, but in order to do this, they pin bills on their clothes as if "asking for permission" by "paying" for the privilege. The money collected is then used by the married couple as extra cash for their honeymoon or other expenses.
Another custom during the wedding reception is for the bride to toss her bouquet over her shoulder to the unmarried women. It is believed that the woman who catches it will be the next to marry. In a similar way, the groom tosses the bridal garter to the unmarried men. Then, the man who caught the garter places it on the leg of the woman who caught the bouquet.
The wedding reception is a fun time to celebrate the newlyweds' happiness; there is good food and music. The "Mariachis" or a " cimarrona" (musicians in a band) might add even more enjoyment, and the lots of photos taken will be a proof of how wonderful the occasion was.
*culled from www.pocketcultures.com