Fewer Weddings but also Less Divorces during the Pandemic in Costa Rica

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    Alejandra and Gerardo had everything ready for the wedding: wedding dress, full suit, souvenirs, an all-inclusive room; but above all, great enthusiasm. The ceremony and reception were prepared for April 26th, however, at the end of March they were given the news: “Everything is canceled due to the Pandemic.”

    The couple understood the importance of the union and decided to go ahead anyway. On April 4th, they sent invitations through the “zoom” application so that the guests could join them virtually.

    But, not all couples who planned to get married did. The Civil Registry records 10,373 fewer marriages between January and September of this year when compared to the same period in 2019. In January and February 2020, 2,415 and 1,531 marriages were registered in the country, respectively. That number fell to 916 in March and 421 in April.

    It was in mid-March when a national emergency was declared due to COVID-19. Everything fell apart. “The reduction in wedding matters was 100%. Sadly, since March 19th, our work was suspended,” said Adriana Ballestero, wedding and event planner.

    For this year he had already scheduled 32 weddings, not counting the other social and corporate events. But now, he only has one for November and another for December. But at Ballestero’s home they still have to eat every day, so that’s why Adriana is selling Christmas baskets and face masks. Also, she has implemented all-inclusive packages at lower prices to be able to attract more couples who want to complete their union in 2021.

    Becoming creative

    Photographer Garrett Britton noted that weddings were a “huge” input to his finances. In previous years, he had one wedding per month. “My only source of income is photography and video, I had to make a drastic change, not only for weddings but in general because the work fell apart for everyone,” he said. Britton gambled – as we popularly say – promoting the entrepreneurs that emerged during the Pandemic.

    From chefs who made cupcakes to cyclists who bought bicycles during these times, they are part of the photographs he has taken in recent months. “Fortunately, I was able to save and support myself and started doing other types of work,” said the photographer.

    Real love is what matters

    From the Catholic Church’s point of view, they have the vision that the important thing is to celebrate the sacrament of marriage. The Pandemic has taught humanity to turn its gaze to what is essential, said Mario Segura, a priest at La Betania Church in San Pedro de Montes de Oca.

    “While it is true, socializing and sharing in a celebration is something very real for all of us, we have to remember the essential significance of the decision, of a life together,” the priest said. Segura recalled that in these times of Pandemic, he has formalized three weddings with only the presence of father, mother, godparents, and grandparents.

    “To couples, I tell them to see the essentials of life and that, a party is a very beautiful moment, but, there are other spaces and they may celebrate the first anniversary a year later”, advised the priest.

    More parishioners

    Since November 1st, the capacity permitted for Catholic Churches is 300 people. The parish priest considered that this will allow those who plan a wedding, to be able to invite more people for the event.

    Even the parishes have been updated to provide marriage catechesis (course) through digital platforms. However, only 28 guests may attend the reception, according to the restrictions maintained by the Ministry of Health. “The authorities must value weddings as a responsible sector and that we are prepared 100% with the protocols that the ministry has requested,” acknowledged Ballestero.

    Divorces downward (initially…but now)

    “Untying the knot” has been showing a curious trend. In 2019, the Civil Registry registered 14,009 divorces, a figure that fell to 8,509 between January and September of this year. The only month that registered more divorces compared to the previous ones was June.

    Three months after the Pandemic, there was a spike of 1,701 cases. That figure is double that of 2018 and 2019. Experts in psychology warned of the repercussions for couples interacting 24/7 under the same roof.but that’s another story.

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