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Tips to plan a destination wedding in Panama

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What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Panama? The hat? The Panama Canal? Having both the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean? Whenever is the answer, we can assure you: a destination wedding in Panama can be totally amazing!

According to the wedding planner Leticia McRae, Panama presents a variety of options for fabulous weddings. “We have within the city Churches with spectacular architecture, hotels with glamorous halls, as well as beautiful outdoor venues (beach or garden) that will make your celebration a memorable moment”, explains Leticia McRae.

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The wedding planner Judy Amado believes that Panama has the advantage of offering two oceans. “It is a very energetic city, a fantastic historic district which is a very popular choice. It offers mountain and valley options as well as major hotels. This makes any dream wedding a possibility. Panama is very popular for destination weddings because we have direct flights from many cities”, says Judy Amado.

Wedding planner:  Judy Amado | Photo: Alfonso Jaen

Leticia McRae, mentions Casco Antiguo, the sector where the old city of Panama was located as a good option for weddings. “It is a neo-colonial building area that contains a great historical and gastronomic value that offers a  unique opportunity to celebrate a wedding in Panama”, she suggests.

Another good point about Panama is that weddings can be done with any budget. “Definitely, the more you want and the quality of your choices will make your budget vary accordingly. You need to imagine a wedding in the Caribbean or in any big city”, states Judy Amado.

Tips to plan your destination wedding in Panama

Wedding planner: Leticia McRae | Photo: Adrian Godoy

The first step of any destination wedding is to hire a good wedding planner. “It is important to have a professional resident in Panama with experience in destination weddings, preferably bilingual and that can support you in the coordination not only of the wedding (decoration, food and drinks, photography and other services) but of all complementary activities for your guests (transportation, bookings, rehearsal dinner, Panama Canal Tour, shopping, night activities etc). She will be able to advise you on the best places according to your interests and Budget”, Leticia McRae recommends.

Judy Amado agrees with that: “Definitely a Wedding Planner is a must and the sooner you get a local one the better because she can give you all the options and book it all for you so you can have options for your site inspection or while you decide”.

If you are planner a Catholic wedding, it is also really important to book the venue and the church in advance.

Hiring a good photographer might also be on your checklist. “Invest in a good photographer, check the portfolio of the recommended photographers and choose not only for the price but for the quality. This is the only memory that will remain for your generations”, alerts Leticia McRae.

Best time of the year to get married in Panama

Wedding planner: Leticia McRae | Photo: Adrian Godoy

Another important step is to decide the best time of the year. “Even though it is warm all year round it rains like in any tropical region 9 months of the year. If your dream is outdoors it would be best to do it between January and April, which coincides with cold weather in many countries making this a very welcome and fun opportunity of travel for all”, tells Judy Amado.

Leticia McRae also mentions that it is possible to get married there at any time of the year. “But it´s highly recommended summer time (January-March) for outdoor weddings”, she explains.

Plan your budget

Wedding planner and photo: Judy Amado

Like any wedding, the costs will depend on how exquisite the tastes and expectations of the couple and also the number of guests.  “In Panama, it is possible to make a wedding celebration with budgets that can start from USD15,000 onwards”, says Leticia McRae.

Judy Amado points out that weddings in Panama can be done with any budget. “Definitely, the more you want and the quality of your choices will make your budget vary accordingly. You need to imagine a wedding in the Caribbean or in any big city”, she states.

With that, Leticia McRae recommends preparing with the wedding planner a budget and a payment program for suppliers. “Keep in mind that the currency in Panama is the American dollar. In Panama, good suppliers require at least 50% of the services paid to schedule the event”, she advises.

Wedding traditions

Wedding planner: Leticia McRae | Photo:  Daniel Gomez

If you are considering Panama as the perfect place for your wedding, you should also take a look into some of their traditions. “One of the traditions in the weddings in Panama is ‘La Hora Loca’ (The Crazy Hour).  Just after midnight, the celebration breaks out with a ‘Murga’ (orchestra with festive tunes of the Panamanian carnival). It is usually preceded by the bride and groom. They distribute accessories such as masks, colorful hats and necklaces to the guests and for about an hour the whole celebration becomes a carnival. It is very fun”, mentions Leticia McRae.

Judy Amado also says that Panamanian weddings are about having fun and a fantastic party. “ I always tell my clients that in Panamanian weddings people eat, drink, dance and have absolute fun at the same time from sundown to sunrise the next day!! This is a true fact”, she explains.

Legal paperwork

Wedding planner:  Judy Amado | Photo: Rodrigo Garcia

Leticia McRae claims that the legal paperwork to get married in Panama is simple. “Primarily, they need the documentation of birth certificates and personal identity of the Bride & groom; certificates of good health and laboratory tests that can be held in Panama a few days before the wedding”, she suggests.

However, the wedding planner Judy Amado recommends for her clients to get their marriage license or civil wedding in the country or city they plan to live and make a ceremony for vows in Panama. “Also if it is a Catholic or religious wedding, then we might need the marriage license and then the church requirements”, she concludes.

What do you think about Panama? Would you consider getting married there?

First photo credit: Wedding planner: Leticia McRae | Photo: Daniel Gomez

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