As a wedding photographer, I have witnessed how intimate weddings in Puerto Rico have become popular in the past five years. We're now living in both turbulent and exciting times when couples question traditions and what their financial priorities should be. Both destination and Diasporican clients, use their visit to Puerto Rico as the perfect excuse to get married in an intimate ceremony.
With the appearance of COVID-19 in our realities, everything has changed in our society, and celebrating weddings is not exempt from these changes. For this reason, many local couples are now rethinking their wedding plans and looking for intimate and small wedding venues in Puerto Rico.
A particularity of small weddings is that there's usually no wedding planner, and some of the tasks that would naturally fall on that professional end up being absorbed by other vendors, usually me. One of those tasks is to guide the couple during their or venue scouting for small weddings. Below I'll share several categories of sites where I love to photograph small weddings, and each one will be accompanied by at least one link to a full wedding there. I hope that my blog inspires and helps you realize that having a small wedding does not make it less unique.
Small and Intimate Outdoor Weddings in Puerto Rico
Outdoor weddings in Puerto Rico are my specialty as a wedding photographer, so they will be the first to talk about on this blog. Puerto Rico is so beautiful that even with its heat and weather challenges, I prefer this type of wedding to being enclosed within four walls. Small weddings and elopements have a degree of flexibility in which we could basically get married anywhere, but here are examples of where I have most enjoyed working at.
Small Weddings at El Yunque
An adventure wedding is for you if you are hikers, and a sense of adventure is part of what defines you as a couple. But, considering guests who may not be as nature lovers as you are, or have accessibility concerns, El Yunque Rainforest is an excellent choice as a small wedding location in Puerto Rico.
For this wedding type, I recommend that it be as close as possible to dawn to avoid the crowds. Also, you have to consider the walking time and avoid damaging the hairstyle and makeup, you'll have to stroll, instead of power-walking. My clients usually put on their wedding clothes upon arrival at the waterfall they wish to get married in, so as not to get their clothes too dirty before starting. What an adventure!
Hacienda Azucena in Río Grande
This little known venue, Hacienda Azucena, is one of my favorite haciendas for small weddings in Puerto Rico. The service is excellent, the views are beautiful, and the venue offers lodgement options, so you don't have to go home once the event is over.
Hacienda Don Carmelo in Vega Baja
Many people do large weddings at Hacienda Don Carmelo. Still, in my opinion, their venue is ideal for smaller and more intimate weddings. It is one of the most beautiful haciendas for weddings in Puerto Rico, I think the photos will speak for themselves.
Hacienda Muñoz in San Lorenzo
Coffee, Hacienda, coffee, peacocks, coffee, nature, coffee ... do I have to keep mentioning the virtues of Hacienda Muñoz? The Hacienda has a rustic barnyard with an open layout that can accommodate large and small weddings. It is a place with a lot of potential for beautiful photos.
Hacienda Siesta Alegre in Río Grande
It couldn't be a blog about my favorite small wedding venues, without mentioning the magical Hacienda Siesta Alegre. My little ranch, as I call it my love, is the perfect place for all kinds of weddings, but for intimate weddings, it has even greater magic. Here are some examples:
Small Weddings in Old San Juan
Old San Juan is the other place I'm always at. It is inevitable: it has the colonial architecture beauty, romance, nostalgia, and the convenience of being at the epicenter of Puerto Rico's tourist activity. It all makes Old San Juan a perfect destination for small weddings. Filled with historical monuments, restaurants, and beautiful scenery, who wouldn't feel like getting married?
Intimate Weddings in El Morro and Castillo San Cristobal, Old San Juan
In so many centuries of history, the Morro keeps so many memories within its walls, including countless love stories, surprise engagements, and romantic weddings. Under the jurisdiction of the National Parks Administration, both San Cristobal and El Morro require a permit to hold events inside, but the beauty is worth the effort.
Personally, El Morro seems to be a better option for elopements. At the same time, I prefer San Cristobal for weddings in which the couple wants to have some kind of setup for the guests. Note: in most cases, National Parks require that all installations are made after the parks are closed, which makes these ceremonies inevitably nocturnal.
Small Weddings at Plaza La Rogativa
In the heart of the colonial area of Old San Juan, steps from the Cathedral, Hotel El Convento, and overlooking the sea, I love Plaza La Rogativa as a ceremony location. Although I have had several large weddings there, I have to admit that space can get a bit cramped, making it ideal for micro-weddings or elopements.
Restaurants for a Simple, Intimate, and Small Wedding in San Juan
A restaurant with a lovely lounge or rooftop is the most comfortable option when there are family and guests, especially when there are grandparents or elderly people with accessibility concerns. Booking and decorating a restaurant lounge is also a great Plan B. Here are some of my favorite full weddings for inspiration.
Small Beach Weddings in Puerto Rico
I think that, as islanders, when we think about giving ourselves a romantic getaway, the beach is always one of the first options. It is also often one of the favorite choices when it comes to small weddings. The beaches are so beautiful you don't need to invest much in wedding decor. And also, we are surrounded by beaches, so there are limitless options for you to choose at your convenience.
Beach Weddings at Copamarina Beach Resort, Guánica
I love Copamarina! This southern treasure has a perfect look for an intimate wedding. Away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan area, it has beautiful villas with a very casual vibe and ballrooms to accommodate small groups of guests. Photos don't do it justice!
Intimate Weddings at Villa Montaña Beach Resort, Isabela
Located within Shacks beach in Isabela, and close to the popular Jobos restaurant and bar scene, Villa Montaña Beach Resort is ideally located. It's great for vacations or honeymoons in Puerto Rico, and its Resort has beautiful villas to stay and get ready for weddings. It also has several restaurant options for receptions of all sizes. For these and many other reasons, it is one of my favorite places for weddings in Puerto Rico.
Intimate Weddings at Rio Mar Wyndham Beach Resort
This resort is huge! Rio Mar is definitely one of the best small wedding venues in Puerto Rico with endless options, lounges, terraces, and one of the most beautiful and intimate resort beaches in Puerto Rico. As you know, I prefer outdoor weddings, which is why my favorite combo is the ceremony on the beach and the reception on the deck for a romantic sunset.
Intimate Weddings in Culebra and Vieques
Ok, I love Culebra and Vieques, probably you will too. But to do a big wedding if your guests are not residents, it would be a nuisance. The cool thing about small weddings is that what is almost impossible at big weddings, with fewer guests, becomes totally possible.
Puerto Rico Small Wedding Hotels
Perhaps being outdoors is not your thing, or simply to comfortably accommodate guests, you would like to have the convenience and accessibility that you only find with a hotel. Here I share the best hotels for small weddings in Puerto Rico.
Small Weddings at La Concha Resort
La Concha has it all: beachfront, excellent service, inclusion, flexibility. Coincidentally, the lounge that I like the most at La Concha Resort is precisely the one that is most appropriate for a small wedding, the Mirador Rooftop.
Intimate Weddings in Vanderbilt County
In historic Vanderbilt County, a small wedding has the same luxurious atmosphere as a large one. Salón Azul (or blue room), is ideal for a small wedding. It also has direct access to the East Veranda. On this beautiful terrace, you can celebrate your ceremony with a view of the sea.
Hotel el Convento and its Martorell Ballroom
For art buffs and Old San Juan lovers, Hotel el Convento has the perfect small wedding ballroom: Salón Martorell. Hand-painted by the renowned Puerto Rican artist, that room is a real work of art. Colorful and unique, you can keep decor to a minimum and focus on enjoying your intimate wedding.
Airbnbs for Small Weddings in Puerto Rico
Trending alert! Renting luxury properties through platforms such as Airbnb and Homeaway, to celebrate intimate weddings in them, is what's up right now. AirBNBs are excellent options because each one is unique, and you can choose one exactly how you like it. Tip: remember that with no cleaning staff like in a venue, you'll have to clean and handle trash by the end. Also, utility areas such as bathrooms and kitchens could be affected by unusual traffic.
This is my list for now! I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments below. I hope this blog was useful, and that all your small wedding dreams come true.