I want to start by saying that planning a destination wedding is a lot of work but in the same breath, it is absolutely worth it. This was the case for my own destination wedding that took place in March in central Mexico, in the gorgeous city of San Miguel de Allende.
The reason we landed on San Miguel is two fold: 1) venues around Wisconsin were not quite speaking to us and 2) we visited San Miguel several years back for a family friend’s wedding and absolutely fell in love with our time there. Another factor for us was that we knew we wanted to keep the guest count on the smaller side so with fewer guests in question, the more flexibility we had with location and budget.
One might think that a wedding planner planning her own wedding will find the whole process a breeze, right? Well, I quickly discovered that being a Bride has its perks, sure, but making my own decisions is not quite my forte. I experienced a lot of decision-fatigue while planning, though in an effort to give myself a bit of grace here, I was planning my destination wedding while deep in restoration work at our home that suffered an electrical fire so there was a lot going on in my life personally. I also have to give a big shout out to my one and only sister and partner in crime, Mallory, for helping me keep things moving – couldn’t have done it without you!
I did some research into the most suitable times of the year to get married in Mexico and learned that the rainy season is generally from May through September. I also factored in my busy season at work here in Wisconsin and that left winter and spring. Since many of us have busy winter plans with the holidays and such, I narrowed it down to the spring time and I’m so glad I did! I cannot speak for everyone but I do feel like here in Wisconsin, once late February/early March rolls around, I am itching to get out and do something! So, we officially landed on the decision to spend a full week in Mexico and invited our family and friends to come and join whenever it made the most sense for them – no pressure! We flew out on a Sunday and flew back home the following Sunday. The week was packed with a variety of activities that we had our guests opt in for – again, if it made sense for them – no obligations (besides the wedding day of course). Here’s a quick breakdown of what we did during the week:
MONDAY: Bachelorette Festivities at two local wineries followed by a night out with all!
TUESDAY: Rooftop yoga followed by a brunch at the AirBNB
WEDNESDAY: Horseback riding at Xotolar Ranch
THURSDAY: Sunrise hot air balloon ride and Welcome Fiesta in the evening
FRIDAY: Wedding day!
SATURDAY: Pool Party / Relaxation Day
It was important to me that if my family and friends were coming to San Miguel that I show them a slice of what the city has to offer. I wanted to leave it up to them to partake in the pre-wedding festivities if it was something that interested them, and if not, offer them other suggestions on things they could do in the city. It was so fun to hear what everyone did if they weren’t part of the planned activities! I think it’s safe to say everyone had a really wonderful time and got a deeper understanding of why Jesse and I love the city as much as we do.
Another key detail when it came down to vendors is that I had a photographer and videographer that I trusted. It didn’t take much thought to land on my friends, Jake Anderson and Nastassja and Andrew Olson of Olson Film. There is synchronicity in their work styles, too, which is super helpful and I really don’t think I will ever have all the words to properly thank them for flying down to Mexico to capture such a special weekend for us. I wonder what they were thinking when I told them I wanted them to capture the sunrise hot air balloon ride and that I could not disclose the location until we were on our way out to the take off site. I wasn’t sure if they were going to make it in time for take off because reception was pretty crummy on the drive out as I’m trying to describe to them to turn down a bumpy road, go over a railroad track and look for a blue building on the left, but the stars aligned and I got to give them all a big hug at 6:30am before we floated into the air in our hot air balloon. Now, THIS was an experience and something I had on my bucket list for awhile. We got to fly over the entire city of San Miguel and watch the sun rise and it was the PERFECT kickstart to the wedding weekend.
Fast forward to that evening, we had our Welcome Fiesta right behind the Parroquia at a rooftop space called Terraza Trinitate. I wanted to keep this event casual, bright, and Mexican-inspired! We had amazing food from Agavia 115, live music from a local band and several toasts from our loved ones. When it came to finding an outfit for this event, there was something that kept telling me that color was the way to go (versus an all-white ensemble). It wasn’t until two weeks prior to take off that I stumbled upon a super fun floral applique minidress that fortunately fit perfectly (good thing – I had zero time for alterations!).
Waking up on the wedding morning, I truthfully felt rather calm and collected. Maybe it’s because Jesse was with me and we had breakfast together with a close-knit group of family + friends or maybe it’s because of the advice I try to give all of my couples on wedding day: soak it up because it’s a fleeting day. I got ready with my VIP ladies and mom in the hotel/venue suite while Jesse went into town to join his family in watching the Festividad del Señor de la Conquista (Festival of the Lord of the Conquest) right in El Centro near the Parroquia. I’m so glad he and others got to experience the rich tradition spanning over 400 years.
Once Jesse returned to the property, we did our First Look and oh my, the butterflies. What an incredible feeling! He looked so handsome (obviously) in his black tuxedo. It honestly felt like time stopped in those moments with him. Everyone’s experience and opinion on First Looks are unique, but I am so glad we did one so that we could both feel a bit more relaxed and enjoy more time with family and friends following the ceremony.
I wasn’t sure how much gravitas the ceremony would hold after reflecting back on the wedding day but it was one of my favorite memories of the day.I loved how intimate it felt up on the rooftop with our loved ones and looking into Jesse’s eyes feeling like we’ve worked so hard already to get to this day and how amazing it feels to be marrying him. I just loved it all! On top of it all, we surprised everyone with mariachi as our recessional and they came through the aisle to escort everyone downstairs into the courtyard for cocktail hour – it was such a fun touch and they were so talented!
We had three different specialty cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres with incredible service by Maye Cordova, a local catering team. Once it was time to get dinner underway, we escorted guests through a hallway where we had pressed flower art along with a personalized thank you note to take with them to their seats. This was one of my favorite details to put together! There is a typical flow to how weddings go at Casa Adela and with the suggestion from our local coordinator, Dahlia, we decided to be a little different. We decided to do cocktail hour in the courtyard (where most guests will do dinner and dancing) and then cover the pool where we had dinner. I loved this idea so that we could all be in a bigger open space together. Plus, I am very passionate about communal tables – I just love the drama! With patterned linens from Nuage Designs, gorgeous centerpieces from Florklor and cafe lighting overhead, our dinner space was so charming.
Another detail that I absolutely loved was the custom painted dance floor – talk about talent!!! Now, I know firsthand the hard work that goes into producing an event but my gosh, between the pool floor covering and custom dance floor design to mimic our wedding invitation envelope liner, these teams were on another level putting all of the pieces together and I feel so lucky and thankful. The dinner and dessert was absolutely delicious (I still think about it), the toasts were SO special and heartwarming and the live music from our amigos at Mamutt Music in Mexico City was out of this world. One of the better decisions I ever made while planning was hiring them for entertainment – SO much talent and a favorite memory from the night will always be dancing to them performing Volare.
Of course, I had to do an outfit change into a fun sequin smock dress because putting all the looks together during not just the wedding weekend, but the entire week was one of my favorite parts! I will always be a big proponent of an outfit change. 😉 I seriously had the time of my life that evening and I wish I could relish in it forever.
The nice thing about having a Friday wedding was that we had Saturday to rest and recover a bit, so we planned a casual pool party at the hotel/venue. My fellow Elevate team gifted us lunch for this so we chose pizza because duh, keep it easy after a wedding day and it was such a great time to soak up the sunshine and share stories together with our people. If you have the chance to schedule in some sort of rest and relaxation activity, I highly recommend!
We did one night out on the town for our last night there with some of the folks that were still around and woke up the next day to head out to the airport. Our wedding took place in a really stressful period in my and Jesse’s lives but it honestly could not have worked out any better than it did. I am proud of us, incredibly thankful for our amazing vendor teams, and appreciative of our wonderful family and friends who made the trip down to Mexico to celebrate with us. I will hang onto these memories for all the days and years to come!
Dress: Elliatt | Clutch: Nanushka | Suit: @Indochino | Hair & Makeup: DaniPa | Catering: Agavia Restaurante | Photo: Jake Anderson Photo | Video: Olson Film | Planning, Coordination & Design: Dahlia BP | Venue: Terraza Trinitate
Photo: Jake Anderson Photo | Video: Olson Film | Venue: Casa Adela Mexico | Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier through Ultimate Bride Chicago | Shoes: Alexandre Birman | Earrings: Untamed Petals | Reception Look: Retroféte & A.B.ELLIE | Veil & Alterations: DMP Tailoring | Tux: Indochino | Planning & Coordination: Dahlia BP | Planning & Design: Elevate Events | Floral: Florklore Studio | Band: Mamutt Music | Catering & Bar: Maye Córdova Eventos | Hair & Makeup: DaniPal | Officiant: Friend, Terry | Mariachi: Mariachi San Miguel | Linens & Napkins: Nuage Designs | Invitations & Stationery: Tayler Butcher | Chairs, Furniture & Tabletop: Larenteriamx | Lighting: Kratoz Producciones | Flooring: KLM Producciones & Ferriver (artwork) | Pressed Flower Art: Mae Lily Design Studio | Guestbook: Velvet Raptor | Stir Sticks & Napkins: For Your Party | Rings: Soha Diamond Co | Transportation: San Miguel Mágico Tours