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Friday, November 25, 2016

A Sultry Affair in Mexico

Words by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Davina + Daniel

Alfonso and Marianna went above and beyond to create a one-of-a-kind destination wedding and it certainly shows! Their beautiful, historic location in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico was the perfect backdrop for their traditional, but stunning nuptials. Like a lot of couples, these two decided on a destination wedding as much for their guests’ sake as for their own. “The celebration starts from the moment each of them sets foot on the car or plane,” says the bride. “Also, for some reason, most people socialize much more and meet more new friends when they are outside of their home city, it’s kind of a vacation with the best people you can travel with and lots of positive emotions and activities.” The couple’s intuition was right-on and their family and friends were excited about the idea of traveling to San Miguel de Allende for Alfonso and Marianna’s wedding. 

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Not surprisingly, the couple put a tremendous amount of thought and effort into choosing their location and setting-up travel and accommodation logistics for their guests. “We were very careful to choose a place that could accommodate all different budgets, and make sure that it was a family friendly place to travel to,” says the couple. “It was an easy-to-reach place both domestically and internationally, by plane or by car with many different prices at the boutique hotels.” In fact, the couple did such a good job at choosing their wedding destination that they ran into some issues with other weddings taking place at the same time. “When we found out five other weddings were going to take place at the same time in this small town, we immediately panicked. We had to travel to San Miguel and visit all of the boutique hotels to choose the ones we liked best, negotiate with each individual boutique hotel, figure out the different pricing and organize them into different budgets.

“Some of them were very reasonable and allowed us to block rooms for a period of time, while others would not allow that. Many of them were also speculating with the prices once they new there was going to be five weddings on the same weekend. It’s very different when you only have to negotiate with one or two hotels versus negotiating with more than thirty small ones. This was probably one of the most stressful things. Another important thing we had to resolve was going to be transportation. San Miguel de Allende is a tiny town with tiny one-car streets and close to no parking. Planning all of the logistics to transfer our guests from one place to another was a lot of work. In retrospect, I think we could have outsourced a big chunk of this work to a travel agency and referred our guests to them for travel arrangements.”

The couple encouraged their guests to book their accommodations at least six months in advance in order for them to be guaranteed a nice, reasonably priced place to stay. Thankfully, everyone had a lovely place to lay their head and the couple’s immense efforts at simplifying the logistics for their guests paid off. Alfonso and Marianna stress, however, that they never could have accomplished the destination wedding of their dreams on their own.

“You definitely need to look for the best wedding planner that fits within your budget,” stresses the bride. “I would never recommend a couple to DIY unless it’s strictly necessary. People believe that you can save a ton of money by not using [a wedding planner], but I don’t believe so. There’s just so many things going on at the same time, so many emotions and so many tiny decisions that have to be made that you can very easily end up wasting a bunch of money and causing a less-than-ideal experience for you or your guests. A properly budgeted wedding planner should help you save money and allow you to focus your time and energy on things you and your guests will enjoy, rather than all the basics.” 

Overall, the couple happily looks back on the planning process. “We loved the experience of planning our destination wedding. There’s just so much you can do creatively when you have a completely different canvas to work with. It was a huge amount of work, much more than if we were planning a local wedding, but at the end it was totally worth it.” So, aside from the help of their wedding planner, how did the couple maintain their sanity and keep the details under control? “We created an email, Google docs and webpage for our wedding. The entire wedding-related content with vendors was centralized using our wedding email. That way, we both knew what was going on and we had only one place to search. With Google docs added to that account, any of us could keep track of progress, budget, etc. We also kept copies of all of our agreements in that centralized account.”

When asked how a hometown wedding would have been different, there’s pros and cons, but Alfonso and Marianna have no regrets. “I believe we ended up spending more money because we wanted to control every aspect of the whole experience to make it as smooth as possible for all of our guests,” explains Marianna. “Also, bear in mind that we did events prior to the wedding and after the wedding, such as welcome cocktails for all of the travelers and a wind-down brunch. Choosing a destination gives you the liberty to choose a place you love and share that place with the people you love. Believe it or not, our guests were very receptive to this and, since they also made an effort to attend, they squeezed out every last drop of the experience.”

When it came to ensuring their guests made the most of their time in San Miguel de Allende and attending the couple’s wedding, Alfonso and Marianna came up with a unique idea. “We made up a game that took a lot of work, but was totally worth it. We built tiny personalized boxes for each of our guests. The boxes included some chocolates, a 'thank you' note, and a 'dare.' We dared some of our guests to do funny things or take pictures with strangers. These 'dares' forced them to meet new people and break the ice. They then had to upload the evidence to social media, like Instagram or Facebook, and hashtag our wedding. It was a huge success, with lots of awesome moments and a lot of media captured that we then saw during our honeymoon. There were a lot of things happening that we wouldn’t have known about otherwise.”

These savvy lovebirds have some final words of advice for other couples looking to achieve the destination wedding of their dreams. “Every wedding is beautiful, but the most important thing to remember is to breathe, enjoy and be grateful for all the people that you love. [Also,] the bride and the groom should be together on the dance floor as much as possible. If the bride and the groom are having a great time, everyone will have a great time, if any of them are not, everyone will have a bad time and some guests will start to leave. I can’t stress this enough, the couple has to be together and enjoying [the night] and everyone will follow!”

Vendors: Photographer: Davina + Daniel, Wedding Planner/Florist: Peter de Anda, Ceremony/Reception Site: Sanctuary of Atotonilco in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Stationery: Micheline Prints, Cake: Cumpanio, Hair & Makeup: Trace Henningsen & Stevi Christine, Gown Designers: Monique Lhuillier, Catering: i Latina, Guadalajara, Music Production: Hector Tirado Musicales, Video: Aleksei Treviño (Cinelab)

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