Beautiful settings make for beautiful weddings and historic, romantic San Miguel de Allende dazzles every season with its Spanish Colonial splendor, cobblestoned streets, perfect weather, rich cultural life and blossoming culinary scene. Located about three hours north of Mexico City, this prosperous storybook city is filled with 17th- and 18th-century buildings that are so well preserved that it was named a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2008. It’s safe, easy to get around in on foot (you won’t need to rent a car) and has an infrastructure for weddings that guarantees ease, success and a dreamy and sophisticated beauty your guests will talk about for years — not to mention killer photo ops!
A wedding here is much more affordable than a wedding – destination or otherwise – in the U.S. or Canada. In fact, wedding planners here say that the same quality wedding costs half the price in San Miguel de Allende. The city consistently tops the list of Travel and Leisure’s best international cities year after year and once you visit, you’ll understand why.
Weddings of all sizes can be arranged here. There are hotels with gardens suitable for ceremonies and receptions, beautiful Spanish Colonial homes with lavish courtyards set up for events and even historic Art Institutes that host large parties and special gatherings. Excellent caterers, florists, and wedding planners are easily found to help you plan the perfect day.
One especially charming and memorable San Miguel wedding tradition is the Callejoneada – a parade that is like a New Orleans second line, but instead of a brass band there is a Mexican banda de viento or mariachi band; and instead of twirling parasols there are giant papier-mâché bride and groom puppets and an adorable donkey adorned in white flowers that pulls tequila in a cart. Celebrants fill up little ceramic shot glass necklaces as the parade, led by the bride and groom, winds through the streets. Fabulous fireworks are another festive touch at most San Miguel weddings.
GETTING STARTED – WEDDING PLANNERS
If you are having your wedding reception at one of the larger hotels, bilingual staff is on hand to help. Otherwise, hire a wedding planner to help you navigate the permits for the parade or book churches for your ceremony and take care of the catering, florist and other details. San Miguel is a top wedding destination for Mexican brides, too, and there are numerous independent companies and individual wedding planners – all bilingual — who can help you put together the wedding of your dreams. Here are a few to get you started.
San Miguel Weddings: Alicia Villar and staff have been working their wedding magic in San Miguel for more than 15 years.
Penzi Weddings is another reputable company that creates dream weddings in the city.
Sarai Flores Mendivil has been helping couples design arty and effortlessly elegant destination weddings in San Miguel for 15 years.
WHERE TO HEADQUARTER WITH YOUR WEDDING PARTY
If you want convenience, privacy and atmosphere for your family or your bridal party, rent a centrally located private villa.
The most convenient location for your wedding party to headquarter is Casa Tres Cervezas, in the heart of the city. It is the perfect place for a larger wedding party or family group to headquarter. Just two blocks off the main square, the location on a quiet and exclusive cobblestone street makes every part of San Miguel easily accessible on foot. If you want additional guests to stay in the neighborhood, Casa Misha, a discreet guest house and an elegant small hotel, L’Otel, are on the same block. It is the perfect place for a larger wedding party or family group to headquarter. This restful private home has eight bedrooms accommodating up to 18 people, with two bilingual concierges, plenty of private gathering spaces, a personal chef, swimming pool, and lavish gardens and terraces on multiple levels. But what really sets it apart is its yoga room with a solid back wall of mirrors and plenty of electrical outlets that is the perfect bridal party getting-ready room. Photo ops around the property are extensive and there are artistic and cultural touches everywhere –carved stone walls, tinwork lanterns glittering with sparks of light, a rooftop patio with a backdrop of church spires and more.
VENUES FOR BIGGER WEDDINGS
Instituto Allende is best known as a visual arts school that boasts beautiful murals in its courtyard. But it is also one of San Miguel’s largest wedding venues — its spacious and majestic central courtyard has a striking stone fountain and romantic 18-century arches and it is picture perfect for events of up to 450 people. Smaller weddings work just fine here, too, and guests will be enchanted by its old world atmosphere and artistic touches.
The Rosewood Hotel is one-stop-shopping for weddings, cocktail parties, receptions and accommodations. It sits up on a hill not far from the center of town and has magnificent views of rooftops, church spires and historic buildings in the distance. In-house bilingual wedding planners can help you personalize your wedding – from weddings cakes and linen to menus, entertainment and flowers and direct you to the perfect event spaces – choose from gardens, courtyards, terraces and spacious banquet rooms depending on your taste and your group’s size. It has 76 rooms and all the amenities you’d expect in a first-class hotel.
Now the largest hotel in the city, Live Aqua Urban Resort sits on one edge of the historic downtown area near Fabrica Aurora, an art and design center created out of an historic factory that houses 50 art galleries and craft, clothing antique and design shops. The hotel has a modern design sensibility but still features touches of the city’s colonial past in its architectural details. An onsite bakery perfumes the air as you wander around the hacienda-style buildings draped in vines and bougainvillea to explore its lavish outdoor gardens, swimming pool patio, spa and restaurants. The ballroom has the capacity to accommodate up to 1,000 guests but can be divided into multiple smaller sections and there are numerous terraces with beautiful views — both covered and uncovered — for weddings of different sizes. Seasoned onsite wedding planners can help with details. The hotel has 153 guest rooms and suites. Calzada de la Presa 85
FOR MEDIUM-SIZE WEDDINGS
Hotel Belmond Sierra Nevada is a cluster of 17th and 18th century heritage mansions that have been put together to create a collection of guest rooms, outdoor patios and gardens, restaurants and common rooms. Each of the 37 rooms and suites is different and is furnished to reflect the spirit of San Miguel and the hotel’s rich colonial architecture. The lavish gardens boast stone arches and courtyards lit by lanterns, and there is a top restaurant and bar, a spa, beauty salon, pool, and cooking school. Their Salón Guitarras can accommodate banquets for 50, and outdoor gardens in different sizes are well set up for events, receptions and banquets for up to 150 people. It’s not far from Casa Tres Cervezas, so is an excellent location for a wedding reception if your wedding party headquarters at the spacious private Casa.
FOR SMALLER WEDDINGS
Casa Hyder is a private walled compound of three houses that sprawls over two-thirds of an acre of manicured tropical gardens. Its common library-like rooms, dining room and 23 guest rooms are filled with Mexican antiques and art.
Laura Sutherland is a travel writer based in California who travels regularly to Mexico. You can follow her at WanderandTaste.