Puerto Vallarta Wedding Chronicles: The Guest List (Chapter 8)

Close-up of guests at a wedding in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
The process and challenges of curating a guest list for an intimate wedding.

Diego and I had an ongoing joke throughout our wedding planning process. Ever since we started talking about the wedding two years prior, it always started with one of us saying, “Let’s just have a civil wedding and dinner with our four best friends in Puerto Vallarta.” Then, one of us (normally Diego) would say, “Well, if we’re going to plan a dinner, maybe we can invite a few more friends” followed by “Well, maybe we can also invite our friends from Mexico City, and your family who live in the US.” Before you knew it, we were up to a guest list of 80 people. At this point, one of us (normally me) would get overwhelmed and flustered and we’d call off the whole planning process. This happened for two years, until one day while sitting on the beach drinking Yerba mate and chatting, Diego turned to me and said, “Do you want to elope this summer?” (If you’ve been following this series, you know what happened).

I still look back and laugh at how it all turned out. An elopement followed by a dinner party that turned into a wedding after all. However, this time around, I didn’t feel overwhelmed and flustered. A big part of that reason was because Diego planned practically everything. But another more subtle reason was that both of us had become more relaxed with the process, being more flexible and trusting more in the process (and in each other). It’s funny how when you stop trying to control everything around you, things seem to flow effortlessly.

This time around we decided we would invite our friends in Puerto Vallarta, our good friends who live abroad, and only my immediate family in the US (my mom, dad, and brother). Diego’s family lives in Argentina so it would be nearly impossible for them to come with a one-month notice. We told his family we would come to Misiones (northern Argentina) to celebrate with them in 2024 (stay tuned – we may be throwing a third wedding!). After we made our lists, we both had nearly 30 people each and felt that a total of 60 guests was a perfect number.

I set up a Zola wedding website, entered our guests’ names, and began emailing and texting personalized invitations with a link to RSVP via the website. Over two weeks, we received notifications of RSVPs and finally had a final headcount of 45 people. We were able to confirm the exact headcount with our vendors just in time. We only had to arrange travel and housing for three guests: my mom and brother who flew in from California, and my good friend who flew in from Brazil. If we were to expect more guests traveling from abroad, we would have arranged the wedding at a resort or hotel to make housing and coordination easy. In our case, most of the guests live in Puerto Vallarta which made planning super easy.

We also decided to make our wedding an adult-only event. We went back and forth on this decision. On one hand, we both love kids and feel they bring so much joy to parties, but on the other hand, we realized that it does change the dynamics of an event. When children are running around and making lots of noise – no matter how fun it is – it can minimize the elegant atmosphere of an adult-only event. At least, this is what I feel. So, we announced on the invitations that it would be adults only.

In the end, we were both really happy with the size of our wedding. There were just enough people so it felt like a party but intimate enough to talk to everyone. In an ideal world, every single one of our family members and friends would have been there, and we could have made it happen if we had given more than one month’s notice (!). Diego and I have lived somewhat nomadic lifestyles. I lived in more than twenty cities throughout my life, from Barcelona to Chicago to Buenos Aires, creating meaningful relationships in all of them. Diego also has friends in all parts of the world. We would have loved to see all of their faces there. Nonetheless, having the opportunity to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime moment with our friends and family in Puerto Vallarta was priceless. It showed me how many relationships we have built during our time in Mexico and the value of those friendships. 

“Happiness is only real when shared,” still strikes a chord with me. I don’t necessarily believe this statement in its entirety but it feels significant. At one point during our wedding dinner, while Diego was giving a toast, I looked out at our guests’ faces looking up at us, and I felt the importance of the moment. I felt an enormous amount of energy coming from our friends and family, adding more momentum to the moment, and I knew that particular feeling wouldn’t have been present without sharing our big day with our loved ones.

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