When we returned home to Puerto Vallarta following our summer elopement, we both sensed something was missing We had just taken a huge step in our relationship and we wanted to share it with our friends and family. I felt excited about the idea of planning a ‘dinner party’ to celebrate our elopement. A dinner party seemed much more manageable to plan compared to an entire wedding. I felt excited, almost giddy, at the thought of celebrating with our closest friends in Puerto Vallarta. It would be a small, intimate dinner, or so we thought.
Diego and I had contrasting visions for the celebration. Diego imagined renting a weekend house, inviting many to ‘hang out’ with good food and beach time. On the other hand, I envisioned an intimate dinner with twenty close friends, complete with a chef and music. None of our visions materialized; instead, it evolved into something else entirely — another wedding!
How did this happen exactly? When I asked Diego this question, he responded, “It was my fault maybe.” Knowing that I wanted a nice, elegant dinner party, Diego wanted to take the opportunity to share the experience with as many of our friends as possible. As the guest list expanded, additional events like a spiritual ceremony and cocktail hour were added. What began as a twenty-person dinner became a fifty-person wedding.
With the help of my friend Paulina, we researched venues, narrowing down to 5-7 options, including luxury Airbnb homes, historic haciendas, wine bars, and beach clubs. The venue shapes the event so it’s important to have a clear vision. I pictured a long candlelit table under a canopy of Italian lights on an open, airy, beachfront. I won’t go into the entire venue scouting process (and our final choice!) just yet — that’s for next week. However, I must say, venue scouting is probably the most overwhelming step, no matter what kind of event you are planning: a huge wedding or an intimate dinner party.
I discovered that everything falls into place with the right venue. I was also ecstatic to find out that Diego actually enjoys taking the lead on wedding planning (THANK GOD). We had a handful of decisions to agree upon, and this time, compared to two years ago, it was much easier for us to see eye-to-eye due to our long, two-year engagement which tackled all of the difficult conversations involving finances and lifestyle.
Diego found our venue while eating at our favorite local restaurant, Cosmica Cocina. He had become good friends with the chef, Massi, who in turn, was good friends with the wedding venue’s owner. Furthermore, Massi said he would be happy to be the chef for our wedding. Originally from France, Massi moved to Puerto Vallarta just a couple of years ago to open his French-Mexican fusion restaurant. The first time Diego and I ate here, we fell in love with his cooking, especially his version of the Argentinian dish Pastel de Papa, reminding Diego of his mom’s cooking.
With the venue and chef secured, we worked with the venue to finalize the remaining vendors. That’s one of the great things about working with the right venue — they can make your lives easier by recommending excellent vendors (usually with discounts). In our case, we used their recommendations for furniture, decor, and the DJ. We went rogue on finding live music because I wanted to hire a specific local samba group, and we used our own photography and videography team. I’ll dive into many more specifics on our vendor selections in the coming weeks, but it’s important to hire a venue with similar standards of quality and style.
A couple of weeks into the planning process, Diego had one more idea to add even more meaning and richness to our wedding. He suggested we have the spiritual ceremony we always wanted (we attempted in Canada but failed to pull it off). He had witnessed a Native Wedding Ceremony at one of his very first wedding photography jobs in Puerto Vallarta in 2019. He began showing me photos of the ceremony, in which there was smudging, salutation to the Four Directions, prayers and vows, and blessing with feathers. I learned how this type of ceremony symbolizes the union of day and night, sun and moon, earth and sun, male and female, the duality of the universe coming together as one, and a true reflection of a couple’s inner spirituality and beliefs.
I understand this may seem a bit ‘woo-woo’ to some of our guests (or very woo-woo!), but it aligns perfectly with Diego and my ongoing spiritual journey. Diego’s spirituality was, in fact, one of the qualities that initially drew me to him. So, it was decided — we would have a spiritual ceremony.
With our plan and guest list finalized, we decided to create a website to have all of the information in one place. Finally, I felt as if I could contribute to the planning process considering web design was my wheelhouse. So, I jumped on zola.com and created a free website, including the following pages: “Schedule & Details,” “Registry,” and “RSVP.” You can view our website here.
For the Schedule & Details page, I included the venue location, schedule, attire, and also that it would be an adults-only event. Zola offers the following helpful attire recommendations:
I wanted to take this opportunity for everyone to dress up considering we always see each other in our Puerto Vallarta beach-esque attire. So, I opted for cocktail attire suggesting women wear cocktail dresses and jumpers and men wear suits. Even though I would have loved to wear my wedding dress a second time around, I bought a completely new dress that I would never normally wear: a bright pink mini-dress that belonged in the Barbie movie. Stay tuned for chapter 6, where I write an entire chapter on “The Great Dress Hunt.”
For the Registry page, we set up a cash gift option. We thought this would be the best option for us as we’re beginning to save for our future and not needing any more belongings. Zola makes it very easy to set up and receive cash gifts. This is what we wrote on our registry page: “As we gather to celebrate our special day, we wanted to offer an alternative to traditional gift-giving. If you’re considering a gift, we’ve set up a cash gift option. Most importantly, your presence is the greatest gift we could ask for!”
Last but not least, we set up an RSVP page so guests could RSVP and choose their meal options: the beef and potato casserole or the vegetarian lasagne. And wallah, the website was created and sent out to guests with a personalized note.
As guests began to RSVP, I started to feel the excitement and even butterflies at the thought of marrying Diego in front of all of our friends. The elopement was beautiful and romantic but sharing our wedding with others makes it feel… solid, real, joyful. It’s hard to describe in words, but it makes me think of the famous quote by Christopher McCandless, “happiness is only real when shared.” Also, we learned our lesson and hired our photo/video team to capture our big day (I did not want to turn into videozilla again).
So, this is how our dinner party turned into a wedding. It would not have been possible without Diego taking the lead and planning absolutely everything, making me the most stress-free and happiest bride ever. Diego has worked in the Puerto Vallarta wedding industry for over five years, creating meaningful relationships and seeing how a wedding’s logistics unfold, which made the entire process seamless.
Looking back at our journey — from engagement to a second wedding — it makes me smile, and laugh a little bit. I never imagined a two-year engagement, an elopement, or a second wedding, but looking back, it unfolded in the best possible way. However, the unfolding wasn’t complete — there was one more unexpected event waiting to surprise us all…