A Mexico Wedding: Visiting San Miguel de Allande
I went to Mexico for the first time ever this past weekend and, unlike most people's first visit, it wasn't to an all-inclusive resort or a timeshare somewhere on a beach. In fact, I was so smack dab in the middle of the country, it would've been a 6-hour drive to the nearest coast. So, after a two-hour flight and another two-hour drive, my boyfriend and I arrived in the surprisingly trendy town of San Miguel de Allande.
We rented an amazing three-bedroom house along with my parents and two family friends, which was just two blocks away from the city square. We were all there to attend my friend's wedding, which basically spanned three of the four-ish days we were there. From parties at rooftop bars with amazing views to a parade complete with paper mache, larger-than-life versions of the bride and groom, it was a jam-packed celebration.
Overall, what I saw of San Miguel de Allande (SMA) was beautiful. We stayed within a 5-10 block radius of the city square basically at all times, but when we were first coming into the city, even the outer edges didn't seem that different. Everyone from the wait staff at restaurants we ate at to the man who owned the little corner store right across the street from our house were all super nice and never showed any frustration with our less-than-stellar Spanish.
SMA is a city with a lot of history to it. The bride's father said in his post-wedding speech that the city had important ties to the very beginnings of the Mexican War of Independence. You can tell just by looking at the streets and buildings that the city has been there for longer than the United States has been a thing. According to Wikipedia, San Miguel de Allande was founded in 1541, which makes a lot of sense.
The roads are all made out of large cobblestones that make walking in anything other than sneakers or low-heeled boots relatively dangerous. Everything is also on an incline, which wasn't too bad for the most part. Those who had difficulties walking to begin with definitely struggled maneuvering around the city, though.
Places We Visited
For the most part, everywhere we went was a unique and interesting experience. There was never once a time where I thought something resembled a place I'd been to before or seemed like something I could experience back in the States.
Cielo Restaurante y Terraza Bar - This was one of the first places we went to when we arrived in SMA. It was only a five-minute walk from the house and boasted a great view of La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel. It was a small little rooftop bar, which meant that the 40-50 close friends and family of the groom that came took up most of the space. The appetizers were upscale renditions of classic Mexican cuisine and the drink selection was pretty much what you'd expect from a bar.
Restaurante La Canica - My mom actually found this place while she was out shopping one morning. It's owned by a 19-year old, who is also the head chef, and the fact that the entire menu is an upscale version of street food really showcases his talent. We were offered complimentary tequila shots, complete with two kinds of salt, orange slices, and roasted crickets, which was a new experience for almost everyone in our group. The food was excellent, the service was friendly and helpful, and the ambiance was quirky and relaxed. What more could you want?
Quince Rooftop - This was where the official post-parade cocktail party was held the night before the actual wedding. An entire section (about half of the entire rooftop space) was rented out for the event, which was packed with pretty much all of the wedding attendees. It was open bar and also had a select array of appetizers and small desserts, which were all delicious. One of the maitre d's was especially attentive of our table, making sure empty glasses and plates were always cleared away quickly and refreshments were refilled immediately. That was probably because we were guests at a no doubt high-ticket event, but I like to think they'd treat us that well even if we were just there on our own.
Parroquia de San Miguel Archangel - The actual ceremony took place in the Parroquia, which is no doubt the most iconic building in all of SMA. Coming into the city, our driver explained it as the city's "crowning jewel". It's really a beautiful church, for sure. The outside sort of looks like a fairytale castle with how pointy it is. The inside is filled with lots of murals and statues to look at, as well as rows on rows of sturdy, minimalistic pews.
The only downside was there was almost zero airflow when the doors got closed. Because we were there for a wedding, the privacy doors shut off the one source of airflow, which made the hour-long ceremony extremely hot. I was in a knee-length dress and sweating, so I can't imagine what it must have been like in a longer dress or a suit. Yikes.
Instituto Allende - The Instituto's outdoor spaces get rented out for events, which is awesome because the spaces are really amazing. Post-ceremony cocktails were served on a side courtyard, which featured a great view of the Parroquia. Then, once the wedding party had arrived, everyone moved into the central courtyard, which was all decked out for the reception. A huge temporary roof was stretched over the entire location (it reminded me a little of the Denver Airport roof), which sort of kept out any breeze which was sad, but also sheltered us from any surprise weather.