Katie Hagerty, a graphic designer for the jewelry brand Lulu DK, and John Falkenberg, the Director of Corporate Business Development and Strategy at Warner Bros., met the old fashioned way: They caught each other’s eyes from across the way at a rooftop party in New York City, where they both were living at the time. “It was hosted by one of my friends from college who happened to have shared a Hamptons’ house with one of John’s friends from his hometown in Ohio,” explains Katie.
The two dated for two years in New York before moving on to their next adventure in Los Angeles, where they dated for another year before getting engaged. “John suggested we should take a trip over Labor Day weekend,” remembers Katie. “Never one to turn down a vacation, I immediately started researching somewhere fun for us to go and stumbled upon San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. We were both immediately sold. It looked incredibly beautiful and a little bit off the beaten path.”
On their first day there, they perused the city streets and were quickly taken by its charm. “As we were heading back to our hotel to get ready for dinner, we turned down a beautiful street with amazing views of the church in the distance,” says Katie. “We were the only people there, and I just paused for a minute to take it all in. When I turned around, John was down on one knee asking me to marry him. I was beyond excited and surprised!” The two celebrated at sunset with margaritas and live music at Luna Bar on the rooftop of the Rosewood Hotel followed by dinner at a Peruvian restaurant.
The next day, they continued to fall in love with San Miguel de Allende and started to explore the idea of actually having their wedding there. “We were so captivated by this place and wanted to return with all of our friends so they could experience its magic,” says Katie. “It was incredibly important to John and me that we create a weekend experience for our guests with the crescendo, of course, being the wedding itself.”
A few months later, the bride returned to Mexico with her mother and her planner, The Eventeur, to scout venues. After touring many beautiful hotels and villas, they decided on three separate venues for all the weekend festivities—Casa Chorro, Casa Cece, and The Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada.
“The colorful sun-bleached buildings, cobble stone streets, and gorgeous colonial homes made for the perfect romantic backdrop and 100% drove the aesthetic of the wedding,” explains Katie. “I loved that nothing had to be fabricated or forced. The venues spoke for themselves.”
Finding a dress, however, was far more challenging than Katie ever anticipated. “After trying on countless dresses in L.A., I met my mom in New York City, and we finally found one at Pedram Couture,” she remembers. “I loved all the intricate appliqué and beading and truly felt like a bride the minute I tried it on. I had the dress made in a custom color that echoed the iconic blush cathedral in the center of San Miguel—I love how it turned out! Because my dress was very detailed, I wanted to keep my jewelry and makeup very minimal. For my hair, I wanted something romantic but not overly done. I practiced numerous hairstyles on myself before deciding on a braided crown, which I loved! John’s ensemble was an easy decision—he wore a classic black tux!” Bridesmaids were in cream colored Jenny Yoo dresses in two different styles, and the groomsmen wore black tuxedos and sombrero cufflinks, which were one of their groomsmen gifts.
The ceremony was held at Casa Cece, the beautiful villa that the bride’s parents rented for the wedding weekend. Guests received glasses of champagne upon arrival and a guitar duo and violinist strummed Spanish music. The bride walked down the aisle with her dad to “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison, one of her all-time favorite songs. “I think I blacked out walking down the aisle because I don’t remember hearing it played . . . fortunately we have a video of it that I was able to watch!” laughs Katie.
The couple’s close friend, Travis—who John met in business school—officiated the ceremony. “He did such an amazing job and made it incredibly personal,” notes Katie. “I was most nervous for our vows since we decided to write our own. Despite my nerves, I am so happy we did because it was such a special moment and our words to each other are something I will never forget.”
The couple also incorporated the Spanish tradition of the lasso into the ceremony. “My brother and John’s sister draped a figure eight of greenery over our shoulders, and Travis recited a prayer symbolizing the infinite bond between us,” explains Katie. “My favorite part of the ceremony was when I finally got to kiss John and walk back down the aisle to ‘Be My Baby’ by the Ronettes as all of our guests shook the hand painted maracas we had placed on each seat. It was such a fun and celebratory moment!”
After the ceremony and cocktail hour at Casa Cece, there was a customary Callejoneada, which is similar to a second line in New Orleans. It all started with the mariachi band playing on the balcony at Casa Cece and summoning guests to the street. There, colorful flower crowns were handed out to all the girls, and everyone received a ceramic shot glass necklace, which was filled and refilled with tequila throughout the parade. Benito, the donkey adorned in white flowers, and puppets made in the couple’s likeness led the way as everyone paraded through the streets to the reception. “It was by far the highlight of the wedding!” says Katie. “Everyone danced and did shots of tequila while onlookers cheered us on along the way. I wish I could relive that moment over and over again; if only we could have bottled up the joy and energy everyone felt!”
They eventually ended up at Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada for the reception, which conveniently is where most of the guests were staying. “It was a super intimate and romantic space,” says Katie. “I loved all of the stone archways and natural floral vines. We added twinkling stars above the dance floor and candles hung from trees.” Tables and florals were kept to a neutral palette so as not to take away from the natural beauty of the venue. “My dad gave a hilarious speech along with John’s best man, Chris, and my maid of honor, Nicole,” remembers Katie. After dinner, Matthew Rubino of the Flashdance from L.A. turned up the tunes and kept the dance floor packed all night long.
Throughout the evening John’s friend, Taylor, had been conspiring to throw him into the pool. He tactfully removed everything out of John’s pockets over the course of the evening so that when John pleaded for him not to throw him in, Taylor gleefully revealed that all of John’s valuables were in his possession, and John got soaked. “Needless to say, John’s groomsmen didn’t leave him in the pool solo for long!” says Katie. “I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun in my entire life! Around midnight, we had a taco bar and passed out Dia de Los Muertos masks. It gave everyone a second wind and kept the party going into the early hours of the morning!”