Our “inspired by” blog this week is about Guadalupe Alvarez, one of the top wedding planners in the world, based in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She is one of our closest friends, having known her since we married twenty years ago. Loyal as a dog, pretty as a picture and one of the hardest workers we know…we have always been inspired by you, Guadalupe.
Do you have a dog?
Of course! I have a dog who comes from Lookout Mountain, Georgia. His name is Beto. I also have Canela and Roberta, both Mexican mutts, and Juanita Perez (she deserved a last name) a half German Shepherd, half coyote, and Milo, an old Labrador.
Guadalupe. You’ve a remarkable woman. I think about your past and how it really was a build up to what you are doing now: you were a manager for hotel at the age of 15. You were an account executive at Noble y Associatesfor P&G, La Azteca and Cartier, then you worked at Kenner Toys where you launched Cabbage Patch in Mexico. You started and ran a factory making decorative accessories that employed hundreds of artisans and whose products were sold in some of the toniest stores in the world. You designed and manufactured handbags and had your own line that also had a large following…I would say the common thread here is hard work, customer service, paying attention to detail and looking out for good design. Now you are recognized as one of the leading destination wedding planners of the world (Penzi Weddings). Doesn’t that seem to all make sense to you?
Lately it has started to make sense. I now understand that this party planning came to me not only as a dream, but started when I was 24 and made lots of very young girls happy when we did parties for Cabbage Patch and Strawberry Shortcake. Hard work has been my trait: not giving up, being stubborn until I get what I want for me and for my clients. Like you have called me, I am a pit bull, I do not let go until I have what I want. I also surround myself with amazing, creative and hardworking people that are willing to help me with what I want to create. People who are willing to take a chance with me (sometimes they do not understand what I want, and some days wonder if I understand what I want), but they believe in me, and this is something that I really appreciate.
What is your sign?
Virgo! Is there any other sign?
I look at that picture of the couple kissing in the rain under an umbrella while the water is rushing around their feet. That’s brilliant! Rarely does it rain in San Miguel, but when it does, it drenches. And you’ve taken a moment that could easily have ruined a beautifully planned event and made it into something transcendable and memorable. I bet it doesn’t always work out like that.
… no it does not, but for the most part, the couples that come to get married in San Miguel are relaxed and so in love that they make the best of it. This picture was taken by Brett Butterstein http://www.brettbutterstein.com/ an amazing photographer, but more importantly a great friend. So with great talent and great couples, anything is possible!
How does living in SMA influence what you do?
I live in paradise! San Miguel is simply so beautiful and happy and fun and colorful and relaxed, that it makes me happy, and that reflects in our work.
San Miguel de Allende is world renowned (Conde Nast’s #1 City in world in their annual Reader’s Choice Award for 2013, #5 this year), but it is a small town. How do you stay so on trend?
My father always told me I was very nosey, and this curiosity is what allows me to be, as you say, “on trend”. I want to know what is happening in Turkey and in Acapulco. I want to learn about history and décor. I want to learn about the couples and what they like. And more than “trendy”, I think Penzi is personal–we transform the couples dreams to one that reflects their personality.
You have sophisticated people from all over the world coming for their destination wedding, and they can’t just want tequila and mariachis.
Well we also have margaritas!!! So why not?
What’s your favorite part of your job?
There are many parts. First, having the best team in the world, my planners and staff, is AMAZING– there would not be Penzi without them.
Seeing the bride walk down the aisle and the first dance, are always my favorite moments. Also, the moment when the guests walk into the reception and you can see they love it, it is only then that I can take a deep breath and know that we did a good job.
What’s the one thing that you would tell a bride who wants a destination wedding?
Relax. Enjoy your engagement and let us take care of all.