And had our reception in a barnyard.

I love saying we got married in a cathouse. Of course it isn’t active NOW, and it’s beautiful not skanky, but there are enough people horrified by the idea of it that I still savor the memory.

We didn’t start out planning to have a bordello wedding ceremony. Actually the plan originally involved an elegant colonial hotel which would have housed guests, provided grounds for both wedding ceremony and reception, even included both a world-class chef and a wedding planner. As of about 90 days out, that was the plan.

As of about 75 days out we realized we’d been negotiating with them for weeks, and nothing had yet materialized. No contract, seemingly no help or organization by their in-house planner. Though we were in central Mexico, a London hotel chain owned the property so any decision required a week’s worth of ping-pong with the head office. We realized this was not gonna work out, and cut bait.

So, 75 or so days left and we have no idea where either the reception or the ceremony will be, who’d be catering, and where our key out-of-town guests would stay. Add to the challenge that we are not Catholic, which in Mexico eliminates about 2/3 of your possible venues. Unlike the USA, renting museums and other pubic venues just isn’t done (for the most part).

Naturally we freaked out.

But we believed that if we stuck with our gut that we were doing the right thing, it would work out. And we absolutely believed we were doing the right thing.

We asked everybody we knew, and random people on the street, for suggestions. Eventually one of my fiancee’s bridesmaids offhand suggested we look into Casa de La Noche, which had been a notorious house of ill repute until fairly recently but was now a lovely bed & breakfast spot with a large courtyard that might just work.

It could and it did. We booked all the rooms and the space came free with it. We had the ceremony there and a Sunday Brunch for far less than we’d have paid at the fancy hotel. We loved the story of the place – it was certainly memorable, and quirky like us – and the managers (no longer there, sadly) did everything we could have hoped to make it a perfect event. We found a local planner who brought the catering (including a different world-class chef!) and still came in under budget.

Maybe Miss Manners would be horrified, but we were over the moon.

Which left only a venue for the reception, since the B&B didn’t have kitchen facilities (or space for enough of them). Again we searched. This time it was our officiant who suggested a former Méson, or Inn, a short walk from the whorehouse site. They’d had a restaurant which had recently closed and might be worth a look.

One day we walked in to see if anybody could talk with us and sitting in the spacious open courtyard were the owners, looking over flowers for their son’s upcoming wedding – we couldn’t have made it up. So long story short, we’d found our reception venue (and they hardly charged us a thing, really).

How does this relate specifically to grooms? My fiancee wasn’t picking the location with her bridesmaids or her mother. I took special interest in the venue because I wanted to love it, during the events and later on, looking back. We figured out together what each felt to be important and worked from there. We want our marriage to be a collaboration, so we collaborated. That set a good standard for the wedding itself and has so far been a good foundation for our married life.

I’d say finding the venues was actually our biggest challenge. Because we both had strong ideas about what we wanted, it was that much more difficult to find venues that met our requirements, and that much more exciting when we found them.

What did we learn from all this? If anything, having our first choice location fall through served as a reminder to stick with our gut, and to be ourselves. We literally created not only one but two venues where there were none: Neither place had ever hosted a wedding before.

Brides magazine is not going to recommend you find a good whorehouse for your wedding, but you never know what will work for you. Be true to yourselves, be open, and don’t be afraid to take risks to make your wedding reflect you both. It’s your wedding.