Santa Fe’s 5 Best Wedding Venues

We don’t know if you’ve noticed by now but…Planning a wedding can be quite a bit of work! With every detail under your purview from floral arrangements to wrangling bridesmaids for gown fittings, the small decisions can easily pile up. And if hiring a wedding planner isn’t in the cards for you, then everything remains on your plate — along with the rites and responsibilities of daily life, families, jobs, and so much more.

Fear not, though. After living vicariously through hundreds of New Mexico weddings — we are New Mexico’s Perfect Wedding Guide, after all — we’ve intentionally partnered with only the local wedding professionals who make the planning process easier, not harder.

So when the decisions start to teeter and sway with the height of them all on just your shoulders, and you need to knock a big one off your to do list — it’s time to choose your wedding venue. More specifically, it’s time to choose a wedding venue with a dedicated event staff, gorgeous features to minimize decor needs, and the right aesthetic for your celebration. These 5 Santa Fe wedding venues check all the boxes!

And whether you’re a native New Mexican born and raised, or recent transplant, or distant admirer, Santa Fe caters to all. With it’s winding streets and undeniable air of whimsy, it’s no wonder the historic city has captured the hearts of so many devotees. These venues serve as microcosms of the larger culture of Santa Fe, which is one rich with traditional architecture, an emphasis on the arts, and a surrounding landscape that wraps its people up in natural beauty.

While they are listed 1 to 5 for viewing convenience, there’s no going wrong with any of these Santa Fe wedding venues.

 

1. Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe

The perfectly manicured Four Seasons Resort in Santa Fe is known for its opulence, but its reputation misses one key aspect that makes the venue so special. Welcoming in each and every guest and wedding party, the space is carefully curated and well-loved, so the moment you step inside, you can experience a deep sense of comfort.

See more of this Santa Fe wedding from Elizabeth Wells Photography here: Emily + Michael’s Vibrant Vibes 

2. La Fonda on the Plaza

If you’ve heard of Santa Fe, New Mexico, then you’ve probably heard of La Fonda on the Plaza — and for good reason, too! The venerable space stands proudly as an integral piece of New Mexico’s history. With each corner and crevice of the venue lovingly cared for over the last 400 years, the sense of cultural, temporal, and historical transcendence ushers in travelers and engaged couples from all across the world.

See more of this Santa Fe wedding from Maura Jane Photography here: Ginny + Kolton’s Laid Back Celebration

 

3. Cities of Gold Hotel & Conference Center

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In Santa Fe, grandeur is something to be celebrated, not shied away from. With large, accommodating spaces, the Cities of Gold Hotel truly is a gold mine for elaborate celebrations in the city. On-site catering, an advanced audio-visual team, and a tended-to stage area all come together to round out the venue space, making it a dream come true for the busy engaged couple.

 

4. Eldorado Hotel and Spa

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Speaking of gold, Eldorado Hotel and Spa, with it’s well-known and dearly loved ceremony backdrop, also rings in as a hidden treasure in Santa Fe. Wrapping up the history and culture of our southwestern state in a veil of impeccable elegance, Eldorado blends the two aesthetics together seamlessly. A fine eye for detail and dedication to their couples as a baseline requirement for being part of of the Eldorado team makes it no small mystery that some of New Mexico’s most fantastic weddings have taken place here.

 

5. Inn and Spa at Loretto

Tony Gambino Photography

For the Inn and Spa at Loretto, the first priority for weddings is flawless execution. So while you’re enveloped in the beauty of its architectural features, getting lost in its meticulous detail, and dancing through its inspirational structure, their event team is working endlessly to ensure you can relax, be present for your celebration, and just keep dancing. What more could you possibly ask for?

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Intimate Elegance: Real New Mexican Wedding with Maura Jane Photography

Tori and Sean were one of those couples who didn’t need to be told when to hold each other, or when to kiss. They were naturally so affectionate, all we had to do was stand back and capture it.

Maura, Maura Jane Photography 

It’s no secret that we’re spoiled here in New Mexico when it comes to wedding venues. From the quiet mountain gems like Nature Pointe, to urban-chic modern chapels at the Hyatt Regency Downtown, our home state has a venue for pretty much any aesthetic or preference.

Not to mention the fact that competitive price points, multiple ceremony spot options, and unbelievably accommodating event staff are all common features of wedding venues in New Mexico, too. So when it comes to choosing just one for your wedding, well, we understand how the  overwhelm of options can inundate during the beginning stages of the wedding planning process.

Victoria and Sean’s wedding at Casa Rondeña Winery proves, though, that no compromise is necessary when it comes to finding the perfect wedding venue for your celebration. Sean first proposed to Tori on the historic garden grounds of Los Poblanos. After getting down on one knee surrounded by the beauty of the organic farm + inn, the couple stayed in one of the rooms to celebrate.

So when their wedding day came around, incorporating Los Poblanos into the festivities was a must. Tori, elegance embodied wrapped up in lace, got ready in the very same room where the couple first commemorated their new engagement.

We loved the farmhouse room with its tall ceilings and beautiful canopy bed. It was the perfect place for Tori to get ready.

Maura, Maura Jane Photography 

The couple then had an intimate ceremony, with their closest family and friends, just up the street at the well-loved winery, Casa Rondeña. With Maura Jane Photography there to capture all the hidden moments and treasured details though, the celebration never really stops — Tori and Sean can relive their happiest day through her lens endlessly.

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Tori’s step dad officiated after her brother walked her down the aisle. Sean’s daughter helped the couple light their unity candle, and other family members presented readings. After the ceremony guests followed the couple to cocktail hour, while the planner rearranged the ceremony space into a gorgeous and personal dinner party. A long farm table was dressed with beautiful lush garland and candles with touches of gold and navy. It was exactly as Tori had envisioned. The night ended with a beautiful sparkler send off as everyone hugged and wished the couple years of happiness.

Maura, Maura Jane Photography

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Photographer: Maura Jane Photography
Venue: Casa Rondeña Winery
Getting Ready Venue: Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm Planning/Decor/Florals: A Beautiful Theme
Hair and Makeup: D’Ambrosio Designs Hair Studio
Shoes: Nine West Dress Store: Angela’s Bridal
Dress Designer: MiKaella
Men’s Attire: Hugo Boss
Sweets: ABC Bakery
DJ: Cutmaster
Invitations: Minted
Catering: Casa Nova Custom Catering
Rentals: Occasion Services & Events and Darling Details Rentals

 

How to Have a Country Wedding in New Mexico

For visitors or recent transplants to New Mexico, country might not be the first adjective you’d reach for to describe the state. For those of us who have had a chance to wander outside of the cities though, the farm and field influence obviously contributes to the eclectic blend of cultures that make New Mexico so magnificent.

Which is lucky for all of us, because it means there’s no limit to the kind of wedding you can have here. Especially when you take a look at the collective portfolio of our local wedding experts! From a Kate Spade inspired, modern urban pallet, to a wandering bohemian picnic celebration, to a royal banquet rich in traditional Spanish influences, New Mexico can house and support pretty much every theme, vibe, or aesthetic.

So it should come as no surprise that having a cowboy-country-down-home wedding here would be as easy as pie, too. From wide open desert mesas to rodeo style architecture, everything you need for a back country celebration starts and ends with one of our most loved local wedding venues.

The Southwest Event Center was originally built as a livestock auction house, but now stands in Los Lunas as a generous and venerable ranch-style wedding venue. With indoor and outdoor spaces available — because we all know how fickle that New Mexico weather can be — you don’t even need much decor to round out the beauty of the space.

This venue is absolutely the package deal. So much open space to use and take full advantsge of. The owner genuinly cares about the client experience and goes above and beyond to make sure her clients needs and wants are met. This venue has an original cowboy feel and most certainly can not be replicated or imitated.  

Sarah, local wedding photographer

It’s true. The small town vibe of the wedding venue extends past the mountains, crisp air, and sprawling landscape that envelops the Southwest Event Center. Their venue is owned and operated by a family of dedicated creatives, whose southern hospitality has lead them to be somewhat of local celebrities, and for good reason too.

To say good bye to the bustle and grind of city life, if only for a moment, you can book the Southwest Event Center for your wedding by contacting their team here.

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Jessica Ash Photography

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Carissa + Ben Photography: High Desert Wedding Photography

Photographing weddings is huge. It’s one of the biggest, most expensive, emotional, and meaningful days in most peoples’ lives. The intimacy of the day can be really intimidating, and that’s why we love it.

Carissa + Ben Moore, Carissa + Ben Photography

Must it be reiterated again, just how much we love our home state? We are elbows deep in our local wedding community, so by now it’s probably pretty obvious, but we’ll say it again: we love New Mexico.

Part of why we have so much respect and adoration for our state is because the lovely people who call it home make it really easy to do so. Whether you’re a born-and-raised New Mexican or recent convert, the Land of Enchantment doesn’t discriminate when it comes to capturing hearts. Then, in turn, those enchanted people reciprocate the love by supporting artistic endeavors in the city, collaborating together, and finding new ways to showcase the beauty of New Mexico.

On the forefront of reinvigorating the New Mexican landscape is a locally-loved husband and wife photography duo known as Carissa + Ben Photography. The two lovebirds first met in a photography class here in Albuquerque, and since then three things have persisted: their dedication to each other, photography, and New Mexico.

The couple is up for traveling to photograph weddings, elopements, engagements, and proposals in any corner of the world, though their photography often highlights the fantastical desert landscape for which New Mexico is famed. So you can imagine why we — and so many other couples around us — are obsessed with their impeccably balanced photographic style.

With photos that reach into your heart with their rich colors and clean contrasts, the two work in tandem together like a well-oiled machine. Propelled by a deep appreciation for their couples, those in front of Carissa + Ben‘s lenses relax into themselves and their unique love story, with their comfort and ease obvious in every shot.

While their hearts belong primarily to each other — and also craft beer, their dogs, the moon, and coffee — the two artists of Carissa + Ben Photography somehow manage to give so much of themselves to their couples too, through their medium of choice. To book Carissa + Ben Photography for your wedding day, proposal, engagement session, or pretty much any other special moment, you can contact them here.

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Carissa & Ben Photography

Carissa & Ben Photography

Carissa & Ben Photography

Carissa & Ben Photography

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Zero-Waste Wedding: 5 Ways to Get There

If you know anything about your New Mexico Perfect Wedding Guide team, then you know we love two things. One, New Mexico; two, weddings. Which seems pretty obvious, but it really is as simple as that.

Only, our love for New Mexico transcends an affection for the rich cultures, venerable mesas and mountains, and traditional architecture that surrounds us. There’s a foundation of respect for our home that supports the love we feel for all of those beautiful and inspiring New Mexican features. So, in our small ways, we try very hard to preserve the perfection of our wild state.

Whether it be through recycling, supporting local, or educating our community, each little step culminates to make a powerful act of love for New Mexico. Though of course, we adore weddings as much as we do our state, so combining values to create a zero-waste wedding that uplifts our local community, creates a killer party, and offers some kindness back to the land — does it get much better than that?

Chances are, if you’re reading about how to incorporate zero-waste principles into your wedding, then you know it really doesn’t get better than that. Before we jump in though, give your self a little pat on the back for taking extra steps to support your community by booking local vendors and reducing the waste your wedding creates. Every little thing counts!

So — after consulting with the local wedding professionals who are experts in their respective crafts — we’ve pulled together 5 simple tips to reduce waste at your wedding in New Mexico! Because we all get to enjoy the landscapes around us, let’s do our best to make sure the generations after us get to enjoy them, too.

1. All reusable, all the time.

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Matt Blasing Photography

Whether you’re having a small, intimate elopement, or inviting every single cousin, people will come expecting to eat at your wedding. Eating as a group, as lovely and communal as it can be, also offers up a lot of waste if you use single-use materials.

Luckily, with local and environmentally-conscious catering companies like Cafe Venture or Blue Plate Catering, you can have all reusable serving ware! Think cloth napkins, silverware, ceramic plates, and the like. Not only will this give your wedding a higher-end vibe, but all these things can be washed and reused after your wedding, instead of sitting in a landfill for the next several hundred years.

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Matt Blasing Photography

If the local catering company you’re working with doesn’t offer reusable serving ware, linens, and china like these guys do, then don’t fret! Thrift stores can still be your best friend. Grab vintage, reusable silverware and dishes, and pull it all off with an eclectic, artistic vibe. Then afterwards, you can give away the thrifted materials, or just donate them right back!

If you go this route, be sure to communicate with your caterer ahead of time, so no wires get crossed on the day of your wedding.

2. Power in the Flowers

Tori Photography

When it comes to floral arrangements, the best advice we have is to go silk! Does that seem counterintuitive?

While its true that flowers are compostable, you’ll want to pause before tossing them in your garden or local composting center. A majority of live flowers are treated with preservatives to ensure their long-lasting scent and beauty makes it through your ceremony. So before you bury them, be sure your florist sources from an organic farm like Europa, otherwise all those preservatives end up in your soil and, subsequently, the groundwater.

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With silk arrangements — like the gorgeous, can’t-believe-it’s-not-alive bouquets from Charlotte’s Flowers — you have a bit more wiggle room for reusing. The immortal bouquets can be rearranged into home decor after the wedding, used in future craft projects, or gifted to a friend.

Whether you go with organic live flowers, or silk arrangements, or just a bundle of chamomile from Trader Joe’s, you can always reuse the flowers from your ceremony for your reception. Chances are you and your bridal party aren’t going to be carrying your bouquets all night long, so repurpose them! It’ll save you money and reduce your floral carbon footprint.

3. Something old, nothing new.

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Coryn Kiefer Photography

It’s true — the thought of buying a wedding dress from a thrift store sounds a bit horrifying to some. After all, this is the gown you’ll be wearing in hundreds of photographs, videos, and memories, is it worth it to risk it?

Thankfully, we have amazing local wedding professionals who can make a less-new dress totally risk-free. With shops like Bridal Elegance by Darlene, you can buy a gown ‘off the rack.’ Which, for those who don’t live and breathe bridal, just means it’s a sample of the gown, not one that was ordered, manufactured, and shipped just for you. With in-store seamstresses available for your wildest alteration dreams, too, there’s hardly a worry about making sure it fits in all the right places.

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Coryn Kiefer Photography

Or you can opt for a second-hand gown from specialty shops like The Dressing Room West in Santa Fe. This local shop carries off the rack gowns as well, but they come as excess directly from designers who need to make space in their warehouses. Or sit down with Terese Rose Designs, a local custom bridal gown designer, and have a chat about sourcing fabrics and potential choices for your gown.

Last option, and a favorite for your wallet, is to haunt thrift stores and vintage shops. With seamstresses across the state, there’s some serious magic that can happen with a secondhand gown. It’s worth it to give new life to an old gown that might have just gone into the trash, if not for the power of a trained eye and tuned sewing machine.

4. Make things easy for your guests.

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Kayla Kitts Photography

As someone who personally composts, I’ll be honest: I don’t always compost when I’m out and about. Mostly because compost bins aren’t readily available around our state yet, and holding on to my food waste until I’m able to get home is smelly, messy, and not super convenient when I’m running around the town.

So you can expect a similar response at your wedding, even from your greenest of green friends. But luckily, you can mitigate this with a little bit of foresight during your wedding planning process.

Chat with your venue coordinator! When booking a venue, ask the coordinator ahead of time if they have enough trash cans to have one for landfill trash, recyclables, and compostables, all separated and labeled clearly. If not, bring your own!

Plus, if you’ve decided to book a local invitation and stationery company like Funky Olive Design or Pennysmith’s Paper, you can have your trash labels custom made. Then, there’s no sacrificing aesthetics for environmental-consciousness. Take it a step further by reusing the signs in your own home too, to make it easier for guests and kids that might be around to throw things away.

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5. Favors in your favor

View More: http://chrisikphotography.pass.us/aja--johnnys-wedding
Chrisi K Photography

As much as your friends and family love you, they might not love your favors. Which is okay! A lot of personalities are coming together in one space to celebrate you and your partner, so trying to please all of them is virtually impossible.

Keep this in mind when choosing your favors. If 1, 10, or 100 guests don’t take home their favors, what will happen to them?

You can go with an adorable little plant like Aja and Johnny did for their wedding — so in the off chances these get tossed outside, at least they’ll compost. (Or root and grow right there!) Plus the metal tins are reusable in a million different ways, so if the succulent gets replanted, the tin hopefully won’t go to waste. And anyways, how cute are they?!

Or be like Lynsey and Kent, who had one of our very favorite apple orchard weddings.

Arielei Kinzer Photography

Their apple-themed favors were not only delicious and charming, but super earth-friendly! For those who opted not to take their little jars home, the couple got some extra homemade apple butter for their own family. For those who did decide to enjoy the treat, they got a reusable jar and a delectable spread to remember the wedding by.

So, whether it’s through your dress, venue, or favors — whatever steps you decide to take to preserve all the beauty of New Mexico, we thank you. We’d like to keep loving this state and the weddings in it for many more generations to come, and a few choices on your part help to ensure that’s possible.

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3 Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Ring in New Mexico

Here at Perfect Wedding Guide, we try to not make too much of a fuss about any one particular facet of the wedding planning process. Instead, we keep it light to remind engaged couples that, despite the budgets, in-laws, and hundreds of tiny details they’re in the midst of dealing with, it’s all bringing them closer to a happy new life.

That being said, when it comes to your rings — a little bit of fuss is usually recommended! While you’re actually talking to the person holding it, your engagement ring is still the very first ‘yes’ in a long line of wedding-related proclamations. Then, later, your wedding ring becomes a staple part of your every day life, living as a sparkling reminder of your vow to love til death do you part.

So, not to stir up unnecessary anxieties, but we don’t want you to live the rest of your life feeling anything but that same joy you felt when you said ‘yes’ every time you look down at your hands. Luckily, the incredible wedding jewelers of New Mexico feel the same way. Which is why local shops like Ooh Aah Jewelry have dedicated their expert knowledge of jewelry-making to their community of engaged couples.

After 30 years of operating in Albuquerque’s central hub, Nob Hill, Ooh Aah Jewelry has become a beloved landmark of the area. It’s the expertise of their team which elevates the jewelry scene in New Mexico to new heights, and offers couples a sense of confidence moving forward with their jewelry choices.

So, along with some brand new designs that show off Ooh Aah‘s impeccable ability to blend the modern with the timeless, we have 3 expert-approved tips for choosing your wedding and engagement rings. To contact their team for even more advice, guidance, and gorgeous gems, you can reach Ooh Aah Jewelry here.

1. Start early, like, even earlier than you’d expect

If you have the time in your busy schedules, start your ring shopping early. Once you’ve done some research on your budget, local jewelry shops, and the stone + cut combinations you like, try to jump right in to actually trying the rings on.

If you can choose your wedding ring and engagement ring together — even better! You only really need 3-4 months before your wedding date to ensure there’s plenty of time for your jeweler to make custom changes and size the ring. But if you can get them both together, that’s one less step to worry about in the middle of planning a wedding, and it means you don’t have to go hunting for something to match your engagement ring, especially if its unique.

2. Keep your current and future lifestyles in mind

What does your life look like on a daily basis? Are you or your partner in the military? Do either of you play a sport or work out daily? Do you play an instrument? Are you planning on starting any of these activities sometime soon? All of these things, which might not come to mind right away, can seriously affect your wedding ring choice.

While your jeweler at Ooh Aah Jewelry will know what you can wear while playing a violin or being deployed, they won’t know what to recommend for you if they don’t know about these aspects of your lifestyle. So, if there’s anything that could affect the wear of your ring, be sure to let them know! A simple fix like thinner bands, different gem stones, or stronger metals will be in your future.

3. Switch things up a bit

Some engaged couples have been dreaming of their wedding rings since childhood, and some haven’t given them a second thought until just now, when they started reading this blog post. Whichever party you fit into, it usually bears repeating that switching things up a bit will do you some good.

We, as people, get stuck in our styles and habits pretty fiercely. Behind the glass counter though, a lot of jewelers have seen magical things happen when a couple decides to try on a ring that’s completely different from what they’ve had in mind. Now, you might not switch from a simple band to an ornate vintage cut on a whim, but it could open you up to different style combinations. So, especially if you’re having trouble falling in love with a ring, try on something a little out of character, and see where it takes you!

 

How to Prepare for a Boudoir Photoshoot

When you boil it down to basics, each wedding is nothing more than a celebration of love. The who, when, where, and what of that love is pretty important for the big day, but all details aside, it comes back to love.

Part of what makes this particular kind of love so special that it calls for a giant day-long party that takes months of planning to orchestrate, is the comfort that comes from having a partner in this big, scary world. Which, in turn, offers space in the relationship for each person to grow into their best selves alongside each other.

They say that loving someone else requires a bit of self love too, though, in order to really flourish. Getting comfortable in your own skin before getting comfortable with another person is what we’re supposed to do per our mother’s advice, right? Right. But as well-intended as that advice is, it misses a big part of picture: the whole rest of your life!

Building up self love before you commit to a relationship is always a great plan, but even within that relationship, it’s important to keep practicing self love.

Which is why we’re so glad that boudoir shoots are officially back in vogue. Sure, we love suggesting soon-to-be-spouses do a sexy shoot before the wedding day — it makes the perfect honeymoon gift! But we also suggest boudoir shoots to unmarried people, couples on their 50th anniversary, and couples on their 5th anniversary.

Because there is no time limit on practicing self care and empowerment, and there is no wrong time to show some love to this body of yours.

It can be a little nerve-racking though, being so vulnerable in front of a camera. So we asked one of our favorite boudoir photography experts, Jennifer of Stripped Boudoir, what you can expect walking into a boudoir shoot with her, to hopefully mitigate those anxieties and replace them with excitement.

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Getting Started

“Well, the first step in any of my shoots is a FREE one-on-one consultation. This is where I like to get to know each other so you feel comfortable with me and my ideas. I also ask that you gather some ideas of poses that you’re most comfortable with.

This shoot is not all about my creative side, It’s about yours as well, and I like to collaborate on photos that make you feel confident and beautiful. Plus, I have a great make up artist that works with me as well so if you decide you want that service, she offers free consultations as well!”

 

Getting Ready

“Next in preparing for the shoot: Like I mentioned, this shoot is all about you. So in the days approaching the shoot prepare your self and your body in ways that make you feel confident. Try on outfits, practice posing, and the like.

I know you’re probably thinking, “what about my diet?” but something I stress that’s very important is, you don’t need to starve yourself before a shoot to look sexy. Just eat healthy a few days leading to the shoot, and I only say this because in my experience I see that in general it just makes you feel better on shoot days.”

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During the Shoot

“Nerves are expected so don’t worry, that’s normal! One thing to remember is it’s just you and I in the shoot, AND the best part, I always bring a bottle of champagne for those left over lingering nerves.

We’ll collaborate through the whole shoot, and I’ll even show you what they look like so you can make changes if you’d like to. You’ll be surprised at how fast it will go. I know it’s a vulnerable situation so I make it as fast and smooth as possible. Before you know it, we’ll be done, and within an few days I’ll have some previews to show you.”

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To book Stripped Boudoir and collaborate with Jennifer on a shoot of your very own, you can contact her here.

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