Flowers & Things: New Mexico’s Go-To Wedding Florist

If you’re into weddings as much as we are — and you probably are, considering you’re on a wedding blog right now — then you probably keep up with local and national trends. If you keep up with local and national trends, then you’ve definitely seen the newest craze with wedding bouquets: moody succulents. Yes, moody has taken over the previously bright-and-airy vibe of weddings, and yes succulents have splattered everyone’s Pinterest boards and Instagram grids for quite some time now.

But moody succulents? Now that’s something fresh, and not easy to accomplish. Especially when you’re in New Mexico, which is usually a beat or two behind the costal trends that shape this year’s wedding aesthetic. (It’s the Land of Mañana, we’ll get there when we feel like it!) Of course, there was one local team of florists who beat us all to the punch: Flowers & Things.

Flowers & Things handcrafted a custom bouquet of spiraling succulents juxtaposed by dazzlingly white hydrangeas last year that, yes a year later, we are still obsessed with. (Don’t worry — here’s a pic, so you can drool along with us.)

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Since this magical arrangement first graced our eyes, we’ve seen it replicated a few dozen times from florists across the state and we love it just the same. We love that it sparked a new take on the bridal bouquet, but most of all we love how well it encapsulated the talents and values of the creative team at Flowers & Things.

At first glance, Flowers & Things seems to be your standard, high-quality floral shop. Bouquets, boutonnieres, and bursting blooms adorn their shelves, but alongside the traditional ribbon and basket that supplement their arrangements, they also have a myriad of customization options that make their flowers next level. Succulents of course, but also berries, butterflies, pearls, rhinestones, feathers, and so much more.

Lavel Marie Photography

That’s why the moody succulent bouquet represented Flowers & Things so well. Their craft is rooted in tradition and their florists are expertly trained, yet they have so much passion for what they create that they’re constantly innovating. When their team incorporates modern trends into their customized arrangements, it’s with a finely tuned eye and careful consideration. So you never have to worry about ending up with a bouquet that, 20 years from now, will make your wedding look very, ahem, 2019.

You don’t have to take our word for it though — feel free to do your research with their 300+ reviews of happy, local people who collaborated with Flowers & Things on the floral arrangement of their dreams, starting with a free consultation. In the meantime, we’ll be here dreaming of propagating succulents and throwing peony petals after a wedding ceremony.

Tony Gambino Photography
Matt Blasing Photography

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Pizza in Santa Fe AKA The Best Engagement Session Ever

In September of this year, Meghan and Ryan will be married at the Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe. There will be llamas. Llamas, people!

Quite frankly, these facts and the photos from their engagement session below are all you really need to know in order to make you fall in love with Meghan and Ryan. But of course, the story doesn’t end there, and it gets even better with every turn.

We first met Meghan digitally, via email, when she reached out to thank Perfect Wedding Guide for being Perfect Wedding Guide. (So yeah, we liked her right off the bat!) Meghan had been using some PWG-exclusive resources to plan their wedding and engagement session from afar, which would have tickled us either way, but then she told us she was an event planner, too. An expert in our midst!

Which means she was able to, and is proud of, the creative ways she’s conserved their wedding budget and found vendors. She lamented over how much of the New Mexico wedding community thrives on just word-of-mouth, and how often styled shoots are beautiful, inspirational, magical, and completely impossible to accomplish for a real wedding, and we totally agreed.

(Except for Perfect Wedding Guide styled shoots, of course, because we only feature local vendors who could, if you want, literally recreate the exact shoot for your wedding with all the other wedding professionals they collaborated with originally.)

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Kady McKeehan Photography

I love when bridal resources feature real weddings — and none of that Martha Stewart Real Weddings because we all know that’s not really real!

So, despite the wall of exclusivity created by non-digital, word-of-mouth businesses, despite the fact they were planning a wedding and engagement from afar, and despite the fact Meghan and Ryan have impeccable style and couldn’t settle for just any wedding business, they have done it. They have planned a perfect fall wedding in Santa Fe.

Meghan’s parents are immigrants from the Philippines, and Ryan’s family is old-school New Mexican — back to the Don Victor Ortega days. So, as Meghan says, this September wedding will be an explosion of culture, family, and joy! Plus, remember the llamas? There are going to be llamas. Not to mention, most of the couple’s wedding vendors are non-profits, or give back to the local wedding community in some way, too.

An engagement session full of pizza, impenetrable love, and laughter, paired with a wedding rich in color and culture and kindness and llamas, booked solely with wedding businesses who work to make our state better…Well, we warned you that you’d fall in love with these two!

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Kady McKeehan Photography

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Wedding Invitations: Go Online or Stay Local?

The nicest, most professional people I have ever worked with. This world would be heaven if every company had their level of ethics and customer service.

Stefani

Every wedding begins with a simple yes.

No, we’re not referring to the big yes that usually gets all of the attention. Instead, we’re talking about saying yes to your wedding invitations. That first step toward a happily ever after begins the cascade of moments and decisions and planning that eventually culminate into your wedding day.

So, no pressure, but your wedding invitations are kind of a big deal! While save-the-dates are a little bit more casual, your wedding invitation is the first place you see your color scheme and aesthetic theme come to life. Each frill and fluff of your decor, floral arrangements, and wedding party attire will follow in suit (pun intended) with the vibe you set with your wedding invitations.

With this in mind, it becomes less and less tempting to jump on board the trend of ordering your paper goods online. Despite how customizable and unique most chain websites claim to be, the designs remain in circulation for thousands of engaged couples across the country. Not to mention, when ordering invitations online, there’s rarely an opportunity to feel the paper, see the print quality, and talk through your questions and concerns in person with a paper expert.

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Maura Jane Photography

 

Which is why we always have and always will recommend ditching the faceless monotony of mass produced goods and, instead, support the local small businesses who have dedicated their passion and talent to their community. Like Pennysmiths Paper!

For 40 years now, Pennysmiths Paper has been serving New Mexico weddings — but their team will tell you, often out-of-state couples will fly in just to have their invitations and stationery designed by the Pennysmiths team. We’re not surprised by that though, considering their free one-hour consultation policy, hundreds of happy couples, and meticulous attention to detail.

From the first whisper of a celebration, to the final moments of your wedding day, Pennysmiths Paper has the stationery and invitations to set the tone and supplement your decor. Because it’s never too early to get started on your first step of wedding planning, you can get connected with a paper design expert from the Pennysmiths team here.

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Kayla Kitts Photography

Pennysmiths Paper

Pennysmiths Paper

Pennysmiths Paper

Pennysmiths Paper

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Engaged Couples Dish About Wedding Planning in New Mexico

When it comes to planning a wedding in New Mexico, we think its safe to say that we might be getting pretty close to expert status. After all, we have been connecting engaged couples with the local wedding professionals who serve them for over 10 years! But even with a decade of living vicariously through wedding parties and planners, shows and stories doesn’t compare to the actual nitty gritty of planning a wedding as an engaged couple.

So we, Perfect Wedding Guide, look to the bonafide experts of wedding planning — New Mexico’s very own residents — for advice, adjustments to our approaches, and affirmations. DIY or otherwise, we invited several couples in the midst of planning their wedding in the Albuquerque + Santa Fe area to come and enjoy some delicious treats (courtesy of the Street Food Institute!) while revealing one of the industry’s most pondered questions: what’s it like to plan a wedding in New Mexico?

What followed was a no-holding-back, anything-goes, super honest conversation that revealed more about the wedding industry and our local community than any number of sideline observations could have. Which is why we’re such big proponents of genuinely engaging with our community,  instead of staying behind our computer screens making cold calls and creating content.

Because there’s a lot you can learn simply by listening to the people around you.

Of course, it wouldn’t be in PWG style to not share all we took away from our fabulous eat + dish group session with local engaged couples here, with you. So whether you’re a wedding professional looking to answer the needs of local couples, or a local couple yourself — scroll on, lover of love, and hear what your peers have to say about the New Mexico wedding community.

1. Digital Planning

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We’re sure you’re aware of this by now, but in case you aren’t: the internet has taken over the wedding planning process. We were stunned, and delighted of course, to hear that one of the more streamlined aspects of wedding planning was the online tools, like budget calculators and wedding websites.

The digital takeover, while inevitable, is also great for introverts, busy-bees, and business owners who might not have time to meet with every single vendor or every single couple. By putting reviews, high-quality photos of past work, and clear details on prices and packages, both the business and the couple get to pre-qualify each other before ever speaking.

(And yes, those three things are exactly what couples are looking for when vendor hunting. One couple even decided against booking one of New Mexico’s best wedding DJs, simply because there were no reviews for this company online, despite a stellar word-of-mouth reputation.)

As important as your website is, our couples stated that their preferred way to reach out to businesses and vendors is via social media — and we don’t blame them. Don’t worry shy brides and grooms, the age of phone calling is on its way out the door!

2. In-Person Planning

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We’ve already gone into some depth on why wedding shows are important for brides and businesses alike, but having that reaffirmed by actual engaged couples? Well, now, it doesn’t get much sweeter.

What New Mexico engaged couples appreciate about Perfect Wedding Guide shows here is the organization. You can meet and connect with officiants, DJs, bakers, florists, and pretty much every other service you need to book all in one place.

According to our couples they’re pretty fun, too, what with the giveaways and games and drinks and fashion shows and such.

So, yes, dear internet, we won’t be getting rid of you any time soon. But for when you need to look someone in the eye before handing over hundreds of dollars, wedding shows are the place to go.

On the radar for future events per these couples’ requests: a groom’s night out, perhaps?

3. Physical Planning

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Yes we’re aware that we started this round-up of takeaways praising the internet, and then proceeded to list all the alternatives to planning your wedding solely on the internet. It’s a nuanced thing, wedding planning!

Because, as magnificent as it is to be able to compare vendors price points and aesthetics from the comfort of your bathtub, the rapid evolution of the webscape has lead to quite a bit of digital clutter. How do we counteract this?

Good, ol’ fashioned print. Like the Perfect Wedding Guide magazine!

This collection of couples favored the PWG magazine for a couple reasons: it’s purse-sized, it’s tangible, and it’s local to our beautiful state. Oh, and that it’s free.

What they want more of (AKA, what you’re likely to see hitting the streets soon): more tips, tricks, and industry secrets, projected trends of wedding colors and aesthetics, and sample templates for toasts, vows, and speeches.

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8 Local Wedding Businesses Run by Husband + Wife Teams

We can’t lie. As New Mexico’s Perfect Wedding Guide team, we get to be on the forefront of a whole lot of magic coming from our community. From whimsical winter weddings, to sensational spring styled shoots, to first-time collaborations between wedding professionals, to proposal stories that would make anyone tear up — it’s almost too much love for us to handle! 

While all our wedding professionals are the source of unending inspiration and buckets of love, there is one particular category of businesses, specifically, that warms our hearts and keeps us committed to our local wedding community. That is, of course, the local wedding businesses run by husband and wife teams. 

We’re not alone in this particular penchant either. As much as we like to suggest local couples approach their wedding planning process in a methodical, step-by-step process, we’ve found that they often flock toward these wedding businesses too. Booking them first based on instinct, and then hoping all the other factors — budget, dates, etc. — fall into place.

Which comes as no surprise. Especially as a soon-to-be-wed couple, the comforting familiarity of working with a team that is both partnered in business and in life is totally unparalleled. A lot of these boss-babe, business couples were actually married in New Mexico too, so knowing they were once in the very same shoes as you — well, how much more reassuring can it get? Their wedding was so great they decided to not only stick with this partnership of love, but to jump in on the wedding industry themselves.

So we couldn’t let another day pass without sending some love back to these amazing couples, who give so much of their time and heart to our community. We couldn’t possibly highlight every married duo whose killing the game in the wedding community of New Mexico, but we can pick out a few of our favorites! Plus, we, Perfect Wedding Guide, have had the pleasure of working one-on-one with these businesses, and are totally confident in recommending their magical talents to you.


1. Matt Blasing Photography

The best part of being in business with my wife Amy is that she brings an administrative business balance to my creative side (she’s a Hospital CEO by day), and she seems to quickly connect with just about anyone, so our couples always love her. Working with your spouse is such an advantage when you know you work well together. After being married for years (and after photographing over a hundred weddings together), you start to learn to read each other’s minds.

At weddings where every minute matters and the schedule can be rushed, being able to anticipate what we need to do, often without even speaking, really helps us not only stay on task regardless of the hurdles that might occur on a wedding day, but do so seamlessly and without stress.

Matt, Matt Blasing Photography


2. Absolute Entertainment

Working together as a couple we discovered we were able to divide up the tasks  serving both of our strengths. We had very successful careers before moving to New Mexico so started out as a well rounded team. Chris & I, Vicky, have successfully worked together for 22 years.
As with anything in a relationship you have to come to workable agreements and this actually becomes a powerful exercise in personal growth.  You always need to nurture your relationship. With communication, kindness and staying out of your Ego you can resolve anything.

3. Shutter Force Photography

The biggest challenge we had to overcome as married business partners was determining how we would build a photography studio with two photographers who have incredibly different styles and “eyes” for photography.
We are both very different people, different artists, different photographers. We learned that this is something our couples like about our style, and we finally let go of the fear that we’re “too different.” After embracing the idea of keeping our independence while blending our styles to tell a story in an exciting way, we learned this is something that truly sets us apart. It took a long time for us to see that the only way we’d find success is to stay true to who we are and to walk a different path than other vendors in the industry.

4. Orange September + Casa Roñdena Winery

Vicki and Jerry are known as the powerhouse duo behind both the well-loved wedding venue, Casa Roñdena Wineryand the esteemed event planning company Orange September. Somehow, they manage to balance being business-oriented creatives as well as life partners, while always keeping the focus on their couples and their special day.


5. Photographic Perspectives

So John & I were married in Villanueva, NM (near Pecos) in the same church that my parents were married in and my grand-parents; and it’s in this tradition and roots in New Mexico that reinforces our role as story tellers.  Our families’ roots in New Mexico has taught us to appreciate the traditions passed down in other families, and we always strive to keep these traditions alive in the photos and videos so that they are not lost for the generations that are yet to come.

If we could get married again, I would have loved to have Lupe from Genesis to help me.  Her creativity and knowledge in lighting & décor can transform any location!

Sandra, Photographic Perspectives


6. The View Event Center by Simply Decor & Events

Akshay and Payal, the married couple whose glowing personalities match that of their stunning venue, The View Event Center, do more than just host weddings and events. They first began working together as Simply Decor, and still continue to fabulously furnish the weddings at their modern and metropolitan wedding venue and beyond. With an unmatched eye for beauty, Akshay and Payal not only continuously support each other, but the couples they work with, too.


7. Kayla Kitts Photography

Anyone who’s ever met Dominic know he has the biggest heart – and it definitely shines through on wedding days!  Things can be hectic – but our job is to stay calm and keep others calm, and it never fails that Dominic comes to the rescue with whatever that couple, that family, or that day needs.  Grandma needs help with the door?  He’s on it.  Kiddo needs a funny dance to smile?  Done.  Groom needs a place for all the things before he walks into the ceremony?  You betcha.  Someone needs the shirt off his back?  Sure thing.  He’s a man of his word, a jack of all trades, and absolutely the guy you want by your side on a special day because he’s for sure gonna be there for ya.

We’re so thankful to call this our job!  It’s a dream, with days filled with love and celebration and so many memories – and we’re so honored to be a part of it all!


8. King Mobile Music

Last but certainly not least, a married duo who we rely on several times a year, Brad and Heather King of King Mobile Music. As the emcees and certified fun-masters who make our wedding shows as successful as they are, we can’t recommend them as a team enough. With a smile and a laugh readily available to anyone and everyone who needs it, their levity balances the weight of a busy wedding day or event.


 

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What to Do in ABQ: Group Activities to Keep Your Guests Entertained

In a perfect world, every wedding would be drama-free, full of fun, and focused on the couple first and foremost. We can get you pretty close to perfect, too, by connecting engaged couples with local wedding professionals they can trust and collaborate with on all the most meticulous details. But, as much as we love them, you don’t have as much choice when it comes to — ahem — trusting and collaborating with the family, friends, and loved ones who attend your wedding. (Though don’t let that stop you from planning out your guest list and seating chart as far in advance as possible!)

Luckily, we’ve figured out the best way to work around the many personalities, tastes, values, and opinions that will surely surface throughout the days or week leading up to your wedding: keep them busy.

Whether you’ve lived here all your life, or you’re choosing New Mexico as your destination wedding locale, there are always little secrets about the cities that are waiting to be discovered. So if you’re racking your brain for something to do with your bridesmaids, cousins, and your in-laws, then look no further! We’ve got 5 adult-centered, fun-oriented, and peacemaking group activities that everyone can enjoy.

1. Albuquerque Tourism & Sightseeing Factory (AT&SF)

It simply wouldn’t do the famed Duke City Pedaler justice if we started out this fun-time round-up with anything else. The 10-person trolley bike can be seen, for us locals, zipping through downtown Albuquerque every weekend, making stops at all the best breweries and bars. And yes, okay, zipping might be a stretch as the speed of the half-bike, half-vehicle machine depends on the leg strength and relative sobriety of its operators, but it really does feel like you’re flying through the city. We can say this with confidence because we, the Perfect Wedding Guide team, have done the Duke City Pedaler! (Yes, we had a blast.)

To check out booking availability for your friends and fam to hop on and ride around in search of brews together, you can contact the AT&SF team here.

2. ABQ BioPark

Maura Jane Photography (right)

If your friends and family are a little less booze-inclined and more into the natural attractions that Albuquerque has to offer, then the ABQ BioPark is the place to start. (Though we have nature and wine enthusiasts on our team as well, so they’re definitely not mutually exclusive!)

For spring and summer weddings, the botanical gardens offer winding trails among blooms so beautiful they’re sure to calm any pre-wedding anxiety from you or your wedding party. If laying in the sun sounds better than walking around, there’s always the delightful Tingley Beach, too! Plus, winter and fall weddings need not worry about having nothing to do — the botanical gardens have an indoor section that perfectly supplements a visit to the zoo.

For ticket details and events happening at the ABQ BioPark, you can contact their team here.

3. Casa Rondeña Tasting Room

Blue Rose Photography (top left) and Matt Blasing Photography

As one of Albuquerque’s favorite places to get married, Casa Rondeña is already a little bit famous in the city. Which comes as no surprise after you’ve experienced the sweeping landscape and their artisanal approach to winery. Both together make stepping inside Casa Rondeña like stepping into another, more luxurious and curated dimension.

But, did you know that there’s no need to wait for someone’s wedding to finally jump in and explore the winery? From noon to 7pm everyday, the Casa Rondeña tasting room is completely open to the public, with enthusiastic and hospitable wine connoisseurs on staff to educate and serve you and your loved ones.

For tickets and information on just how otherworldly an afternoon at their tasting room can truly be, you can contact their team here.

4. Explora Adult Night

Bryan’s Photography

On paper, Explora is understood to be an interactive science museum for children that explores touchable experiments to create a hands-on educational experience. To locals, Explora is known as the dome-shaped, fantasy-land intersection of magic and science that we desperately wished was around when we were kids.

The team at Explora must have recognized the desperate longing on the faces of the adults who brought their kids to the museum for experimenting, because they started the Adult Night. Which, yes, is exactly what it sounds like. All the fun of the day-to-day museum, with its tinkering and toiling and mad-scientist-laboratory vibes, paired with the cool parts of being an adult: live music, beer & wine, and amazing food.

To reawaken the inner children hiding in the adult bodies of your wedding party, you can check out the Explora events page here, and look for an Adult Night on the horizon.

5. Isleta Resort & Casino‘s Spa + Pool

And finally, for when the bustling busyness of planning a wedding and entertaining your out-of-town family members just gets to be a bit much, rally up the team for some relaxation and recharging.

With daily pool and spa hours, The Spa at Isleta Resort & Casino is the perfect blend of casual relaxation and upscale resort services. Those less inclined to indulge in the spa and beauty side of the resort can enjoy the pool, hot tub, sauna, and amazing views of the Isleta Resort & Casino grounds. (Plus they can go home and brag about how they were able to swim and relax where they shot Jesse Pinkman’s rehab scene in Breaking Bad!)

And for those who do, indeed, need some additionally pampering the spa staff is happy to provide the highest quality professionals from massage therapists to facialists, to hair stylists and estheticians, all in one place.

To schedule spa services and check out the day passes for The Spa at Isleta Resort & Casino, you can contact their knowledgeable and kind staff here.

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Toby + Dan’s Intimate Santa Fe Wedding [with Kayla Kitts Photography!]

I’d like to say that fate put these two in the same place at the right time.  They met in St Louis, half a world away from Toby’s home.  And there in that city was Dan – and they say they knew right away that it was something special.

Kayla, Kayla Kitts Photography

If you didn’t know already, our little perch in the New Mexico wedding community happens to be right in between local engaged couples and the wedding professionals who serve them. So, luckily for us, we’ve been able to watch some serious magic happen in our desert state. Which, you might be thinking something along the lines of: come on, it’s weddings, love, and celebrations, so of course incredible, heartwarming, and tear-jerking stories come to Perfect Wedding Guide pretty much every day.

But what we want to chat about today is a more subtle kind of magic — like whatever unidentifiable force brought Toby and Dan together, and then together again with Kayla Kitts Photography. Because this trend of somehow managing to find the exact vendors who vibe with a couple’s personality happens all the stinking time here. Is it something in the air, in our Land of Enchantment? Maybe.

Or is it because engaged couples actually have a surprising amount of resources to make connecting with local small businesses who have dedicated their talents to weddings a bit easier? Also maybe. Or perhaps it’s a combination of both, or something else entirely. What matters, and what keeps our heart here in the wedding world of New Mexico, is that it happens so frequently.

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Kayla and her hubby Dominic, of Kayla Kitts Photography, are self-proclaimed belly laughers and people persons, and world renowned rays of sunshine. It’s a simple fact that we’ve all come to know as their photography craft has grown and evolved throughout the years of creative practice. Toby and Dan, two sides of the same coin, have a love grounded in a deep friendship and balanced with a sense of levity and humor. Their beaming smiles and bursts of laughter jump off their wedding photos and it’s not hard to imagine the giggles coming from behind the camera, too.

The collaborative and comfortable way Kayla and Dominic interact with couples and their wedding guests was the perfect approach for Toby and Dan’s intimate celebration in Santa Fe. As a couple of people who feel like your close friends even upon first meeting, we’re sure Toby and Dan’s actual close friends and family welcomed Kayla and Dominic’s presence with open arms. We just feel lucky enough to have lived vicariously through it!

To connect with Kayla Kitts Photography for your wedding or engagement, you can contact Kayla and Dominic here.

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They laughed hard as they told me about Dan “super cheesily” proposing on Valentine’s Day, and looked at each other sweetly as they told me about their special day.  As we sat and sipped coffee and cracked up over and over again, I knew that photographing their wedding was going to be awesome – and it was!

Kayla, Kayla Kitts Photography

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Venue  |  Neptune Gallery and Studio Event Space + Dinner at The Compound Restaurant
Florist  |  Bloomstream Floral
Attire  |  Mr. Tux
Officiant  |  Erin Whitcomb
Cake  |  American Pie Bakery
Ceremony Musician  |  Cello for Weddings
Caterer  |  Walter Burke Catering
Coordinator  |  Lauren Mestas with Just Lovely Wedding + Event Planning

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