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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Are Wedding Shows Really Worth It?

We’ll be real with you: yes we host several wedding shows in New Mexico throughout the year, so yes we are slightly biased in favor of the events. But we do have a few self-proclaimed introverts on the team, so we know that not every wedding show is the right vibe for every couple. The high energy, loud crowd, and bustling business of some, larger wedding shows can be exhilarating for some and overwhelming for others.

With our Bride’s Night Out wedding show happening in just a couple days — eep! — we thought we’d  offer a little insight in what to expect from a wedding show by answering the 3 questions we get the most. Because our wedding shows vary in size, time, venue, and vibe, though, we’re pretty confident that there’s at least one out there that’ll be perfect for you — it’s more just figuring which one that is. (Spoiler: if you are an introvert, or just like things a bit more low-key, Bride’s Night Out is the show for you.)

So scroll on to figure out which wedding show in New Mexico would best suit your personality, schedule, wedding date, etc., and grab your tickets while you can. The fashion show seats, VIP pre-parties, and swag bags attached to their respective wedding shows fill up pretty far in advance. (Plus, spoiler #2: there might be some hidden BOGO ticket codes below!)

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1. What kind of vendors/wedding professionals will be there?

Starting off with the easiest answer of them all: tons. For all our wedding shows we invite wedding professionals from all across the board to come and show off their talent.

Depending on the size of the show, we typically cap the category at about 5 wedding professionals each. So you never have to worry about buying a ticket for a room full of photographers — there will always be a wide range of wedding professionals available to connect with you, from officiants and DJs, to bakers and caterers.

2. What’s the difference between the wedding shows? What will the crowd be like?

These questions are smushed together because we hear them so frequently, and they’re intricately connected to each other.

To start with the largest and most energetic show, we have the Diamond Dash, which happens twice a year. With interactive games and giveaways throughout the entire show, it’s pretty hard not to have at least a little bit of fun, but that also means that occasionally people get a bit rowdy. Especially when the crowning event, a cake dive for $1,000 worth of diamond jewelry, comes around. The Diamond Dash also has the most wedding professionals, and the opportunity to spend $500 in PWG Bucks as well though, so the fun is fruitful, too.

Next is Wedding Gallery, which comes around every August. Because it’s our most carefully curated show, the energy of this crowd is quite a bit different, though it is our 2nd largest show as far as attendance goes. A larger emphasis is put on theme both through our efforts as Perfect Wedding Guide, and through the efforts of the wedding professionals who participate. It’s called the Wedding Gallery because it does truly become a gallery space for vendors to show off the absolute peak of their abilities through their booths and the couture fashion show.

And lastly, our Bride’s Night Out event. As our most intimate show of the year, the vibe is less wedding-show-weekend, and more swanky cocktail hour party. Complete still with dozens of wedding professionals to meet with, and plenty of giveaways and opportunities to win substantial prizes, the Bride’s Night Out definitely holds its own compared to the other wedding shows. The focus of this show is pampering, so come expecting cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, special treatments and goodies from each and every wedding professional, and a calm space to chat and connect with these vendors, too. See why it’s the most popular among our engaged introverts?

You can register for any of these wedding shows by clicking their names, or by visiting nm.pwg.com. When you get there, use code BOGOBLOG for buy one, get one free tickets for whichever wedding show sounds like the best time for you and your wedding party.

Matt Blasing Photography

3. Do you actually save any money?

Short answer to the most important question: yes.

Long answer: yes you do, but it manifests in different forms for different shows. For example, we offer $500 in PWG Bucks for the first 100 couples through the door at our Diamond Dash wedding show. So you automatically know that, as long as the vendor you love is participating in the PWG Bucks program, you can save anywhere from $100 to $500 off their packages and/or services.

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At other shows, like the Wedding Gallery and Bride’s Night Out, most wedding professionals offer substantial discounts on their products and services if you book at the show, or shortly after — like, within that same week.

At all of the wedding shows, we call door prizes and giveaways throughout the entire event, so your chances of winning an impressive gift or discount are actually pretty high. (They’re definitely higher than entering a random giveaway online — we can promise that! Unless it’s the 12 Months of Giveaways, since we pick those winners from our pool of local engaged couples, too.)

 

There you have it — a brief lowdown on New Mexico wedding shows. Ready to snag your tickets for the one that best matches your personality? Click here to do exactly that.

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Feeding New Mexico’s Weddings and Communities: Street Food Institute

As certified New Mexico wedding experts, we, the Perfect Wedding Guide team, spend a lot of time talking about what it is that makes each individual wedding so special. Often, we hone in on the little details in the decor, bouquets, vows, and such. We do so because with hundreds of thousands of weddings happening all over the world, it’s the minutia of the moment that reveals the hidden intricacies of a couple’s wedding. So you might ask yourself questions while planning your wedding that seem overly introspective, but are actually totally valid. The colors you choose for your wedding do reflect your identities. Your venue, be it chic and modern with clean edges, or industrial and rustic with an old-world charm, really does encapsulate your penchants and personalities. 

Not to mention, as the world continues to be tumultuous and ever-turning, the decision-making of choosing wedding professional to trust, which vendor to collaborate with, and which small business to support, becomes even bigger than just deciding whose vibe matches yours. If you’re anything like us, then you want to support the kinds of businesses who do good for your community, too. 

So when we first learned about the Street Food Institute here in New Mexico, our initial reaction was to jump for joy. Equal parts food truck catering and culinary education program, the Street Food Institute nourishes our community not only through their delicious food, but through their sustainable entrepreneur pathways, too. The former provides unique, experiential dining options for weddings and events here in New Mexico, and the latter, long-lasting and life-changing professional development for students from all backgrounds. 

With specific programs for those most vulnerable in our community — like their partnership with Crossroads for Women, an organization for formerly incarcerated women — the Street Food Institute empowers and educates while they feed and delight their customers and friends. You can choose from one of their many fine-tuned, carefully curated menus — brunch foods, taco bars, causal eats, vegetarian cuisine, and asian buffets — or you can take advantage of their professional chef expertise and have a custom menu created to perfectly compliment the other eats and treats at your wedding. With either option, you can move forward with the Street Food Institute knowing you’re supporting and celebrating a local business who strengthens our entire community. 

Plus, if we’re being honest here, we all know the food truck trend is the most adorable and convenient thing to ever hit the food scene here in New Mexico. By partnering with the Street Food Institute for your wedding, you can reflect your good taste both literally and metaphorically, and create an experience for your family and friends unlike any other. To contact the incredibly dedicated, incredibly kind team over at the Street Food Institute, you can contact them here. 

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New Mexico’s Most Loved Bridal Gown Shop

From my first visit, Darlene and her team have been absolutely amazing when it came to helping my find the perfect wedding dress. Not only are they incredibly professional, but they genuinely care about helping you find your dream dress. This has been an amazing experience and I recommend everyone come here, you won’t be disappointed! 

Britney, local bride

Now, despite the fact we, the Perfect Wedding Guide team here in New Mexico, have been working with local engaged couples and the wedding professionals in our state for a long time now, it’s still quite the assumptive leap for us to claim one bridal gown shop as New Mexico’s most loved. Or at least it would be, if we weren’t talking about Bridal Elegance by Darlene. See, with over 30 years of experience, Darlene and her team have the miles of positive reviews, community love, and name recognition needed to qualify as New Mexico’s most loved. It’s really no wonder that they do, either.

Rather than it being a fluke, or stroke of luck, or popularity contest, Bridal Elegance by Darlene has won over the hearts of brides and bridesmaids alike by being exceedingly kind and qualified, and having impeccable gowns. It really is that simple! Because, despite what the fairytales and Hollywood movies might have whispered in your prepubescent ears, choosing a wedding gown isn’t the easiest thing in the world. There’s sizing charts, measurements, fingers getting caught in zippers, giant mirrors for meticulous examinations, sequins in — ahem — interesting places, and more we don’t need to mention because you get the picture, right?

With all that confusion, the kind of people you want by your side teaching you how to bustle and tying up your corset back are the kind of people who really get it. And at Bridal Elegance, they get it. They know the wedding industry, they know their gowns, and they know the process of making this big decision can be overwhelming. With attention and care, the team at Bridal Elegance by Darlene act from this place of knowing, and create an environment for their brides that is so calm and conducive, you do actually get a bit of that fairytale magic. Especially when you find the one.

So yes, these masters of tulle, taffeta, and human kindness have made so many brides, so many bridesmaids, and so many flower girls feel beautiful and comfortable in their own skin that they have been granted the title of New Mexico’s most loved. To commemorate this and the fact we’ve been working with Bridal Elegance by Darlene for over 15 years now — holy moly! — we’ve recapped some of our favorite styled shoots and weddings featuring their gowns below.

Once you’ve been swept up in this local wedding magic, you’ll have no trouble loving Bridal Elegance by Darlene as much as we, and all these local photographers, wedding planners, and decor specialists, do too. You can contact the Bridal Elegance team here to get started on finding your perfect gown.

Picante Passion: A {Super Local} Styled Shoot

Tiffany Burke Events + Tori Photography

 

Sweet Summer Wedding with Kayla Kitts Photography

Kayla Kitts Photography

Bridal elegance by Darlene is by far the best place to find your dreams dress. They’re super professional, they listen to what you’re looking for and find you the most beautiful dress that you can imagine. Every single member of this shop is Extremely knowledgeable and just make it happen for you.

Guadalupe, local bride


Romantic Desert Wedding Inspiration

Briana Nicole Photography

 

From Albuquerque to Iceland: Real Winter Wedding

Maura Jane Photography

Darlene at Bridal Elegance is the best person to see if you want to look and feel your best in your wedding gown. She gives you that personal touch that you won’t get at a chain store. With something for every budget. She listens to what you are imagining for your big day and makes it come to life. Plus, she’s locally owned which is amazing!

Racheal, local bride


Red: A Storybook Styled Shoot

Maura Jane Photography

 

Dramatic New Mexican Skies with Local Wedding Professionals

Photographic Perspectives

 

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12 Months of Giveaways: Free Stuff for Engaged Couples Only

Was it Winston Churchill who said, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give,” so many years ago? We’re sure it was, and we’re even more sure that he’s still absolutely right. Giving back to the community who supports our dreams has been and will always be the fuel and fire that keeps us doing what we do. (Which is fostering connections between engaged couples and the local wedding community, in case you forgot.)

But with such exciting things always happening in our little Perfect Wedding Guide world here in New Mexico — wedding shows, luncheons, the magazine, and much more — it would be very easy to hold this principle in abeyance, though. Which is why we created the 12 Months of Giveaways!

At first glance, the 12 Months of Giveaways is a totally free, totally local giveaway opportunity for engaged couples in New Mexico to win prizes from wedding businesses, valued at over $300, that happens every single month. (Yep, all twelve of ’em.) Digging a little deeper though, the 12 Months of Giveaways is also reminder for us to pause, reflect, and send some gratitude out into the world around us. This way, we have fun little monthly reminders to continue building the life we want to live.

This March, the contest resets for the year, and we have a fresh new batch of twelve incredible prizes for engaged couples to choose from! We’re lucky enough to also have twelve different wedding professionals providing their lovingly-crafted products and fine-tuned talents for the prizes, so every winner gets to choose the absolute best gift for their wedding.

So, without further adieu, let us give everyone a first look into the 2019 prize list! (And click here to enter the giveaway for yourself!)

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Lauren Cherie Photography

2019 12 Months of Giveaways Prize List

1. Complimentary boudoir session and 8×10 print – valued at $300, courtesy of Sheer Desire Boudoir. 

2. Day-of coordination and event management services – valued at $800, courtesy of Michelle Victoria Wedding & Event Planning. 

3. Complimentary three tier buttercream wedding cake with delivery in town serving 74 guests – valued at $325, courtesy of The Cake Boutique. 

4. Two for “Head to Toe Couples Package” includes a 90 minute couple’s treatment with Shea Butter wrap, scalp massage, and EcoFin for hands or feet. All day access to hot tub, sauna and relaxation lounge – valued at $330, courtesy of The Remedy Day Spa. 

5. Complimentary mini engagement session and mini boudoir session – valued at $500, courtesy of Lauren Cherie Photography. 

6. Complimentary two hour mirror photo booth package – valued at $700, courtesy of Magic Mirror. 

7. Complimentary boudoir photo session and 6×6 photo book – valued at $320, courtesy of Creative Portraits by Dolores.

8. “Bride To Be Package” includes an essential manicure, pedicure, signature body polish and facial. Totaling 4 1⁄2 hours of services – valued at $350 from Isleta Spa, courtesy of Isleta Resort & Casino.

9. Complimentary three tier classic wedding cake serving approximately 75 guests – valued at $300, courtesy of Smallcakes A Cupcakery.

10. Complimentary hair, makeup, and false lash services for the bride and one bridesmaid – valued at $300, courtesy of Bombshell Hair and Makeup.

11. Complimentary engagement session – valued at $375, courtesy of Coryn Kiefer Photography.

12. “The Lovers Delight Package” includes a private introductory couple’s horse lesson and photography session with the horses – valued at $300, courtesy of ABQ Horse Breaking + Training LLC.

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Smallcakes A Cupcakery