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

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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!

 

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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