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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What Local Engaged Couples Have to Say About Planning a Wedding in New Mexico

So, if we’re being honest with ourselves, most people in New Mexico know Perfect Wedding Guide for our wedding shows. Which makes sense, considering how many hundreds of engaged couples and local wedding professionals come together to make shows like the Diamond Dash, Bride’s Night Out, and the Wedding Gallery possible. We’re not really complaining, promise, but we actually have a lot of love and appreciation from some of our smaller events, like the Bridal Board + Vendor Mixer!

The 2019 edition of the Bridal Board + Vendor Mixer flew past us just this last week. (Of course months of planning, collaborating, and designing goes by in a dizzying but beautiful flash!) All we want to talk about is all the amazing nuggets of knowledge we learned, but wait…

What even is the Bridal Board + Vendor Mixer?!

Great question, reader! This particular event was conceptualized to fill the gap between local engaged couples and the wedding professionals who serve them. (Sound familiar?) Essentially, the Bridal Board + Vendor Mixer is oriented like a research or focus group. We invite around 10 engaged or recently married couples from the local community to come share their insights, triumphs, complaints, compliments, woes, worries, and wonders about the wedding planning process in New Mexico. 

Then, with bellies full of a complementary, gourmet dinner, the wedding professionals from all over New Mexico take note, adjust their practices, ask questions, and, hopefully, grow! It’s one of the few opportunities you have in any business-client relationship to truly hear and communicate with one another. It’s how we’re able to keep the eclectic New Mexico wedding market moving and evolving in the right direction.

Ready to learn what the engaged couples who have come before you have to say about the wedding planning process in New Mexico? Let’s jump in with our 3 main takeaways.

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1. Inclusivity is Key.

Another word for inclusivity here could be clarity. When we asked the couples, “What is the most important quality you are looking for when hiring a wedding professional?” the conclusion was the same across the board. Couples look for those who exude kindness and personality, and vendors who actually listen to their vision without imposing their own ideas on the couple. 

When we asked the couples what the vendors they choose did to earn their business, what we heard reaffirmed these values. They appreciated (and went on to book) the professionals who didn’t exclusively brag about themselves, whose websites were clear and communicative, and whose work accurately represented the couples they want to work with.

For example, if a wedding professional exclusively promotes straight couples on their website and social media channels, the chances of reaching LGBTQ couples are pretty much nil.

To sum: be clear, be kind, be inclusive, and listen well.

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2. Stick to Email, Folks.

Yes, the digital world is ever changing, and it’s so tempting to make texting your main form of communication. (You can do it from bed, from the gym, from the couch with Netflix playing in front of you, so we totally get it.)

But, because lots of couples create a specific email address for wedding planning, keeping all communications in one place is best. There’s higher visibility of conversations in email as well, so accountability comes much easier.

Also, hate is a strong word, but our couples felt strongly about this: they hate phone calls. Like, really and truly. Most couples are at work during a business’s hours of operations, or they’re at home with their partners and families.

Remember: stick to email.

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3. Yes, Social Media is Still Important.

Your website should still be the home of your business, but social media is where the vast majority of couples look for wedding inspiration. The two top contenders, which you might be able to guess already, are Instagram and Pinterest.

Instagram is a great platform to utilize, according to the local couples, because it’s easy to return to feed posts for references — though they love seeing stories, especially of behind-the-scenes previews for styled shoots and weddings. Pinterest is beneficial for businesses as well because it’s so visually-oriented. Then, there’s always the concept of pinfinity, too!

(Pinfinity = the fact your pins continue to be recirculated by pinners long after you post them, whereas Instagram posts are usually only seen within the first 48 hours of posting.)

Here’s your excuse to log on, friends, and show the world what you’re working with.

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A very special thank you to all the incredible local businesses who made this awesome, collaborative event possible: Embassy Suites, for generously hosting us and feeding all our guests a marvelous meal; De Novo Pastoral Services for being our informed and entertaining emcee; Beth Waldron Photography for capturing all the fun above; Estella Floral Design for our darling centerpieces; Funky Olive Designs for our pretty little invitations; Cello for Weddings for serenading all our guests with delightful live cello music; and Black Swan Events, for transforming the ballroom into a conducive, inspiring space.

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New Mexico Wedding Photography with Shutter Force

We were particularly impressed with Megan and James’ infectious enthusiasm, which made the day even more fun and memorable. They are truly adventure photographers and are up for anything to get a great photo. It is obvious that they enjoy their jobs and love spending time with their couples while providing great pictures.

-Amanda, local + engaged

One of the many things that makes New Mexico oh so special — besides the green chile, intoxicating desert landscapes, and mañana mentality, of course — is the variety of people, cultures, and communities coexisting here together. There’s no one, dominant kind of person here, but rather a collection of different experiences of the world, values, stories, and lives.

When it comes to choosing the wedding professionals you’ll work with to make your dream day come true, then, the options are endless. Taking a look at even just the range of skill we have from local photographers, and those who have come from all over the world to be ceaselessly inspired by New Mexico, your choices are definitely not limited. Which means you have the opportunity here to spend time with your decision, and choose the photographer or photography team that matches your aesthetic preferences and personality. How lucky is that?!

Every photographer in New Mexico is talented in their own unique ways, too, so there really is no wrong decision when it comes to choosing someone in-state. But there are a few who we can say, from personal experience, go above and beyond to capture your celebration of love in all its grandness — and all the important, tiny moments too — with collaborative hearts and full dedication. You see where we’re going here?

Meagan and James are the husband and wife duo behind the respected name, Shutter Force Photography, and when we say dedicated, we mean dedicated. Now, of course the couple had their own wedding photographed, so they’ve been on both sides of the lens and know how to move and operate within the bustling business of a wedding day without being obtrusive or missing a special moment. This, paired with their adventurous and fun-loving personalities, makes Shutter Force Photography feel more like a couple of your close friends, Meagan and James, who happen to be supremely skilled behind the camera. Which you can see, through the candid smiles, comfortable postures, and wide open hearts of everyone who collaborates with them.

We could talk endlessly about Shutter Force Photography‘s particular strengths and aesthetic style, but no matter how heavily we lean on the thesaurus, nothing comes close to describing their ability to capture sweeping landscapes and delicate details like, well, their photos of sweeping landscapes and delicate details. So we’ll let them take it from here.

To book Shutter Force Photography for your wedding, you can contact Meagan and James here.

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Outstanding, caring and enthusiastic photographers, who do an amazing job of catching the big and little details that make up a special day!

-Mark, local + newlywed

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Wedding Venue Hotspots in New Mexico {Part One!}

When you stop and consider the New Mexico landscape for a moment, it really comes as no surprise that visual industries are on the rise in our home state. Film, design, fine art, architecture — every medium has an inspiration because, well, we have everything! Mountains and mesas, high and low desert, urban cityscapes, lush forests, and small towns are all in abundance, which makes for varied and personal experiences with the state for all who visit or reside.

Finding a wedding venue, then, is at once the easiest and most difficult decision you’ll have to make while planning your wedding in New Mexico. Easier than ever before because, as wide a range of landscapes to choose from, is the type of venue within those places. From traditional New Mexican adobe and Spanish-inspired cathedrals, to crisp modern art spaces and whimsical woodland cabins, there’s a venue for pretty much every vibe. So whatever dream wedding fantasy you’ve got tucked away on your Pinterest or even just your subconscious, New Mexico has you covered.

With such an incredible variety to choose from though, and every option is gorgeous in its own exceptional way, the decision-making can become a bit overwhelming. So we, from our unique vantage point between engaged couples and local wedding businesses, compiled 18 of New Mexico’s hottest spots for ceremonies and receptions. Starting with the just the first three in the series, these venues have been vetted and are certified beautiful, with incredible teams of dedicated wedding pros behind the curtains. Keep an eye out for the rest of our absolute favorite venues as part of the hotspots feature!

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Shutterfreek Photography

1. Eldorado Hotel & Spa

Eldorado Hotel & Spa offers unique and elegant venue spaces for the perfect Santa Fe wedding. La Capilla de Oro, the stunning non-denominational chapel, features natural and customizable lighting with an artisan-crafted gold leaf alter as the backdrop.

The rooftop presidential suite has gorgeous views of the city as well as the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Historic Casa España, the stylish and antique filled club, is available for unforgettable receptions as well as the 7,000sq. ft. Eldorado Grand Ballroom (the largest in Santa Fe).

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Emily Joanne Wedding Films and Photography

2. El Monte Sagrado Spa and Resort

With unparalleled amenities, mountain views, lush landscapes, and 7,000 square feet of event space, El Monte Sagrado Spa and Resort is the perfect destination for an unforgettable Taos wedding. Couples can say “I do” in the Sacred Circle, an intimate outdoor space encircled by mature willows and cottonwoods. 

Ceremonies and receptions in the elegant Rio Grande Ballroom can accommodate up to 400 guests. There is a wide variety of rooms and settings from which to choose, from the intimacy of the Library to the Grand Bohemian Gallery overlooking aspen trees and waterfalls.

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Talitha A. Tarro Photography

3. Event Center at Sandia Golf Club

From jaw-dropping views to high-end finishes, the Event Center at Sandia Golf Club provides a one-of-a-kind venue to say “I Do.” With expansive glass windows bringing in gorgeous natural-light, views of the pristine golf course and dramatic views of the Sandia Mountains, you won’t have much need for additional décor!

The Event Center at Sandia Golf Club is the perfect spot for an intimate, casual wedding, but if high-end is your dream, pulling off a sophisticated soiree is easily done! For a unique, gorgeous place like no other in New Mexico, we promise you won’t be able to get enough of this gorgeous venue!

 

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First Day of Forever: New Mexico Love Story

As you probably well know by now, our Perfect Wedding Guide team is positioned between the local wedding professionals, and the engaged couples who work with them. So we’re often bouncing back and forth from brides to businesses — which, of course, we consider a lucky pendulum. But, every so often when the stars align, we’re lucky enough to have both our worlds collide!

Courtney is both one-half of a heartwarming love story — which we’ll get to, promise — and one of the lovely and dutiful members of the Nature Pointe team. For years now, we’ve had the opportunity to recommend and relish in the perfected beauty of the New Mexico wedding venue. So yeah, you could say we’re business buds!

Now, with something as delightful as a proposal, we’ve had the opportunity to interview Courtney as one of our featured love stories! Her other half, Joshua, planned a fantastic day that culminated with him popping the question, and we’re so happy to be able to share it here with you.

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When did you and Joshua first meet?

“We met in middle school during the 7th grade!”

When and how did he propose to you?

“He proposed to me with a culmination of all the ways he asked me to dances in high school. (We started dating during the summer before our junior year.) There was a scavenger hunt, a dozen roses, a line of Hershey’s Kisses, and chocolate melted down into letters asking if I’d marry him. Here’s the story: When I drove into the parking lot, I noticed his car and knew something was up.

I entered the office, and he was nowhere to be found. Instead, when I sat at my desk there was a note, the beginning of a scavenger hunt, and a single rose. Funnily enough, the note teased me about getting the scavenger hunt right this time. (I already messed up one in high school). I read the note and was immediately confused. I thought to myself “I guess I’m bound to mess this up too lol.” Instead of finding the next clue, I found the last clue that directed me out of the office and to a line of Hershey’s Kisses leading me to him.

When I got there, I asked if I had missed something and was turned around to go find the other clues. Back in the office, I found the second clue, another rose, and a note saying one reason why he loved me. Then, I went onto find 3 more clues, roses, and lovely notes. Finally, I was sure I found all of the clues and excitedly went out to see him. When I got there, he was down on one knee.”

How did you react to his proposal? Were you expecting it?

“I can’t even remember what he said, but I immediately said yes and gave him a big smooch! When we walked back into the office all of my co-workers cheered and congratulated us.

I had expected the proposal the next day seeing as it was our 7th dating anniversary. Joshua said that he had to do it the day before so that I’d be at least a little surprised. I was super excited and shaky the whole time. Emotional overload!”

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Glory Ranch Films: Albuquerque Cinematographer

At the ceremony, [Glory Ranch Films] completely blended in and made the filming feel totally stress-free, not at all ‘in your face’, as I’ve experienced at some other weddings. The film is just beautiful and incorporated sweet thoughtful details as well as being incredibly high quality.

Julia, local bride

Is there anything sweeter than hearing kind and genuine words about one of your favorite local wedding professionals from a happy newlywed? Okay, maybe that’s a bit too specific, but for us, that truly is the pinnacle of sweetness. How could it not be, when we spend our days working hard to keep the dreams alive for both New Mexico’s engaged couples, and the local businesses who serve them?

It’s local businesses like Glory Ranch Films, especially, who fuel our wedding-loving, community-serving fire. Simply because the husband and wife duo have been doing the good work of filming, capturing, and creating beautiful moments for local couples to have for the rest of their lives. For over ten years Tom and Jenny, of Glory Ranch Films, have been working diligently for their couples, and the couple’s passion for storytelling hasn’t wavered a bit. And that is why we’re inspired by their team, and able to keep our spirits high while we try to support our community just as well.

With that in mind, it comes as no surprise, then, that all of Tom and Jenny’s couples have nothing but delightful things to say about their work. Their finely-tuned, documentary style of capturing moments keeps their work true to the heart of each couple. After years of collaborating and creating together, clean visuals and dynamic storytelling comes naturally to the couple. 

No shot-by-shot analysis of their creative wedding films could come close to recreating the experience of immersing yourself in their work, so we’ll take off from here, and let their artistry speak for itself. To book Glory Ranch Films for your wedding, you can contact Tom and Jenny here. 

We relish the process of partnering couples to bring their wedding day visions to life through film, capturing the beauty, honesty and magic within both the extravagant moments and the intricate details throughout the big day.

-Tom and Jenny, Glory Ranch Films

 

King Mobile Music: King of Parties in Albuquerque

Here in Albuquerque, our Perfect Wedding Guide team is probably best known for the handful of wedding shows we throw throughout the year. The most popular one being, of course, the Diamond Dash. Though, on the day of the wedding show, our favorite part actually comes when the curtains close on another high-energy, super fun Sunday — when we get to see hundreds of couples leave the Hyatt Regency Downtown with bags full of free goodies and prizes, and giant smiles on their faces.

We can only take a small portion of the credit for those happy couples though, because most of the magic happens on stage. Yes, we’ve got the bridal fashion show, but more importantly, we’ve got Brad from King Mobile Music up on stage with a mic, and a slew of jokes and games to get everyone pumped up.

My fiancé and I met with Brad through a recommendation from our photographer because we had mentioned that our dream wedding reception was A LOT of fun and a had every guest dancing. Let me tell you, Brad delivered. From the very beginning as the guests were arriving, he was mingling and chatting with everybody. And then as soon as it was time for the reception, he was ready to turn it into a great party! He was out on the dance floor with everybody and he kept the party going the whole night.

-Kayla, local newlywed

The team at King Mobile Music is so much more than a group of DJs, and they’ll tell you that themselves, too. As entertainment professionals and wedding experts, King Mobile Music offers couples things that they didn’t even know they wanted — like two DJs, instead of just one. With two experts there for each wedding, the King Mobile Music team ensures that one can keep the music flowing smoothly, while the other interacts with the audience to keep spirits high, and feet dancing.

Plus, with customizable lighting packages available for engaged couples, King Mobile Music is kind of a one-stop-shop for all your wedding entertainment. Their team is responsible for lighting the Dîner en Blanc the last several years — an event which typically has over 800 attendees — so you can feel confident in their lighting equipment and abilities. Because, if we’re being real, Dîner en Blanc is probably the most legit event in Albuquerque, which makes King Mobile Music pretty darn legit, too. (So legit we’re still using the word legit as an adjective because their team impresses us so much, we forgot it wasn’t 2014 anymore.)

From now until the end of the year, King Mobile Music is offering engaged couples six free uplights with their wedding music + lighting package. Which is a $300 value — as if they aren’t already doing so much for the local wedding community here! To book the King Mobile Music team  and ensure that your special day is the most fun wedding you’ll ever attend, you can contact them here.

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King Mobile Music made our wedding day so memorable. They were dressed professionally, handled themselves well and most of all made our wedding so much fun! We incorporated Jewish traditions into our reception which KMM had no problem leading. They handled the Hora dance better than any DJ’s on YouTube videos that I have seen. Honestly I think EVERYONE was on the dance floor. We did not have to worry about the timeline because they kept us on schedule. They even made sure guests gave us time to eat!!! We appreciate everything they did for us. We definitely recommend them for your wedding.  

-M, local newlywed

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