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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Black Swan Events: For When Your Wedding Decor Simply Must Dazzle

Black Swan stepped up to the plate and handled everything for an extremely over scheduled bride and groom[…]. Everything was absolutely beautiful down to the last detail.

Gabriel, local groom

That’s the simple reality of weddings. Brides, grooms, fiancés — they’re all just lovely titles we add to describe real, normal human beings. These human beings, as you might guess, have real human being jobs, families, friends, responsibilities, and obligations that often take up nearly all their bandwidth. So when it comes time to plan a wedding, our over-scheduled brides, grooms, and couples are, most often, already spread too thin.

Which is when Black Swan Events steps in. Joann and Brian, the married duo whose creativity and meticulous attention to detail drives Black Swan Events forward, are the kinds of people you call to save the day. (Or, if you’re a little more ahead of the game, you call them to make sure the day never needs saving at all!) After learning and evolving within the New Mexico wedding community for years now, Black Swan Events is one of the few event companies who can truthfully claim to be ‘full service.’

Their dedication to precision has famed their name among engaged couples in New Mexico, and their professionalism paired with simple kindness has ensured their lifelong relationships with other wedding professionals in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Which means that when our darling human being brides, grooms, and couples feel simply up to the neck with officiant recommendations and marketing materials from DJs across the state, Black Swan Events can cut through the clutter and offer reliable guidance for choosing vendors, venues, and everything in between.

While we love all our New Mexico wedding professionals, we can’t always offer our full, wholehearted support and commendations, simply because we haven’t had the chance to work with every single business in our state. When it comes to Black Swan Events though, we can say with complete confidence that they will take care of you, because they also take care of us. If you’ve had the chance to visit one of our many extravagant wedding shows, chances are you’ve seen some Black Swan Events decor in action.

From the most minute, like the hand-lettering on your balloons, to the sweeping draping covering a ballroom ceiling, Joann and Brian cover every corner. Years of devotion to the engaged couples in New Mexico have brought them to near-celebrity status in the community, and for all the right reasons. (Don’t believe it? Check out their plethora of 5-star reviews!) To book Black Swan Events for your wedding, and ensure your decor will dazzle beyond belief, you can contact Joann and Brian here.

See more from this wedding here: Let’s Get Mehried, Shams + Sharmin

Joanne and her staff were simply amazing! They helped us find an excellent photographer, DJ, etc… And walked us through the whole wedding planning process. She designed all of our decorations and florals that were simply stunning! The day of the wedding she took care of every tiny detail leaving us to enjoy the celebration of our daughter’s special day. I highly recommend this company to plan your big event!  

Laura, local bride

Maura Jane Photography

Joanne planned all of our décor for our wedding reception. She is professional and easy to get along with and has a niche for creativity. I received so many wonderful comments about the décor of our ballroom for the reception. She worked on my budget and planned her design accordingly. She then gave me three options for price levels around my budget. She listened to what I wanted and incorporated it into my design. 

Tracy, local bride

See more from this wedding here: New Years Wedding Bash {Dominic + Erin}

Thank you to Joann and her staff for a beautiful job decorating our ballroom for our 10 year vow renewal. You brought my vision to reality. We had so many compliments from our guests how beautiful everything looked. Thank you again for giving us wonderful memories to remember!
Paula
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Blo: Albuquerque’s Fav Blow Dry Bar

When you hear the phrase blow dry bar, your mind might conjure up imagery of 1950’s ladies in pleats and patterns getting blow-outs and blow-drys all in a row. But with just a three letter distinction, the blow dry bar suddenly becomes Blo Blow Dry Bar, and everything changes. Gone are the days of mint green tile and hair as tall as the doorframe. Instead, here among our wedding professionals in Albuquerque, we have sleek edges and minimalist white space with lush, comfortable seating that makes your hair appointment feel more like an appointment in the clouds.

The Bloers, also known as your stylists, have dedicated their nimble fingers to elevating your hair. In height, maybe if that’s what you’re into, but definitely in quality. By using the best quality ingredients paired with their meticulous training, you’d be hard pressed to not feel like your best self coming out of there.

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Which, yes, the focus of your wedding day is love, love, and more love, as you know. But regardless of how deep your love for your partner runs, it’s difficult to focus on anything else when you don’t feel like yourself. With so much to worry about when it comes to planning your wedding day too, the last thing you want to be focus on is a misplaced hair or an updo that doesn’t match your personality. Not to mention the hundreds of photos from your photographer and guests that will memorialize your celebration of love forever.

But don’t worry, and don’t let anyone tell you its vanity. It’s a day you want to remember and revisit fondly, for the rest of your everlasting marriage, so place your beautiful face (and hair!) in the talented hands of beauty professionals you can trust with Blo Blow Dry Bar.

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Ashley + Kris: Real Wedding at Event Center at Sandia Golf Club

The goal for us on our wedding day was to make sure everything was very personal and that our guests had a fun and memorable time.

-Ashley, bride

Luckily for our darling local newlywed, Ashley, she and her now-husband, Kris, are not alone in that desire. With thousands of weddings happening in New Mexico alone every year, it becomes less and less about brands, colors, antiquated traditions, and more about love, community, and celebration. For the next few years, this trend is expected to continue, as engaged couples shoot less for the fairytale and more for the unforgettable experience that their guests can enjoy for every moment of the day.

With so much magic possible here in Albuquerque, too, it’s no small wonder that more couples are opting for staying in our home state as well. Our local wedding professionals prove again and again that they’re on parr with coastal trends and styles through their innovative work and collaborative approach to the wedding community. (Don’t believe us? Check out our last blog post — we rounded up a few of our favorite styled shoots and real weddings from the last year!)

Because we’re here, in the Land of Mañana, too, our wedding professionals have a certain special quality to them that you can’t find anywhere else: flexibility. For them — like Lauren with The Event Center at Sandia Golf — love really is at the center of all that they do. So it becomes imperative to work around the usual roadblocks, think outside the box, and do what they can to manifest that love in a way that truly reflects the people it belongs too: the couple!

For Ashley + Kris’s big day, they were able to do exactly that. The Event Center‘s sweeping views framed the all-night dancing of the couple and their guests, and the grandness of the day was complemented by refined details so unique to their love story, it couldn’t have been anyone else’s day but their own.

Finding a venue that offered both indoor and outdoor space, where our guests could play corn hole on the event lawn, visit the photo booth on the patio and enjoy dancing all night in the ballroom ticked every box for us; and the jaw-dropping views for our wedding photos didn’t hurt either. The Event Center at Sandia Golf Club is truly a hidden gem in Albuquerque!”
-Ashley, bride
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Upon meeting with Ashley and Kris, our team knew that if they picked the Event Center at Sandia Golf Club it would be the perfect fit. They were such a fun couple and you could immediately see how much they loved each other and that more than anything they wanted to make sure their wedding was one their guests would remember. They had so many personal touches that really showed who they were as a couple, especially how much they loved their pets and how much they loved the Aggies or Lobos depending on who you asked. Ashley and Kris found several ways to make sure their beloved pets presence was felt at the wedding.
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Venue: Event Center at Sandia Golf Club |  Photography: Play on Light Photography | Cake: Simply Sweet by Darci | Dress: M&J Bridal Boutique | Photo Booth: Snapshot Selfies | Photo Booth Videographer: Avista Video | Centerpieces: A Day to Remember  | DJ: DJ Halcyon
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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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5 Venue Shopping Tips From a Venue {Guest Post}

There’s always so much talk of venues in the wedding world, including here with Perfect Wedding Guide. But when it comes to your celebration of love, your venue really is one of the most important items on your planning list — without one, there’s no wedding! Which is why we have Courtney, with Nature Pointe, here to make your venue shopping experience as smooth as can be with some time-tested tips.


5 Venue Shopping Tips

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Hi guys! I hope that you’re day so far has been wonderful. If we haven’t had the pleasure, my name is Courtney Brooks, and I’m the Venue Director at Nature Pointe Weddings and Events. It’s my job to make sure that your wedding planning process is as stress free as possible. 

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T. Rayne Photography

In my opinion, there’s nothing better at combating stress than knowledge. As a Venue Director, I’m here today to share my experiences with you and instill a sense of calm. Here are my 5 venue shopping tips:

1. Wedding Sales Representatives are Not Used Car Salesmen

Please do not let the sales portion of our title scare you. Every Wedding Sales Representative that I’ve worked with in New Mexico has the same goal, and guess what, that goal is not making a sale! Our goal is to make sure that you book the venue that best suits your vision and budget.

What does this mean for you? Be honest with us, talk about your budget, and ask questions even if you think they are silly. Yes, of course we’d love to work with you, but if we aren’t the venue for you, we’ll be honest too.

 

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Nicole Bradshaw Photography

2. Bring a Camera

Most likely you’ll be touring many different wedding venues over several days or even weeks. After all is said and done, it can be hard to recall which venue featured what services. Bringing along a camera will be a tremendous help in recalling the finer details.

 

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3. If Possible, Ask to Walk Around the Venue On Your Own

The first time you walk through a venue it will often be a guided tour. During this time, certain features will be pointed out and you’ll be encouraged to see the building in a particular light. Walking around again gives you the chance to see it for yourself. Ask yourself, “is this where I see myself getting married?”

 

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Matt Blasing Photography

4. Bring Along Your Inspiration

If you have a Pinterest page, saved Google images, or cutouts in bridal magazines bring them along for the tour. Many venues, like Nature Pointe Weddings and Events, can provide or rent centerpieces and décor. Having your inspiration there allows you to ask the representative if they have similar décor on hand and if you can see it.

 

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Nicole Bradshaw Photography

5. Follow Up

This is true of any wedding vendor that you contact. Follow up with them and let them know where you are in the decision making process. We hate to be annoying, but truly don’t know if you are receiving our correspondences and so we reach out several times out of necessity.

 

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Thanks for lending your ear (or in this case your eye) to me for a moment. Keep these tips in mind while shopping around and save yourself some stress!

 

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Wedding Venue Hot Spots in New Mexico {Part Three!}

New Mexico wedding Santa Fe planning La Fonda gown suit inspiration design floral bouquet lace photography romantic styled local perfect wedding guide lilies ceremony outdoor greenery natural light Birdseye couple vows flower petals

If you’ve been on the edge of your seat waiting for part three, then please, feel free to sit back and relax because it’s here! We started out spring with a feature on New Mexico’s favorite wedding venues, simply because our whole reason for being is to reinvigorate our state, and show local engaged couples the magic that is possible here in the Land of Enchantment. Because we’re not biased either, we’re covering everything from crisp spaces with modern cityscape backdrops, to rolling green hills with luxurious greenery to frame the ceremony.

The one thing all these venues, in their varied vibes and values, have in common is their respective teams. All included local wedding venues have dedicated staff members who have gone above and beyond to prove to us, Perfect Wedding Guide, and our local community that they’re committed to their couples and weddings. So, without further adieu, let’s jump right back in to our running list of New Mexico’s best wedding venues!

(Pssst… You can check out Part One here, and Part Two here!)


Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort + Spa

Hyatt Tamaya Venue Wedding Maura Jane Photography Hot Spot

Nestled between the Sandia Mountains and the legendary Rio Grande River on the sacred lands of the Santa Ana Pueblo, Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa is an extraordinary southwest jewel steep in centuries of rich history and culture. Stunning outdoor venues feature breathtaking mountain, sunset, and mesa views. At Tamaya you can arrive at your ceremony in a horse drawn carriage from our on-site stables. And your guests will find relaxation and entertainment at our spa, championship golf course, and one-of-a-kind cultural activities. 

Inn + Spa at Loretto

Loretto Inn and Spa Venue Tony Gambino Photography Wedding Bride Flower Girl
Tony Gambino Photography

Located next door to the historic Loretto Chapel, the landmark Inn and Spa at Loretto is the ideal location for a wedding reception. For a truly extraordinary event, The Grand Zuni Ballroom can host up to 200 guests while the more intimateTesuque Ballroom includes a fireplace, stage and canaccommodate receptions of up to 150 guests. The Sculpture Garden, with its curated collection of Santa Fe artists, can be reserved for ceremonies and receptions. The Penthouse Suite,offering five terraces with outstanding views, is the premierlocation for a truly memorable and intimate event of 10 to 75 guests. The Inn and Spa at Loretto is well known for hosting unforgettable Santa Fe weddings.

Isleta Resort + Casino

Isleta Resort Venue Wedding Couple Newlyweds Bride Groom Hot Spot
Photographic Perspectives

Isleta Resort & Casino now features more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space, designed to accommodate groups of all sizes. The resort features 201 hotel rooms, including a posh Governor’s suite to celebrate the most romantic of wedding nights. Pamper your bridal party at The Spa at Isleta, indulging in the outdoor rain waterfall and luxurious pre and post wedding day treatments. Isleta Resort & Casino features a variety of entertainment for out of town guests, including a country western bar,
fine dining, a 27 hole golf course, three natural lakes for fishing, and muchmore. Award winning sales and banquet partners help customize every detail of your day, as part of our unwavering dedication to turn your dream into a reality.

La Fonda on the Plaza

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Blue Rose Photography

 

A wedding at La Fonda on the Plaza is steeped in tradition and timeless, romantic ambiance, marrying the elegance and style of yesteryear with contemporary luxury and the convenience of today. Our elegant architecture, authentic, hand-crafted interiors and original artwork will create an air of romance that will make your dream wedding a heartfelt occasion. With over 95+ years of experience hosting weddings, you can relax and enjoy your day, knowing that our wedding planners will guide and assist inevery detail to ensure a flawless day from start to finish. And withmultiple event rooms, we can host weddings of all sizes, each offering your guests a unique Southwestern experience.

La Mesita Ranch Estate

La Mesita Ranch Estate Wedding Venue Reception Setup Beautiful Gorgoues Hot Spot

An exclusive estate located just 17 minutes north of downtown Santa Fe, sitting amidst 140 acres of Native land, La Mesita can accommodate up to 22 guests in its five sophisticated, and beautifully appointed homes and host weddings of up to 500 guests. This gracious estate was recently featured on KOB news as “The Hidden Gem of New Mexico” for places to be married in New Mexico! Centered around a European fountain, a world class Equestrian center provides the backdrop for a wedding experience unparalleled by any other New Mexico location. If it’s magic you are looking for, call Deborah Newman to chat about “Everything La Mesita”!

 

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