Photographing weddings is huge. It’s one of the biggest, most expensive, emotional, and meaningful days in most peoples’ lives. The intimacy of the day can be really intimidating, and that’s why we love it.
Must it be reiterated again, just how much we love our home state? We are elbows deep in our local wedding community, so by now it’s probably pretty obvious, but we’ll say it again: we love New Mexico.
Part of why we have so much respect and adoration for our state is because the lovely people who call it home make it really easy to do so. Whether you’re a born-and-raised New Mexican or recent convert, the Land of Enchantment doesn’t discriminate when it comes to capturing hearts. Then, in turn, those enchanted people reciprocate the love by supporting artistic endeavors in the city, collaborating together, and finding new ways to showcase the beauty of New Mexico.
On the forefront of reinvigorating the New Mexican landscape is a locally-loved husband and wife photography duo known as Carissa + Ben Photography. The two lovebirds first met in a photography class here in Albuquerque, and since then three things have persisted: their dedication to each other, photography, and New Mexico.
The couple is up for traveling to photograph weddings, elopements, engagements, and proposals in any corner of the world, though their photography often highlights the fantastical desert landscape for which New Mexico is famed. So you can imagine why we — and so many other couples around us — are obsessed with their impeccably balanced photographic style.
With photos that reach into your heart with their rich colors and clean contrasts, the two work in tandem together like a well-oiled machine. Propelled by a deep appreciation for their couples, those in front of Carissa + Ben‘s lenses relax into themselves and their unique love story, with their comfort and ease obvious in every shot.
While their hearts belong primarily to each other — and also craft beer, their dogs, the moon, and coffee — the two artists of Carissa + Ben Photography somehow manage to give so much of themselves to their couples too, through their medium of choice. To book Carissa + Ben Photography for your wedding day, proposal, engagement session, or pretty much any other special moment, you can contact them here.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
5. Favors in your favor
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.
If you’re into weddings as much as we are — and you probably are, considering you’re on a wedding blog right now — then you probably keep up with local and national trends. If you keep up with local and national trends, then you’ve definitely seen the newest craze with wedding bouquets: moody succulents. Yes, moody has taken over the previously bright-and-airy vibe of weddings, and yes succulents have splattered everyone’s Pinterest boards and Instagram grids for quite some time now.
But moody succulents? Now that’s something fresh, and not easy to accomplish. Especially when you’re in New Mexico, which is usually a beat or two behind the costal trends that shape this year’s wedding aesthetic. (It’s the Land of Mañana, we’ll get there when we feel like it!) Of course, there was one local team of florists who beat us all to the punch: Flowers & Things.
Flowers & Things handcrafted a custom bouquet of spiraling succulents juxtaposed by dazzlingly white hydrangeas last year that, yes a year later, we are still obsessed with. (Don’t worry — here’s a pic, so you can drool along with us.)
Lavel Marie Photography
Since this magical arrangement first graced our eyes, we’ve seen it replicated a few dozen times from florists across the state and we love it just the same. We love that it sparked a new take on the bridal bouquet, but most of all we love how well it encapsulated the talents and values of the creative team at Flowers & Things.
At first glance, Flowers & Things seems to be your standard, high-quality floral shop. Bouquets, boutonnieres, and bursting blooms adorn their shelves, but alongside the traditional ribbon and basket that supplement their arrangements, they also have a myriad of customization options that make their flowers next level. Succulents of course, but also berries, butterflies, pearls, rhinestones, feathers, and so much more.
Lavel Marie Photography
Lavel Marie Photography
That’s why the moody succulent bouquet represented Flowers & Things so well. Their craft is rooted in tradition and their florists are expertly trained, yet they have so much passion for what they create that they’re constantly innovating. When their team incorporates modern trends into their customized arrangements, it’s with a finely tuned eye and careful consideration. So you never have to worry about ending up with a bouquet that, 20 years from now, will make your wedding look very, ahem, 2019.
You don’t have to take our word for it though — feel free to do your research with their 300+ reviews of happy, local people who collaborated with Flowers & Things on the floral arrangement of their dreams, starting with a free consultation. In the meantime, we’ll be here dreaming of propagating succulents and throwing peony petals after a wedding ceremony.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!