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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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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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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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!}

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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

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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

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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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Wedding Venue Hotspots in New Mexico {Part Two!}

Yep, it’s back already! If you missed our first round, you’ll definitely want to pop on over to the Wedding Venue Hotspots, Part One post. If you didn’t miss it, then we’re sure you’re on the edge of your seat for this post, just like we are! The variety of venues, vibes, and values available makes the New Mexico wedding-space scene one of our favorite sources of inspiration. From traditional adobe and colorful cathedrals, to modern farmhouses and rugged rail yards, the options are endless here.

Then, as you might imagine, trying to choose only 18 of our top wedding ceremony and reception venues seemed nearly impossible! Luckily, from our little perch here in the local wedding community, we’ve been able to cultivate awesome business friendships with the creative teams who run wedding venues in New Mexico. So it actually turned out to be pretty easy to choose, considering all of our favorites also have staffs who are dedicated to excellence, and stellar reputations to precede them.

Enough with the flattery though, let’s jump back into our curated list!

Hacienda Dona Andrea

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Shayla Edenfield Photography

Hacienda Dona Andrea is nestled in the hills 25 miles outside of Santa Fe and one of the hottest, and most private, spots to get married in New Mexico. The 13,000 square-foot old-world estate offers glowing mountain views, ceremony and reception spaces. Their nine deluxe bedrooms allow for up to 30 of your closest family and friends to stay with you while making lifelong memories during your special weekend. The hacienda is rented exclusively to one party at a time. Couples can plan their wedding their way with chairs, tables, and tableware rentals onsite and free choice of outside vendors. You get your wedding and the whole hacienda, too.

 

Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town

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Blue Rose Photography

Whether it’s a magnificent formal reception or an intimate outdoor event, Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town offers a flexible and elegant array of wedding and reception spaces that can fulfill your vision. The property has more than 62,000 sq. ft. of event space, including two state-of-the-art grand ballrooms and gracefully landscaped gardens with fountains, rose arbors, lawn courts, and a Victorian-style pavilion. The centerpiece of Hotel Albuquerque is the 19th-century style non-denominational chapel, San Isidro de Capilla, which seats 156 guests under a soaring vaulted beam ceiling. Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town’s memorable settings are the perfect backdrop for your dream wedding.

 

Hotel Chaco

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Emily Joanne Wedding Films & Photography 

Albuquerque’s newest luxury hotel, Hotel Chaco, offers spectacular panoramic views of the Sandia Mountains, downtown Albuquerque, and historic Old Town. Designed by the world renowned architectural firm, Gensler, the uniquely contemporary spaces are perfect for intimate and grand events. The Terrace Suite is ideal for a grand outdoor event and the serene courtyard and gardens are perfect for a quaint wedding ceremony, with additional ceremony space available at the adjacent Hotel Albuquerque at Old town. This exciting space is unlike any rooftop ceremony and reception venue in Albuquerque. 

 

Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces

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Lauren’s Photography

Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces has a Spanish and Mexican Colonial ambiance and offers couples sophisticated wedding venues. Up to 500 guests can be accommodated in the tasteful San Andreas Ballroom, while the smaller San Rafael Ballroom can fit up to 200. Weddings can also be held at one of the several beautiful outdoor spaces, with palm trees, fountains, and colorful flowers. The events lawn, adjacent to the elegant pool, the Jardín Sagrado Event Garden, and the stylish Azul Lounge patio are all perfect for receptions and ceremonies. The unique settings at Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces feature old world charm with modern amenities to make your special day perfect and memorable. 

 

Hyatt Regency Downtown Albuquerque

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Briana Nicole Photography

Hyatt Regency downtown Albuquerque is a historically urban venue for your wedding ceremony and reception. Our Whyte Room is a blank canvas to design your dream ceremony or reception. Experience our unique ABQ, city-vibe with a touch of contemporary, and a dash of elegance…all that’s left is your signature. 

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Los Poblanos Weddings Throughout the Seasons

Here in Albuquerque, when you think spring, you think Los Poblanos. It’s a cognitive connection that we simply can’t shake, what with the rows and rows of flowering lavender, the festival for the very plant for which they’re known, fresh and whimsical weddings, and so much more. But actually, as self-proclaimed groupies of the famed New Mexico wedding venue, we know a little secret…

Los Poblanos magically transforms with every equinox and solstice. It’s true! We’ve seen it ourselves — as summer drops into fall, as fall slips into winter, some sort of wizardry overcomes the rugged-glam organic farm. The heavenly scent of lavender in bloom and lush historic gardens is replaced with that of cozy wood-burning fireplaces, delicate candles, and unbelievably crisp air.

All that remains the same with each change of the season is the classic New Mexican architecture, sprawling natural landscape, and their dedicated staff. And, because it’s extremely difficult to not be obsessed with her, Maura Jane Photography is also a Los Poblanos staple! Her unparalleled eye for timelessly light and airy wedding photography perfectly complements the delicacies of the inn + farm.

If ever there were a wedding business collab from heaven that happened to occur in New Mexico, these two vendors would be at the helm. 

So we’re sharing our little discovery with you, our Perfect Wedding Guide friends and fam! Because we’re oh so lucky to have Maura Jane Photography weddings and styled shoots from each season to swoon over, and we simply couldn’t keep it to ourselves. Plus, if anyone deserves to take advantage of the New Mexican treasures that are Maura Jane Photography and Los Poblanos Historic Inn + Organic Farm, it’s you.

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1. WINTER

It’s no trick of the light! Though Maura Jane does have a way of making everything look warm + inviting, you real won’t have a problem keeping cozy, even on New Mexico’s chilliest days. Plus, did ya know that if you mention Perfect Wedding Guide, you’ll keep free, super exclusive winter wedding enhancements from Los Poblanos? Pretty neat if you ask us.

 

2. SPRING

This spectacular spring wedding was one of our favorite’s from Maura Jane Photography. We might be biased though, as some of us have a slight affection for anything as dreamy and rosy as these photos! Read more about this particular wedding in a feature here.

 

3. SUMMER

This timeless touches styled shoot was absolutely to die for! Blue, unbelievably underrated as far as wedding colors goes, was captured perfectly and truly popped against the neutral hues of Los Poblanos.

4. FALL

Ah, and finally, our dear autumn. Golden leaves shining through the towering, ancestral trees — there’s not much more that needs to be said here.

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