5 Hidden Wedding Venue Gems in New Mexico

The wonderful thing about our state is that it never ceases to amaze all of those who visit – particularly those who are planning a wedding and are looking for that special place to say “I do”. There is no doubt that every turn there is something exciting to be discovered, and we, your Perfect Wedding Guide team, are here to help you cultivate every element of your New Mexico wedding while you sit back, relax, and enjoy a warm cup of coffee.

It turns out that New Mexico is actually the place where history, landscape, and culture collide, which makes for the most stunning of weddings. Our fellow wedding planners picked the best spot to call their home base, and we did too. With such vast landscapes and the perfect weather year-round, the possibilities are endless. Want to plan an outdoor wedding in the winter? No problem. Want a private and beautiful spot to elope in the desert? No problem. Our wedding vendors know New Mexico and weddings like Taylor Swift knows heartbreak. Yeah, they’re that good.

As a group of “love” fangirls, we pretty much obsess over anything wedding related. But when it comes to hidden gems and unique venue locations, we can’t even begin to explain how thrilled we are – and we are even more thrilled that we get to share our fave spots with you. Ready to find and book your favorite hidden gem wedding venue? Keep reading below!

1. Casa Perea Art Space

Via Casa Perea Art Space
Maura Jane Photography

We adore this spot not only because of how picture perfect it is, but also because the space indulges all of the senses. From scenic gardens, to the smell of herbs and florals growing in the surrounding area… Everything. Is. Perfect.

2. Europa

Via Perfect Wedding Guide
Stills by Gerard

Nestled in the heart of Los Lunas, this venue takes farm-to-table to a new level. With acres of land and rustic farmhouse vibes, Europa is the most unique and charming little spot just outside of Albuquerque. There are both indoor and outdoor venue options so that you can enjoy what they have to offer year-round!

3. Hacienda Doña Andrea

Via Hacienda Doña Andrea
Lauren Cherie Photography

From these pictures alone, you can understand why we love this place so much. The adobe and architecture already feels like New Mexico, and to top it off, you could have the whole thing to yourself and your wedding party. You heard correctly, this romantic venue is a private estate where your wedding dreams come true.

4. Nature Pointe

Kevin’s Photography

We are a little biased because we happen to love the scenery of the outdoors here in New Mexico, so of course we would try to find a little gem that showcases Mother Nature. Aside from the natural beauty of Tijeras, New Mexico, this venue also offers a wide range of services to help make your day stress-free!

5. UNM Alumni Memorial Chapel

Maura Jane Photography
Chrisi K Photography

Some people might say this gem isn’t really hidden, but being tucked behind trees on the University of New Mexico campus, we think it deserves a little spotlight. This beautiful chapel was built in 1962 to honor alumni who lost their lives in line of duty has become the gathering place for renewals, memorials, and weddings.

Top 10 Fall Wedding Essentials

Get those cozy sweaters out, it’s finally Fall! There’s nothing quite like the changing colors of the leaves amidst the desert landscape, and we love to see all of the gorgeous weddings that use the scenery to their advantage. This time of the year is one of our personal favorites, although, we might be a little biased since some of our Perfect Wedding Guide team celebrates their birthdays in the fall (*cough cough* our lovely Shauna & Alissia).

No matter what your favorite time of year is, we are sure that you will agree that fall weddings always rise to the occasion, thanks to the local wedding community. That is why we are here to share the top ten fall wedding essentials to make your autumnal wedding dreams come true, whether you want to incorporate spooky Halloween vibes or play with deep reds and burnt oranges for a more sophisticated look. With the help of our vendors, we were able to pull together some of our favorite fall “looks” to inspire you– check them out!

1. A Venue That Does Both

Elizabeth Wells Photography

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it is important to find a venue that lets you and your guests enjoy the fall weather from the outside and the inside, because you never know just how chilly the day is going to be! It’s a huge plus if the venue gives you a good view of the changing of the leaves, like the courtyard at Los Poblanos Historic Inn + Organic Farm.

2. Cozy Dishes

via Blue Plate Catering

When we think of fall, we think of warm home cooked meals while we are surrounded by family and friends. What better way to make everyone feel at home than to incorporate reusable and eco-friendly tableware and cutlery? With the help of a caterer like Blue Plate Catering, you can create a unique and zero-waste experience for your guests that will incorporate little hints of fall. Can you spot the little pumpkins accompanying the tableware?

3. Warm Color Palettes

Briana Nicole Photography

Everybody loves picking out a color palette for their wedding, and we know you’ve created that perfect Pinterest board full of your favorite complimentary colors. When it comes to fall trends these days, anything goes, but we love a warm color palette– and your photographer does too! Deep reds and oranges paired with navy blue and forest green will help you bring extra intimacy into your wedding day.

4. Moody Styles and Rich Flavors

Lavel Marie Photography

This may sound dramatic, but this cake specially made by Cake Fetish is to die for. It looks beautiful and tasty, with just the right amount of moody! For the perfect fall cake, throw in some deep purple and orange flowers and pair them with an ornate rich chocolate topping– trust me, it won’t disappoint. If purples, reds and rich chocolate doesn’t suit your fancy, not to worry, you can customize your fall wedding cake with the help of these local wedding cake professionals.

5. Spooky Invites & Goodies

via Pennysmith’s Paper

We love seeing every couple’s invitations and wedding favors because they all so perfectly encompass their personalities and uniqueness. For an October or November wedding, it’s time to get a little more playful and stray away from the conventional to get everyone in the spooky mood! Create invitations and wedding favors that will be a talking point between wedding guests, like these Día de los Muertos themed goodies from Pennysmith’s Paper.

6. Be Bold, Go Gold

Charlotte’s Flowers

When it comes time to pick out your floral arrangement, ditch the pastels and bring out the bold colors. If you must have those pretty pastels, pair them with a darker color to warm things up. You might want to try something totally new, like this elegant bouquet with golden leaves from Charlotte’s Flowers!

7. Dress to Impress & Stay Warm

Chrisi K Photography

It’s seriously hard to resist that perfect dress, and we get it, you want it to work no matter the season. Well, we have news for you! You can have your cake and eat it too… oh, and you can have that super perfect dress that you were hoping for. You can dress up those summertime gowns with a super cute scarf to keep warm and stay stylish!

8. Present Those Perfectly Plump Pumpkins

Matt Blasing Photography

If you love going to the pumpkin patch, then you are going to love this fall wedding decor. That’s right– pumpkins everywhere! Not only are pumpkins adorable, but they’re also a great way to add some color to your wedding. Plop a pumpkin down on the ground or on the table, and maybe let your guests take one home at the end of the day!

9. In With the Old… and Some of the New, Too.

Maura Jane Photography

We’re not saying you should turn your wedding into a haunted house or anything, but we do think this vintage furniture and gothic candle decor from Darling Details gives off a subtle hint of spooky season and makes for a lovely fall wedding. Like we’ve said before, adding a little bit of gold makes everything more elegant and more bold! Hey, that rhymed.

10. Play Dress Up

Jasper K. Photography

Isn’t fall all about that one night where everyone gets to dress up and pretend to be somebody else? Well, technically it’s not all about that, but it’s a pretty big deal to some folks. Maybe it doesn’t just have to be one night at all! Dress up for your fall engagement session or elopement, but fair warning, the fun that this entails isn’t for the faint of heart.

4 of New Mexico’s Favorite Wedding Cake Shops

Your wedding day is going to be one of the most treasured days of your entire life – and with the help of our favorite local wedding cake shops, it’s also going to be the sweetest! When we think “wedding“, we think about some of the most anticipated moments during the special day: the bride walking down the aisle, the groom’s reaction and, last but not least, the cutting of the cake. Who doesn’t love to see the happy newly-weds smash their beautiful cake into each other’s beautiful faces?!

I think we can all agree that wedding cakes are a true work of art from the delicious ingredients on the inside, to the intricate details on the outside. Stylized color palettes and detailed personal touches make any wedding cake feel like it was made only for you – with love!

Between venue scouting, dress shopping and dozens of other necessary wedding planning tasks, picking out a wedding cake can seem like just another daunting challenge. However, these local sweet-tooth experts will make it a piece of cake (literally)!

1. The Cake Boutique

White wedding cake, floral, new mexico florist, new mexico wedding cakes
Chrisi K. Photography
new mexico wedding cake, pink wedding cake, gold wedding cake, gold cake, wedding cake

We were invited to sample the cake. Birdie talked us through the different tier and flavour options, and we conferred so she could get an understanding of our colour/decoration needs. Birdie worked with our florist to ensure the arrangements were in place for the floral topper. The cake was delivered on time, it looked great and tasted delicious! We had a three-tiered round cake with colours and decorations chosen by us and a plain sheet cake, and we were able to have two different flavours (chocolate and vanilla). The cake was definitely the tastiest we had tried in Albuquerque.  

– Jamie, Local Bride

If you’re looking for a cake shop that offers pretty much everything, whether it be conventional or something completely out of the ordinary, then you’re in the right place! Locally owned and operated by Birdie, The Cake Boutique is conveniently located on the Westside of Albuquerque for you to stop in and explore all of their breathtaking options. You can learn more about the shop and how to get in contact with them here.

2. Maggie’s Cakes

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Kevin Guevara Photo + Film
cactus cake, new mexico wedding cake, southwestern cake
Alicia Lucia Photography

Zara has the perfect eye for creating stunning work. Her cake artistry is unparalleled… From cupcakes to 5 tiered masterpieces, she CAN create ANYTHING you can IMAGINE! From the moment you arrive in her artistic space until the moment your creation is presented, she is simply magical.

-Devonna, Local Bride

Here at Perfect Wedding Guide, we are clearly obsessed with our state – and Maggie’s Cakes so perfectly represents the southwest in all of its glory. From simple and chic Earth tones to vibrant blush bursts of color, this shop has everything you could dream of. You can find Zara, the artist behind the cakes, and your future delicious creation at her Santa Fe shop. You can find more information here!

2. Les Blonde Bakery

maura jane photography, white wedding cake, new mexico wedding cake
Maura Jane Photography
white wedding cake, baby's breath cake, pretty cake, forest cake, new mexico wedding cake

I had Les Blonde Bakery make my wedding cake and my daughters first birthday cake. They were better than I imagined! The frosting was my favorite (and I am not a frosting person!) Not only was the cake DELICIOUS, but Kerian was wonderful! I will absolutely be ordering more cakes!!

– Michelle, Local Bride

Wedding cakes, cupcakes, desserts galore! Les Blonde Bakery is well versed in the world of sweet things, and just looking at Kerian’s elegant baked goods makes our mouths water. Their unique displays and cake toppers are reason enough to stop by the bakery and see for yourself what makes Les Blonde Bakery so special! You can learn more about how to get in contact with them here.

4. SmallCakes: A Cupcakery

jasper k. photography, new mexico wedding cake, southwestern wedding cake, purple cake
Jasper K. Photography
fig wedding cake, fig cake, pink wedding cake, glittery cake, new mexico wedding cake
Briana Nicole Photography

I spent many weekends tasting cakes before I decided on SmallCakes. They have a great selection of flavors and we received so many compliments on our cake. I knew I could trust them with our cake and they proved themselves on the day of our wedding.

– Romilly

Last, but certainly not least, SmallCakes focuses on creating a diverse range of cakes that look almost too good to eat. Just look at those colors… and that texture! *Heart eyes* From cupcakes to wedding cakes, there are options for everyone. Stop by their shop in Northeast Albuquerque to take the next step in ordering your cake for your wedding day, or visit them here!

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Zero-Waste Wedding: 5 Ways to Get There

If you know anything about your New Mexico Perfect Wedding Guide team, then you know we love two things. One, New Mexico; two, weddings. Which seems pretty obvious, but it really is as simple as that.

Only, our love for New Mexico transcends an affection for the rich cultures, venerable mesas and mountains, and traditional architecture that surrounds us. There’s a foundation of respect for our home that supports the love we feel for all of those beautiful and inspiring New Mexican features. So, in our small ways, we try very hard to preserve the perfection of our wild state.

Whether it be through recycling, supporting local, or educating our community, each little step culminates to make a powerful act of love for New Mexico. Though of course, we adore weddings as much as we do our state, so combining values to create a zero-waste wedding that uplifts our local community, creates a killer party, and offers some kindness back to the land — does it get much better than that?

Chances are, if you’re reading about how to incorporate zero-waste principles into your wedding, then you know it really doesn’t get better than that. Before we jump in though, give your self a little pat on the back for taking extra steps to support your community by booking local vendors and reducing the waste your wedding creates. Every little thing counts!

So — after consulting with the local wedding professionals who are experts in their respective crafts — we’ve pulled together 5 simple tips to reduce waste at your wedding in New Mexico! Because we all get to enjoy the landscapes around us, let’s do our best to make sure the generations after us get to enjoy them, too.

1. All reusable, all the time.

VanArsdale & Sanchez Wedding - PreCeremony-43
Matt Blasing Photography

Whether you’re having a small, intimate elopement, or inviting every single cousin, people will come expecting to eat at your wedding. Eating as a group, as lovely and communal as it can be, also offers up a lot of waste if you use single-use materials.

Luckily, with local and environmentally-conscious catering companies like Cafe Venture or Blue Plate Catering, you can have all reusable serving ware! Think cloth napkins, silverware, ceramic plates, and the like. Not only will this give your wedding a higher-end vibe, but all these things can be washed and reused after your wedding, instead of sitting in a landfill for the next several hundred years.

VanArsdale & Sanchez Wedding - PreCeremony-118
Matt Blasing Photography

If the local catering company you’re working with doesn’t offer reusable serving ware, linens, and china like these guys do, then don’t fret! Thrift stores can still be your best friend. Grab vintage, reusable silverware and dishes, and pull it all off with an eclectic, artistic vibe. Then afterwards, you can give away the thrifted materials, or just donate them right back!

If you go this route, be sure to communicate with your caterer ahead of time, so no wires get crossed on the day of your wedding.

2. Power in the Flowers

Tori Photography

When it comes to floral arrangements, the best advice we have is to go silk! Does that seem counterintuitive?

While its true that flowers are compostable, you’ll want to pause before tossing them in your garden or local composting center. A majority of live flowers are treated with preservatives to ensure their long-lasting scent and beauty makes it through your ceremony. So before you bury them, be sure your florist sources from an organic farm like Europa, otherwise all those preservatives end up in your soil and, subsequently, the groundwater.

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With silk arrangements — like the gorgeous, can’t-believe-it’s-not-alive bouquets from Charlotte’s Flowers — you have a bit more wiggle room for reusing. The immortal bouquets can be rearranged into home decor after the wedding, used in future craft projects, or gifted to a friend.

Whether you go with organic live flowers, or silk arrangements, or just a bundle of chamomile from Trader Joe’s, you can always reuse the flowers from your ceremony for your reception. Chances are you and your bridal party aren’t going to be carrying your bouquets all night long, so repurpose them! It’ll save you money and reduce your floral carbon footprint.

3. Something old, nothing new.

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Coryn Kiefer Photography

It’s true — the thought of buying a wedding dress from a thrift store sounds a bit horrifying to some. After all, this is the gown you’ll be wearing in hundreds of photographs, videos, and memories, is it worth it to risk it?

Thankfully, we have amazing local wedding professionals who can make a less-new dress totally risk-free. With shops like Bridal Elegance by Darlene, you can buy a gown ‘off the rack.’ Which, for those who don’t live and breathe bridal, just means it’s a sample of the gown, not one that was ordered, manufactured, and shipped just for you. With in-store seamstresses available for your wildest alteration dreams, too, there’s hardly a worry about making sure it fits in all the right places.

AppleFinals-10
Coryn Kiefer Photography

Or you can opt for a second-hand gown from specialty shops like The Dressing Room West in Santa Fe. This local shop carries off the rack gowns as well, but they come as excess directly from designers who need to make space in their warehouses. Or sit down with Terese Rose Designs, a local custom bridal gown designer, and have a chat about sourcing fabrics and potential choices for your gown.

Last option, and a favorite for your wallet, is to haunt thrift stores and vintage shops. With seamstresses across the state, there’s some serious magic that can happen with a secondhand gown. It’s worth it to give new life to an old gown that might have just gone into the trash, if not for the power of a trained eye and tuned sewing machine.

4. Make things easy for your guests.

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Kayla Kitts Photography

As someone who personally composts, I’ll be honest: I don’t always compost when I’m out and about. Mostly because compost bins aren’t readily available around our state yet, and holding on to my food waste until I’m able to get home is smelly, messy, and not super convenient when I’m running around the town.

So you can expect a similar response at your wedding, even from your greenest of green friends. But luckily, you can mitigate this with a little bit of foresight during your wedding planning process.

Chat with your venue coordinator! When booking a venue, ask the coordinator ahead of time if they have enough trash cans to have one for landfill trash, recyclables, and compostables, all separated and labeled clearly. If not, bring your own!

Plus, if you’ve decided to book a local invitation and stationery company like Funky Olive Design or Pennysmith’s Paper, you can have your trash labels custom made. Then, there’s no sacrificing aesthetics for environmental-consciousness. Take it a step further by reusing the signs in your own home too, to make it easier for guests and kids that might be around to throw things away.

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5. Favors in your favor

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Chrisi K Photography

As much as your friends and family love you, they might not love your favors. Which is okay! A lot of personalities are coming together in one space to celebrate you and your partner, so trying to please all of them is virtually impossible.

Keep this in mind when choosing your favors. If 1, 10, or 100 guests don’t take home their favors, what will happen to them?

You can go with an adorable little plant like Aja and Johnny did for their wedding — so in the off chances these get tossed outside, at least they’ll compost. (Or root and grow right there!) Plus the metal tins are reusable in a million different ways, so if the succulent gets replanted, the tin hopefully won’t go to waste. And anyways, how cute are they?!

Or be like Lynsey and Kent, who had one of our very favorite apple orchard weddings.

Arielei Kinzer Photography

Their apple-themed favors were not only delicious and charming, but super earth-friendly! For those who opted not to take their little jars home, the couple got some extra homemade apple butter for their own family. For those who did decide to enjoy the treat, they got a reusable jar and a delectable spread to remember the wedding by.

So, whether it’s through your dress, venue, or favors — whatever steps you decide to take to preserve all the beauty of New Mexico, we thank you. We’d like to keep loving this state and the weddings in it for many more generations to come, and a few choices on your part help to ensure that’s possible.

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New Mexican Elopement with Chrisi K Photography

It’s that time of year in the Perfect Wedding Guide world — at least our corner of it — when the excitement of the holidays has passed, and the ethereality of spring hasn’t yet come. The magic never really subsides here though, because tiding us over between these two time markers is the new edition of our magazine finally coming to fruition! If you followed along for the thrill and apprehension of our Front Cover Contest on Instagram, then you know, too, that this spring’s print guide is going to be more beautiful, more inspirational, and more serviceable than ever before.

We spent some time a couple weeks ago falling in love with Caitlin + Justin, the stunning couple whose photo was in our top three finalists for the Front Cover Contest. We’d be absolutely remiss if we didn’t give a little TLC to our other finalists, Abby + Tyler, and their New Mexican elopement that warmed our hearts so much, it was a health hazard. Which, of course, comes as no surprise, considering Chrisi K Photography was there to work her camera mastery for every step of the day.

Opening up the celebration at the Inn of the Turquoise Bear, Abby + Tyler got oh so pretty in preparation for the next step of their lives together. It was there that they shared their first look, spinning around and marveling at one another, before heading to the destination of their elopement ceremony: Jemez Springs.

Now, Abby + Tyler are actually from Ohio. They flew in all the way from the midwest to our little slice of southwestern heaven to commemorate the beginning of their life as husband and wife here, in New Mexico. But against the backdrop of Jemez’s signature red clay, Abby + Tyler glowed with such obvious joy, it was as if they had been here and with one another for many lifetimes.

There, they shared their vows with one another, framed by the natural beauty of our desert, and stepped into their next chapter together.

It was beautiful, raw, and emotional. I’m so honored I got to document it all. My heart is full!

-Chrisi, Chrisi K Photography

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Pastel Perfection: Real Wedding with Chrisi K Photography

Perhaps we use the adjective perfect a little bit too frequently…But we are the Perfect Wedding Guide, after all! Plus, every wedding that graces our pages, both print and digital, was conceptualized and executed to perfection. But don’t let that fact dilute the word, because Aja + Johnny’s celebration of love was — yes we’re going to use it again — absolutely perfect.

When we say perfect, we don’t necessarily mean without hitch or hiccup as the traditional definition would suggest. Anyone whose been to a wedding, whether attending as a guest or collaborating as a vendor, knows that no celebration so large, so detailed happens without a few little bumps. Especially when a healthy number of family members are gathered in one place, if you know what we mean. What makes weddings like Aja + Johnny’s perfect is their persistence.

Despite the hours of calling, researching, and booking local wedding professionals, despite New Mexican weather that stays finicky all year long, despite all the budgeting, the love persists. Because the love between Aja + Johnny is bigger than any wedding-related trial or triumph — it steadfastly remains the focal point of their celebration, no matter the circumstance. We’re lucky Chrisi K Photography was there to capture this facet of their love, and ensure every detail was solidified in memory for their lifetime. Because, well, their life together as husband and wife began on this glorious and bright summer day, but the love that brought them there had already been existing and persisting all the while.

And, as if this simple truth didn’t make their wedding day perfect enough already, the couple truly slayed the summer wedding palette, and incorporated some of the most darling details we’ve seen to date. From the paper parasols to shade their guests from the New Mexican sun, to the adorable and surprisingly realistic succulent cupcakes, to the buoyantly cheerful bouquets of rose that complimented the bridesmaids donned in ethereal pastel. Aja + Johnny cared for every detail of their wedding day, and Chrisi K Photography cared for every moment.

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Pili + Sienna’s Albuquerque Engagement Session {Chrisi K Photography}

If you’ll recall, we recently posted our thoughts on the time-old debate: Should you have an urban or natural setting for your engagement photos? With New Mexico’s impressive and historically rich architecture on one hand, and the unrivaled mesas, mountains, deserts, rivers, and forests on the other, it’s a nearly impossible choice for local engaged couples.

But what if you didn’t have to choose? 

Yes, it’s true. We’re here with delightful information for the cosmopolitan mountain-fanatics and city-loving forest dwellers alike… You can have both! Or at least you can according to Albuquerque’s new favorite engaged couple, Pili + Sienna. Instead of compromising, the fiancées opted to have a two-part engagement session with Chrisi K Photography — one of New Mexico’s leading wedding photographers.

Starting in Zendo, Chrisi K Photography and the gorgeous couple graced the whitewashed coffee shop walls with their unbridled laughter and love. Using the industrial-chic interior as their backdrop, Pili + Sienna sipped coffee from matching mugs and stole kisses in front of the exposed brick, which always features local art. Complete with polaroids and shots of their tattoos, the first half of their engagement session with Chrisi K Photography is everything we could hope for in an urban love story.

Then, traversing up to the more northern parts of our lovely state, Chrisi K Photography shot the couple’s happy news in the mountainous desert landscape for which New Mexico is famed. Dancing in the open air, blowing bubbles, and just enjoying each other’s presence, Pili + Sienna’s devotion nearly jumps off the photos here.

We feel extremely spoiled to have the best of both worlds in this one, gorgeous engagement session. So hey, thank you Chrisi K Photography, for capturing Pili + Sienna’s pronouncement of love in all its wonder and glory! And to all other engaged couples, feel free to follow in suit Pili + Sienna — if you want urban and natural landscapes for your photos, don’t settle. Albuquerque + Santa Fe’s wedding experts are here to make sure you can have it all.

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