While the white hot heat of a New Mexican summer might have some of your eyes trained on the impending autumn, we’re not quite finished with this season yet! With weddings every weekend, sunshine for days, and the occasional light afternoon rain, it’s no small wonder why summer weddings in New Mexico are such a hit — or why this is our favorite season at Perfect Wedding Guide.
So before we let the long days slip into fall, we have to pay homage to one of our state’s most famed landscapes. As certified New Mexico-obsessed residents, we can’t pick favorites, but we definitely were on the edge of our seats waiting for a White Sands wedding or styled shoot to get us through the rest of the year.
These guys are professionals. And they are pleasant, fun, and cool people to have along for the ride on a wedding day. I would hire them again and again except I only plan to get married once!
Joey and Sandy made the trek to New Mexico all the way from the pacific northwest for their elopement. And thank goodness they did! Sure there are beaches all across the coast, and sure most of them have vast expanses of sand. But none quite compare when it comes to the inexplicable electric energy of White Sands. For Joey and Sandy, this ethereal space perfectly paralleled the otherworldly foundation of friendship and love that unites them.
With not a soul around, save their photographers and officiant of course, Joey and Sandy commemorated their new chapter together with the desert sun above and their toes in the sand below. Matt Blasing Photography, a team of creatives renowned for their easygoing humor and disarming humbleness, captured all the smallest moments of magic as they mirrored the unending landscape around them.
The whole time shooting felt comfortable and easy. I am somebody who does not like taking photos – they always seem to turn out bad, so I did have some fears and really appreciated every bit of direction [Matt Blasing Photography] provided. I found myself totally letting go and being myself on my wedding day.
No, the New Mexico Perfect Wedding Guide team has not been kidnapped. It’s still us, the same love-obsessed locals whose entire lives revolve around weddings! We bet you never thought we’d be advocating against having a wedding, right? We didn’t either.
When it comes down to it though, we’re not choosing elopements over weddings, and we’re not saying either is better than the other. Elopements and weddings are two sides of the same lovey-dovey, romantic coin and plus, we have some introverts on the team who would be happy to avoid the crowd a traditional wedding can draw.
It helped too, that just when our wedding brains were steering toward elopement territory, a gorgeous gallery from T. Rayne Photography happened to come into view. Marisol & Charles, newlyweds and best friends, eloped in Santa Fe this past July, and Taylor, of T. Rayne Photography, was there to catch every smile and scintillation during the wonderfully intimate and incredibly happy occasion.
Their elopement session, full of laughter and love, was just the thing we needed to really get on board the elopement train. It also happens to be the session that’s most emblematic of all the benefits of choosing to elope instead of having a full traditional wedding. Wanna know why? Let’s jump into the 3 main benefits of eloping, then!
1. Your love is at the forefront
While the beating heart of weddings is love, too, the hustle and bustle of planning a wedding can sometime elbow its way to the forefront of your celebration. With vendors to book, cousins to invite, venues to tour, groomsmen to wrangle, gowns to be fitted, and more, the reality of planning a wedding isn’t always as pretty as the aftermath.
If you and your partner are working full-time, having children or dogs, are building a home together, or working through any other sort of life-stuff, you might not have the time to plan a full wedding. So your options then become either hire a wedding planner, or have an elopement. Both options suit different needs and personalities, so it all depends on what your love looks like.
And no one said you had to miss out on the party! More and more, we’re seeing local engaged couples opt for elopement ceremonies so that more focus can be put on the reception. Whether your reception is right after your elopement, later in the year, or for your 5 years anniversary, you can always celebrate your union with the people you love. (And avoid hurting your in-laws’ feelings if they don’t get invited to the elopement!)
2. You get what you really, actually want
Because, maybe you actually do want your in-laws there for the ceremony. Or maybe you want to wear photorealistic dinosaur head masks for part of the ceremony, because it’s hilarious and also surprisingly adorable. Or maybe you want to run away to the woods with the love of your life and secretly bind your futures together in the company of Ponderosa pine trees.
Whatever you want, you can have it.
It’s an elopement, not a wedding. There are no guests lists to work around, no great-aunts to please, no dresses and suits to coordinate around everyone’s aesthetic preferences and personal styles, it’s just about you and your soon-to-be spouse.
So yeah, get those dino heads on, it’s your day.
3. You save money
Yeah, yeah, we know. One of the first things people think of when they hear elopement is the money they’d save if they chose to do that instead of having a traditional wedding. And sure, that money can go toward a home, your honeymoon, or a myriad of other things.
Or, you could use the money you save on skirting the venue to focus on what is really important for you and your partner to have while you forge your new life together. For Marisol & Charles, it was important to have gorgeous, intimate photos to revisit for the rest of their lifetime together — that’s where T. Rayne Photography came in, of course!
For you and your partner, it might be something different. But with the money you save by eloping, you can choose to have the photographer, dress, location, or florist of your absolute dreams. All the rest of that stuff? Well, you can save it for your vow renewal or killer reception.
There is no wrong decision though. Whether you choose to weather the storm of planning a full, traditional wedding or go for something quieter, smaller, and more intimate like the Santa Fe elopement T. Rayne Photography captured — it’s all for the sake of love. (And for our sake too, because you know we live vicariously through the local weddings and elopements around us, so either way we’ll be swooning.)
It’s no secret that we’re spoiled here in New Mexico when it comes to wedding venues. From the quiet mountain gems like Nature Pointe, to urban-chic modern chapels at the Hyatt Regency Downtown, our home state has a venue for pretty much any aesthetic or preference.
Not to mention the fact that competitive price points, multiple ceremony spot options, and unbelievably accommodating event staff are all common features of wedding venues in New Mexico, too. So when it comes to choosing just one for your wedding, well, we understand how the overwhelm of options can inundate during the beginning stages of the wedding planning process.
Victoria and Sean’s wedding at Casa Rondeña Winery proves, though, that no compromise is necessary when it comes to finding the perfect wedding venue for your celebration. Sean first proposed to Tori on the historic garden grounds of Los Poblanos. After getting down on one knee surrounded by the beauty of the organic farm + inn, the couple stayed in one of the rooms to celebrate.
So when their wedding day came around, incorporating Los Poblanos into the festivities was a must. Tori, elegance embodied wrapped up in lace, got ready in the very same room where the couple first commemorated their new engagement.
We loved the farmhouse room with its tall ceilings and beautiful canopy bed. It was the perfect place for Tori to get ready.
The couple then had an intimate ceremony, with their closest family and friends, just up the street at the well-loved winery, Casa Rondeña. With Maura Jane Photography there to capture all the hidden moments and treasured details though, the celebration never really stops — Tori and Sean can relive their happiest day through her lens endlessly.
Tori’s step dad officiated after her brother walked her down the aisle. Sean’s daughter helped the couple light their unity candle, and other family members presented readings. After the ceremony guests followed the couple to cocktail hour, while the planner rearranged the ceremony space into a gorgeous and personal dinner party. A long farm table was dressed with beautiful lush garland and candles with touches of gold and navy. It was exactly as Tori had envisioned. The night ended with a beautiful sparkler send off as everyone hugged and wished the couple years of happiness.
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.
When you boil it down to basics, each wedding is nothing more than a celebration of love. The who, when, where, and what of that love is pretty important for the big day, but all details aside, it comes back to love.
Part of what makes this particular kind of love so special that it calls for a giant day-long party that takes months of planning to orchestrate, is the comfort that comes from having a partner in this big, scary world. Which, in turn, offers space in the relationship for each person to grow into their best selves alongside each other.
They say that loving someone else requires a bit of self love too, though, in order to really flourish. Getting comfortable in your own skin before getting comfortable with another person is what we’re supposed to do per our mother’s advice, right? Right. But as well-intended as that advice is, it misses a big part of picture: the whole rest of your life!
Building up self love before you commit to a relationship is always a great plan, but even within that relationship, it’s important to keep practicing self love.
Which is why we’re so glad that boudoir shoots are officially back in vogue. Sure, we love suggesting soon-to-be-spouses do a sexy shoot before the wedding day — it makes the perfect honeymoon gift! But we also suggest boudoir shoots to unmarried people, couples on their 50th anniversary, and couples on their 5th anniversary.
Because there is no time limit on practicing self care and empowerment, and there is no wrong time to show some love to this body of yours.
It can be a little nerve-racking though, being so vulnerable in front of a camera. So we asked one of our favorite boudoir photography experts, Jennifer of Stripped Boudoir, what you can expect walking into a boudoir shoot with her, to hopefully mitigate those anxieties and replace them with excitement.
“Well, the first step in any of my shoots is a FREE one-on-one consultation. This is where I like to get to know each other so you feel comfortable with me and my ideas. I also ask that you gather some ideas of poses that you’re most comfortable with.
This shoot is not all about my creative side, It’s about yours as well, and I like to collaborate on photos that make you feel confident and beautiful. Plus, I have a great make up artist that works with me as well so if you decide you want that service, she offers free consultations as well!”
“Next in preparing for the shoot: Like I mentioned, this shoot is all about you. So in the days approaching the shoot prepare your self and your body in ways that make you feel confident. Try on outfits, practice posing, and the like.
I know you’re probably thinking, “what about my diet?” but something I stress that’s very important is, you don’t need to starve yourself before a shoot to look sexy. Just eat healthy a few days leading to the shoot, and I only say this because in my experience I see that in general it just makes you feel better on shoot days.”
During the Shoot
“Nerves are expected so don’t worry, that’s normal! One thing to remember is it’s just you and I in the shoot, AND the best part, I always bring a bottle of champagne for those left over lingering nerves.
We’ll collaborate through the whole shoot, and I’ll even show you what they look like so you can make changes if you’d like to. You’ll be surprised at how fast it will go. I know it’s a vulnerable situation so I make it as fast and smooth as possible. Before you know it, we’ll be done, and within an few days I’ll have some previews to show you.”
To book Stripped Boudoir and collaborate with Jennifer on a shoot of your very own, you can contact her here.
While all our wedding professionals are the source of unending inspiration and buckets of love, there is one particular category of businesses, specifically, that warms our hearts and keeps us committed to our local wedding community. That is, of course, the local wedding businesses run by husband and wife teams.
We’re not alone in this particular penchant either. As much as we like to suggest local couples approach their wedding planning process in a methodical, step-by-step process, we’ve found that they often flock toward these wedding businesses too. Booking them first based on instinct, and then hoping all the other factors — budget, dates, etc. — fall into place.
Which comes as no surprise. Especially as a soon-to-be-wed couple, the comforting familiarity of working with a team that is both partnered in business and in life is totally unparalleled. A lot of these boss-babe, business couples were actually married in New Mexico too, so knowing they were once in the very same shoes as you — well, how much more reassuring can it get? Their wedding was so great they decided to not only stick with this partnership of love, but to jump in on the wedding industry themselves.
So we couldn’t let another day pass without sending some love back to these amazing couples, who give so much of their time and heart to our community. We couldn’t possibly highlight every married duo whose killing the game in the wedding community of New Mexico, but we can pick out a few of our favorites! Plus, we, Perfect Wedding Guide, have had the pleasure of working one-on-one with these businesses, and are totally confident in recommending their magical talents to you.
The best part of being in business with my wife Amy is that she brings an administrative business balance to my creative side (she’s a Hospital CEO by day), and she seems to quickly connect with just about anyone, so our couples always love her. Working with your spouse is such an advantage when you know you work well together. After being married for years (and after photographing over a hundred weddings together), you start to learn to read each other’s minds.
At weddings where every minute matters and the schedule can be rushed, being able to anticipate what we need to do, often without even speaking, really helps us not only stay on task regardless of the hurdles that might occur on a wedding day, but do so seamlessly and without stress.
Working together as a couple we discovered we were able to divide up the tasks serving both of our strengths. We had very successful careers before moving to New Mexico so started out as a well rounded team. Chris & I, Vicky, have successfully worked together for 22 years.
As with anything in a relationship you have to come to workable agreements and this actually becomes a powerful exercise in personal growth. You always need to nurture your relationship. With communication, kindness and staying out of your Ego you can resolve anything.
The biggest challenge we had to overcome as married business partners was determining how we would build a photography studio with two photographers who have incredibly different styles and “eyes” for photography.
We are both very different people, different artists, different photographers. We learned that this is something our couples like about our style, and we finally let go of the fear that we’re “too different.” After embracing the idea of keeping our independence while blending our styles to tell a story in an exciting way, we learned this is something that truly sets us apart. It took a long time for us to see that the only way we’d find success is to stay true to who we are and to walk a different path than other vendors in the industry.
Vicki and Jerry are known as the powerhouse duo behind both the well-loved wedding venue, Casa Roñdena Winery, and the esteemed event planning company Orange September. Somehow, they manage to balance being business-oriented creatives as well as life partners, while always keeping the focus on their couples and their special day.
So John & I were married in Villanueva, NM (near Pecos) in the same church that my parents were married in and my grand-parents; and it’s in this tradition and roots in New Mexico that reinforces our role as story tellers. Our families’ roots in New Mexico has taught us to appreciate the traditions passed down in other families, and we always strive to keep these traditions alive in the photos and videos so that they are not lost for the generations that are yet to come.
If we could get married again, I would have loved to have Lupe from Genesis to help me. Her creativity and knowledge in lighting & décor can transform any location!
Akshay and Payal, the married couple whose glowing personalities match that of their stunning venue, The View Event Center, do more than just host weddings and events. They first began working together as Simply Decor, and still continue to fabulously furnish the weddings at their modern and metropolitan wedding venue and beyond. With an unmatched eye for beauty, Akshay and Payal not only continuously support each other, but the couples they work with, too.
Anyone who’s ever met Dominic know he has the biggest heart – and it definitely shines through on wedding days! Things can be hectic – but our job is to stay calm and keep others calm, and it never fails that Dominic comes to the rescue with whatever that couple, that family, or that day needs. Grandma needs help with the door? He’s on it. Kiddo needs a funny dance to smile? Done. Groom needs a place for all the things before he walks into the ceremony? You betcha. Someone needs the shirt off his back? Sure thing. He’s a man of his word, a jack of all trades, and absolutely the guy you want by your side on a special day because he’s for sure gonna be there for ya.
We’re so thankful to call this our job! It’s a dream, with days filled with love and celebration and so many memories – and we’re so honored to be a part of it all!
Last but certainly not least, a married duo who we rely on several times a year, Brad and Heather King of King Mobile Music. As the emcees and certified fun-masters who make our wedding shows as successful as they are, we can’t recommend them as a team enough. With a smile and a laugh readily available to anyone and everyone who needs it, their levity balances the weight of a busy wedding day or event.