New Mexico History & Culture: Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple

Our state is filled with a rich history, and as New Mexicans, we are deeply rooted in its culture. Stories sweep across vast, mesmerizing landscapes– from the expansive White Sands in the South to the snow-capped mountains in the North. Often times, we are so immersed in the present that we forget to look back at what built us.

As wedding professionals who love our state, we want to help you find wedding vendors that love our state just as much. If you are planning a wedding that will not only take place in New Mexico, but also incorporates our beautiful culture and history, then you have come to the right place! What better place to start this series of New Mexican history and culture than at the heart of our state in the lovely city of Santa Fe.

Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple, Jo Whaley

We loved every aspect of Scottish Rite for our wedding. Beginning with the gorgeous theater, grand piano and set choices for our ceremony, and ending with the spacious reception hall with Tiffany-style fixtures! You would be hard pressed to find a more classy, glamorous and special site for a Santa Fe wedding.

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With pink exteriors, a lush courtyard and Moorish architecture, the Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple has stood tall and proud for over a century. The architecture was inspired by that of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, and it is most definitely reflected through the arches and accents of Spanish design. Since 1912, the temple has served many purposes, but was primarily built for use by the Freemasonry fraternity and is still considered the College of Freemasonry. Today, the temple is a place of gathering for plays, concerts, special events, and our favorite kind of eventweddings!

The Lobby, Jo Whaley

For any bride and groom, comfort and elegance are at the forefront of wedding planning, and this venue does not disappoint. Together let’s imagine that we are going on a tour of this lovely venue, taking a step back in time and indulging in the wonders of the past. When you first walk in, you can expect to see the first of many Gothic arches and other arch motifs that are scattered throughout the temple. If you continue walking, you will find yourself in the Dining Hall with it’s endless rows of windows looking out to the patio. This is makes our fairytale wedding day dreams come true! Just when you think it couldn’t get any more breathtaking than this, it does.

Dining Hall, Jo Whaley

As you continue walking we will see the kitchen, the classroom and the exuberant courtyard, but none of this could prepare you for what people call the “Heart and Soul” of the temple– the theatre. This is where you will complete your imaginary tour and let your minds be at ease. Your eyes can take in the rest! Words fail us when we try to describe the historical richness of the building, but these beautiful images capture it perfectly.

The Theatre, Jo Whaley

“Our experience with the Scottish Rite could not have been better! Dori was in contact with us for each and every step along the way, and the Scottish Rite Stewards couldn’t have been more helpful. Everything went so smoothly that once the event started, we were able to completely enjoy the experience with our family and friends. The Grand Ballroom was perfect for our needs and was the shining jewel of the event (next to the bride and groom, of course!) The Santa Fe Scottish Rite comes with my highest recommendations!

– Phil Shirey

If you’re looking for a wedding venue that is going to merge the past and the present and create an unforgettable experience for you and your guests, then this is the place for you! To learn more about the temple, you can contact them here.

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Santa Fe’s 5 Best Wedding Venues

We don’t know if you’ve noticed by now but…Planning a wedding can be quite a bit of work! With every detail under your purview from floral arrangements to wrangling bridesmaids for gown fittings, the small decisions can easily pile up. And if hiring a wedding planner isn’t in the cards for you, then everything remains on your plate — along with the rites and responsibilities of daily life, families, jobs, and so much more.

Fear not, though. After living vicariously through hundreds of New Mexico weddings — we are New Mexico’s Perfect Wedding Guide, after all — we’ve intentionally partnered with only the local wedding professionals who make the planning process easier, not harder.

So when the decisions start to teeter and sway with the height of them all on just your shoulders, and you need to knock a big one off your to do list — it’s time to choose your wedding venue. More specifically, it’s time to choose a wedding venue with a dedicated event staff, gorgeous features to minimize decor needs, and the right aesthetic for your celebration. These 5 Santa Fe wedding venues check all the boxes!

And whether you’re a native New Mexican born and raised, or recent transplant, or distant admirer, Santa Fe caters to all. With it’s winding streets and undeniable air of whimsy, it’s no wonder the historic city has captured the hearts of so many devotees. These venues serve as microcosms of the larger culture of Santa Fe, which is one rich with traditional architecture, an emphasis on the arts, and a surrounding landscape that wraps its people up in natural beauty.

While they are listed 1 to 5 for viewing convenience, there’s no going wrong with any of these Santa Fe wedding venues.

 

1. Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe

The perfectly manicured Four Seasons Resort in Santa Fe is known for its opulence, but its reputation misses one key aspect that makes the venue so special. Welcoming in each and every guest and wedding party, the space is carefully curated and well-loved, so the moment you step inside, you can experience a deep sense of comfort.

See more of this Santa Fe wedding from Elizabeth Wells Photography here: Emily + Michael’s Vibrant Vibes 

2. La Fonda on the Plaza

If you’ve heard of Santa Fe, New Mexico, then you’ve probably heard of La Fonda on the Plaza — and for good reason, too! The venerable space stands proudly as an integral piece of New Mexico’s history. With each corner and crevice of the venue lovingly cared for over the last 400 years, the sense of cultural, temporal, and historical transcendence ushers in travelers and engaged couples from all across the world.

See more of this Santa Fe wedding from Maura Jane Photography here: Ginny + Kolton’s Laid Back Celebration

 

3. Cities of Gold Hotel & Conference Center

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In Santa Fe, grandeur is something to be celebrated, not shied away from. With large, accommodating spaces, the Cities of Gold Hotel truly is a gold mine for elaborate celebrations in the city. On-site catering, an advanced audio-visual team, and a tended-to stage area all come together to round out the venue space, making it a dream come true for the busy engaged couple.

 

4. Eldorado Hotel and Spa

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Speaking of gold, Eldorado Hotel and Spa, with it’s well-known and dearly loved ceremony backdrop, also rings in as a hidden treasure in Santa Fe. Wrapping up the history and culture of our southwestern state in a veil of impeccable elegance, Eldorado blends the two aesthetics together seamlessly. A fine eye for detail and dedication to their couples as a baseline requirement for being part of of the Eldorado team makes it no small mystery that some of New Mexico’s most fantastic weddings have taken place here.

 

5. Inn and Spa at Loretto

Tony Gambino Photography

For the Inn and Spa at Loretto, the first priority for weddings is flawless execution. So while you’re enveloped in the beauty of its architectural features, getting lost in its meticulous detail, and dancing through its inspirational structure, their event team is working endlessly to ensure you can relax, be present for your celebration, and just keep dancing. What more could you possibly ask for?

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How to Have a Country Wedding in New Mexico

For visitors or recent transplants to New Mexico, country might not be the first adjective you’d reach for to describe the state. For those of us who have had a chance to wander outside of the cities though, the farm and field influence obviously contributes to the eclectic blend of cultures that make New Mexico so magnificent.

Which is lucky for all of us, because it means there’s no limit to the kind of wedding you can have here. Especially when you take a look at the collective portfolio of our local wedding experts! From a Kate Spade inspired, modern urban pallet, to a wandering bohemian picnic celebration, to a royal banquet rich in traditional Spanish influences, New Mexico can house and support pretty much every theme, vibe, or aesthetic.

So it should come as no surprise that having a cowboy-country-down-home wedding here would be as easy as pie, too. From wide open desert mesas to rodeo style architecture, everything you need for a back country celebration starts and ends with one of our most loved local wedding venues.

The Southwest Event Center was originally built as a livestock auction house, but now stands in Los Lunas as a generous and venerable ranch-style wedding venue. With indoor and outdoor spaces available — because we all know how fickle that New Mexico weather can be — you don’t even need much decor to round out the beauty of the space.

This venue is absolutely the package deal. So much open space to use and take full advantsge of. The owner genuinly cares about the client experience and goes above and beyond to make sure her clients needs and wants are met. This venue has an original cowboy feel and most certainly can not be replicated or imitated.  

Sarah, local wedding photographer

It’s true. The small town vibe of the wedding venue extends past the mountains, crisp air, and sprawling landscape that envelops the Southwest Event Center. Their venue is owned and operated by a family of dedicated creatives, whose southern hospitality has lead them to be somewhat of local celebrities, and for good reason too.

To say good bye to the bustle and grind of city life, if only for a moment, you can book the Southwest Event Center for your wedding by contacting their team here.

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Jessica Ash Photography

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Wedding Venue Hotspots in New Mexico {Part One!}

When you stop and consider the New Mexico landscape for a moment, it really comes as no surprise that visual industries are on the rise in our home state. Film, design, fine art, architecture — every medium has an inspiration because, well, we have everything! Mountains and mesas, high and low desert, urban cityscapes, lush forests, and small towns are all in abundance, which makes for varied and personal experiences with the state for all who visit or reside.

Finding a wedding venue, then, is at once the easiest and most difficult decision you’ll have to make while planning your wedding in New Mexico. Easier than ever before because, as wide a range of landscapes to choose from, is the type of venue within those places. From traditional New Mexican adobe and Spanish-inspired cathedrals, to crisp modern art spaces and whimsical woodland cabins, there’s a venue for pretty much every vibe. So whatever dream wedding fantasy you’ve got tucked away on your Pinterest or even just your subconscious, New Mexico has you covered.

With such an incredible variety to choose from though, and every option is gorgeous in its own exceptional way, the decision-making can become a bit overwhelming. So we, from our unique vantage point between engaged couples and local wedding businesses, compiled 18 of New Mexico’s hottest spots for ceremonies and receptions. Starting with the just the first three in the series, these venues have been vetted and are certified beautiful, with incredible teams of dedicated wedding pros behind the curtains. Keep an eye out for the rest of our absolute favorite venues as part of the hotspots feature!

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1. Eldorado Hotel & Spa

Eldorado Hotel & Spa offers unique and elegant venue spaces for the perfect Santa Fe wedding. La Capilla de Oro, the stunning non-denominational chapel, features natural and customizable lighting with an artisan-crafted gold leaf alter as the backdrop.

The rooftop presidential suite has gorgeous views of the city as well as the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Historic Casa España, the stylish and antique filled club, is available for unforgettable receptions as well as the 7,000sq. ft. Eldorado Grand Ballroom (the largest in Santa Fe).

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Emily Joanne Wedding Films and Photography

2. El Monte Sagrado Spa and Resort

With unparalleled amenities, mountain views, lush landscapes, and 7,000 square feet of event space, El Monte Sagrado Spa and Resort is the perfect destination for an unforgettable Taos wedding. Couples can say “I do” in the Sacred Circle, an intimate outdoor space encircled by mature willows and cottonwoods. 

Ceremonies and receptions in the elegant Rio Grande Ballroom can accommodate up to 400 guests. There is a wide variety of rooms and settings from which to choose, from the intimacy of the Library to the Grand Bohemian Gallery overlooking aspen trees and waterfalls.

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Talitha A. Tarro Photography

3. Event Center at Sandia Golf Club

From jaw-dropping views to high-end finishes, the Event Center at Sandia Golf Club provides a one-of-a-kind venue to say “I Do.” With expansive glass windows bringing in gorgeous natural-light, views of the pristine golf course and dramatic views of the Sandia Mountains, you won’t have much need for additional décor!

The Event Center at Sandia Golf Club is the perfect spot for an intimate, casual wedding, but if high-end is your dream, pulling off a sophisticated soiree is easily done! For a unique, gorgeous place like no other in New Mexico, we promise you won’t be able to get enough of this gorgeous venue!

 

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Casa Perea Art Space: Historic Adobe Abode Spotlight

Let’s take a moment on this lovely morning to stop, breathe, and flex our brain’s inherent storytelling abilities. You are hereby given permission to pause whatever work you’re doing to indulge in the following: Imagine your wedding guests, many of whom will have traveled far and wide for your celebration, being greeted by your venue with a bubbling fountain, the comforting sight of traditional adobe, and a luscious garden of fruit trees, sweet-smelling herbs, and wildflowers. Sounds lovely, right? It gets better.

Casa Perea Art Space, established in the 19th century by the Perea family, is so excellently preserved, the State Register of Cultural Properties describes the wedding venue as an apt example of New Mexico Territorial Architecture. Beyond its fountain and wrought iron gates lies a 100-foot-long pergola, crawling with trumpet vines, climbing roses, and the ever-fantastical wisteria.

Within the adobe abode, the Casa Perea team describes the space as “New Mexican and Spanish Colonial antiques that evoke historic New Mexico architecture and style.” Which, if you know anything about the Perfect Wedding Guide team, then you know we go absolutely nuts for everything traditional New Mexico. Casa Perea Art Space might be the most historical New Mexican venue too, considering the fact it served as the Sandoval County Courthouse following our home’s statehood in 1912. We only freaked out a little bit when we found that out. Or maybe a lot.

There’s nothing to fear for engaged couples though, the venue is used only for romantic courting now. With every inch of the space already carefully cultivated by hand, minimal additional decor is required, especially if your desires are centered around incorporating your home state’s rich cultural history into your celebration — which we highly recommend.

To book Casa Perea Art Space for your wedding celebration, you can contact their team here. In the meantime, feel free to extend the dream and swoon over this styled shoot from Tiffany Burke Events + Carissa and Ben Photography at the historical venue.

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Real Love in a Real Albuquerque Wedding with Briana Nicole Photography

Photographing people in love is what I do but it is an extra joy when the couple has a best friend connection.

Briana Nicole Photography

That’s what fuels our wedding fire — the best friend connection that so obviously shines through when two puzzle pieces fall inline together. We’re lucky to have a myriad of incredible photographers in New Mexico, too, to ensure that moment of coalescence is always captured forever. Today, we’re especially grateful for Briana Nicole Photography, whose crisp and modern photography style records the romance and personality of all her couples.

Sherah + Greg’s unique personalities were at the forefront of their wedding ceremony, and Briana Nicole Photography told their love story in exquisite detail. The muted and regal tones of their wedding colors enveloped the couple throughout their day at the Hyatt Regency Downtown, and complimented the all-white ballroom perfectly. Pops of purple in the bouquets from Albuquerque Florist and in the detailing of the decor showcased the couple’s humor and friendship, and rounded out the day into a full on celebration of their love.

The couple’s gifts to one another made them both cry, and proved just how deeply and truly they are connected. For Greg, Sherah surprised him with two thoughtful and heartwarming cards, detailing the unique facets of their love. To accompany her eloquent words, too, was a set of cufflinks featuring the faces of their fur babies. The second card was, of course, from the aforementioned puppies, thanking Greg for being the best dad ever.

It’s the precious, incomparable moments and details like this that accumulate to tell one, beautiful story of love and friendship. Briana Nicole Photography, who is a self-proclaimed romantic at heart, knows this so clearly and allows it to shape her work. Thank you, Briana, for allowing us a sneak peak into this celebration, so we might be touched by Sherah + Greg’s love in the same way.

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5 Rules For Choosing A Wedding Venue

Here at Perfect Wedding Guide, we get to work one-on-one with Albuquerque’s best florists, officiants, photographers, and the like, every single day. So it’s safe to assume that we might know a bit more about weddings than your average Joe or Joanne. While we like to think that we’re somewhat of experts though, we always turn to our local vendors for the real knowledge. When you need to know who the best wedding professionals are — turn to us. For the nitty gritty wedding planning details — we turn to them.

Like when our local officiants dropped some serious education on us about why hiring a professional is so important for your wedding. Or when Gypsy Trail Hair + Makeup gave us some incredible tips for your wedding day hair care, and Beth Waldron Photography told us why your photographer thinks you should hire a wedding planner. There’s such a wealth of knowledge in the Albuquerque + Santa Fe wedding community, and we’re just here to harness it!

Which is why we’re so happy to have this super helpful info from the delightful Embassy Suites, on the whats, whys, and hows, of choosing a venue for your wedding day. Of all the wedding professionals you hire for your ceremony, your venue is going to be up there in the top three most important. Because, well, it’s going to set the tone for the whole day! So it pays to know how to choose the venue that’s right for you, your future spouse, and your budget.

Without further adieu, we’ll let Jonathon, with Embassy Suites, tell you how to do that — he’s the real expert. (Photos by Alicia Lucia Photography.)

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1 | BACKTRACK.

 

A lot of times, it’s good to start things “backwards,” if you will. Start by putting a rough budget together. Guestimate how many guests you think will attend. The number doesn’t have to be exact, and details may change throughout the duration of your planning. But it’s good to have some kind of  number in mind before you even walk into a venue for pricing.

2 | EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM.

If you can help it, try to start venue shopping at least a year out from your special day (or as early as you possibly can). Choosing a venue is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in planning a wedding. You want to give yourself enough time to explore your options and find the best fit for you.

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3 | ASK, ASK, ASK!

Any time a question pops into your head, ask away! Our motto here at Embassy is that it’s better to ask as many questions and obtain as many answers early on than to be stressed out and asking on your special day.

4 | KEEP IT IN WRITING.

Planning a wedding can be exciting, but it’s not without its difficulties. You’re going to have so many details in your head at any given time throughout the planning process that a detail may slip here or there. A best practice is to back up all your details in writing – either via e-mail, via handwritten notes, etc. Whenever you sit down with your coordinator in person, or even when you speak to him/her over the phone, have your notes in front of you.

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5 | LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

 

Always keep the location of your venue in mind – even more so if many of your guests will be travelling from out of town. How accessible is your venue? Is it easy to find? Also, if you will be hosting your ceremony and your reception in two separate venues, just make sure to factor travel time into the equation. For venues that are farther apart, always plan ahead for unexpected hiccups. An accident on the highway one hour before your reception may lead to your guests frustrated and sitting in traffic.

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Marriott Pyramid North: Upscale in Albuquerque

If you’ve been anywhere near the heart of Albuquerque, you’ve probably noticed the captivating and strange skyline, shaped by the city’s architecture. (If you haven’t been to heart of Albuquerque, well, what are you waiting for!?) Of them all though, Marriott Pyramid North absolutely wins the award for being the most eye-catching. As their name would suggest, the outline of the hotel + venue mimics that of the pyramids, alluding to both Egypt’s constructions and its luxurious culture.

With such an impressive exterior, you’d be inclined to believe the interior would match. And you’d be absolutely right. From the moment you step in to their grand atrium-foyer, you’ll forget you’re in the land-of-mañana and casual attire. That is, until you catch a glimpse of the venue’s incredible views — the Sandia Mountains only slightly beating out the hotel when it comes to grandeur.

For engaged couples, the magic only begins when you enter the venue. With wedding specialists on staff, the Marriott Pyramid North creates something new and unique for every new and unique couple that comes through their doors. Covered outdoor ceremony space, indoor ballrooms, custom catering and AV options, an on-site restaurant, indoor + outdoor pool, and plenty of space for your bridal party to get ready… There really isn’t much that you don’t get with the Marriott Pyramid North!

Ashley + Phillip, local newly-weds, knew this had to be their space when they got engaged. Luckily for us, Tori Photography, one of Albuquerque’s favorite wedding photographers, was there to capture every moment.

Ashley and Philip are truly perfect for each other, they compliment each other fabulously. If you were to ask them why they love one another they can go on and on for hours. They have a bond that will just keep growing. They were married in the courtyard of the Marriot Pyramid on September 15th 2018, surrounded by family and friends who loved and supported them. We then enjoyed a fantastic reception in one of the hotel’s grand ballrooms. Filled with dancing, cake, a clown and even a lap dance…. they ended the night as man and wife, and began their happily ever after.

-Tori, Tori Photography

Here’s your chance to start mentally planning your wedding at the Marriott Pyramid North with this gorgeous wedding as a template. Or to book your own in-real-life tour of the magnificence, contact the venue’s event manager, Sara, here.

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Real Wedding at The Event Center at Sandia Golf Club

The venue had everything we were hoping for: gorgeous scenery (the best we saw and we looked at more than seven venues), a diverse menu to choose from, the perfect amount of privacy for our intimate evening, and the staff was untouchable when it came to accommodations and service. While searching for our venue we didn’t have any “must haves,” but the second we stepped foot inside The Event Center we both knew “this was the place!!” One of the most memorable parts of the evening was when the doors opened for me to walk down the aisle, seeing my soon-to-be husband’s face light up against the most breathtaking backdrop of the Sandia Mountains. It was a moment I had always dreamt of. Words cannot describe the feeling I had.

-Shelbi, Bride

We, as Perfect Wedding Guide, have a unique position in the wedding community here in Albuquerque + Santa Fe. Forging the bridge between local engaged couples and the small businesses who diligently serve them, we truly have the best of both worlds. We get to see the elbow grease and unparalleled passion of the wedding professionals, and the perpetually inspiring love stories from couples — how could we ask for anymore?!

So it’s easy to stay inspired in what we do, but hearing such happy, happy words from Shelbi, a New Mexican bride, truly makes our hearts soar. Because, well, we know The Event Center at Sandia Club is one of the best venues in our gorgeous states, but seeing its breathtaking landscape become the backdrop for a real, local couple’s love story? It doesn’t get much better than that.

Not to mention, this wedding in particular was perfectly paired with the couple’s venue choice. Punctuated by deep maroons, the delightfully rich vibes of Shelbi + Michael’s special day mirrored the mountainous view, with its red-tinted glow from which the Sandias are named. Plus, the happy couple’s faces are so aglow, they shine through the photos and rival the shimmering gold details of their decor.

Scroll on to get lost in their love story, just as we did, and read what Lauren, The Event Center at Sandia Golf Club‘s Director of Catering, had to say about Shelbi + Michael’s fun-filled, spectacular wedding day.

{Or get a free copy of our printed magazine to see the love in three dimensions!}

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It’s always such an honor to share in a couple’s wedding day and we were especially grateful when Shelbi and Michael selected The Event Center at Sandia Golf Club for their big day! When describing Shelbi and Michael’s wedding, the first word that comes to mind is fun! Shelbi and Michael are such a fun couple and you could see that in everything they were planning. If nothing else, they wanted to ensure their guests had a blast! Not only did they have all the typical elements to make for a fun wedding, but they added their own touch of an ice luge for shots, photo booth and yard games to really make it a unique and fun experience for their guests! There are definitely a lot of favorite moments from their wedding, but I have to say my favorite was seeing their love come full circle on that day with their sweet little boy standing by their side.

-Lauren, Director of Catering at The Event Center at Sandia Golf Club

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Venue| The Event Center at Sandia Golf Club

Photographer| Taken by Tamara

Officiant| Geoff Romero

Cake| Simply Sweet by Darci

Decor| Occasion Services and Events

Makeup| Katlin Green

Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado: A Santa Fe Treasure

We have a lot of love in our hearts for local wedding professionals, and that’s definitely no secret. Though, every once in a blue moon, one comes along that really steals our hearts. Whether it’s a dedicated florist, an open-hearted wedding officiant, or a venue that treats every guest with the utmost respect, there are a few wedding professionals in New Mexico who truly stand out. Which is, of course, the case with Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado.

While Santa Fe is inherently luxurious, the resort is genuinely the pinnacle of splendor. Nestled on 60 acres of secluded land, and with views of the Jemez Mountains, the entire space welcomes in couples with the familiar scent of piñon woodsmoke. Though, surrounded by the rugged, mountainous beauty of the Santa Fe wilderness, the inside of the resort is quite the opposite.

Beautifully manicured grounds and luxurious accommodations await. Located near the beautiful groves of old cottonwood trees that cast their ancient shadows over Tesuque. Serene and exclusive.

-Carl, guest

With several space choices for your wedding, each different setting offers flexible seating options to ensure every wedding party is comfortably provided for. Plus, Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado is revered for its culinary expertise, and even offers locally engaged couples the option of having a completely custom menu cultivated by their top-notch team, just for them.

Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado specializes in bringing cherished wedding dreams to life, which is what makes their venue stand out from all the rest. It’s not the unparalleled beauty of the resort, or their team of wedding experts who are there to help you from planning to execution, or the fact their space is intimately secluded while only being 10 minutes from downtown Santa Fe’s shops and galleries, or even the pool or opulent spa. What places Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado above all else is their dedication to manifesting the wedding fantasies of engaged couples, and how they treat each person who walks through their doors with kindness and respect.

{But some gorgeous inspo from a breathtaking venue never hurts, right?!}

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