The 3 Main Benefits of Eloping

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.

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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.)

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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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Santa Fe Celebration: Real Wedding with Maura Jane Photography

Well, well, well, another successful Front Cover Contest has come and gone yet again! Hopefully you’ve been keeping up with the competition via our Instagram, but if not, then have no fear. We offer local wedding professionals the opportunity to have their image featured on over 12,000 copies of our print magazine every year, twice a year. ‘Cause we love y’all like that.

This year was, by far, one of the most difficult go-arounds of the contest yet. Local photographers, wedding planners, videographers, and more sent in their strongest image, and we were totally blown away. With so many different styles and preferences on our team, nailing down our 3 finalists took longer than we’d like to admit. When we saw the gorgeous submission from Maura Jane Photography, though, we all nodded in solidarity. The ethereal, yet timeless photograph checked all our boxes: super unique, super New Mexican, and super, duper, unbelievably dreamy.

Caitlin + Justin, the newlyweds that we mistakenly took for models at first, grabbed our intrigue with the obvious love they have for one another. It nearly jumps off their wedding photos, and Maura Jane Photography captured the essence of their celebration to a stunning degree of accuracy. When Maura shared the details of their love story with us, too, we were absolutely sold, and knew we had to pass on the madly-in-love vibes to our fellow wedding nerds.

Without further adieu, Caitlin + Justin, as captured by one of Albuquerque’s favorite wedding photographers, Maura Jane Photography.

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Caitlin and Justin met within their first month of medical school. It wasn’t that hard to find the time to fall for each other as they shared classes, tutoring groups, and studied together. Years later, Justin planned a weekend trip for Caitlin at a vineyard.  During their walk they ‘”found” a large heart on the ground made of flower petals, (Arranged by his family in advance.) and this is where Justin got down on one knee.  They started medical school by finding each other, and they were going to end it by getting married.

Maura, Maura Jane Photography

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Caitlin and Justin chose to mix a classic and elegant style with a nod to hispanic culture. Since their wedding day landed on Cinco De Mayo, they made sure to add accents of bright warm florals, have a piñata for the kids, and serve margaritas and tacos. Inspired by the history of New Mexico, they gifted their bridal party beautiful turquoise cufflinks and necklaces, in homage to The City Different.

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The bouquets by Bloomstream matched the coral bridesmaid dresses perfectly. Caitlin wore her late grandmother’s Tiffany necklace, and earrings gifted to her by Justin’s mother, as she stunned everyone walking down the aisle in her elegant lace gown. Later guests enjoyed themselves to a traditional New Mexico dinner while sipping champagne and wishing the couple well wishes.

Maura, Maura Jane Photography

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Venue: Gerald Peters Gallery
Planner:  Just Lovely Weddings
Hair and Make Up: Madeline McCue Makeup
Dress Store: Julian Gold
Dress Designer: Christos Bridal
Tuxes: The Black Tux
Cake: ABC Cakes

Rick Saul Photography {Professional Spotlight}

We’re sure you’ve gleaned this from our endless scroll of real wedding and styled shoot content, but in case you haven’t: we. love. wedding. inspiration. But as far-reaching and all-encomapssing as our love is for heartwarming, tear-jerking love stories, our adoration for local wedding professionals is twice as intense. Why is it that so?

Because wedding experts are the ones who make the inspiration come to life. 

Might sound simple, but when you consider the years of training, amount of equipment, late nights and the blood, sweat, and tears that go into creating a small business from the ground up, it really is no small feat.  Which is why we’re endlessly impressed with Albuquerque + Santa Fe’s local wedding professionals. There’s a lot of hard work and community support needed to venture out into the business world, but key ingredient needed for a successful small business, especially a creative one like photography, is passion. 

Which, thankfully, Rick Saul Photography has plenty of. Rick, the creative behind the business name, first began dabbling in photography when he was 8 years old. Lucky for us wedding lovers in New Mexico, someone gifted Rick a box camera at the young age, and the curiosity and love for the craft continued with him throughout his life. 

Now, years after that first photo with his first box camera, Rick has bolstered his natural talent with a healthy knowledge of the creative pursuit that only comes with decades of practice. {He even took intel photographs while serving in the Navy, and crime scene photos while working with NCIS. Talk about a range of experience!}

Rick Saul Photography uses this unparalleled expertise to ensure every couple their team works with is not only comfortable and happy on their wedding day, but that they also have classic, tangible reminders of this happiness for lifetimes to come. By using two shooters, male and female, they avoid any discomfort and are able to capture special moments as the groom and bride get ready for their vows, as the photographic storytellers they are. With a documentary-style aesthetic approach that utilizes natural light, the Rick Saul Photography team captures moments that won’t reveal their age as the ephemeral trends of photography come and go. 

With all this in mind, we’re honored to have Rick Saul Photography here in New Mexico, serving well-deserved couples the best wedding photography this state has to offer. Simply put though, we love their team because they also create the wedding inspo that drives our work and warms our hearts. {Like the goodies below, courtesy of their team! Scroll on!}

To book Rick Saul Photography for your wedding, you can contact their team here. 

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Airy + Alluring Apple Orchard {Real} Wedding

Well, pack it all up folks, our work here is done. We’ve officially found the most appealing New Mexican wedding, and it took place at the apple orchard, Rancho Manzana. {Get it? Appealing, apple orchard, peeling apples? Cheap shot, we know, and usually we don’t go for low-hanging fruit, but we’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth for food puns and couldn’t resist. It stems from a place of deep admiration, we promise.}

Though there’s still a few weeks before the official start of autumn — three to be exact, but we’re not anxiously counting the days or anything like that — it seems all of New Mexico is ready to release the summer heat in favor of fall’s freshness. Green chile roasting has already begun filling the air with savory, mouthwatering memories, earlier this year than ever before. At least as far as we can remember!

So there’s no better wedding to share for some unrivaled wedding planning inspiration at this particular moment in time. Captured by the dutiful and darling, Arielei Kinzer Photography, this celebration is exactly what we need to tide us over until the leaves finally start to turn. Wrapped up in a warm, cinnamon-y type of love, Lynsey + Kent married last October in Chimayó, New Mexico at, yes, a stunning apple orchard.

I loved getting to photograph this wedding for Lynsey and Kent! They blew me away with how kind and genuine they were, and their friends and family were all so wonderful. Their wedding was heartfelt, simple, and filled with personal touches — it really was serene and beautiful. Definitely one for the record books!

The wedding took place at an apple orchard in Chimayó, and Lynsey spent the week beforehand picking apples. She used these apples for homemade apple butter, which she then packaged into little jars to give away as wedding favors! How awesome (and adorable!) is that?

-Arielei, Arielei Kinzer Photography

Our suggestion for scoping out this exceedingly serene wedding for inspiration is to do as follows: blast your air conditioner, draw the shades, and make a cup of tea. Only then should you wrap up in your favorite sweater and/or blanket, and scroll on to live vicariously through Lynsey + Kent’s celebration that’s as sweet and warm as Lynsey’s apple butter. When real life calls again and you simply must step out into the beating sun again, remember — only three more weeks until we can all get married under golden leaves and sweet fruits.

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Venue: Rancho Manzana || Dress: Shareen, L.A. || Flowers: Renegade Floral || Officiant: Naomi Fiske || Cake: Whole Foods || Makeup: Sally from Santa Fe Lash and Beauty Bar || Hair: Ana Claudia from Diva Salon || Favors + Invitations: Bride DIY || Music: Absolute Entertainment ||

 

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Alissa + Clint’s Splendid Celebration at the Four Seasons Santa Fe

Yes, it’s true, we did just feature the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado in a post recently. But when there’s a wedding this stunning, this vivacious in Albuquerque or Santa Fe, we simply have to give our two cents. {Plus, there’s no such thing as too much love for the incredible New Mexican wedding venue.} The verdict on this delightfully bright celebration of love and marriage? Five stars! 10/10, would recommend you fawn over the deep colors and lighthearted jamboree for wedding inspiration and life goals.

It helps too, that Maura Jane Photography was there to capture the brilliance. Which, if you’re in New Mexico, you’ve probably heard of the famed local photographer and her wonderfully airy style — but she truly outdid herself this time. Collaborating with a few of our absolute favorite wedding professionals in Albuquerque + Santa Fe, Maura Jane Photography encapsulated the splendor of the day that was made possible by the hard work of incredible experts.

For their wedding, Alissa + Clint wanted bright beautiful colors that encompassed the diversity of their guests and matched the sunsets that Santa fe is known for. Rich deep pinks and bright vibrant oranges were used from their invitations to the shoes that Alissa wore on her feet. In lieu of a veil, Alissa wore a beautiful flowy Vivian Reed scarf that matched her personality perfectly.

Guests enjoyed a beautiful Santa fe sky during the ceremony that teased us with rain but quickly blew past resulting in a breathtaking sunset. They made their way to the outdoor cocktail hour on the Four Season‘s patio and sipped signature drinks that Alissa + Clint came up with themselves along with  a little help of a mixologist. Handblown glass vases graced the reception tables, a nod to Santa fe’s rich artistic culture.

-Maura, Maura Jane Photography

It’s no secret how deeply appreciative we are of New Mexico’s venerable history and landscapes. So a wedding, pouring over with bold colors and full-bellied laughter, that pays homage to our state’s culture, and was brought to life by the hardworking hands of dedicated local professionals? We’re starting to wonder if Alissa + Clint intentionally set out to have a wedding that would make our entire team cry. {Or we would be, if the unparalleled adoration and devotion between the couple weren’t so obvious. We can thank Maura Jane Photography again for catching those loving looks on camera so spectacularly.}

Congratulations on making us tear up from unbridled joy and admiration, Alissa + Clint! Oh, and on your newly-wed status, of course. Thank you to you both, as well as Maura Jane Photography, and all the extremely talented wedding professionals {listed below!} who made this day possible.

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Photographer | Maura Jane Photography

Venue | Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe

Planner + Designer | Maria Socha, Sealed With a Kiss 

Florist | Floral Fetish

Hair + MUA | Carmella Conway with Chrome

Shoes | Stuart Weitzman + Monolo Blahnik

Dress | Ann Matthews

Dress Designer | Da Vinci 

Tuxedos + Suits | Men’s Wearhouse

Cake + Desserts | Chocolate Maven

DJ | Paul Feathericci

Officiant | Dr. Paul Martinez with De Novo Pastoral Services 

Invitations | Funky Olive Design