7 Wedding Venues Outside the City

As much as we love the hustle and bustle of our vibrant city here in the southwest, we can’t lie… Taking a step back from the noise and enjoying New Mexico’s myriad of landscapes is one of our favorite parts of living in such a wild state. The mountains and mesas, rivers and roving fields, can all enliven even the most downtrodden spirit, honestly. So when we hear a local engaged couple wants to get away from the city for their wedding, we get it.

And luckily for couples in New Mexico, everyone else here seems to get it, too. Whether you’re ready to make the trek to the deeply restorative forests of Ruidoso, or just popping over to sunny and sprawling Los Lunas, there’s already a wedding venue there waiting for you and your loved ones.

So if your wedding guests, bridal parties, or partner-to-be are in need of some R&R, why not let your wedding be that gift to them? Not every horror story you’ve heard about wedding day chaos is true, and even if they were, there are steps you can take to ensure nothing unsavory transpires during celebration.

Step one — utilize all available wedding planning resources, like our print magazine and online tools.

Step two — book local wedding vendors who have dedicated their lives to ensuring weddings, like yours, are the happiest of all occasions.

And finally, step three — choose a beautiful venue surrounded by nothing but fresh air and a great view, like Prairie Star or Hacienda Doña Andrea, or one of the other 7 wedding venues listed below.

1. Prairie Star

1145de_65cada9d88614cfcbf2f2e78cd29c49b~mv2_d_3500_2346_s_2
Maura Jane Photography

Prairie Star truly captures the gorgeous New Mexican culture with the best view of the Sandia Mountains. My wedding was everything I hoped for and I am very appreciate of the staff here. We had an hour rain delay and the staff helped keep the guests comfortable and calm. The coordinator, Rebecca, knows her stuff! She is very responsive and helpful.

The food here is AMAZING and the professionalism of the staff is impeccable. They even stayed 30 minutes later to let us continue the reception due to the rain delay. We rented an event tent for the lawn and had a plated dinner out there. The staff was great and timely about serving the guests. Prairie Star is a wonderful venue! I can’t say enough about it!  

Shelby, local newlywed

2. Hacienda Doña Andrea

HDA-166
Shayla Edenfield Photography

We had a lovely and intimate wedding at the Hacienda – the venue is beautiful and had the perfect southwest ambiance that we were looking for for our New Mexican wedding. The day of the wedding had multiple mishaps (as weddings do) and the event staff on hand was SO accommodating and helpful.

We are so happy that we chose this venue and almost all of our guests asked where we found such an amazing and scenic place. The rooms were beautifully decorated and comfortable accommodations overall. Even when our guests were up far into the night, the rooms were quiet. We had everything we needed to stay over the weekend.

Tabitha, local newlywed

3. Europa

couple wedding New Mexico Europa Los Lunas bridal gown tuxedo planning wedding ceremony venue outdoor photographer

I never write reviews, but let me tell you. I have lived in the area for a long time and have never come across anything that even comes remotely close to the experience you get here. You’d be hard pressed to find another place that’s close to this. I feel like it’s basically impossible to best it as well.

The workers do a fantastic job, the whole experience is so unique and amazing, that I almost feel guilty about it. This place is the absolute definition of a diamond in the rough. Such a hidden gem.

Jacob, local New Mexican

4. Sanctuary on the River

Sanctuary on the River

When looking for an outside venue for our wedding and something a little out of the way The Sanctuary on the River was by far the best. I made all arrangements over the phone so it was hard to tell exactly what I was getting. Two weeks before our wedding we visited the Sanctuary and was very impressed.

The staff and owner were very nice, extremely helpful and made sure our special day was spectacular. I would definitely recommend this venue for any kind of wedding. The decorations, the bridal suite and the gazebo were decorated perfectly. The bridal suite fit about 6 of us comfortably with our own private bathroom. There is no complaints all compliments here. Thank you to the staff of the Sanctuary for making this a day we will never forget.

Jennifer, local newlywed

5. Nature Pointe

MBPhotography12
Matt Blasing Photography

Nature Pointe is one of the most beautiful spaces I have seen locally. It has an amazing natural fee with wood and stone and iron. Feels so New Mexico without being in Santa Fe or downtown. We love the mountains and this spacious venue has amazing views you can’t get in Albuquerque. We are super impressed with Courtney and her team and how communicative and helpful they have been, making us feel special and not just another wedding. We are excited about both the inside and the outside of Nature Pointe.

The kicker for me was just how much was included in the price. Tables, chairs, linens, centerpieces, vases, candles, cake cutting supplies, signage, etc. The list goes on and on. It was a bit more than we were planning to spend initially, but as soon as we drove up, we fell in love with Nature Pointe and are so excited for our special day. 

6. El Monte Sagrado

EMSBigPhoto2
Emily Joanne Wedding Films + Photography

Honestly, I didn’t know places like this still existed. Besides El Monte Sagrado being breathtakingly beautiful, the customer service was out of this world! I had my wedding here at the beginning of the year and everyone at the resort made sure that my family, friends, husband and I had everything we needed!

Rarely am I impressed by wedding food, but our filets were some of the best I have ever had – thank you to the chef, Cristina Martinez, and our wonderful dinner team, Madelyne, Matt, and Marge. Last, but not least, Melisha Romero planned and coordinated my wedding from beginning to end. I could go into the nitty, gritty detail, but the long and short of it is that when I had a problem or was not 100% happy with the proposed plan, Melisha came back to me with other suggestions and resolutions. I owe so much to this beautiful woman for easing my mind from over 1,200 miles away (we are in Birmingham).
My wedding was perfect and the week was an absolute dream. All of our guests said it was their favorite wedding they’ve ever been apart of and I believe them! I can’t wait to go back!

Jillian, local newlywed

7. Casa Perea Art Space

couple wedding outdoor venue Perfect Wedding Guide New Mexico Casa Perea long sleeve gown tuxedo bowtie floral arrangement natural light photography Maura Jane
Maura Jane Photography

This venue is a treasure both in its beauty and historical value to this community. From the office gals to the grounds keeper, the care and service over our wedding event was impeccable, professional and most importantly, personal. Their flexibility is a blessing during sometimes stressful decisions.

The included tables, chairs, linens and parking shuttle are all blessings which freed us up to handle the more pleasant details of food, music and florals. The beauty of this adobe garden home made the need for further decorations minimal. Our wedding at Casa Perea was both intimate, grand and simply lovely. Many thanks to the owner and staff at Casa Perea for sharing this historical treasure with us!  

Helene, local newlywed

Perfect Wedding Guide wedding planning design inspiration budget floral bouquet arrangement New Mexico Albuquerque greenery Santa Fe flowers natural organic local

 

White Sands Elopement with Matt Blasing Photography

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.

And, if you’ve been following along, you know we’ve had elopements on the brain more than usual. Who could we call on to fulfill our wishes, besides one of the most loved husband and wife duos in the wedding photographer community, Matt Blasing Photography?!

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!

Sandy, newlywed

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.

Hammer & Johnson Wedding - Ceremony-4

Hammer & Johnson Wedding - Ceremony-19

Hammer & Johnson Wedding - Ceremony-24

Hammer & Johnson Wedding - The Couple-57

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.

Sandy, newlywed

Hammer & Johnson Wedding - Ceremony-46

Hammer & Johnson Wedding - Ceremony-74

Hammer & Johnson Wedding - The Couple-54

Hammer & Johnson Wedding - The Couple-89

Hammer & Johnson Wedding - The Couple-37

Perfect Wedding Guide wedding planning design inspiration budget floral bouquet arrangement New Mexico Albuquerque greenery Santa Fe flowers natural organic local

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.

TRA_4047

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.)

TRA_4100

TRA_3584

TRA_3801

Perfect Wedding Guide wedding planning design inspiration budget floral bouquet arrangement New Mexico Albuquerque greenery Santa Fe flowers natural organic local

Intimate Elegance: Real New Mexican Wedding with Maura Jane Photography

Tori and Sean were one of those couples who didn’t need to be told when to hold each other, or when to kiss. They were naturally so affectionate, all we had to do was stand back and capture it.

Maura, Maura Jane Photography 

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.

Maura, Maura Jane Photography 

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.

72de1UNZ

SGI51Poq

vyRlr3fU

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.

Maura, Maura Jane Photography

wxHIiUzx

samCW647

tZTGOYb2

R8LhTugW

yb8WWE2H

Photographer: Maura Jane Photography
Venue: Casa Rondeña Winery
Getting Ready Venue: Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm Planning/Decor/Florals: A Beautiful Theme
Hair and Makeup: D’Ambrosio Designs Hair Studio
Shoes: Nine West Dress Store: Angela’s Bridal
Dress Designer: MiKaella
Men’s Attire: Hugo Boss
Sweets: ABC Bakery
DJ: Cutmaster
Invitations: Minted
Catering: Casa Nova Custom Catering
Rentals: Occasion Services & Events and Darling Details Rentals

 

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.

Screen Shot 2019-07-02 at 10.23.49 AM

Screen Shot 2019-07-02 at 10.24.27 AM

7e9fd3da-885b-46ba-96b6-83e2dcc5ea69.jpg

Jessica Ash Photography

Perfect Wedding Guide wedding planning design inspiration budget floral bouquet arrangement New Mexico Albuquerque greenery Santa Fe flowers natural organic local

Hidden Gem Photographers in New Mexico

Yes, it’s true — we just said earlier this week that the fickle weather of spring had given way to steady sunshine and…..then it rained. So it goes in this beautiful, mercurial desert state! While we might not be able to rely on the weather for consistency, we can at least know that whatever rain comes to New Mexico won’t last very long. Plus, because temperamental weather is often on the horizon, local creatives have learned how to work with and around it, especially our wedding photographers.

We all know that rain on your wedding day is good luck — what with the symbolism of cleansing, renewal, and fertility and all — but what about the wind? Or the blazing New Mexican sun that occasionally becomes a bright and shining nuisance? Despite how perfectly you may plan your wedding, there are always a few uncontrollable weather variables. So, if you can’t control the weather, you’ll need a team of wedding professionals who aren’t afraid of a little Mother Nature.

Which is why we’ve put together a list of our 5 favorite hidden gem photographers. With years of experience in rain and shine, these local wedding photographers have been put to the test and come out on the other side with gorgeous visual art, a fine-tuned understanding of lighting, and a considerable dedication to their craft. So, if you maybe want someone you can count on to capture your wedding day — take a peak below.

1. Beth Waldron Photography

We’re starting out strong here with the creative known as Beth Waldron Photography. Like an amazingly talented fly on the wall, Beth photographed our Bridal Board + Vendor Mixer just a few weeks ago, and totally captured the essence, fun, and special moments of the event. (Not to mention, the photos were beautiful despite coming from a dimly-lit ballroom.) With an expressive edge that comes through in each shot, her wedding photography should be properly classified as works of art.

 

2. Jared Kellogg Photography

I feel life has a soul and there is nothing more beautiful than capturing it in a smile or in the twinkle in some one’s eye.

We couldn’t have described the creative driving force behind Jared Kellogg‘s photographic art any better than he does himself! With a unique blend of digital and film photography in his portfolio, Jared has come to understand the medium on a personal and artistic level, which shines through in his business. His clean and even approach to each couple makes his work feel comforting and familiar, with a kind of timelessness to last through each and every anniversary.

 

3. Chandelier Studio

It’s hard not to love Shannon, the creative powerhouse behind Chandelier Studio, from the first moment you meet her. All of her photographic work — weddings and boudoir — comes from a deeply artistic, deeply collaborative place, and it shows. The focus of her lens and creative practices is on making sure the women and couples in front of the camera feel beautiful, and know they’re beautiful. It’s no small wonder then, that each shot comes out looking comfortable, crisp, and perfectly balanced.

 

4. Rick Saul Photography

Rick Saul approaches each engaged couple in New Mexico with a keen awareness of the fact that his photos will long outlive the ceremony, reception, and even the honeymoon. It’s this knowledge that motivates his work, and ensures his talents are used to encapsulate all the most important moments of the day, whether they are precious and heartfelt, or silly and fun. His photographs are, essentially, his way of cementing your story in time forever, so that they may remind you of your unique love for decades to come.

 

5. Shutter Force Photography

To finish just as a strong as we started, we’re wrapping up here with Shutter Force Photography. Although we just did a special feature on the husband-and-wife photographer duo, it’s worth reiterating that their fun and loving approach to photography is totally unparalleled. Meagan and James, as they’re also called by, cultivate real, genuine relationships with their couples. It’s with this connection that they are able to express the inexpressible emotions, details, and depth of each love story within their photography.

Perfect Wedding Guide wedding planning design inspiration budget floral bouquet arrangement New Mexico Albuquerque greenery Santa Fe flowers natural organic local

Albuquerque Wedding Planner Spotlight: NJR Event Planning

Whether you’ve been carefully crafting a collection of Pinterest boards (plural) dedicated to your upcoming wedding, or you’re hoping to leave the details of the day up to fate — every newlywed-to-be could use a hand with the whole process. Though we are lucky to be living in the digital age, so a healthy portion of your research, planning, and booking can happen from the comfort of your couch, if you so prefer. But that approach only works if you have the gaps of free time in your schedule to whip out your binders, highlighters, and snacks, to truly settle into the grind of planning a wedding all by your lonesome.

And if you’re like basically anyone in the year of 2019, though, you probably don’t have the luxurious option of scheduling a few days a week to calling and meeting DJs, florists, invitation companies, and the like. But you do have other options, and we’re sure you know where we’re going with this. Hire a local wedding planner!

(Specifically, NJR Event Planning.)

For nearly 3 decades, Naomi — the creative powerhouse behind NJR Event Planning — has been taking the inklings of dreams, and turning them into realities for New Mexico engaged couples. Her design expertise has weathered the storm through many a trend: cupcake-ballgowns, burlap + lace, bolero tops (Google it), puffed sleeves, etc…. Classic and modern though, the inherent talent of the NJR Event Planning team continues to evolve, meeting the needs of our generations respective trends like it’s second nature.

Luckily, as always, you don’t just have to take our word for it. It’s true we love NJR Event Planning because we’ve had the opportunity to work with Naomi for years, and can happily vouch for her expertise. But just to instill some additional confidence in our recommendation, come swoon with us over this perfectly articulated wedding shot by Alicia Lucia Photography.

levy_wedding-203

levy_wedding-331

levy_wedding-221

levy_wedding-369

levy_wedding-471

levy_wedding-465

levy_wedding-78

levy_wedding-874

Perfect Wedding Guide wedding planning design inspiration budget floral bouquet arrangement New Mexico Albuquerque greenery Santa Fe flowers natural organic local