You’ve heard what the old-timers say: Don’t worry about the wedding; worry about the marriage, because getting hitched is just the first step in your journey together. That may be true, but planning a wedding is an adventure in itself. I’ve just finished organizing my own wedding and, while all the helpful tips and vendors I’ve researched are still fresh in mind, I’m going to spill my Rolodex of contacts and great Web resources to help local brides- and grooms-to-be plan their own charming, unique and hip weddings.
For a bossy and detail-oriented person such as myself, gathering 100 people from all over the world for an elaborate party was totally doable, if occasionally stressful. Luckily, I was blessed with an unbelievably agreeable family, a wonderful groom who was happy to let me art direct the wedding décor, and some talented friends and family who added gorgeous touches like custom-designed invitations, handmade flower girl dresses and a home-cooked rehearsal dinner. Hopefully, you’ll have your own support network to help you personalize your special day with the help of some excellent local professionals—and that’s where this guide can help. Read on for our picks of the best vendors for managing every detail of your Santa Fe wedding.
Be honest with yourself: Either you’re a planner or you’re not. Even if you’re a born organizer, you’ll appreciate the excellent planning software at Wedding Wire (weddingwire.com). A free membership gives you access to scheduling tools, a guest and vendor database and my personal favorite: a drag-and-drop seating chart that lets you shuffle and print table line-ups—no graph paper or erasers required.
If you’re not a planner, save yourself some grief and hire a wedding coordinator as soon as you get engaged.
Heidi Anderson, the friendly and professional proprietor of Santa Fe Soiree, will help you book a location, florist, food, music—the whole nine yards. Most importantly, she’ll be there during the wedding to run the show so you can relax and enjoy your big day.
Since it takes four to six months to make a wedding gown, the dress is usually first priority on the bridal to-do list. I obsessively researched wedding dresses and ended up ordering my gown from a New York boutique, but there are also great designers in Santa Fe. For a red-carpet-worthy creation, head to Lily of the West (203 E. Palace Ave., 505-982-5402), where Lily Falk sells her designs off-the-rack and also whips up custom confections of silk and ruffles. Eco-savvy brides will want to check out the gorgeous gowns at Santa Fe-based Conscious Clothing (505-982-7506). There’s no brick and mortar store, but the designers create hemp, silk and lace treasures at reasonable prices.
One of the most useful online resources I found was Etsy (etsy.com). It’s basically a gigantic Web-based market where craftspeople and artists from all over the world sell their wares. Some of the loveliest invitations I’ve seen are made by Belgian artist Marijcke Janssens at the Etsy shop Enfin, La Voila! (enfinlavoila.etsy.com). Janssens' unique designs include modern patterns, lush animal motifs and vintage florals.
Close your eyes and jab your finger at a map of the Santa Fe area—you could pull off a wedding almost anywhere around here. But for a truly spectacular location and service to match, I’ve got three great suggestions, each a little out of town and away from the tourist bustle. The first is the venue John and I chose: Hacienda Doña Andrea de Santa Fe (78 Vista del Oro, Cerrillos, NM; 505-424-8995), an elegant boutique hotel in the Ortiz mountains near Cerrillos. The hacienda boasts a patio with 360-degree mountain views, gorgeous ironwork and traditional Central American textiles and furnishings. Best of all, the assistance of a wedding coordinator is included in their wedding packages.
Another amazing location is the Galisteo Inn (9 La Vega, Galisteo, NM; 866-404-8200), where you can wed under centuries-old cottonwoods, dine on sumptuous food from La Mancha Restaurant and Bar and let guests wander around the former monastery—there’s even an antique confessional booth in the lobby. Finally, I highly recommend Rancho Manzana (26 Camino de Mision, Chimayo, NM; 505-351-2227), a charming Chimayo bed-and-breakfast where weddings take place in an apple orchard next to horse pastures and lavender fields.
Hands-down, my favorite florist in Santa Fe is Andrea Soorikian (505-982-3482). Her fine arts background is reflected in her unusual and inspired arrangements. Her specialty is creating custom shadowbox retablos that make jaw-dropping table centerpieces or gifts to the parents of the bride and groom. Plan for an off-season wedding if your heart’s set on using her services, though—we approached her in January for our June wedding and found she was already booked.
There are many, many great options for wedding catering in food-loving Santa Fe—your vendor of choice will ultimately depend on your budget and the formality of the event. Two excellent options are Walter Burke Catering (505-473-9600) and Marja Catering (505-986-3858). Both offer delicious menus and full-service everything at a variety of price points. Looking to design a wedding-cake that is a work of art? Call Maggie Faralla (505-989-1416). Her sugar work is legendary (think intricate Day of the Dead tableaus and towers strewn with sweet, gum-paste flowers) and her creations are as delicious as they are beautiful.
Your out-of-town visitors will really appreciate a keepsake to remind them of their stay in New Mexico. We gave our guests sachets of desert sage from Taos Herb Company (710 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Suite J, Taos, NM;
800-353-1991), adorned with silver heart milagros that we ordered from Fausto’s Art Gallery (424-229-4659). For a fancier favor, consider giving Mexican-themed, silver- or gold-leafed chocolates from Todos Santos (125 E. Palace Ave., #31; 505-982-3855).
This town is teeming with shutterbugs, but for the best-quality images, you’ll want to choose a seasoned pro who knows how to capture key moments unobtrusively, in photojournalistic style. After observing her work at two other weddings, we chose Stacey Adams (505-507-3686; staceyadamsphoto.com). She weaves through wedding parties almost unseen, grabbing gorgeous portraits and candid shots you’ll treasure for a lifetime.