Santa Fe Favorites: Planning Your Destination Wedding | - May 31, 2011

Imagine exchanging vows with your beloved in the courtyard of an adobe hacienda, under a giant cottonwood tree at a luxurious desert resort or at a historic chapel with a world-famous “miraculous” staircase. Whatever your dream, Santa Fe provides a stunning selection of locations and services for the perfect destination wedding. Santa Fe’s sunny high desert climate, thriving international art scene, mountain views and unique adobe architecture make it one of the most sought-after wedding destinations in the United States.

Destination weddings are growing in popularity, for good reason. With family and friends increasingly far-flung, it makes sense to get married in a beautiful spot where everyone can converge and enjoy not only the ceremony and reception but other activities as well. Santa Fe will entice your guests with a variety of entertainment—from world-class art museums and galleries to hiking, skiing, shopping, and dining.

So how to begin planning?

First, of course, set a date. Santa Fe is beautiful all year long and enjoys four distinct seasons. Do you want a holiday wedding, complete with farolitos, piñon fires and maybe even snow? A summer wedding on a perfectly cool evening, after the temperature drops? How about a fall wedding complemented by yellow aspens on a pristine mountainside?

Once you’ve chosen your date, set a reasonable budget. Take into consideration travel and lodging costs, how many guests you want to invite, how much you want to spend on the venue, and whether you want to provide extra entertainment for your guests during their stay. Expect that not all your guests will be able to afford to come, but know that many will want to join you to celebrate your nuptials and enjoy a holiday away from home.

Once you’ve set a date, give guests as much advance notice as possible. Send a “save the date” notice even before you get out the official invitations. It’s also a good idea to set up a wedding website with information on travel and lodging, as well as your registry. Consider reserving a block of rooms at a hotel, or even a block of seats on an airline, at discounted rates. Keep in mind that most flights land in Albuquerque, an hour south of Santa Fe. Several shuttle companies offer service from downtown Santa Fe to the airport for around $25.00.

If it is in your budget to hire a local wedding planner, do! Having on-site experts to help you with all the details will save you a lot of time and guesswork. Some wedding locations offer their own wedding planning services. Alternatively, hire an independent planner who can help you with every detail, from finding a unique spot for your ceremony to organizing the reception.

If you can’t afford a planner or prefer to attend to the details yourself, you can find just about all the resources you need online. Start by scouting locations, keeping in mind some basic questions: Do you want to host a reception after the wedding? Do you want the ceremony and reception in the same place or in different locations? Would you rather get married al fresco (a pretty good bet since Santa Fe has over 300 days of sunshine a year) or in a historic church, home, hotel, museum, or gallery?

Take into account accessibility for your guests. Santa Fe has many options for lodging, from four-star hotels to bed-and breakfasts to budget motels. If you don’t want your guests to have to rent cars, it’s a good idea to book lodging and your festivities downtown in the historic Plaza district, where they can walk to restaurants and shops. Alternatively, book your wedding and reception at a resort where your guests can stay.

Next, you’ll want to choose either a civil or religious officiant for your ceremony. Santa Fe mingles a strong religious history with a wide range of alternative and New Age influences—which means you will have no problem finding an officiant to suit your preference, whether traditional or non-traditional. If you know someone who has gotten married in Santa Fe, it’s always good to have a personal reference. If not, choose two or three officiants to interview. Make sure they are willing to meet with you—either in person or over the phone—two or three times before the wedding, so they can get to know you and personalize your ceremony. Remember, it’s your wedding! Many couples today write their own vows, and you can customize your ceremony so it represents your love and commitment.

To make it official, you’ll need to get a marriage license at the Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office, just two blocks west of the Plaza. Office hours are 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday (closed on all state and federal holidays). To obtain the license, bride and groom must each bring a photo ID and social security number to the office. You can even get the license the same day, if it’s a weekday, since there is no required waiting period. The license costs $25 cash—no checks—and must be used within 90 days in the state of New Mexico. Bring it with you to the ceremony to be signed by two witnesses and the officiant.

Once you’ve booked the tickets, lodging, venue, and officiant, it’s time to attend to all the other details: music, flowers, photographs, cake, clothing…Consider investing in a book to help you plan and organize, such as The Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer by Elizabeth Lluch, Wedding Planning for Dummies by Marcy Blum and Laura F. Kaiser or The Everything Wedding Organizer by Laura Morin.

Some ideas to get you started:

Wedding Planner

Fairytale Weddings
3201 Calle de Molina
Santa Fe, NM 87507
Fax: 505-438-8231

Wedding Venues

Hacienda Doña Andrea de Santa Fe 
78 Vista del Oro Cerrillos, NM 87010 

The Loretto Chapel
207 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87501
(505) 982-0092
Wedding Information
CALL (505) 982-0092

The Bishop's Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa
P.O. Box 2367
Bishop's Lodge Road
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501 
Toll free: 800-419-0492

Sunrise Springs
242 Los Pinos Road
Santa Fe, NM 87507
505-471-7365 (fax)

Hotels with Wedding Venues

Hotel St Francis
210 Don Gaspar Ave
Santa Fe, NM 87501

La Fonda
100 E San Francisco St
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Eldorado Hotel & Spa
309 W. San Francisco
Santa Fe, NM 87501
505-995-4544 (fax)

Officiants for list of Albuquerque and Santa Fe officiants

Irene Swain
Non-denominational minister

Rev. Harriette King
Customized ceremonies incorporating ancient rituals for Catholic guidelines & listings of individual parishes

Temple Beth Shalom

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Santa Fe

Rt Rev. Mary Lou Cook
Non-traditional ceremonies, with over 20 years experience in Santa Fe


Canyon Road Flowers

Flores de Santa Fe

Margaret Bost

Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office
102 Grant Ave
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2061

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