Party Time! Planning Your Wedding Reception | - January 14, 2008

Congratulations! You've chosen beautiful Santa Fe for your destination wedding. You've set a date, wrangled a budget and maybe even started thinking about a few minor details like wedding venue, lodging and officiant. Now it's time to plan the best party you'll ever throw-your wedding reception.

First, it's essential to keep in mind that whether you are inviting 300 of your closest friends or an intimate group of twenty, your reception is for you, the happy couple. Although plenty of people will have opinions on how to do it, you need to make sure that it's an expression of what you want to share. Fortunately, Santa Fe can provide just about any ambience and entertainment you desire-with influences including the Wild West, Native American culture, Spanish traditions and the arts, all highlighted by breathtaking natural beauty. Venues abound to support your theme, including historic hotels, casinos, luxurious resorts, world-class restaurants and gracious outdoor spaces.

Make sure to book your reception venue as far in advance as possible. When looking into venues, keep in mind the following considerations:

  • Will the venue comfortably accommodate all your guests?
  • What is the price per person for the wedding package?
  • What is included?
  • What additional charges can you expect?
  • What is the service fee?
  • Does the location provide its own chairs, tables, and place settings?

If you have the chance to travel to Santa Fe and visit the location, great. If not, ask as many questions over the phone as possible, and ask for references from satisfied customers. Most reception sites have a packet they offer to prospective clients. Get menus and package options in writing so you can compare them with other venues.

After you have decided on a theme and booked a venue for your wedding and reception, you'll need to take care of some basic considerations like the following:

  • The wedding cake. Gone are the days of the required tiered white cake. You can customize your cake to fit with your theme, your taste and your budget. Santa Fe is home to several renowned bakeries that can create your dream confection with customized design, cake flavor, filling and icing.
  • Food. Let's face it, weddings make people hungry! Whether you get married in the morning, afternoon, or evening, you'll want to offer your guests some delicious noshing to take the edge off. First, decide on a format of feeding frenzy: seated plate service, buffet, food stations or stand-up hors d'oeuvres. If your reception is at a restaurant or hotel, of course, you can work with them directly on your menu. If it's at another venue, select from Santa Fe's list of quality caterers to create a memorable culinary experience. You'll be able to find everything from New Mexican specialties like enchiladas, green chile and sopaipillas to gourmet Continental fare or fresh sushi. Check with caterers to see if they provide place settings or if you will have to get those separately.
  • Beverages. You've got options from "dry" (meaning no alcohol), to varying degrees of "wet." If your budget is tight, offer non-alcoholic beverages and opt for a cash (no-host) bar. Alternatively, you could provide just a champagne toast, or an open bar serving beer and wine. If you are having a Southwest-themed reception, margaritas or Mexican beer are the obvious choices. And remember to check with the venue for liquor licensing and serving requirements.
  • Entertainment. You'll want to provide some kind of entertainment for your guests while they stuff themselves silly. Of course, music is the obvious choice, but you can also think outside the box and hire jugglers, magicians, dancers, clowns. The sky's the limit, since Santa Fe is home to a diverse and skilled creative community eager to share their talents. For dancing, choose live music in styles ranging from mariachi to blues to country & western-or hire a DJ to spin your favorite tunes.
  • Photographer/Videographer. To commemorate your event, select from Santa Fe's impressive selection of world-class photographers. If you want live-action memories, choose a videographer to capture Uncle Ned's dance-floor calisthenics or Cousin Nellie's embarrassing toast. Note that many local services now provide both photography and videography services, and make sure to look into getting a package deal. In addition, you can often order an iPod wedding video that you can post on your website to share with family and friends.
  • Off-site receptions. If you're having an off-site reception-meaning not at a restaurant or hotel that provides place settings-it's easiest to choose a full-service caterer that can provide chairs, tables, place settings, tents, dance floor, bartenders and servers, and much more. Alternatively, you can arrange to rent the necessary items yourself from a party rental store. Since Santa Fe hosts many events year-round, party rental stores are well-equipped and you should not have a problem renting anything and everything you need.

Whatever your heart's desire, take the time to research all your options so you can relax and enjoy your wedding day once you arrive in Santa Fe. Plan some time before or after the wedding and reception to hang out with the guests who have traveled from afar to join you. Remember, this is your time to savor the world-renowned beauty and serenity of Santa Fe while you celebrate the love of your life!

Here's a sampling of resources to get you started. Check out the links at the bottom of the page for more listings in each category.

Reception Venues

Cities of Gold Casino Hotel
10-B Cities of Gold Road
Santa Fe, NM 87506
Toll-free 800-455-3313

El Rancho de las Golondrinas
334 Los Pinos Road, Santa Fe, NM 87507
Fax: (505) 471-5623

Hyde Park Lodge
740 Hyde Park Road

Inn and Spa at Loretto
211 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87501

JW Eaves Movie Ranch
105 Rancho Allegre Road

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa
330 East Palace Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501
866-331-ROCK or 505-986-0000
Fax: 505-982-6850

Museum Hill Café
710 Camino Lejo
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Randall Davey Audubon Center

Santa Fe Museum of Fine Arts
Museum of New Mexico
107 West Palace Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Fax: 505-476-5076

Sunrise Springs Inn & Retreat
242 Los Pinos Road
Santa Fe, NM 87507
505-471-7365 fax

Wedding Cakes

Chocolate Maven Bakery & Café
821 W. San Mateo
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Desserts for All Occasions
Santa Fe, NM

Maggie Faralla Wedding & Event Cakes
Santa Fe, NM

Miss Leslie's Fine Cakes and Pastries
Leslie Drobbin


Angel Food Catering
100 N. Guadalupe #103
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Marja Custom Catering
1314 Rufina Circle, Suite A7
Santa Fe, NM 87507

Walter Burke Catering Inc
1209 Calle De Comercio
Santa Fe, NM


Absolute Entertainment (variety)

Bradley Studio (variety)
P.O. Box 24
Santa Fe, NM 87504
Fax: 505-989-7622

Los Primos (mariachi)
Juan Lucero

Soulstice (dance band)
Vicky and Chris Speer
505 986 5882

Photography & Videography

Foto Alegria

Ginger Russell Photography

InSightFoto Inc.

Kate Russell Photography

Vivo Studios