How to Plan a Wedding in New Mexico | DBK Photography

How to Plan a Wedding in New Mexico

How to Plan a Wedding in New Mexico

So you’re thinking of getting married in New Mexico. Good choice!! New Mexico is aptly named The Land of Enchantment for all its gorgeous and unique landscapes, not to mention the one-of-a-kind culture. New Mexico has everything from desert to mountain vistas, and an infusion of Native American and Hispanic cultures. Maybe you’re looking for a remote experience in the desert, or perhaps a traditional wedding near an old Spanish-style plaza. No matter what your style is, you need to know the basics! Read on to learn more about how to plan a wedding in New Mexico.

red rocks peeking out from behind chamisa blooms in the fall at Ghost Ranch New Mexico

Facts About New Mexico + Travel Tips

Located in the heart of the southwest and featuring a prominent southwest culture that you can’t truly find anywhere else, New Mexico is a beautiful, diverse, and unique state. With the highest percentage of Hispanic and Latino populations, and second-highest percentage of Native American populations in the country, the cultural history is rich. This is most exemplified in the food; New Mexican cuisine is world-renowned for good reason. Feast on authentic Hatch green chile, sopapillas, and bizcochitos, and watch your life change. The landscape is what they call a “high desert,” where you can find anything from mountains to deserts to alpine lakes to red rocks. My favorite part about New Mexico is the sweeping views you can get at sunset, and I swear the light is unlike any other place I’ve ever been. Georgia O’Keeffe helped to make many of these landscapes famous, as she lived in and loved the state for many years.

There are two large interstates, I-25 and I-40, that connect in the center of Albuquerque, which is pretty centered within the state, making it an easy place to drive to no matter where you are coming from. Since everything is so spread out around New Mexico, you are best off having your own vehicle, whether you drive there or fly and get a rental car. The Albuquerque International Sunport is the largest airport in the state, and so you’ll find more flights (and cheaper flights) that fly into Albuquerque versus any of the smaller cities. From Albuquerque, Santa Fe is about an hour away, Taos is about two and a half hours, and Las Cruces is about three hours.

river overlook outside Ghost Ranch New Mexico

New Mexico Marriage License + Laws

Of course, the most important part of planning a wedding in New Mexico, or any state, is knowing how to make it legal. You and your fiance will need to apply for your marriage license in person at your local County Clerk’s office. Be sure to bring an official government photo ID such as your driver’s license or passport, along with your social security card. The fee is $25. 

New Mexico does not require blood tests or US citizenship in order for you to obtain a marriage license, so good news if you’re planning a destination wedding! Just bring an additional form of government ID if so. There is also no waiting period, and the license never expires.

There are no laws governing New Mexico wedding officiant requirements, so your officiant can be anyone you choose. You must have your officiant and two witnesses present to sign your marriage license. After the wedding ceremony, be sure to file the signed license with the County Clerk, or you may have your officiant or a witness do it for you.

Read more about marriage license laws in New Mexico and apply for one through Bernalillo County online here. If getting married in one of the other New Mexico counties, such as Santa Fe or Doña Ana, be sure to double check their individual requirements. If you have any questions you can always call your local County Clerk’s office and they’ll be sure to help you.

grape vines at Casa Rondena Winery in Albuquerque New Mexico

Where to Get Married in New Mexico

There are so many places to choose from throughout New Mexico, and so many great wedding venues! How the heck do you start to choose?

Start with the general area you’d like to get married. Here’s a little bit about the most popular locations throughout New Mexico:

Albuquerque – The biggest metro area in the state, Albuquerque has the most wedding venues, and the biggest variety, for you to choose from. This city is special as it sits right at the foot of the Sandia Mountains and offers sprawling desert and mountain views. The Rio Grande also cuts right through the middle, and the surrounding bosque is gorgeous in the summer and fall. Check out this comprehensive list of Albuquerque wedding venues, from rustic barns to chic hotels. Also be sure to check out some travel tips for visiting Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Santa Fe – The capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe is a picturesque town with a rich history and culture. There is a reason this is where the tourists flock to. The Santa Fe Plaza is filled with adobe buildings, red chile ristras, art galleries, and artisans selling traditional blankets and turquoise jewelry. With mountain trails and a ski slope all nearby, there is a ton to see and do. Check out this comprehensive list of beautiful Santa Fe wedding venues. Also be sure to check out some travel tips for visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Taos – A mountain town in northern New Mexico, Taos is known for its gorgeous high-desert views and its art culture. The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in particular is a sight to behold. This is a popular place for destination weddings.

Ruidoso – Another popular destination spot, Ruidoso is a small town in the Sierra Blanca mountains in southern New Mexico. More off the beaten path, you can have a truly intimate and cozy experience here.

Las Cruces – The second-largest city in New Mexico, Las Cruces sits in the southern part of the state and is home to New Mexico State University. With jagged mountain views to the east and easy access to nearby iconic spots like White Sands National Park, Cruces would be a great pick for desert lovers.

Check out all the top New Mexico wedding venues! Also get more details about Albuquerque wedding venues (like Casa Rondeña and the Hyatt Regency Tamaya) and Santa Fe wedding venues (like La Fonda and Hacienda Doña Andrea).

This New Mexico travel guide is also handy if you’re looking at a New Mexico destination wedding, or to share with any out-of-town guests.

different seasons in New Mexico

When to Get Married in New Mexico

The most popular time to get married in New Mexico is in the fall. This also happens to be the most popular time for tourists to visit New Mexico. Throughout September and October, the cottonwoods and the aspens start to change to yellow, the green chile is harvested and roasted, and people flock to Albuquerque for the International Balloon Fiesta (which takes place the first week of October.) The mornings and evenings are cool but the afternoons are warm. If you’re planning a destination wedding in New Mexico, the fall is a nice time to do it.

That said, there is really no bad time to visit or plan a wedding in New Mexico. Summers are beautiful and the best time for outdoor weddings and adventures. However, keep in mind that New Mexico gets their monsoons in July and August, meaning there are often thunderstorms that roll through in the late afternoons / early evenings. I actually love these, and if you can deal with an hour of heavy rain, you’re rewarded with the most beautiful, dramatic skies and sunsets.

If you’re hoping for a spring wedding, New Mexico gets its spring blooms in March and April. The spring months tend to be the windiest, though, so keep that in mind!

As for winter, it tends to be more mild as you move farther south, but the foliage does drop off. If you’re one to fully embrace the winter vibes, look into one of the mountain towns like Santa Fe, Taos, or Ruidoso. You’ll be more likely to experience snow, see more pine trees, and really get that cozy winter feeling.

There are a few major events in New Mexico each year that you might want to consider before choosing your date as well. With these being popular times for tourism, flights and lodging might be more expensive and harder to come by, but then again it might also be fun for your guests to attend! It’s up to you whether you’d rather avoid or aim for these events:

 

red chile ristras hanging in Old Town Albuquerque

New Mexico Wedding Traditions

Because New Mexico has such strong historic roots in the Hispanic and Native American cultures, there are many wedding traditions commonplace here that you won’t see anywhere else. It’s definitely not required, but always fun to include some of these in your wedding, whether you’re a local or using New Mexico as your destination! 

New Mexican Cuisine

New Mexican cuisine is first and foremost a fusion of indigenous, Mexican, and Spanish cuisines, with some American influences. The most notable element to New Mexican cuisine is the red or green chile. These chile peppers are native to New Mexico, not harvested anywhere else, and are deeply embedded in the New Mexican culture as a whole. The state question is “red or green?” which refers to which version of the chile you’d prefer with your meal. And New Mexicans put this chile on/in everything from their eggs to their burgers to their enchiladas to their chocolate.

Some iconic traditional New Mexican foods: posole (soup made with hominy and red chile); bizcochitos (cookies baked with anise and covered in sugar and cinnamon); tamales; sopapillas (puffed-up versions of Native American frybread, traditionally then drizzled with honey); enchiladas montadas (stacked enchiladas) with red or green chile; breakfast burritos featuring red or green chile; green chile stew; carne adobada with red chile; green chile cheeseburgers; and chile rellenos using green chile. Using the local piñon to flavor baked goods and coffees is also popular.

Common sides are refried pinto beans, Mexican-style rice, and chips and salsa.

Chile Ristras

I’ve already talked about how important the New Mexico chile is to the food culture here, but you should also know that it is an important element of the decor. You’ll see chile ristras hanging from doorways, rooftops, and walls all over the state of New Mexico. This look started because hanging out the red chile ristras was necessary to allow them to dry out completely before making the red chile sauces you see in kitchens and restaurants. However, it has now become a significant part of New Mexican decor. You can now even find wreaths and centerpieces made of this red chile. Using these as part of your wedding decor would be sure to stand out and give your wedding an authentic New Mexican style.

Mariachi Bands

If you go to a traditional New Mexican wedding, or even just a New Mexican restaurant, you’ll most likely have the treat of experiencing a mariachi band. This tradition comes straight from Mexico, and adds a new level of culture and fun to any event.

La Marcha

La Marcha is a New Mexican wedding tradition, and often involves a Mariachi band (if not just a track.) This dance with clear Hispanic roots is performed as a celebration of the newlyweds and a demonstration of their guests’ support in their marriage. The dance begins with the bride and groom following two designated leaders (usually an older couple related to the bride or groom) in a procession around the reception hall. Guests join in as couples and follow in line behind the leaders. The lines separate, circle around each other, and create tunnels where the pairs raise their arms for everyone else in line to pass underneath. The dance ends as everyone forms a circle around the newlyweds, who then dance alone, surrounded by their guests.

Often in Santa Fe, couples will choose to do La Marcha through the Santa Fe Plaza, led by their Mariachi band, as spectators cheer them on. This is an extra fun way to share the New Mexico culture with any guests from out of town!

Adobe Architecture

If you are getting married in New Mexico, chances are you will be getting married among traditional adobe architecture. Earth-toned adobe walls with wooden beams or vigas are a staple to New Mexican architecture. There is no other place with a look quite like this! Embrace it as part of your vibe.

Cow Skulls

Thanks in large part to the artwork of Georgia O’Keeffe, cow skulls have become a widely popular decoration in New Mexico. The combination of cow skulls and beautiful florals are a true sign of the southwest, and beautiful to incorporate in a New Mexico wedding.

Cactus + Yucca

While Arizona is famous for its saguaro cactus in particular, there are many species of cactus that are native to New Mexico. They are commonplace out along all the trails from the deserts to the mountains, not to mention throughout the front yards of many homes. Meanwhile, the yucca is the state flower of New Mexico, and there are multiple varieties of this plant that can be found across New Mexico’s landscape. Both these plants are definitely symbols of New Mexico.

Turquoise

Turquoise is New Mexico’s state gemstone, and rightly so. The quality of turquoise found here is unmatched. Native Americans in the southwestern US and Mexico have been using turquoise for centuries–since 200 BC, to be precise. This gem is deeply embedded in the local culture.

Boots + Bolo Ties

Like in Texas, cowboy boots are quite commonplace in New Mexico. Put together an outfit with cowboy boots and a bolo tie (bonus points if it has turquoise!) and you’ll be sure to exude that southwest style.

Luminarias or Farolitos

The name for these depends on where you are in the state. Up north they call them farolitos, while the rest of New Mexico calls them luminarias. Either way, they are a tradition that has been around New Mexico for centuries. Every Christmas Eve, the community sets out these paper bags filled with candles to burn through the night. You could use them for your wedding no matter what time of year. They are a lovely way to line a walkway at night and pay homage to that local tradition.

Ideas for New Mexico wedding traditions

What Does it Cost to Get Married in New Mexico?

The average cost of weddings in New Mexico is quite a bit lower than that of weddings in nearby southwest states like Colorado, Arizona, or Utah, and decidedly lower than places on either coast like Washington, Oregon, California, or anywhere on the east coast. This is one reason many couples choose to get married here, whether they have roots in New Mexico or not. There is less competition among the venues and wedding vendors than in more frequented destinations like Colorado as well, so it is often easier to book your top choices and keep within your budget.

Of course, both the size and venue of your wedding will be the deciding factors in how much you’ll end up spending. Traditional New Mexican food buffets tend to be an inexpensive and fun way to feed a lot of guests, while higher end venues and plated dinners will bring your costs up.

Cholla in Sandia Foothills of Albuquerque New Mexico

How to Choose Your New Mexico Wedding Vendors

Of course I know I am biased, but I believe that you are best off in finding local vendors for your New Mexico wedding because they will be most familiar with the local venues and traditions you choose to incorporate. There are so many amazing New Mexico wedding vendors to choose from! Plus, as I described above, most wedding services in New Mexico will cost less than the national average so you might as well take advantage. Here are some of my recommendations:

Photographer – When looking for your wedding photographer, be sure to thoroughly check out their portfolio and that you love their style. Also try to chat with them a bit and be sure you can connect with them on a personal level. This person will be there at your side throughout your wedding day so you definitely want them to be someone you actually like! Here are some other things to consider when searching for your wedding photographer. For me personally, I’m all about capturing your love story in the most authentic way possible. I love documenting your traditions and personalities, and highlighting the beauty of the landscape around you. I will give you bright, colorful, and candid photos that will always remind you of the fun and love you shared on your wedding day. If that sounds like the vibe you’re going for in your New Mexico wedding photos, be sure to get in touch with me!

Planner – Hiring a wedding planner or coordinator can really help you to relax on your wedding day and still be sure that everything is going smoothly. Think about whether you’d need a full-service wedding planner or a day-of coordinator. And when you get in touch with potential planners, just make sure they are devoted to serving you and your vision for your wedding day. Two New Mexico wedding planners I recommend: Just Lovely Weddings + A Beautiful Theme

Florist – There are so many talented florists in New Mexico. It is always super fun (and more cost effective!) to utilize local and seasonal flowers and plants in your bouquets and centerpieces, and the florists here are really good at that. I think it is well worth hiring a florist for your wedding, particularly because a great bouquet really completes a bridal look. You don’t have to do anything extravagant. If you’re not interested in a full spread of centerpieces and florals for all the wedding party you could opt for the florist to create just your bridal bouquet. Some of my favorite florists: Floriography or Florecita + Viva Flora + Renegade Floral

Hair and Makeup – Hiring a professional hair and makeup artist can seem extravagant sometimes, but trust me, on your wedding day it is so nice to just sit back and let the experts do their thing. The pros know how to make you look your best not only in person but in photos as well. Some of my favorite New Mexico makeup artists: Genica Lee + Madeline McCue + Betty Rose

DJ – The best DJs will act as your MC for your wedding day, helping to keep everything running smoothly during the reception, and making sure all your guests are having a good time. This is one place where some people opt to go the DIY route, but that can turn out to be rather stressful, especially if you have any technical difficulties or gaps in the music. The Albuquerque DJs I recommend: Cutmaster Music + Dream Factory DJs

Catering – Before you look into all the local restaurant catering options, you’ll want to check with your venue. Some venues provide their own catering and require you to use their staff, while others allow you to bring in your own caterer. Your catering options will vary depending on where in New Mexico you plan to have your wedding, but a few based in Albuquerque I recommend: Garcia’s + Cocina Azul (both New Mexican) + Powdrell’s (barbeque)

Cakes & Desserts – One of the most important elements to your wedding, right?! You don’t have to get a big, fancy wedding cake. These days there are all sorts of alternatives that have gained popularity. You could do a small cake with cupcakes or sheet cake to serve guests, or you could do an arrangement of pies, cookies, or donuts. Get creative! But again, be sure your venue does not have rules about bringing in outside food like your wedding cake or desserts. Here are some ideas for local bakeries that can serve you for your wedding: Honey & Salt Cake Co. + ABC Cake Shop and Bakery + Emerald Pie Bar

Rentals –  Even if you don’t need to rent a tent and chairs (I recommend Albuquerque Tent Company for that) you might have other items you want or need to help you create your vision for your day. You might think about renting things like yard games or stylized table decor and furniture. If that’s the case, here’s a few local rental companies I love: Rust Vintage + Darling Details + My Beloved Vintage

 

That should be just about everything you need to know as you start thinking about how to plan a wedding in New Mexico! Getting married anywhere in the Land of Enchantment is sure to be a unique and memorable experience. If you have more questions, I’d love to answer those for you or update this post with more information. Just leave a comment below or email me! And if you’re looking for a New Mexico wedding photographer who knows all about how to plan a wedding in New Mexico, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to help you make sure you have your perfect day (and the perfect photos too!)

How to plan a wedding in New Mexico: tips from the best locations to get married to how to get a marriage license, & all the New Mexico wedding traditions.

Hey friend! I’m Delia–a wedding photographer who loves adventure just as much as snuggling on the couch with her dog. My photography is fun and colorful and embraces the real you. I’m based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but I photograph weddings all throughout New Mexico, Colorado, and the southwest. I love to connect with and help my clients as much as possible. Check out the wedding planning tips section of my blog for more helpful advice.

So you’re thinking of getting married in New Mexico. Good choice!! New Mexico is aptly named The Land of Enchantment for all its gorgeous and unique landscapes, not to mention the one-of-a-kind culture. New Mexico has everything from desert to mountain vistas, and an infusion of Native American and Hispanic cultures. Maybe you’re looking for a remote experience in the desert, or perhaps a traditional wedding near an old Spanish-style plaza. No matter what your style is, you need to know the basics! Read on to learn more about how to plan a wedding in New Mexico.

red rocks peeking out from behind chamisa blooms in the fall at Ghost Ranch New Mexico

Facts About New Mexico + Travel Tips

Located in the heart of the southwest and featuring a prominent southwest culture that you can’t truly find anywhere else, New Mexico is a beautiful, diverse, and unique state. With the highest percentage of Hispanic and Latino populations, and second-highest percentage of Native American populations in the country, the cultural history is rich. This is most exemplified in the food; New Mexican cuisine is world-renowned for good reason. Feast on authentic Hatch green chile, sopapillas, and bizcochitos, and watch your life change. The landscape is what they call a “high desert,” where you can find anything from mountains to deserts to alpine lakes to red rocks. My favorite part about New Mexico is the sweeping views you can get at sunset, and I swear the light is unlike any other place I’ve ever been. Georgia O’Keeffe helped to make many of these landscapes famous, as she lived in and loved the state for many years.

There are two large interstates, I-25 and I-40, that connect in the center of Albuquerque, which is pretty centered within the state, making it an easy place to drive to no matter where you are coming from. Since everything is so spread out around New Mexico, you are best off having your own vehicle, whether you drive there or fly and get a rental car. The Albuquerque International Sunport is the largest airport in the state, and so you’ll find more flights (and cheaper flights) that fly into Albuquerque versus any of the smaller cities. From Albuquerque, Santa Fe is about an hour away, Taos is about two and a half hours, and Las Cruces is about three hours.

river overlook outside Ghost Ranch New Mexico

New Mexico Marriage License + Laws

Of course, the most important part of planning a wedding in New Mexico, or any state, is knowing how to make it legal. You and your fiance will need to apply for your marriage license in person at your local County Clerk’s office. Be sure to bring an official government photo ID such as your driver’s license or passport, along with your social security card. The fee is $25. 

New Mexico does not require blood tests or US citizenship in order for you to obtain a marriage license, so good news if you’re planning a destination wedding! Just bring an additional form of government ID if so. There is also no waiting period, and the license never expires.

There are no laws governing New Mexico wedding officiant requirements, so your officiant can be anyone you choose. You must have your officiant and two witnesses present to sign your marriage license. After the wedding ceremony, be sure to file the signed license with the County Clerk, or you may have your officiant or a witness do it for you.

Read more about marriage license laws in New Mexico and apply for one through Bernalillo County online here. If getting married in one of the other New Mexico counties, such as Santa Fe or Doña Ana, be sure to double check their individual requirements. If you have any questions you can always call your local County Clerk’s office and they’ll be sure to help you.

grape vines at Casa Rondena Winery in Albuquerque New Mexico

Where to Get Married in New Mexico

There are so many places to choose from throughout New Mexico, and so many great wedding venues! How the heck do you start to choose?

Start with the general area you’d like to get married. Here’s a little bit about the most popular locations throughout New Mexico:

Albuquerque – The biggest metro area in the state, Albuquerque has the most wedding venues, and the biggest variety, for you to choose from. This city is special as it sits right at the foot of the Sandia Mountains and offers sprawling desert and mountain views. The Rio Grande also cuts right through the middle, and the surrounding bosque is gorgeous in the summer and fall. Check out this comprehensive list of Albuquerque wedding venues, from rustic barns to chic hotels. Also be sure to check out some travel tips for visiting Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Santa Fe – The capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe is a picturesque town with a rich history and culture. There is a reason this is where the tourists flock to. The Santa Fe Plaza is filled with adobe buildings, red chile ristras, art galleries, and artisans selling traditional blankets and turquoise jewelry. With mountain trails and a ski slope all nearby, there is a ton to see and do. Check out this comprehensive list of beautiful Santa Fe wedding venues. Also be sure to check out some travel tips for visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Taos – A mountain town in northern New Mexico, Taos is known for its gorgeous high-desert views and its art culture. The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in particular is a sight to behold. This is a popular place for destination weddings.

Ruidoso – Another popular destination spot, Ruidoso is a small town in the Sierra Blanca mountains in southern New Mexico. More off the beaten path, you can have a truly intimate and cozy experience here.

Las Cruces – The second-largest city in New Mexico, Las Cruces sits in the southern part of the state and is home to New Mexico State University. With jagged mountain views to the east and easy access to nearby iconic spots like White Sands National Park, Cruces would be a great pick for desert lovers.

Check out all the top New Mexico wedding venues! Also get more details about Albuquerque wedding venues (like Casa Rondeña and the Hyatt Regency Tamaya) and Santa Fe wedding venues (like La Fonda and Hacienda Doña Andrea).

This New Mexico travel guide is also handy if you’re looking at a New Mexico destination wedding, or to share with any out-of-town guests.

different seasons in New Mexico

When to Get Married in New Mexico

The most popular time to get married in New Mexico is in the fall. This also happens to be the most popular time for tourists to visit New Mexico. Throughout September and October, the cottonwoods and the aspens start to change to yellow, the green chile is harvested and roasted, and people flock to Albuquerque for the International Balloon Fiesta (which takes place the first week of October.) The mornings and evenings are cool but the afternoons are warm. If you’re planning a destination wedding in New Mexico, the fall is a nice time to do it.

That said, there is really no bad time to visit or plan a wedding in New Mexico. Summers are beautiful and the best time for outdoor weddings and adventures. However, keep in mind that New Mexico gets their monsoons in July and August, meaning there are often thunderstorms that roll through in the late afternoons / early evenings. I actually love these, and if you can deal with an hour of heavy rain, you’re rewarded with the most beautiful, dramatic skies and sunsets.

If you’re hoping for a spring wedding, New Mexico gets its spring blooms in March and April. The spring months tend to be the windiest, though, so keep that in mind!

As for winter, it tends to be more mild as you move farther south, but the foliage does drop off. If you’re one to fully embrace the winter vibes, look into one of the mountain towns like Santa Fe, Taos, or Ruidoso. You’ll be more likely to experience snow, see more pine trees, and really get that cozy winter feeling.

There are a few major events in New Mexico each year that you might want to consider before choosing your date as well. With these being popular times for tourism, flights and lodging might be more expensive and harder to come by, but then again it might also be fun for your guests to attend! It’s up to you whether you’d rather avoid or aim for these events:

 

red chile ristras hanging in Old Town Albuquerque

New Mexico Wedding Traditions

Because New Mexico has such strong historic roots in the Hispanic and Native American cultures, there are many wedding traditions commonplace here that you won’t see anywhere else. It’s definitely not required, but always fun to include some of these in your wedding, whether you’re a local or using New Mexico as your destination! 

New Mexican Cuisine

New Mexican cuisine is first and foremost a fusion of indigenous, Mexican, and Spanish cuisines, with some American influences. The most notable element to New Mexican cuisine is the red or green chile. These chile peppers are native to New Mexico, not harvested anywhere else, and are deeply embedded in the New Mexican culture as a whole. The state question is “red or green?” which refers to which version of the chile you’d prefer with your meal. And New Mexicans put this chile on/in everything from their eggs to their burgers to their enchiladas to their chocolate.

Some iconic traditional New Mexican foods: posole (soup made with hominy and red chile); bizcochitos (cookies baked with anise and covered in sugar and cinnamon); tamales; sopapillas (puffed-up versions of Native American frybread, traditionally then drizzled with honey); enchiladas montadas (stacked enchiladas) with red or green chile; breakfast burritos featuring red or green chile; green chile stew; carne adobada with red chile; green chile cheeseburgers; and chile rellenos using green chile. Using the local piñon to flavor baked goods and coffees is also popular.

Common sides are refried pinto beans, Mexican-style rice, and chips and salsa.

Chile Ristras

I’ve already talked about how important the New Mexico chile is to the food culture here, but you should also know that it is an important element of the decor. You’ll see chile ristras hanging from doorways, rooftops, and walls all over the state of New Mexico. This look started because hanging out the red chile ristras was necessary to allow them to dry out completely before making the red chile sauces you see in kitchens and restaurants. However, it has now become a significant part of New Mexican decor. You can now even find wreaths and centerpieces made of this red chile. Using these as part of your wedding decor would be sure to stand out and give your wedding an authentic New Mexican style.

Mariachi Bands

If you go to a traditional New Mexican wedding, or even just a New Mexican restaurant, you’ll most likely have the treat of experiencing a mariachi band. This tradition comes straight from Mexico, and adds a new level of culture and fun to any event.

La Marcha

La Marcha is a New Mexican wedding tradition, and often involves a Mariachi band (if not just a track.) This dance with clear Hispanic roots is performed as a celebration of the newlyweds and a demonstration of their guests’ support in their marriage. The dance begins with the bride and groom following two designated leaders (usually an older couple related to the bride or groom) in a procession around the reception hall. Guests join in as couples and follow in line behind the leaders. The lines separate, circle around each other, and create tunnels where the pairs raise their arms for everyone else in line to pass underneath. The dance ends as everyone forms a circle around the newlyweds, who then dance alone, surrounded by their guests.

Often in Santa Fe, couples will choose to do La Marcha through the Santa Fe Plaza, led by their Mariachi band, as spectators cheer them on. This is an extra fun way to share the New Mexico culture with any guests from out of town!

Adobe Architecture

If you are getting married in New Mexico, chances are you will be getting married among traditional adobe architecture. Earth-toned adobe walls with wooden beams or vigas are a staple to New Mexican architecture. There is no other place with a look quite like this! Embrace it as part of your vibe.

Cow Skulls

Thanks in large part to the artwork of Georgia O’Keeffe, cow skulls have become a widely popular decoration in New Mexico. The combination of cow skulls and beautiful florals are a true sign of the southwest, and beautiful to incorporate in a New Mexico wedding.

Cactus + Yucca

While Arizona is famous for its saguaro cactus in particular, there are many species of cactus that are native to New Mexico. They are commonplace out along all the trails from the deserts to the mountains, not to mention throughout the front yards of many homes. Meanwhile, the yucca is the state flower of New Mexico, and there are multiple varieties of this plant that can be found across New Mexico’s landscape. Both these plants are definitely symbols of New Mexico.

Turquoise

Turquoise is New Mexico’s state gemstone, and rightly so. The quality of turquoise found here is unmatched. Native Americans in the southwestern US and Mexico have been using turquoise for centuries–since 200 BC, to be precise. This gem is deeply embedded in the local culture.

Boots + Bolo Ties

Like in Texas, cowboy boots are quite commonplace in New Mexico. Put together an outfit with cowboy boots and a bolo tie (bonus points if it has turquoise!) and you’ll be sure to exude that southwest style.

Luminarias or Farolitos

The name for these depends on where you are in the state. Up north they call them farolitos, while the rest of New Mexico calls them luminarias. Either way, they are a tradition that has been around New Mexico for centuries. Every Christmas Eve, the community sets out these paper bags filled with candles to burn through the night. You could use them for your wedding no matter what time of year. They are a lovely way to line a walkway at night and pay homage to that local tradition.

Ideas for New Mexico wedding traditions

What Does it Cost to Get Married in New Mexico?

The average cost of weddings in New Mexico is quite a bit lower than that of weddings in nearby southwest states like Colorado, Arizona, or Utah, and decidedly lower than places on either coast like Washington, Oregon, California, or anywhere on the east coast. This is one reason many couples choose to get married here, whether they have roots in New Mexico or not. There is less competition among the venues and wedding vendors than in more frequented destinations like Colorado as well, so it is often easier to book your top choices and keep within your budget.

Of course, both the size and venue of your wedding will be the deciding factors in how much you’ll end up spending. Traditional New Mexican food buffets tend to be an inexpensive and fun way to feed a lot of guests, while higher end venues and plated dinners will bring your costs up.

Cholla in Sandia Foothills of Albuquerque New Mexico

How to Choose Your New Mexico Wedding Vendors

Of course I know I am biased, but I believe that you are best off in finding local vendors for your New Mexico wedding because they will be most familiar with the local venues and traditions you choose to incorporate. There are so many amazing New Mexico wedding vendors to choose from! Plus, as I described above, most wedding services in New Mexico will cost less than the national average so you might as well take advantage. Here are some of my recommendations:

Photographer – When looking for your wedding photographer, be sure to thoroughly check out their portfolio and that you love their style. Also try to chat with them a bit and be sure you can connect with them on a personal level. This person will be there at your side throughout your wedding day so you definitely want them to be someone you actually like! Here are some other things to consider when searching for your wedding photographer. For me personally, I’m all about capturing your love story in the most authentic way possible. I love documenting your traditions and personalities, and highlighting the beauty of the landscape around you. I will give you bright, colorful, and candid photos that will always remind you of the fun and love you shared on your wedding day. If that sounds like the vibe you’re going for in your New Mexico wedding photos, be sure to get in touch with me!

Planner – Hiring a wedding planner or coordinator can really help you to relax on your wedding day and still be sure that everything is going smoothly. Think about whether you’d need a full-service wedding planner or a day-of coordinator. And when you get in touch with potential planners, just make sure they are devoted to serving you and your vision for your wedding day. Two New Mexico wedding planners I recommend: Just Lovely Weddings + A Beautiful Theme

Florist – There are so many talented florists in New Mexico. It is always super fun (and more cost effective!) to utilize local and seasonal flowers and plants in your bouquets and centerpieces, and the florists here are really good at that. I think it is well worth hiring a florist for your wedding, particularly because a great bouquet really completes a bridal look. You don’t have to do anything extravagant. If you’re not interested in a full spread of centerpieces and florals for all the wedding party you could opt for the florist to create just your bridal bouquet. Some of my favorite florists: Floriography or Florecita + Viva Flora + Renegade Floral

Hair and Makeup – Hiring a professional hair and makeup artist can seem extravagant sometimes, but trust me, on your wedding day it is so nice to just sit back and let the experts do their thing. The pros know how to make you look your best not only in person but in photos as well. Some of my favorite New Mexico makeup artists: Genica Lee + Madeline McCue + Betty Rose

DJ – The best DJs will act as your MC for your wedding day, helping to keep everything running smoothly during the reception, and making sure all your guests are having a good time. This is one place where some people opt to go the DIY route, but that can turn out to be rather stressful, especially if you have any technical difficulties or gaps in the music. The Albuquerque DJs I recommend: Cutmaster Music + Dream Factory DJs

Catering – Before you look into all the local restaurant catering options, you’ll want to check with your venue. Some venues provide their own catering and require you to use their staff, while others allow you to bring in your own caterer. Your catering options will vary depending on where in New Mexico you plan to have your wedding, but a few based in Albuquerque I recommend: Garcia’s + Cocina Azul (both New Mexican) + Powdrell’s (barbeque)

Cakes & Desserts – One of the most important elements to your wedding, right?! You don’t have to get a big, fancy wedding cake. These days there are all sorts of alternatives that have gained popularity. You could do a small cake with cupcakes or sheet cake to serve guests, or you could do an arrangement of pies, cookies, or donuts. Get creative! But again, be sure your venue does not have rules about bringing in outside food like your wedding cake or desserts. Here are some ideas for local bakeries that can serve you for your wedding: Honey & Salt Cake Co. + ABC Cake Shop and Bakery + Emerald Pie Bar

Rentals –  Even if you don’t need to rent a tent and chairs (I recommend Albuquerque Tent Company for that) you might have other items you want or need to help you create your vision for your day. You might think about renting things like yard games or stylized table decor and furniture. If that’s the case, here’s a few local rental companies I love: Rust Vintage + Darling Details + My Beloved Vintage

 

That should be just about everything you need to know as you start thinking about how to plan a wedding in New Mexico! Getting married anywhere in the Land of Enchantment is sure to be a unique and memorable experience. If you have more questions, I’d love to answer those for you or update this post with more information. Just leave a comment below or email me! And if you’re looking for a New Mexico wedding photographer who knows all about how to plan a wedding in New Mexico, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to help you make sure you have your perfect day (and the perfect photos too!)

How to plan a wedding in New Mexico: tips from the best locations to get married to how to get a marriage license, & all the New Mexico wedding traditions.

Hey friend! I’m Delia–a wedding photographer who loves adventure just as much as snuggling on the couch with her dog. My photography is fun and colorful and embraces the real you. I’m based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but I photograph weddings all throughout New Mexico, Colorado, and the southwest. I love to connect with and help my clients as much as possible. Check out the wedding planning tips section of my blog for more helpful advice.

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