Heather Wood, Freelance Writer: articles about interior decorating & redesign, home staging & enhancement, & more
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The Proposal

By Heather Wood
published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Saturday, February 13, 2010

The time has come to pop the question. Now, the only question that remains is where. If you're stumped, check out these Santa Fe-style spots sure to make your dream come true.

  1. Beneath the Cross of the Martyrs at sunset
  2. While sitting in a steamy tub at Ten Thousand Waves (don't drop the ring).
  3. After a romantic dinner at The Compound
  4. Tailgating at The Santa Fe Opera
  5. Against the sound of water at Nambé Falls
  6. On the top of Atalya Peak on a cool, summer morning
  7. At the 18th hole at Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe
  8. During a walk at the New Mexico History Museum ("Let's make our own history....")
  9. In the middle of the Plaza, Haagen-Dazs in hand
  10. By the prairie dog hill at Jackalope.


That Perfect Day

By Heather Wood
published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Saturday, February 13, 2010

There's a long-held belief in the world of special events that if you can coordinate a wedding, you can handle any event. Weddings are notoriously detailed, political and emotional. But with a few tricks from the pros, you can make the planning process just as enjoyable as the moment you say "I do." Whether you hire a wedding consultant to help you a little, a lot, or not at all, there are a number of details and tasks you just cannot overlook or avoid no matter how daunting.


Discuss your vision before you announce your nuptials. Often brides and grooms-to-be are surprised that their folks have their own guest lists waiting in the wings, and their own ideas of what your wedding should look like. By taking a little time (I know, it's hard not to just pick up the phone and tell the world!) to discuss what's really important to YOU, the couple, you present a unified front in your planning and your relationship.

Peter Lovato, catering sales manager for Hilton Santa Fe Golf Resort & Spa at Buffalo Thunder, said, "Success in weddings comes from clear, concise communication between all parties involved. Emotionally driven events have the potential to be crippling disasters. Each participant needs to be upfront and clear about their roles. There are many different parties involved in the planning and it is our responsibility to communicate with each other."


It sounds simple and predictable, but many brides and grooms jump in feet first and fail to determine how much time planning time they really need before choosing a date. A good way to manage your wedding planning process is to simply set up a timeline that is broken down monthly, then weekly, then daily, then hourly, then half and quarter hours on the last few days. Working backward can help you visualize the flow of all that needs to happen, from what time the limo picks you up and whisks you away to your honeymoon to who (and how!) to tell folks you've gotten engaged.


Prepare a budget, and stick to it. Of course, new expenses will pop up, just like in real life. But if you have a plan and prioritize what is most important (designer dress vs. elaborate food? DJ or band? 500 guests or 50?) it will make those tough calls easier down the road. According to Brides.com, the average U.S. wedding averages around $27,000. In Santa Fe it is not uncommon for that figure to double. According to Kendrick Johnson, general manager of Walter Burke Catering, the one thing to really understand from the get-go is to "know what your budget is and understand what is realistic within those limits."


Santa Fe is a favorite for destination weddings, so it's not uncommon that popular spots like Loretto Chapel, La Fonda and Hacienda Doña Andrea and La Posada are booked months, sometimes years, in advance. June through October is wedding season in The City Different, but one thing is the same everywhere: The early bird gets the worm. The No. 1 one thing that affects everything else is, Johnson said, "Location, location, location. The location will dictate what is needed and the setup possibilities -- for example tenting, ovens, running water, electricity/generator, access and number of staff to execute the menu."


Wedding décor often centers around flowers, and according to Andrea Soorikian, a floral designer for 22 years and owner of Andrea Soorikian Design, "Everyone is cost-conscious these days. I stress value. Spend on what is most important -- be it the bouquet or guest table arrangements. I would rather see the wedding client do fewer items that have more impact."


One of the biggest expenses in a wedding is the catering cost. Whether you hold your reception in the banquet hall, a picnic hut in Hyde Park or a private estate on Canyon Road, you'll want to feed your guests. Take time to sample a variety of caterers and get bids. Make sure you understand all fees, what service is included; if there are minimums, etc. If you're restricted to the hotel catering service, be sure to ask for a variety of menus. You should always ask for samples of some, if not all, of the foods you select. Be sure to walk through your service agreement item by item so there are no misunderstandings.


If there's anything that can make or break a great wedding, it's the toasts and roasts that typically accompany dinner and/or cake cutting. In an effort to reduce the risk of drunken displays and diatribes, you might choose to have your toasts early on in the evening, once everyone is seated for dinner. In any case, remind your toast-leaders to keep theirs short and sweet, and PG-13, please.


Whether it's the La Marcha or the Dollar Dance, you'll no doubt want to get down with your wedding party. Vicky Speer, co-owner with husband Chris Speer of Absolute Entertainment in Santa Fe, suggests the following when considering entertainment: "What we've found over the years is that music plays an integral part of the success of the wedding, and it's a very small part of the budget. Saving money with 'the iPod wedding' isn't foolproof; people really want to dance and you want someone else to DJ." She stressed that people often blow their budget on everything else before they consider entertainment. "It's good to consider what you want early on and find out what it costs."


Relax and enjoy your event. That can happen with proper planning, Johnson said. "Don't wait till the last minute to think about the details (where things will be positioned, who is responsible for setting up and bringing various equipment, cake knife, etc.). That is when things get missed," he said. "Set a time a day or two before the event to be completely done with the planning and let go and enjoy." Soorikian reiterated, "This is a joyous occasion. Relax and trust the professionals and designers (you have) hired to help make the day special and beautiful."

And remember, Lovato said, that "Planning a wedding is supposed to be fun and exciting. Keep spirits high and encourage positive communication."


  1. Don't expect perfection. Nothing in life is ever truly perfect. The more you can roll with the events, the more enjoyable your day will be.
  2. Don't do any brow/body waxing the day before.
  3. Rest the night before.
  4. Do eat breakfast, lunch or a hearty snack and drink water. It will keep you fueled, and absorb some of the champagne.
  5. Don't drink too much caffeine throughout the day.
  6. Kiss the bride, don't swallow her.
  7. Remember to eat at your reception. Much like tip No. 4, you need to keep your blood sugar up, your stress level down. This is especially true for out-of-towners not used to Santa Fe's climate and elevation.
  8. Let bygones be bygones. Weddings are emotional affairs. Family politics, everyone's hidden (or not so) expectations, and the inevitable exhaustion can make some folks testy.
  9. Remember to stop and savor the moment. Sneak away every hour for a minute's solitude. Be present and relish that this is "your day".
  10. Thank your sweetie. You both worked hard to get to this point, not just in your wedding planning, but in your relationship. A "thank you" will get your marriage started right.

Heather Wood is a freelance writer who writes regularly for the Santa Fe New Mexican. She can be reached through her website at www.HeatherWoodFreelance.com.

copyright © 2010 Heather Wood
all rights reserved, thank you
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