New Mexico — The hidden gem of the Southwestern United States. Rich in culture and adventure, you and your partner can celebrate your love with a skiing elopement in Winter or a Late Summer Sunset elopement at White Sands. The state’s diverse landscape is unlike any other. With warm temperatures throughout the San Juan Basin and Chihuahuan Desert towns, to cooler, sunny days at higher altitudes in the Southern Rocky Mountains, the perfect ceremony is just a dream away. If you’re thinking of eloping in New Mexico but don’t know where, how, or when, I’m here to help with all the details! I’ve written the ultimate guide on how to elope in New Mexico. Keep reading to get the answers to all your burning elopement planning questions!
When Should You Elope In New Mexico
Time of Year
New Mexico is a unique state when it comes to seasons. This is primarily due to the varying terrains and altitudes from city to city. Summertime can be extremely hot during the day, especially in southern New Mexico. Temperatures can reach over 100°F (38 °C)! I never recommend couples plan a midday Summer elopement! However, Summertime elopements at Sunrise and Sunset in locations in the mountains can be really pleasant and beautiful in New Mexico.
Late Summer | Fall
Late Summer and Fall elopements in New Mexico are ideal. Sunny days are abundant with low humidity, and more comfortable temperatures exist throughout the day. If you’re planning a hiking elopement or intimate wedding outdoors, late August – October couldn’t be more perfect.
Winter in New Mexico is ideal for an elopement or intimate wedding in the state’s mountain towns like Taos. In Winter, places like White Sands may be comfortable during the day, but temperatures drop drastically as soon as the sun goes down. I recommend packing layers, especially during Winter months.
Day Of Week
New Mexico sees almost 40 million people yearly, while similar locations like Colorado see DOUBLE that amount. I’m going to let you in on a secret: New Mexico offers nearly all of the same perks as Colorado PLUS lower crowd levels, even in peak tourist season.
Year-round sunshine, endless outdoor activity options, and delicious food aid in creating high crowd levels on weekends at popular locations all around the state. However, couples can experience intimate and private ceremonies even at popular sites by choosing to elope on a weekday. Popular vendors also have more availability during the weekday. Traffic levels will also be lower AND preferred accommodations will likely be available at a less expensive rate.
To learn more about how weekday elopements offer a secluded and stress-free experience, read my blog, Why You Should Elope On A Weekday!
Time of Day
Sunrise vs. Sunset
Sunrise or Sunset elopements are based on preference. While location and time of year can play a factor, it mainly depends on your and your partner’s hope and dreams for the day. Maybe you want to elope at Rio Grande Gorge and then go skiing for the rest of the day. Maybe you dream of a lazy morning with breakfast in bed before getting ready for your Sunset ceremony at White Sands National Park.
I can help you navigate decisions like this one when helping you plan your dream day! I’ll ask you and your partner if you’re early birds or night owls, how you envision your celebration, and if you want your outdoor photos to have a cooler or warmer tone. All are important factors to consider before selecting a time of day!
Where Should You Elope In New Mexico?
Taos is a cultural melting pot full of diverse food, architecture, and activities. It’s also home to the Southern Rockies — A mountain range full of outstanding views and amazing hiking trails rivaling even the best of what Colorado offers.
Taos’ rich history has helped cultivate its flourishing historic district and famous ski resort, Taos Ski Valley. The Rio Grande Gorge is just half an hour from the snowy mountains of New Mexico, so you and your partner can recite your vows against a Sunrise and then strap on your ski boots and hit the slopes in Taos Ski Valley.
Some of my favorite ceremony locations and accommodations in and around Taos include:
Sante Fe is an art admirer’s dream. Colorful street art pieces highlight the town’s earth-colored buildings made of adobe bricks. Santa Fe is home to over 250 art galleries and multiple trading posts full of handmade goods. You and your partner can find all this and more in downtown Santa Fe in and near Santa Fe Plaza. While downtown Santa Fe has a lot of offerings, the surrounding area is also full of natural art-like wonders.
Some of my favorite ceremony locations and accommodations in and around Santa Fe include:
Albuquerque is home to one of my favorite events, the International Balloon Fiesta. Hundreds of colorful hot air balloons float above the city, creating a unique and fun backdrop for elopement photos. This week-and-a-half-long event takes place every October and is accompanied by exhibitions, fireworks, food vendors, live music, and more. Not to mention, the weather is also beautiful during this time of year. In Fall, Albuquerque is sunny almost every day while still allowing for comfortable temperatures during the daytime. Strolling through Old Town is one of my favorite things to do on a nice day here. It’s lined with delicious New Mexican eateries and artisan shops.
Some of my favorite ceremony locations and accommodations in and around Albuquerque include:
White Sands National Park
Dunes of gypsum sand blanket the Tularosa Basin, making it the perfect location for sand sledding. Couples can elope and enjoy backcountry camping, biking, off-roading, hiking, and horseback riding as well! At nighttime, White Sand Dunes National Park offers one of the darkest nighttime skies in all of the United States. Bring a blanket, cozy up with your partner, and gaze up at the Milky Way. You may even spot some shooting stars! It’s also one of the most dog-friendly National Parks! As a helpful tip, White Sands National Park requires a $25 special use permit for a wedding or elopement, but I’ll help you coordinate all necessary permits.
Some of my favorite ceremony locations and accommodations in and around White Sands include:
What Should You Do On Your Elopement Day In New Mexico?
New Mexico has a variety of activities that you and your partner can enjoy. While hiking, white water rafting, camping, skiing/snowboarding, off-roading, and mountain biking are a few of my favorites, each city offers unique and exciting excursions and experiences exclusive to its location.
Brewery hopping is a great way to explore new cities and experience local tastes and traditions. New Mexico has 88 breweries with 111 taprooms spread across the state. There’s a bustling brewery scene in downtown Albuquerque, with a nearby mountain train just on the cusp of downtown. The ride will take you to the top of the Sandia Mountains — the perfect pit stop in between breweries! Here is a comprehensive list of all of the breweries and taprooms in New Mexico.
New Mexico is home to some of the best hot springs in the U.S. If you’re in need of some rest and relaxation after a long day of exploring, grab your swimsuit and head to a hot springs location with your partner! It’s a romantic and quiet way to de-stress and reconnect with each other after a long day of celebrating.
Here are some of my favorite hot springs in New Mexico:
Who To Hire To Help Bring Your New Mexico Elopement To Life
Once you hire us to capture your New Mexico elopement, we’ll help you get started with the planning process by providing you with access to a preferred vendor list! From florists and bakeries to makeup artists and officiants, our vendor list is full of trusted creatives that will help make your dream day a reality.
How To Prepare To Elope In New Mexico
Once you secure a date, time, and location for your ceremony, book any necessary accommodations and travel details as soon as possible. This will ensure you secure all your preferred means of travel and accommodations.
One of the best things about traveling around New Mexico is that its largest airport, Albuquerque International Airport, is centrally located within the state. From there, you can rent a car at the airport’s rental car center or use a car rental app like Turo. No matter your destination, you’ll get epic views of New Mexico’s beautiful mountain ranges and blue sky the moment you begin your drive.
Travel time from ABQ via car to:
Taos: 2.5 hours
Downtown Albuquerque: 10 minutes
Santa Fe: 1 hour
White Sands National Park: 3.5 hours
Make The Marriage Official
If you want to make your marriage official in New Mexico, follow these steps!
- Set a date, time & place for your New Mexico elopement.
- Coordinate an officiant to help you say “I DO,” along with two witnesses – Todd and I can help with this!
- Pack your debit/credit cards and government-issued forms of identification in your carry-on luggage.
- Visit the County Clerk’s office nearest to your elopement location and provide them with valid, government-issued forms of identification. Identification requirements may vary from county to county, so be sure to call your desired location a few weeks ahead of time!
- Pay New Mexico’s marriage license fee of $25.
- Once an officiant performs your ceremony, ensure they return all necessary paperwork to the County Clerk to make the marriage official!
Depending on the activities, length, and time of year you’ll experience during your visit, being comfortable and prepared for your New Mexico elopement is all in the packing. Here is a New Mexico elopement essential’s list to help you get started with the packing process:
New Mexico Elopement Essentials Packing List:
- Adventure Gear
- Sunscreen & Aloe
- Elopement/Wedding Outfits & Shoes
- Garment Bag(s)
- Vow Books
- Travel/Marriage Certification Documents (Insurance, Boarding Pass, ID, Passport, Birth Certificate, Social Security Card)
- Credit/Debits Cards
- Water bottle
Why Should You Elope In New Mexico?
There are so many reasons you should elope in New Mexico, but here are some of my top whys:
- As I said at the beginning of this blog, New Mexico is a hidden elopement gem. However, unlike similar, popular elopement states like Colorado or Utah, crowd levels are low, even in peak seasons.
- New Mexico has a variety of landscapes just waiting to be explored. From desert terrain to mountains, large gorges, plateaus, and plains. You and your partner will easily find a location that fulfills your wants and desires.
- New Mexican food is DELICIOUS. New Mexico is best known for its red and green chile. You’ll be in Heaven here if you and your partner love spicy food. Green Chile Stew, Chile Rellenos, Carne Adovada, Red or Green Chile Enchiladas… I could keep going. You may want to set aside a day just to restaurant and brewery hop!
- New Mexico is culturally diverse and full of unique experiences. You and your partner will fall in love with the unique blend of Native American, Hispanic, and Latino cultures that work beautifully together to create a laid-back, enriching environment full of life. I love when couples can walk away from their elopement with a life-changing shared experience that’s more than just a ceremony.
Are You Ready To Elope In New Mexico?
If you and your partner are looking to reconnect with one another, dive into new experiences, and immerse yourself in places that are rich in culture while on your elopement adventure, New Mexico is the place for you. I hope this blog answered a lot of your how to elope in New Mexico questions!
If you have more questions on how to elope in New Mexico and want to start planning your New Mexico elopement, I can help you nail down the details that’ll bring your dream day to life! Todd and I are lucky to call New Mexico our home and would love to welcome you with open arms. While New Mexico is my home base, I travel worldwide to help couples say I Do! Check out my travel page here, and inquire about your elopement here!