Photography by
Tony Gambino Photography


Rachael Wilenta & Eric Speegle

September 20, 2014 in Santa Fe, New Mexico


Three months after seeing each other’s dating profiles on Match.com, Rachael Wilenta and Eric Speegle decided to give the online dating scene a chance, reach out to each other, and set up a first date. Today, they both still have their original email exchange.

It was a Tuesday night when the two first met at a sushi bar in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico. Being a student at UNM at the time, Rachael made sure to schedule the date after her last class of the day. Instead, she ended up skipping class, staying home, and fussing over what to wear. “I must have changed four times,” she says. “I was also coming down with the flu and didn’t have any appetite, which made me worry that he was going to think I was a non-eating female –nothing could be further from the truth.”

After meeting, Rachael discovered that Eric had a four-year-old son at the time. For his son’s sake, the pair decided to go slow in their relationship, taking their time building the family they now have. Having had a rocky marriage and a difficult divorce in the past, getting remarried was a delicate subject for Eric; but love and patience eventually secured a strong platform for the future.

The proposal took place on June 30, 2013. Rachael and Eric had just arrived in Rosemary Beach, Florida for a family reunion when Eric suggested they go for a walk. “I said ‘no’ to the walk because I was hungry and wanted to stay and eat with everyone,” Rachael says. “He quickly accommodated my appetite by filling a plate of food and a glass of wine for the walk. I was surprised by his obvious desire to get out of the house.”

The couple made their way down to the beach, where they watched the ocean for a few minutes before Eric turned to his then-girlfriend and told her all the reasons why he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He popped the question, and presented Rachael with a special engagement ring. “The ring is a beautiful antique diamond that has been in my mother’s family for four generations now,” she describes. “I am honored to wear it, and touched that he asked both my mother and father for their permission to marry me.”

At first, the wedding planning process wasn’t the easiest for the newly-engaged couple. “I could not pick a venue–nothing felt like us,” Rachael says. “I found the Four Seasons Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe only a few months before our wedding date; and at that moment, everything fell perfectly into place.”

The wedding day was beautifully intimate, and guests were treated to five courses of seasonal delicacies, which the chef personally introduced and served. Dessert was even served poolside, as the newlyweds and Carter–Eric’s son and Rachael’s stepson–took a plunge into the pool under a starry sky. “We threw a party for us!” says the bride.

After such a wonderful wedding experience, the couple now has a family goal to visit every Four Seasons hotel in the world. “I am so grateful for the team at Rancho Encantado for making this day our favorite memory ever,” Rachael says. “They made every possibility a reality.”

>Written By: Lauren Malamala

Location: Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe Santa Fe, NM; Planner: Jessie Baca Weddings & Events Santa Fe, NM; Floral Design: Cutting Edge Flowers Santa Fe, NM;