Posts Categorized: Tips from the Pros
A Picture Perfect Experience
Your Engagement Photos at Lake Tahoe
Hold it. Now say “cheeeese.”
Unfortunately, for many people, this approach to picture-taking can result in photos that are… cheesy. And if you’re an engaged couple with a wedding celebration approaching, this can be a cause for concern, because you want your photographer to capture your big day in a good light.
But some people are naturally camera shy, or they don’t always put their best face forward for photos. If you remotely fit this description, we highly recommend you spend a couple of hours in an engagement photo session with your photographer.
Of all the service providers (vendors) that you hire for your wedding, the one that you will spend the most time with on your wedding day is your photographer. So, not only does your photographer need to be a skilled master of his/her craft, but your photographer also needs to be someone that you are comfortable with.
By scheduling an engagement photo session in advance of the wedding, you will get to know your photographer better and become more familiar with how he/she works. Meanwhile, your photographer will learn from the engagement photo shoot which poses and camera angles work best, and he/she will develop a better understanding of what kinds of photos you like and dislike. In short, you and your photographer both benefit from an engagement session, and that’s why many photographers offer wedding packages with an engagement session included.
So where is the best place in the world to go for your engagement photo session?? Why Lake Tahoe of course!!!
Photo: Ciprian Photography
OK, we may be a bit biased, so we recently chatted with a most darling couple, Jesse and Darren from San Francisco, who got engaged in May 2017. When it came time for them to choose a location for their engagement photos, they quickly concluded that Tahoe was the place to be. Like many Bay Area residents, Jesse and Darren had spent considerable time enjoying all the fun activities that the Tahoe region has to offer. Darren told us he had been skiing and snowboarding at Tahoe resorts “for my entire life.”
So on December 10, 2017, Jesse and Darren drove from San Francisco to Tahoe for the day, and met up with their photographers, Capture Create Studios. They planned to take photos in more than one location, so Jesse brought three outfits with her. (She ended up wearing only two.)
Their first photo-shoot took place at Sugar Pine Point State Park. The lakefront setting, majestic evergreens and some fresh snow provided a beautiful backdrop.
Next, the couple and their photographers drove down to Emerald Bay. There, the late-afternoon natural lighting added a warm glow to the world-famous vistas.
So if you’re an engaged couple considering an engagement photo session, how should you proceed? Jesse and Darren’s photographers, Capture Create Studios, have these helpful suggestions:
- Secure your wedding day photographer first! This photographer should be the same photographer for your photo engagement session.
- Decide on a geographic location and settings that are significant to you. If you are an adventurous couple and love to hike, ski, or kayak on the lake, then Tahoe is the perfect place for your engagement photos.
- Wear clothes that you love and are comfortable. Select at least two outfits and avoid crazy patterns or prints.
- Consider having your make-up and hair done professionally. Makeup evens out the skin tone and gives a nice foundation base. Schedule your hair and make-up trial to coincide earlier in the day with your engagement photo session. During the photo session, have light matte-finish powder or blotter paper available.
- Time it right! Your professional photographer knows the most perfect time of day when the lighting is magical for photos, so let the photographer do the scheduling. Typically, the worst time to photograph is when the sun is at its peak height. Allow for 1.5 hours to 2 hours for an engagement photo session.
- Come mentally prepared to let your love shine…have fun with it!
The Owners of Capture Create Studios, Chelsea and Jon Evans, also offered these final thoughts: “Couples who opt in for engagement sessions actually have better photos on their wedding day – there is more comfort on the wedding day.”
Reflecting on their experience, Jesse and Darren declared, “It was great to get used to the camera and a lot more fun than we thought. If you are on the fence about doing an engagement session, definitely do it! For sure we know our photographers are great, and we love our engagement photos.”
Jesse and Darren’s Photographer:
The Music Man… and So Much More
Just call him “Sawyer.” That’s the first thing you learn when you meet Chad Sawyer, a music maven and Owner of Moonlight Mobile DJ. But our inquiring minds wanted to know more, so we recently had the pleasure of speaking with Sawyer about his background and his business. And what we learned is that Sawyer is truly a man of many interests and talents.
Born and raised in San Diego, Sawyer took full advantage of its coastal location and year-round warm climate. But one thing kept Sawyer hanging around the house as much as the beach – his parents were music enthusiasts, and there was always a wide variety of tunes being played in his home. Sawyer began to develop a love for dancing, and by the time he was in high school, he became hooked on DJ’ing.
But being a DJ was just for fun (or so he thought at the time), so Sawyer began to embark on more scholarly pursuits. After high school, he spent a year in Japan, teaching English as a second language. While there, he studied martial arts and earned a 4th degree Black Belt in Aikido.
Returning to the US, Sawyer attended the University of Nevada Reno, where he majored in Secondary Education and History, and if that wasn’t enough, he also had a double minor in Japanese and English. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree, he got a job as a teacher of Advanced Placement American History and Government. While teaching, he went back to UNR and earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration.
But all through this time of academic enlightenment, Sawyer’s love for music remained strong. He got some gigs DJ’ing in local clubs, then he transitioned into mobile and private events, including weddings. In 2003, Sawyer took the plunge and started Moonlight Mobile DJ. Now he says, “I couldn’t be happier DJ’ing for a living.”
Fortunately, we were able to get Sawyer to sit still long enough to answer a few questions about his profession:
There’s always the dilemma between having a live band or a DJ for your wedding. How should the couple decide whether to have a band or a DJ?
Cost is certainly one factor in this decision as bands are typically more expensive. Bands do bring something to a reception that a DJ cannot, the power of live animated music. A great DJ on the other hand brings versatility and a much wider library of music. Not to mention, if you love the sound of the original singer and musicians, a DJ is your only option. For weddings, I do love live music during the ceremony and cocktail hour – it adds a touch of elegance, and you can save the DJ ‘til when you’re ready to PAR-TEE!
Once you decide on a DJ, how do you select the right one for you?
Of all of the service providers that a couple will hire for their wedding day, the DJ has the ability to ruin their wedding the quickest! If the photographer is terrible, you won’t know until 3 weeks after the wedding, but if your DJ is bad, everyone is going to notice immediately! A wedding couple places a lot of trust in their DJ.
My recommendation is to interview 2 to 3 DJ’s. Start with a phone interview initially. Even though you are not physically there, tone and voice inflection is important. You can learn a lot with a phone call, Skype or Facetime. Asking the DJ about their style and how they plan to interact with your guests will help you get a sense of what type of person you are hiring.
[Publisher’s Note: At Tahoe Engaged, we take it a step further to ensure that our DJ’s, as well as all of our vendors, have a business license, business insurance and 5-star references from trusted wedding industry professionals and prior wedding clients.]
Can a wedding couple see a DJ in action before hiring him or her?
This is a tough issue because most of the events that I DJ are private, so you can’t see me perform. I do have a video on my website that highlights my style and past events. I also have multiple videos up on YouTube, Instagram and other social media platforms for wedding couples to see.
What are common misconceptions about DJ Services?
Some misconceptions about DJ’s are that we just play music. In a club setting this might be true. However at a wedding, a skilled DJ is a liaison between vendors, an MC, as well as mixing and playing music.
How has technology affected the DJ at weddings?
For the reception, technology for the most part has made accessing songs on the fly incredibly easy.
But cell phones during ceremonies have become a technological drawback. The data streaming on everyone’s phones can interrupt the wireless mics that the couple are using for their ceremony. I always ask guests to place their phones on Airplane Mode, and this helps a lot. Guests can still take photos, but stopping the data streaming allows the microphones to work properly.
Are there reception venues in Lake Tahoe that have restrictions on music?
Yes, there are noise restrictions in Tahoe. All amplified music outdoors must end by 10pm unless other arrangements have been made, or the venue is indoors.
[Publisher’s Note: These same restrictions exist at wedding venues throughout California.]
What have weddings taught you?
Weddings have taught me to be humble, listen to requests, and always go above and beyond for my clients. Customer service is everything.
What is the best advice you give a couple when planning their wedding?
Hire the best professionals, trust them, relax and enjoy your day. Don’t spend time worrying about details on the day of your wedding.
When you’re not DJ’ing, what activities do you enjoy in your spare time?
I love spending time with my kids – skiing, snowboarding, surfing, sailing and hiking… In Tahoe, there are sports for every season!
Countdown to an Amazing Tahoe Wedding
Step 1 – A Sparkling Proposal
The magic of the holiday season is in the air, and now you can begin to plan your fabulous Lake Tahoe wedding. But first things first – the proposal!
A wedding tradition that has endured the test of time together with the proposal is the diamond engagement ring. But what is the best approach to proposing – a surprise question-popping without a ring, or a not-so-unexpected proposal with the perfect engagement ring?
In either case, most proposers do not want to take on the burden of buying the engagement ring without consulting their partner first. Regardless of how you choose to approach the buying process (surprise first buy later, or spoil the surprise and go shop together) it’s important to understand your investment. Since engaged couples are older and more financially established today, according to The Knot, the average amount spent on an engagement ring is $6,351. So you need to do your research!
When searching for an engagement ring today, the most beloved cut is the round diamond because it provides the most sparkle.
While the emphasis during engagement ring shopping is rightfully placed on the stone, you can’t properly display your dazzling diamond without choosing an appropriate setting. Most couples select a prong setting to maximize the diamond’s sparkle. The most important choice in selecting a prong setting is whether to get four or six prongs. Four prongs show off more of the diamond, but six prongs hold the diamond much more securely.
The final element of your engagement ring is the ring itself. The most popular material chosen for a 2018 engagement ring is white gold. However, to others, platinum is worth the added expense, because it is an extremely hard metal and it will never tarnish. While white gold looks very similar to platinum, over time the rhodium plating in white gold will wear off and fade to a yellowish tinge. You would need to re-polish and re-plate the white gold ring to look white again.
According to The Knot’s survey data, an average of 26 rings are looked at over a period of 3½ months before the purchase is made. Although online shopping has become more popular, we recommend going to brick-and-mortar stores to buy an engagement ring. Every diamond is unique, and you should have the opportunity to see and feel a purchase this important.
Begin by identifying reputable jewelers in your area and check the Better Business Bureau and online references for 5-star reviews. Or to support the local economy in the North Lake Tahoe area, please consider these sparkling shops (listed in alphabetical order):
Regardless of where you choose to shop, never lose track of the reason why you’re buying an engagement ring. This symbol of your commitment to your future spouse is to be enjoyed together for the rest of your lives!
Choosing a Wedding Theme with Style
Written by Joyce Scardina Becker
The Knot California magazine recently published an article entitled “Wedding Themes 101”. We love The Knot, but want to set the record straight. What they characterize as “themes” – Art Deco, Bohemian, Classic, Country, Modern, Rustic, Vintage, Whimsical – actually should be considered as “styles.”
Modern Wedding Décor
Photo: Tanja Lippert
Art Deco Wedding
Photos: Alicia Pyne Photography; Unknown
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a style is “a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed” such as a style of furniture. In fact, most couples do not choose a wedding theme, but instead choose a “style.” Over the last several years, “rustic” and “vintage” have been popular styles at weddings, but these are not themes. Many couples may not have even recognized the difference between a rustic style or vintage style.
A Rustic wedding employs weathered, time-worn pieces (furniture) and accents (accessories) in a more casual setting. Examples include an old barn, or a vignette of weathered wicker furniture.
Rustic Wedding Décor
Photo Credit: Unknown
Vintage applies to more refined furnishings, from the 18th century to the 1950’s, typically more “refined” than rustic. Think antiques. Examples are painted French chairs, glided scones, chinoiserie toile fabrics, mercury glass containers, pieces of silver and crystal chandeliers.
Vintage Bridal Attire and Décor
Photo: Jodi McDonald
Again, it’s important to note that neither Rustic nor Vintage should be considered “themes” – instead, they are “styles.” So then, what is a “theme,” and how does it differ from a style for a wedding?
While style is typically reflected in the type of accessories or furniture used in a wedding, the theme is a specific design concept that starts with your Save the Date and carries all the way through the end of the celebration. You can design a theme wedding that reflects your heritage, your combined personalities or your lifestyles (we wouldn’t recommend selecting all three, but just one).
Let’s say you are foodies, savoring the opportunity to dine out at innovative restaurants, as well as cooking up culinary delights in your own kitchen. For your meals at home, you love to try the many spices available to you from local or ethnic grocery stores. Voila! You could have a theme for your wedding focused on “spices.” But your style could be Art Deco, Bohemian, Classic, Modern… you get the picture.
A fun, eye-catching way to convey your theme is to give it a tagline – for example, “Love Is the Spice of Life”. When choosing a theme, make sure it can be communicated through not only the save the date and invitation, but also your décor, music, food, beverage, tablescapes and vignettes. The most powerful way to experience your theme is to see, hear, touch, smell and taste it (an entire experience).
For example, the wedding invitation could be an Art Deco spice bottle with the invitation text etched on the glass. For your music, you can select songs like “Hot Hot Hot” and “Cinnanmon Girl”, and for favors, a collection of your favorite spices and recipes packed to go!
Creating not only a style, but also a theme for your wedding will truly make your special day uniquely your own!
Helping Napa-Sonoma Wedding Couples Affected by the Wildfires
Our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by the horrific Wine Country wildfires. Included among those who have been impacted by this terrible devastation are venues that host weddings, and couples who booked their weddings at these venues.
Many couples in this situation are now wondering what they should do next, if their venue can no longer host their wedding. First and foremost, review your venue contract. Typically, there is a standard clause in your contract that addresses this kind of circumstance.
This clause might be labeled “Termination,” “Force Majeure,” “Acts of God” or “Impossibility.” It allows you and the venue to terminate your obligations (the venue’s obligation is to provide space, and your obligation is to pay the venue) without liability, if it is impossible to have the wedding at the venue due to Acts of God, which include fires, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes or hurricanes.
So if you have a clause like this in your contract and your venue is not able to host your wedding, you may terminate the contract and receive a refund of the payments you have made to the venue. Once the contract is terminated, you can look for a new venue for your wedding.
The community of wedding professionals in the North Lake Tahoe area are here to help you if you need to find a new location for your wedding. In the words of Caity Hunt, Senior Event Sales Manager for the Hyatt Lake Tahoe Resort, “We are so saddened to watch what is happening in the Napa/Sonoma area, and would absolutely love to help if we can.”
Photo: Nina · Photography
Below we have compiled information from wedding venues in North Tahoe that may be able to host your wedding. Clicking on the venue name will link you to the venue’s website. When specific available dates are provided by venues, this information is accurate as of October 12, 2017, but is subject to change as bookings take place.
All Saturdays are available for the next few months with the exception of 10/28 and 12/2.
We have full availability for the rest of this month at the Gatekeeper’s Museum. Saturdays in April, May and October 2018 are still available, but June – September are fully booked. We also have quite a few Fridays and Sundays available if anyone is interested.
Here are the available dates for the rest of the year:
Dates for 2018:
Below are Saturday dates available for the remainder of the year and first part of 2018. Size of group we have availability to take, and also the specific venue location may vary between each of these dates:
11/4/17 – up to 80 Guests
Contact Danielle McCord Padgett, Banquets Manager, 530-583-0188, [email protected]
A buyout of the restaurant required for groups over 70, a banquet room is available for groups under 70.
Contact Brett Fox, Wedding Sales Manager, 530.562.3830, [email protected]
For wedding groups of 75 guests or less, the Tavern 6330′ restaurant has available dates.
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe does have availability for various dates for this Fall Winter 2017 and next summer 2018.
Below are our available dates for 2018 on the weekends.
Open weekends for The Village Lodge, 2018:
June 2nd, 9th, 16th
September 15th, 22nd, 29th
October 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th
Open weekends for Lake Mary, 2018:
August 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th
September 15th, 22nd, 29th
October 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th
We’d love to help out as much as possible. Unfortunately we don’t have anything in October available. In November we have the first weekend 4th and 5th, 18th and 19th, and 25th and 26th. We are also available for rehearsal dinners as well.
For 2017, we can offer up the following:
Alder Creek Adventure Center
Up to 100 people for full sit down meal, and 150 people for stations
Up to 65 people availability
We could offer up a full buy-out of the Lodge, which can accommodate 175. Site Fee TBD. Same dates apply as above.
We are definitely open to helping and can offer our venue as an option, and would love to talk further with the couples.
Venue: Outdoor Ceremony & Reception
Event Guest Count: (up to 130)
Lodging: On-Site Accommodations (up to 105-110)
Alcohol & Catering: BYO
The Truth About “Day-Of” Wedding Planning
About 25 years ago, the term “Day-Of” Wedding Planner worked its way into reporting by the bridal media, to describe the minimum level of service that Wedding Planners would provide for couples on a limited budget. Unfortunately, this term is very misleading – for reasons which we explain below – but even more unfortunately, it still remains in the vocabulary of some wedding industry professionals today.
To help you understand why this term is inappropriate, let’s think about a possible life experience that is the polar opposite of a blissful wedding day. Suppose you get hit with a lawsuit, so you need to hire an attorney. Would you attempt to save money by telling the attorney to simply show up in court on the “Day Of” your trial?
Just as an attorney cannot effectively represent you without advance preparation before a trial, a Wedding Planner cannot make your wedding day flow smoothly without advance preparation. Any prospective Wedding Planner who tells you they can just be present on the “day of” your wedding is not providing a valuable service.
Of course, it is always an option for couples on a budget to do most of the wedding planning tasks themselves, then hire a Wedding Planner later on. But in order to properly manage and execute a wedding that a couple has spent many months planning, the Wedding Planner should begin work at least 4 weeks before the wedding, and ideally 6 to 8 weeks before. At that time, you will want to have a phone call or face-to-face meeting with your Planner to discuss all the details you have planned, and you should also be willing to relinquish the remaining planning responsibilities to the Planner.
Photo: Kate Pease Photography
Since you are giving the Planner the responsibility to execute your wedding, it is important that you also give them the authority at the same time. So it is strongly recommended that you send an email to all of your service providers (vendors) to introduce the Wedding Planner, and to let the service providers know that from this day forward, the Planner is now their primary contact for your wedding.
One of the first things your Planner should do is review all of your service provider contracts, and read them carefully to understand what products and services will be delivered to you. From these contract documents, the Planner can also generate a list of final payments that you will need to make before the wedding day.
Another important task for your Planner to perform shortly after beginning work is to conduct a site inspection of the ceremony and reception location(s), in order for schematic floor plans to be developed. If you are available to join the Planner for this site inspection, that can be very helpful.
At least three weeks before the wedding, the Planner should begin to develop a very detailed timeline of the entire wedding day. The timeline is a sequential listing of tasks to be completed, describing in detail who is performing the task, what the task is, where the task is being performed, and of course, when the task is being executed. Two weeks before the wedding, the wedding day timeline and floor plans should be emailed to all service providers.
Photo: Tracey Buyce Photography
Another shorter version of the timeline, the Wedding Party Timeline, should also be created by the Wedding Planner. The Wedding Party Timeline lists only those tasks involving members of your wedding party (such as group photos, the ceremony Processional order, and toasts being given). This abbreviated timeline should be emailed to the Wedding Party and immediate family members, also about two weeks before the wedding.
Two or three days before the wedding, the Planner should be calling all of your service providers, to reconfirm they have received the Wedding Day Timeline and Floor Plans, and to discuss their role in executing the wedding day. This is the time for the Planner to practice risk management and to be on top of all the logistics, and tending to the needs of the service partners as a team player.
Lastly, before your big day, your Wedding Planner is also on site to oversee your wedding rehearsal, making sure that everyone in your wedding party understands what they need to do for the ceremony. Then, on the actual “day of” your wedding, the Planner is on duty up to 12 or more hours, ensuring that everything runs according to plan, so that you have a wonderful, memorable celebration.
Photo: Ciprian Photography
So overall, a Planner who provides this service for you is working far longer than just the “Day Of” your wedding. Typically, a Planner who provides the services described above is putting in about 40 to 60 hours of work.
Because of the confusion and inaccuracy associated with the term “Day Of,” there have been some attempts to alter the terminology being used. In 2008, as the Founding President of the Wedding International Professionals Association (WIPA), Tahoe Engaged Publisher Joyce Scardina Becker helped write a White Paper (an authoritative report giving information on an issue) called Debunking the Myth of the “Day Of” Planner. WIPA recommended that the term “Wedding Director” be used, instead.
So, if you are looking for a stellar Wedding Planner who will provide an appropriate level of service for your celebration, Tahoe Engaged sets the standards for the Lake Tahoe Wedding Industry. Our members all belong to the Tahoe Wedding Industry Group (TWIG), whose mission is to “raise industry standards by providing our valued wedding clients with the highest quality of services and products through professional conduct and dedication to our craft.”