Visiting Three Sides of Lake Tahoe

Three perfect days on three shores

This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Tahoe Trifecta”

Author: Kirsten Jones Neff

Whether you explore Lake Tahoe by boat, hike to the highest peak, paddle into a secret cove or mountain-bike down a sandy incline, the views will surely take your breath away. Of course, there are those wonderful lazy Tahoe days when it is enough to relax on the deck, sipping ice tea and staring out into the deep blue bliss of the lake, but it is hard to stay put for long when natural wonders and adventures await in every direction. Tahoe is a land of possibility; whatever your age or preferred activities, there are beaches and boat rides, massages and mountaintops, trails and treasures to be found. Below are three suggested itineraries — Tahoe summer days tailored to your heart’s desire, depending on whether you are searching for restorative quiet, vigorous activity or playful family time. On the northern beach at Sand Harbor you will find several rental outfits. You can rent SUPs and kayaks at Sand Harbor Rentals, Jet Skis at Sand Harbor Water Sports, and even jet boots at Tahoe Jetovator. Bring your goggles and swim and boulder along the shore, exploring sandy coves north and south of the park.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Lake Tahoe wedding group activities

For dinner, make a reservation and enjoy lakeside views at the Lone Eagle Grill at the Hyatt or head up the mountainside for stunning panoramas from the Big Water Grille. Or if you just want to grab some grub on your way home from the beach, stop by T’s Mesquite Rotisserie in Incline or the Char Pit in King’s Beach, a classic old-time joint serving burgers, fries and shakes.

 

East Shore: Outdoor Adventure

Hoping for one of those days where you leave it all on the trail? Whether you prefer to hike or bike, Nevada’s Incline Village and East Shore offer excellent opportunities to utterly exhaust yourself as you soak up the sights. If you’re a mountain biker, Flume Trail Bikes is the place to start. Bring your own bike or let the staff set you up with a bike and all the gear you’ll need. The shop offers shuttles for two exhilarating rides — the Flume Trail from Spooner Lake or, on even-number days of the month, the Tahoe Rim Trail from Tahoe Meadows.

Both are one-way rides, and you’ll get your climbing in on either one, as well as some technical downhill. Both routes bring you back to Flume Trail Bikes at the base of the mountain. If you prefer to travel on foot, you can head straight up Tunnel Creek Trail. It’s steep, which is exactly why you’ll be rewarded with some of the most dramatic views of Lake Tahoe available. Whether you’ve biked or hiked, when you finish you’ll be hungry, so stop by Tunnel Creek Cafe next door to the bike shop, where delicious salads and grilled sandwiches are the order of the day, along with an array of craft beer on tap.

After lunch, cool down with some lake time at nearby Sand Harbor. It is best to take the East Shore Express shuttle, which runs every 20 minutes from Incline, so you can skip the challenge of parking in the popular state park.

 

North Shore: Peace and Pleasure

Daybreak is Tahoe’s most serene time of day, and there is nothing quite as calming as an early morning kayak or stand-up paddleboard ride, silently breaking the smooth surface of the crystal-clear water, then peering down to see massive boulders resting on the sandy lake floor below. Several North Lake spots rent both kayaks and SUPs, and Waterman’s Landing in Carnelian Bay also rents outrigger canoes. There you will find the Waterman’s Landing Cafe for those who want to caffeinate before heading out. Tahoe Adventure Company in Tahoe Vista also offers rentals, as does Tahoe Paddle and Oar, in Kings Beach.

If you prefer to start your day on land, get your vinyasa fix at The Yoga Room in Tahoe City. Or to bring your yoga practice to the water, try paddleboard yoga through Mountain Lotus Yoga.

For brunch or lunch, Tahoe House Bakery and Cafe in Tahoe City makes sandwiches with fresh-baked bread and has a reputation for the best European-style coffee in the area. For lunch to go, swing by the tucked-away local favorite Sugar Pine Cakery and Cafe in Lake Forest — a great place for gluten-free treats — and take your feast and good vibes into the woods.

At the nearby North Tahoe Cross Country Center you can hike or rent mountain bikes to explore the woods on some of the 45 miles of Tahoe’s most popular trails, including several dog-friendly routes. The rental center provides maps of the well-marked trails. After hiking or biking, get back on track with your rest and recovery regimen at Massage on the Lake in Tahoe City, where the bodywork therapists are “amazing,” according to locals in the know.

Mountain Biking Lake Tahoe wedding group activities

For a perfect finale to a peaceful day, book an evening cruise with Stellar Tahoe out of Carnelian Bay. Owners and charter hosts Matt and Bethany Lund, who offer a variety of set and custom tours, know every nook and cranny of the lake, as well as the most majestic views. Chambers Landing Bar, home of the famous Chambers Punch, is a favorite sunset stop to make before heading home under the rising moon.

 

West Shore: Family Fun

The West Shore is a giant playground for family fun. Start your day just two miles south of Tahoe City at the Fire Sign Cafe, a longtime local favorite for breakfast scrambles and omelets.

After breakfast, you may need a round of roshambo to decide where to go next: rent rubber boats and tubes at Truckee River Raft Company or Truckee River Rafting, to float down the Truckee River? Visit the Granlibakken Resort treetop adventure ropes course? Or head to High Sierra Waterski School, with locations in both Sunnyside and Homewood, where the family can rent an array of waterborne vehicles, or sign up for waterski, wakeboard or wake surf lessons?

If you are a hiking family, try the Stanford Rock Trail, which starts in Sunnyside, a recently reworked route with abundant wildflowers and waterfalls (depending on the time of year) and lake views from the top. This is a rigorous climb (11.4 miles and 1,900 feet of elevation gain) if you do the whole loop, but is easy to adjust for an out-and-back.

For lunch the West Shore Cafe in Homewood has lovely lakeside tables. Another option is to stop by Obexer’s General Store, grab deli sandwiches and head to D.L. Bliss State Park. There you can swim and explore coves or hike south on the Rubicon Trail toward Emerald Bay. This trail, which takes you along the cliffs above the lake and offers some of the best hiking views of Tahoe, is long (6 miles each way) but can also be adjusted for a shorter out-and-back.

Wrap up the fun at Sunnyside, a West Shore lodge with two restaurants — the Mountain Grill (where the music never disappoints) or the Lakeside Dining Room. The lodge is popular with visitors and locals, so reservations are a must.





The River of Love

Camie and Eric met in a very Tahoe way – skiing at Squaw Valley!  Three years later, they got engaged while on a river rafting trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River with Western Rivers Conservancy.

Camie fondly recalls Eric’s proposal.  “He’d arranged for us to go out one morning to Big Creek where we were planning to hike and fish. On my first cast I caught a fish, which never happens.  I was asking Eric to help me bring in the line and he was scrambling in his backpack getting the ring.  After we let go of the fish, he proposed! I was shocked and very, very excited.”

The following August, Camie and Eric were married at their own estate, the Bullshead Lodge near Squaw Valley. Monique Sady with Photography by Monique captured these spectacular images of their special day.  

 

“From the moment we got engaged, we knew we wanted to get married in Tahoe,” says Camie. “We looked around at a few locations but quickly realized that the property we have would provide a perfect venue as it sits right on the Truckee River. We had a lot of work to do to get it into shape to be the venue.”

Chelsea Grabham with Blue Sky Events, who was the full service Lead Planner and Designer for this wedding, recalls first visiting the venue during winter when it was covered in several feet of snow. “Upon seeing the property for the first time, it was hard to determine the scope of work needed to develop the site for a wedding with over 100 guests,” she says. “With so much snow at the first meeting, and a willow glen in the area where they envisioned the reception, it was clear that it would take a lot of work once the snow melted to get everything in order.”

Grabham continues, “Come Spring, there were only a few short months to design the site, landscape and build the ceremony and reception spaces. It took a lot of coordination between all the partners (landscaper, wedding planner, rental company and owners) to come to final decisions.  In the end, the property was completely transformed, much of the hard work done by the clients themselves! It made for a very special venue that was extra personal to them.”

It was also a hectic time for the couple – Eric had just started his own company and Camie had started a new job.  But with their friends, parents and Eric’s brothers, all the hard work paid off. Camie was delighted, as she remarked, “seeing the property transform was remarkable after working hard many weekends.”

 

The Stationery

Designer Paul Waters helped Camie and Eric create a custom wedding image for their Save the Date and invitations.  The green and white color scheme coordinated perfectly with the natural beauty of the private estate. A pop of coral (the bride’s favorite hue) added some summer spirit to the design.

“It was a perfect representation of us in a canoe (which is my nickname) on a river (given their importance to our relationship) with Squaw Valley’s mountains in the background,” Camie explains.

 

The Ceremony

Camie looked stunning in a Sarah Seven gown, which featured a beaded top and ivory skirt with a slit in the front. She wore gold drop earrings and a gold bracelet (a family heirloom) that her mother had given her. Eric wore a tan tuxedo with a bowtie.

As 130 guests looked on, the bride entered the ceremony area down a large stone stairway, which was built just for the wedding. “It was a special entrance to witness. The bride walked down the stone steps to meet her father at the bottom who took her the rest of the way to the river front ceremony.” says Grabham.  The couple’s friend Drew Dougherty (who also helped transform the property) officiated the ceremony, recounting the couple’s courtship and adding humor.

Since Eric had torn his Achilles tendon just one month before the big day and wasn’t able to stand during the ceremony, the bride and groom sat in chairs facing the guests. “It was really nice to hear the ceremony for the first time while facing our guests and each other,” says Camie, noting that she and Eric wrote their own vows. “Exchanging our vows was so much fun. They represented our personalities and humor. They were heartfelt, personal and represented our commitment to each other.”

 

The Reception

Following the ceremony, guests followed a short trail through the forest for a cocktail hour at the river’s edge.  In addition to savoring tasty treats from Butter + Salt Catering, guests had an opportunity to fish and play games by the river.

Grabham enjoyed seeing the guests having so much fun. “One guest picked up one of the fly fishing rods that were placed by the groom and started fishing while others were playing bocce ball on the river-stone beach. The groom is an avid fisherman and wanted the river to be a big part of the wedding. It all happened so organically and was exactly how the clients imagined it!”

While guests were reveling by the river, the ceremony space was turned into a delightful site for dining and dancing.  A sumptuous family-style meal was served, featuring Grilled Peach & Shishito Salad, Sumac Roasted Salmon and Grilled Tri-Tip.  To top off the meal, Paris Cakes in Reno created a beautiful two-tiered wedding cake. The top tier was diary-free since Camie could not have dairy.

The couple asked their respective parents and Eric’s brothers to give toasts during the reception.  Then, a top Tahoe band, the Dead Winter Carpenters, revved up the music and guests danced the night away.  Camie recalls, “The band was so much fun and such a special treat to have them play in the woods with us.”

In the end, the wedding day was a dream come true for the couple.  “Getting married at our house in our backyard and see it transform to an enchanted forest with the river, live music and all of my favorite people was overwhelming,” says Camie. “We had so much fun and it felt very intimate and romantic.”

 

Teachable Moments

“Some may imagine that it is easier to have a wedding at a private estate and believe there are cost savings, however it takes much more time, resources and planning than if you were to get married at an event center or ‘turnkey’ venue,” says Grabham, noting that being flexible and hiring reputable professionals are the most important things a couple can do to assure a successful wedding.

Before signing any contracts for a “private estate wedding,” you should ask lots of questions.  For example, you should not rent a wedding venue that is not permitted or zoned by the county to be a wedding site.  You also need to be sure there is adequate electricity for additional property lighting, tent heaters, music equipment, etc.  In addition, you should consider things like parking, bathrooms, water supply, and all the other logistics of building an event venue from scratch, while ensuring it’s a comfortable and safe space for you and your guests.

 

Vendor Credits

Wedding Planning & Design: Blue Sky Events  |  Photographer: Photography by Monique  |  Cake: Paris Custom Cakes  |  Caterer: Butter + Salt  |  Flowers:  Martha Bernyk Floral Design  |  Hair and Makeup: The Decorated Bride  |  Music: Dead Winter Carpenters  |  Rental Items and Tenting: Celebrations! Party Rentals and Tents  |  Transportation: Reno Tahoe Transportation  |  Videographer: Distinctive Video Productions





The Height of Nuptial Bliss

Adrian and Nate met through mutual friends at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo when she was on the women’s lacrosse team and he was on the men’s team. They dated for five years before getting engaged at the summit of Mount Tallac on the South Shore of Tahoe during a morning hike on the 4th of July weekend.

A little over a year later, they were married outside the Zephyr Lodge at Northstar California, in a fall wedding.  “I always knew I wanted to get married in Tahoe,” says Adrian, who spent her childhood summers at her parent’s cabin at Fallen Leaf Lake.

Their photographer, Ciprian Photography, captured all of the magical moments, while their Wedding Planner, Stephanie Marie & Co. made sure their special day flowed smoothly. “Establishing a rapport with my clients is paramount to having successful working relationships,” says Ciprian. “Adrian and Nate were just that, easy to get to know, talk to and communicate with. Wonderful couple.”

Most of the 115 guests were from the Bay Area, as well as out-of-town guests, including some from England, Switzerland, Austria, New York, Maine, Colorado, Washington and Oregon.  Since many guests were traveling a long distance, Adrian and Nate valued having a venue that could host both the ceremony and reception. “The reason we picked this location was honestly the gondola/ski lift ride on the way up,” says Adrian. “We thought, ‘what a cool way to get to a wedding?!’”

The couple had a First Look photo session in Northstar Village.  Adrian remembers feeling overwhelmed and excited when she first saw her groom.  “I would not label myself as a ‘crier’ but immediately burst into tears when I saw Nate,” she says. “After all the wedding build up for 14 months, I was so comforted to see him that I burst into tears.”  Nate recalls that he grew “increasingly happy as I saw how happy Adrian was.”

Then the wedding party took the gondola and chairlift up to the fields surrounding the Zephyr Lodge.  Adrian loved her wedding flowers from Love & Lupines, especially the bouquets and the ceremony “altar piece” from Manzanita Glow.  She wanted the décor to be natural as possible, so she chose earth tones including greens, maroons, oranges, dark yellows, wood and bronze. Their coordinating invitations were on brown recycled paper with a rose gold tree ring print.

The ceremony was very personal, with all of the content created by the bride, the groom or their officiant Graham, who is Adrian’s brother-in-law.  “We wrote our own vows, had a couple of readings by family members and walked down the aisle to acoustic guitar,” says Adrian, who wore a V-neck, floor length dress, with a key hole on the back in a large laser print lace. “It was very special.”

The couple loved their reception at Zephyr Lodge.  Guests dined on Mexican food followed by individual pies, instead of cake.  Then it was time for dancing.  Nate remarked, “All of our friends and family let loose and you got to see everyone’s personality as we all danced together.”

Adrian recalls her favorite wedding day memory: “Right after our ceremony, after we had just walked back into Zephyr, and we were by ourselves for like three seconds and both of us realizing we were married!”

Nate was surprised by how quickly the wedding day went.  “Luckily, the pictures were a great way to remember each moment afterwards,” he says.

 

Teachable Moment:

The newlyweds advise other couples to plan some alone time during the big day to reflect on everything that is going on. “There is only one day of your wedding, so take a minute to soak it in and recharge for the next event and interactions,” says Nate.

 

Vendor Credits:

Ceremony & Reception Site: Northstar California  | Photographer: Ciprian Photography  |  Wedding Planner: Stephanie Marie & Co.  |  Ceremony Décor Rentals: Manzanita Glow  |  Hair & Makeup: Art of Beauty  |  Flowers: Love & Lupines  |  Desserts: Flour Girl Wedding Cakes  |  Music: Brian Hess Music





A Celebrated Celtic Harp Virtuoso

In the Fall of 2016, Anne Roos first captured our attention with her gentle manner and thoughtfulness when she inquired about membership in the Tahoe Wedding Industry Group. Within days, Anne had completed the rigorous membership application process, receiving the highest of accolades from former clients and wedding industry colleagues.

Who is this impeccable lady with the cool Celtic harp and gorgeous hats?

Anne Roos with Celtic harp and hat

Anne Roos is a Los Angeles native who went to North Hollywood high, then slightly westward to UCLA, where she studied a seemingly unlikely duo – Math and Music.  But Anne was quick to point out, “Einstein played the violin, so it’s not such a strange combination!”

The love of music was instilled in Anne at an early age, as her father frequently took her to summertime concerts at the Hollywood Bowl.  Anne recalls, “I have fond memories of experiencing the L.A. Philharmonic performing classical works, watching the bows of the stringed instruments rhythmically undulate up and down.”   Professional musicianship also ran strong in relatives on her mother’s side of the family – a concert pianist, a jazz pianist, a guitarist, and another Celtic harpist in Israel.  So it’s obvious that Anne was born to be a musician!

An important turning point in her life came when Anne attended a Winter Solstice Festival, which included an exhibit booth populated with all kinds of Celtic harps. The woman in the booth said, “If you want to learn to play, I can rent a harp out to you and teach you.”  Anne remembers thinking to herself, “I have a stressful job. This is exactly what I need.”   The rest is history, as Anne got hooked on the harp and her wedding business was born!

Anne Roos Celtic Harp Lake Tahoe wedding

Now based in Lake Tahoe, Anne has been creating beautiful music for more than 30 years, with consistent 5-star ratings across social media platforms and a prestigious Grammy® Award to her credit.  She stays on top of the latest wedding music trends by perusing lists of popular downloads on iTunes, listening to “Wedding Music Radio” on Pandora, and checking out new movies containing song possibilities for weddings.  Anne adds, “Of course, when a couple requests a new song that is not in my repertoire, I quickly order up the sheet music online and create a harp arrangement.”

Anne Roos Celtic HarpPhoto:  Ciprian Photography

When asked what she loves most about working with wedding couples, Anne remarked: “I love the surprise element of creating music organically for weddings.  The experience leaves everyone in amazement and touches their hearts in ways that the original recording of the same song can’t duplicate.  Frequent feedback from guests is, ‘Wow! I didn’t know you could play THAT on the harp!’” From classical to Broadway, from Celtic to new age, from rock classics to heavy metal, Anne can do it all!

Anne Roos playing Celtic Harp at wedding Lake Tahoe

 

Selecting Music for Your Marriage

So what should you do for your wedding?  When guests first arrive at your wedding ceremony location, they are filled with anticipation for your big day ahead.  But if they are greeted with dead silence, it’s an awkward feeling. That’s why it’s important to have music in the air, to set the tone for your ceremony. It signifies that “something special” is about to happen.

Your ceremony venue may control the type of music selected for your auspicious occasion.  If you are in a house of worship, you may be required to abide by strict rules and regulations.  Check with your ceremony site before you have your heart set on a particular selection of music and musicians.

On the other hand, if your ceremony site is in the great outdoors of the Lake Tahoe region, you may select just about any kind of music that you love.  There are hundreds of options beyond “Here Comes the Bride,” so consider your favorite songs – whether Top 40’s or classics, just make it sing to you! 

No matter what kinds of tunes you choose, your ceremony is typically divided into five musical phases:

  1. The Prelude Music typically begins 30 minutes before the ceremony. For example, if your invitation indicates a four o’clock ceremony, begin your prelude music at 3:30 p.m. The music welcomes and entertains your guests as the excitement builds. Depending on the length of the songs, you will want to select up to ten pieces for your prelude music.
  2. The Processional Music is for the Wedding Party to make their grand entrance. This is where the “celebration” comes into play – you definitely want to get your guests’ attention. You typically will select three music pieces: one for your officiant, readers, and groom’s party; another selection for the bridesmaids; and a third selection for the bride’s magical moment as she walks down the aisle.
  3. During the Ceremony, you may have several opportunities to personalize your musical selections. You could have musicians playing if you choose to have a blending ritual or some other symbolic rite. Also, ask the musicians to play an interlude while readers are walking to and from their seats.  Another great moment for music is immediately following your exchange of vows and rings.
  4. The Recessional Music is played when the wedding couple exits back down the aisle as newlyweds. Making this piece lively and celebratory is definitely the way to go. Your attendants and parents may or may not walk out to this same selection; if not, select two recessional pieces.
  5. The bucks you paid for ceremony musicians shouldn’t stop here – they should continue playing the Postlude Music as your guests continue to file out of their seats. Festive music should continue until all guests have departed the ceremony area.

If you are planning to have live music for your Lake Tahoe wedding ceremony, please consider Anne Roos and her Celtic harp.  Her versatility makes her the perfect choice for every wedding.  And if you want to hear more, the harp harmonizes well with just about any instrument. Common choices are the flute, violin, and guitar, but Anne has also played with a piano, sax, percussion, and even a trumpet!  

Anne Roos with bride and Celtic Harp wedding Lake Tahoe

Your selection of ceremony musicians is of course dependent upon your personal tastes.  But in any case, music brings a sense of joy that amplifies the amazing experience of a wedding celebration.

 

Contact Anne Roos

Website:  HarpistAnneRoos.com

Email:  [email protected]

Phone:  530-541-2575





Celebrate Your Love and Say Yes to a Tahoe Winter Proposal

East Coast natives Jen and Max relocated to San Francisco to pursue their professional careers.  In their spare time, they both love outdoor activities, especially skiing and snowboarding.  So when Max was ready to propose, he planned a wintertime trip to Lake Tahoe to pop the question.

For this surprise proposal, the groom-to-be hired Marie-Louise Palmqvist, owner of Vild Photography, to capture the special moments on camera.  “He didn’t plan to have a photographer there originally but decided it would be worth documenting,” says Palmqvist.

In addition to surprising his bride to be, Max had to contend with a surprise from Mother Nature – a huge snowstorm moving in.  While snow in Tahoe is the norm, this particular storm was supposed to drop several feet of the white stuff, which meant that the lakeside view Max had originally planned would be a white-out.

But Max knew he wanted to pop the question at Edgewood Tahoe since that’s where he and Jen were staying. Plamqvist helped him find a good spot that was easy to get to, beautiful and special.  The photographer met with Max while Jen was in the Edgewood Spa, finishing up her hair for dinner. “That gave us a chance to show him the location we had in mind.  It was all very quick and uncomplicated,” Palmqvist recalls.

So, after a day of skiing and getting warmed back up in their room, the couple made their way to dinner.  Along the way was a cozy outdoor fireplace, where Max dropped down on one knee and pulled out the ring.  The proposal was a complete surprise.

“We managed to capture the moment perfectly – everything from the traditional on-the-knee proposal to the just-after-saying-yes reactions,” says Palmqvist. “And, of course, we made sure to find those perfect show-me-the-ring shots, too.”

Afterwards, the newly engaged couple enjoyed a champagne toast inside the restaurant at Edgewood. The restaurant’s dark wood and black trim decor served as a great contrast to the rest of the snowy pictures.

Jen and Max plan to return to their East Coast roots to get married.  Our best wishes to the nearly-weds!

 

Proposals from the Photographer’s Prospective

Palmqvist and Rob Cole, her fellow photographer, work hard to be sneaky and blend into the background when they’re shooting proposals. “We normally just pretend to take photos of each other or the landscape before we aim our cameras towards them,” she says. “It’s really exciting and we always feel like CIA agents.”

Palmqvist wants couples to know that with surprise proposals, “ANYTHING is possible.”  She continues, “Do something that is special and true to you! Don’t just follow trends because you think that that’s the right thing to do. Make it about you.”

She reminds couples to document the proposal too so you can “treasure it forever.” 

While it’s smart to keep things low key when planning a proposal, make sure you communicate your plans with key people, such as the hotel, server, photographer or any other vendors/people you’ll be working with.

 

Other Pro Tips for Proposals and Engagment Sessions

What to wear for proposals: According to Palmqvist, “They are totally free to wear whatever they like.”

What to wear for engagement sessions: “We always suggest they wear something they love that has neutral colors and that complements the season. Our number one priority is for them to feel comfortable. Then we always suggest that they should coordinate, not match each other.”

Plan ahead. Both proposal and engagement sessions typically last about an hour. However, some sessions last longer. Palmqvist notes, “Some of our engagement sessions can be two to four hours if we decide to go hiking.”

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be right. “Proposals always happen quicker than you think and no matter how much you plan and think about the details, it never quite goes according to plan, normally because of nerves,” says Palmqvist. “But that’s OK!  Those imperfect moments become perfect as they are the ones making it truly special and cute.”

 

Vendor Credits

Photographer: Vild Photography  |  Venue: Edgewood Tahoe





Lisa and Mark’s Extraordinary Winter Destination Wedding

Mark says he felt “Lucky!” when he first saw Lisa on the wedding day. She remembers feeling giggly. “I really love this man more every day,” she says.

They live in Louisiana, where winters are mild.  So when Lisa and Mark got engaged, they knew the Lake Tahoe area was exactly where they wanted to exchange vows.  “A winter wedding seemed different,” says the bride, who grew up in Northern California.

The couple dated for two years before getting engaged while they were taking their Dachshund to meet Santa Claus. They married a year later in a winter wedding at the Resort at Squaw Creek in Olympic Valley, California.

This stunning venue provided a fitting backdrop for the gorgeous couple!  Adventure wedding photographer Charleton Churchill captured the couple and the day’s beauty.   “My favorite part of Mark and Lisa’s wedding was being able to enjoy the unique winter snowcapped mountains of Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley throughout the entirety of their wedding day,” says Churchill.

The Celebration

Lisa’s favorite wedding day moment was when Mark cried during their first look. “It was true to who we are,” she says. “It was unrehearsed.”

The December ceremony, which was officiated by Lisa’a father, was an intimate gathering with 57 close family and friends in attendance. The 12-person wedding party included the bride’s sister who was the Maid of Honor, as well as her best friend who served as the Man of Honor. The groom’s father was his Best Man (which is a very Southern tradition).

The wedding color palette of hunter green, maroon, and gold was “a natural fit for that time of year,” Lisa remarked.

The reception was held at the Six Peaks Grille, a gourmet restaurant inside the resort. “They closed down for the night and we had the place to ourselves,” recalls Lisa. “It was perfect. Food was amazing. Cake was even better.”

 

The Dresses

 “My dress wasn’t anything like I planned,” says Lisa. “I wanted a lace ball gown with long sleeves. I’m a curvy girl and I’ve never felt comfortable in a fitted dress.”

That all changed when she saw “The Dress” on a hanger and had to try it on.

“I’ve never felt that good in a piece of clothing before,” she says, explaining the simple crepe gown had a boat neck, t-shirt like sleeves, and a cut out back. She hired a seamstress in Louisiana to take off the original sleeves and add full length sleeves.

She wore a second dress, a strapless A-line, to the reception. It was comfortable and easy to dance in.  Best of all, it meant her wedding gown would stay clean for her post-wedding photo shoot.

Family Time

Lisa and Mark loved the beautiful resort, where they and their families were able to spend a lot of time together.

“Lisa always considered her family and guests’ comfort and experience during each stage of our planning,” says planner Donna Nice Hoekstra of Joy of Life Events. “Skiing, ice skating, swimming, fireside warming, dinners and dancing were all part of the guest experience for their Louisiana family. The Resort at Squaw Creek was the perfect venue for this destination winter wedding.”

The couple stayed at the resort for a week after the wedding, a delightful setting for a mini-honeymoon. They’re still planning a big honeymoon trip. 

Nuptial Nuggets

Lisa’s advice: “Get the dress you want. Hire an amazing photographer. Don’t skip the video either!”

Sharing is good.  “A previous client of mine gifted me her gold Glitter aisle runner,” says Hoekstra. “Lisa loved it, so it was incorporated into their ceremony design.”

Plan your photos. “If you’re going to plan your wedding in Lake Tahoe to enjoy the views of the Lake and the Mountains, make time in your photo session, whether it be the day of your wedding or an adventure session the week after, to capture the beauty of Tahoe you can proudly print,” says Churchill. “If you want to capture the adventurous spirit, try and plan another day to go out and hike in your wedding attire, so you can enjoy your wedding day, yet get some creative outdoor photos when you have more time.”

 

Vendor Credits

Ceremony & Reception Site: Resort at Squaw Creek  | Photographer: Charleton Churchill Photography  |  Wedding Planner & Designer: Joy of Life Events  |  Linens:  Creative Coverings (Sweetheart Table and Guest Tables), La Tavola Fine Linen Rental (Cake Table)  | Bride’s Gown:  Pronovias  |  Bride’s Veil: Blanca Veils  |  Bride’s Shoes:  Badgley Mischka  |  Hair & Makeup: The Hair Loft  |  Bridesmaids’ Attire:  Bella Bridesmaids  |  Grooms & Groomsmen’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse  |  Rings: Lauren B  |  Officiant: Rick Haining, Bride’s Stepfather  |  Catering, Cake & Desserts: Resort at Squaw Creek  |  Flowers: Love & Lupines  |  Music: Brian Hess Music  |  Videographer: The Best Man Films  |  Seating Chart: Ivory Isle Designs