Creating Floral Magic in Lake Tahoe
Tracey Duncan, Owner of Create with T, is originally from Placerville, California. She moved to Dana Point in Orange County at age 15 when her father changed jobs. Her first job in high school was at a local flower shop, where she discovered a love for all things floral. Tracey has always been intrigued by the outdoors, nature, and flowers. So after high school, she decided to get her degree in Landscape Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona.
Tracey met her future husband, Josh, while attending Cal Poly. After graduating, Tracey began working on large-scale design projects like parks and parking lots. Meanwhile, Josh decided to start his own landscape architecture firm, Conscious Environments, Inc., and the two then began working together.
But Tracey and Josh’s true love (besides each other) was the Lake Tahoe area. So together, they hatched a long-term plan to relocate.
Tracey’s attraction to flowers had always remained strong, and she had a real passion for design. So she went back to school to get an Associate’s Degree in Floral Design and Shop Management. Tracey found that the transition from landscape architecture to floral design was almost seamless, as many principles such as color theory and design properties are similar. Her experience gave Tracey the confidence to start her own business after moving to Lake Tahoe. She began working with other local florists, then got her business license and opened Create with T in 2017.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world this year, Tracey had quite a few wedding postponements and cancellations. But she has been as accommodating as possible, adjusting to how each wedding changed. She has also expanded her home-based business by renovating her garage into a full-service studio, complete with a walk-in refrigerator to keep her floral arrangements fresh. This has allowed her to take on larger jobs and store flowers longer than before.
Tracey now offers a weekly client service which gives her the freedom to create beautiful and unique designs. She has also begun to offer home deliveries and more “every day” floral arrangement services for birthdays, anniversaries, and other life events.
During this difficult time in the world and in the wedding industry, Tracey is grateful for the support of the local Lake Tahoe events community. She hopes that events and weddings will be able to come back full force soon in the future. Until then, she is happy to support her community in any way she can.
A Safe Landing at Edgewood
Tim and Kelly met online, as many couples in the digital age do. They got together for ‘quick drink’ on a Tuesday night. What was intended to be a casual meeting turned into 5 hours of wine and banter. The chemistry was there from the start, and that ‘quick drink’ was the beginning of a truly adventurous relationship. Their wedding website mentions, “Kelly liked to say…she was only using Tim for his free flights on United and the laundry machine in his apartment. Tim would say Kelly was his personal tour guide to the city.” Two months after they began dating, Kelly traveled to meet Tim’s family in Ohio. A month later, they headed to Egypt, where they discovered a love of traveling together. Since Tim is a pilot for United Airlines, they have been able to travel to unique and beautiful places all over the world. Until, of course, COVID-19 changed the world as we know it. Feeling the pressure of the unknown and a desire to be safe, Tim and Kelly decided to plan their wedding sooner rather than later. They selected a date in June in Lake Tahoe.
The two had a trip planned to go to Costa Rica for her birthday last year, and Kelly caught the hint that Tim might propose. The week before their planned vacation, Tim and Kelly decided to take a camping trip to Big Sur on the California Coast. To Kelly’s surprise, Tim dropped to one knee and asked her for forever as the sunset over the Pacific. In a comical turn of events, their cockapoo puppy ventured off on his own in the emotion of the moment. When Tim and Kelly finally realized he was gone, a couple who were also walking on the beach returned him to his newly-engaged parents. Not wanting to interrupt, the strangers waited with him patiently, mentioning they were more than happy to watch the darling pup during the festivities.
Kelly is originally from Georgia and Tim is from Ohio, but they currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Tahoe is a special place for them as they both enjoy skiing Heavenly together each winter. Heavenly became their dream location to say ‘I do’. Unfortunately, the universe had other plans. With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the area, the California side of Lake Tahoe remained locked down through much of the summer. Their original wedding date was June 20th, and to be safe with restrictions, it was pushed to July 19th. Two weeks before Tim and Kelly’s Heavenly nuptials were set to take place, the venue had to cancel. But the incredible Lake Tahoe wedding community came together to give Tim and Kelly their dream day. The team at Heavenly assisted them in finding Edgewood Tahoe Resort to host their wedding, which is located on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. They pared the guest list down from 88 to the approved 50 people and went with the flow, hosting their ceremony lakeside rather than high atop Heavenly.
Tim and Kelly took the appropriate precautions to keep their guests safe. They placed the chairs during the ceremony 6 ft apart and guests maintained distance where necessary. Kelly’s best friend was their ceremony officiant, and Kelly was the officiant at her wedding last year. Kelly originally ordered her gown through Novella in San Francisco, but due to the virus, her dress would not make it in time for the wedding. She made the decision to go to Gesinee’s Bridal in Concord, CA to purchase her dress because San Francisco was shut down at the time.
On a breezy, sunny afternoon in July, Tim and Kelly said ‘I do’ on the shores of pristine Lake Tahoe. It was the perfect evening with the people Tim and Kelly love most in one of their favorite places. All of their wedding vendors worked seamlessly to make Tim and Kelly’s day incredibly special: the captain of their rehearsal dinner cruise on the Safari Rose; their florist, Tahoe Engaged Member Create with T; their photographers, Blue Lotus Photography; and the staff of both Edgewood and Heavenly. Everyone was committed to making their Lake Tahoe wedding dreams a reality in an uncertain world.
Eloping to the Top of Tahoe
Liz and Matt were originally going to have a family-only, 20-person ceremony in South Lake Tahoe in July 2020. They had already done quite a bit of planning when the coronavirus brought an abrupt halt to their progress. They hemmed and hawed for a few months about what to do. After giving themselves the space to grieve the loss of their original plans, they decided to move forward with their lives and elope! Liz later confided, “I’d always secretly found the idea of eloping so romantic.”
Liz and Matt’s photographers, M and Rob with VILD Photography, helped them find a spectacular alpine setting to wed in true Tahoe style. And of course, they also photographed (and even officiated) the couple’s mountaintop marriage.
After she came down to earth from her amazing nuptial experience, Liz was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme or style?
Since we were eloping, the possibilities were really endless. Did we want to hike? Go to the spa? Chill on the beach? It was totally up to us. Matt and I knew that we wanted to hang out with our dog, have some drinks, listen to some music, and watch the sun go down. (This is basically our weekend routine living in SF.) Our photographer took that information and scouted a completely awesome mountaintop location. While it was tricky to get to, we have a Jeep Wrangler, so we could get there!
The entire vibe of our day was adventurous, casual, spontaneous, and rustic. I threw on my hiking boots after our ceremony, we popped champagne, and watched the jaw-droppingly beautiful sunset. We got to hang out with our dog. We filled in the details as we went, and the evening flowed so organically. We NEVER could have enjoyed that moment, in that location, together if family had been there. It all worked out the way it was supposed to.
Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception?
Well, given our nontraditional elopement on top of a mountain, there wasn’t much to consider in terms of decor. And that’s exactly why we did it that way. I was never interested in having a big wedding (our pre-COVID plan only originally involved immediate family). When we changed our plan to truly elope, there was nothing to think about other than what we were wearing and where we were going. It’s cliché, but it really allowed us to focus on each other and be present in the moment, not fussing over external details. Our “decor” wound up being Lake Tahoe views, alpine forests, mountain vistas, and a pink and orange sunset.
What were the florals like in your wedding? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?
After stripping down our ceremony and deciding to elope, I knew one of the only things I still wanted to make me feel like a “bride” was a big, rustic wedding bouquet. My vision for the bouquet was an “undone” look, with pops of color and quintessential elements of California (such as pampas grass). Andi from Twine & Dandy brought my vision to life beyond my wildest dreams. She curated bright blue delphiniums and red ranunculus, with orange and pink touches and a few dusty elements to soften the palette. She called it my “Tahoe Sunset” bouquet. It was massive and asymmetrical, which lent itself to that wild, “undone” vibe I wanted. Andi also wrapped a piece of my mother’s wedding veil around the stems—a personal touch that meant so much to me (especially without our families physically present). In addition to the bouquet, we did a boutonniere for my husband and a flower hair piece for my updo. This bouquet ended up being such a large part of our pictures and really matched the adventurous, spontaneous vibe of our elopement. I felt so special carrying those flowers around that mountain.
Did you personalize the day in any way? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?
Our sunset elopement had a few special touches 🙂 Our dog, Louie, wore a blue bowtie from The Foggy Dog. We brought champagne glasses from my brother and sister-in-law and a bottle of vintage Dom from my parents. We also drank Labatt Blues (a tribute to Matt’s hometown of Buffalo) and Sam Adams beers (a tribute to my Boston stomping ground). We got to give our dog lots of kisses and watch him run around like a maniac across the mountaintop. The best part of our wedding? Driving down off the mountain in the dark, with the top down on our Jeep, blasting Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey.”
How did you both choose your wedding day look?
Well, I never had a really specific vision for how I wanted to look on my wedding day. Unlike a lot of other women, I had never daydreamed about a particular dress or “fashion moment.” Once Matt and I got engaged and started planning our original ceremony, I thought I might even wear blue instead of white. When COVID happened, I realized that it was going to be really difficult to try on dresses with SF in lockdown and no boutiques open.
But then I had a thought: if we are eloping and I don’t have family there to help me maneuver a traditional wedding dress (AND I want to be comfortable if we’re riding in our Jeep up a mountain), I’m not going to be relaxed in a big, fussy gown. And I knew that the ONE thing I wanted to feel on our wedding day, given our unique elopement circumstances, was to feel PRESENT and relaxed. So I decided to order a few dresses online from Show Me Your Mumu, tried them on in my living room in front of my husband (we’re not super traditional!), and picked a short dress with flowy, lace sleeves. I bought some simple sandals from Soludo’s, some jewelry from Mejuri and Rellery, and had my little cousin paint my jean jacket with a classic Tahoe illustration. (Her name is Daisy Gulla and she’s an amazing artist. ) The Blundstones and high socks were a completely spontaneous, last-minute decision on the day of our wedding, but, again, I knew I wanted to be comfortable. I’m so glad I threw them in my bag because those boots are my signature look and the pictures are that much more “us.”
My husband bought a custom suit from Indochino (and did two road trips to Sacramento just to find a showroom that could do measurements during COVID). He opted for a beautiful, deep linen blue that complements his blue eyes.
What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?
I think the most special moment of the elopement was getting to the top and seeing the views—and then having that space all to ourselves. We were so immersed in the natural beauty of the location that it took our breath away. It was a bit overcast at the start of our ceremony, but as Matt started reading his vows, the sun emerged from behind the clouds and beamed directly down onto us. As we drank champagne and the sun started to go down, we were basically just continually gasping at how beautiful the sky looked. Marrying Matt was the best day of my life, but to do it in such a unique way—in SUCH a beautiful location—was by far the coolest part.
Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?
As a “COVID couple,” Matt and I chose to look at the pandemic—and ultimate decision to elope rather than postpone our original ceremony—as a silver lining. While it was bittersweet not to have family there, eloping the way we did was so romantic. Everything stripped away. Just us and Louie (and the amazing Rob and M, who were our photographers, wedding planners, location scouts, and hiking buddies all wrapped into one). Neither one of us had ever felt so present as we did on our wedding night. It was the most meaningful way to enter our marriage, standing on a mountaintop alone. All the bells and whistles of a more traditional ceremony are great, and those things may mean a lot to some folks, but at the end of the day, it’s really just about you and your partner. If I could tell engaged couples anything, it would be not to sweat the small stuff. Constantly reminding ourselves about what the day was REALLY all about—marrying each other—kept us positive and sane. When you’re looking into each other’s eyes, reading vows, you realize that none of the small stuff matters at all.
Over the Moon at Swoon
Swoon Bridal is Reno/Tahoe’s premiere bridal salon and is owned and operated by Michelle Depoali. Michelle is a proud 5th generation Nevadan who wanted nothing more than to add something special and beautiful to the local bridal scene. Michelle, a University of Nevada Reno alum, landed her dream job in San Francisco at the famed Marina Morrison salon after writing her master’s thesis on bridal gowns. After cutting her teeth in the bridal industry in the Bay Area for a couple of years, Michelle decided to return to her hometown of Reno to bring some bridal magic to the area. At the time, Michelle’s greatest cheerleader and endless supporter, her mother, Kendyl, had just passed away. Kendyl had gifted Michelle with a love for ‘beautiful things’, something that Michelle quotes on an almost daily basis, and she became the inspiration behind the opening of Swoon. A year and one day after she passed, Swoon Bridal opened its doors for the first time.
With her background in fashion, Michelle thoughtfully brought the best designers and wedding gowns to the Reno/Tahoe area. If there’s one aspect of Swoon that is so incredibly important to Michelle and her team, it’s the diversity of their collection, from both a design and price standpoint. Michelle and her team place incredible care into the selection of each dress that comes through the door, attending Bridal Market in New York City and Chicago as well as various designer releases throughout the country.
To the team, that means curating the Swoon Collection from bridal designers all over the world, from Tel Aviv to Minneapolis to South Africa, in order to bring a fresh and unique selection of ‘beautiful things’ to the Reno/Tahoe area. Michelle mentioned that in big cities, brides may have to go to up to seven stores to find what they are able to find under one roof at Swoon.
During the pandemic shutdowns, the Swoon team, like many others, adjusted their sails and innovated their appointment and dress buying process. They attended Market over Zoom in order to keep fresh styles flowing. And to help brides during these trying times, they held ‘Virtual Swoonings’, in which brides could send their gown photo inspirations, and each consultant would showcase each dress on a mannequin via Zoom.
This adjustment, though not ideal, truly showcased each consultant’s talent for finding the ‘perfect’ gown for their brides. If a bride liked a certain gown, she was able to take it home for a try-on carefully guided by a Swoon consultant. Though Swoon can now take in-person appointments, they maintain strict guest limits and COVID-19 protocols to keep everyone safe without missing out on the full Swoon ‘magic’ experience.
This year has changed the way people get married at least for the foreseeable future, so Swoon has options for the bride on a shorter timeline. Typically, gowns are purchased to order, with a sample dress in store for try-on, and then purchased directly from the designer as close to the bride’s size as possible. This process takes anywhere from 3-6 months, and a 2-3 month window is recommended for further alterations. Swoon works with some designers that can make a dress on a ‘rush order’, and for the bride who needs a dress quickly or would like to save on her gown, Swoon offers many in-store samples available at a discounted price.
Michelle and her ‘Swoonies’ truly believe that there will always be room in this world to celebrate true love, and so, they will continue to do just that. The dresses, the Swoon magic, and the brides that grace their beautiful pink walls, all give way to the extra special experience of being ‘Over the Moon at Swoon’.
Photo and Video Credits:
Celebrating Safely – Love Conquers COVID
An Intimate Yet Socially Distanced Wedding
On September 5, 2020, during some of the most uncertain times, Marisa and Dacklin promised each other forever, surrounded by their socially distanced loved ones in one of the most unique places on Earth, The HideOut in Kirkwood, California. Their warmhearted (and COVID-free!) wedding celebration was delightfully captured by Sarah Rittenour Photography.
How Their Relationship Began
Marisa is a reptile biologist who travels the world studying snakes. Dacklin is a visual effects artist who works on Hollywood productions. Being that movies are a big part of their lives, it’s only fitting that Marisa and Dacklin’s love story unfolded much like some of our favorite ‘Rom-Coms’.
In 2015, Dacklin had just moved up to San Francisco from Los Angeles. Missing his family and friends, he celebrated his 30th birthday by taking a trip to Southern California for a visit. In the perfect “meet cute” manner, he crossed paths with Marisa at the airport, where she teased him for leaving his Ray Bans sitting out as he went to throw his trash away.
At first Marisa didn’t think she and Dacklin were the perfect fit, so she actually set him up with a friend of hers, but that didn’t work out. After a close relationship as friends, they grew even closer, adventuring all over the world, and eventually moving in together in San Francisco. They each adopted their own cat, and Marisa warned that once the cats became friends, they couldn’t be separated. Luckily for the cats, and Marisa and Dacklin, it was never an issue. Dacklin eventually popped the question after a snorkeling trip in Maui, and all that was left was to make it forever.
How the Wedding Came Together
Though Dacklin had proposed in November 2019, he was on set of a major production until March 2020, right when the world shut down due to COVID-19. Marisa got a little “quarantine crazy”, as she calls it, and decided to plan their nuptials in the middle of a global pandemic. Being a biologist, Marisa took the threat of COVID-19 very seriously, following the situation closely through the media and in the science world. An indoor venue was out of the question, but she knew that if they had the right outdoor venue, and could get everyone to participate in proper social distancing, they could very well pull off the wedding of their dreams!
Marisa discovered The HideOut in 2018 during a fishing trip with her father, and she knew it was the perfect outdoor space to say “I do”. So the couple sent out a Google Form with questions to family and friends, to gauge interest as well as learn more about how comfortable their potential guests would be with certain elements of the wedding. They then made a YouTube video “pitching” their nuptial ideas, further explaining precautions they would be taking to ensure the safety of all parties involved. To their surprise, everyone was enthusiastically “in.” Marisa got right to work and planned the entire wedding in 5 weeks completely on her own!
Every aspect of Marisa and Dacklin’s wedding had to be planned around safety. If social distance and mask-wearing were maintained, the risk of aerosol and respiratory droplet transmission was low. Most of the guests were camping on site and all events were outdoors. Dancing was replaced by movie nights. Shared surfaces were minimized by creating boxes for each quarantine group to stage plates and utensils while not in use. Each guest was provided a metal tumbler labeled with their name to help prevent mistaking each other’s drinks. Maracas were provided during the ceremony to replace cheers for the happy couple. Even the guest book was in the form of a large puzzle (everyone was given a piece to sign).
The HideOut was the perfect place to accommodate everything Marisa and Dacklin needed to have a celebration in the Lake Tahoe wilderness while also keeping everyone they love safe. The venue has 4 ovens, 2 grills, 3 kitchens, 3 large refrigerators, and chest freezers for ice. The HideOut also installed new COVID measures of their own, with hand washing and sanitizing stations scattered throughout the property.
In selecting service providers, both Marisa and Dacklin wanted to support small, local, women-owned businesses in the area. Marissa D Poulin Designs provided handmade masks for guests with a custom sunflower fabric, as sunflowers and lavender were chosen to be the floral theme.
Inspirations by Gina brought Marisa’s vision for the perfect bouquet to life with a gorgeous arrangement that included multiple types and sizes of her trademark sunflower with stasis to add purple accents. Gina wanted the florals to flow beautifully with the landscape of The HideOut, so she added in unique textures like globe thistle to give the arrangements a rustic but delicate feel. Marisa also purchased more local flowers and vegetables from Mama Earth Farm. Marisa’s mother then assembled additional arrangements with locally grown flowers in rustic milk jugs to line the aisle.
Marisa originally had trouble figuring out what to do for food options that were safe for their guests, and many vendors were either busy that weekend or unable to get to the HideOut. For dinner Friday night, Marisa and Dacklin went into Pioneer and purchased pizzas from Ray’s Take and Bake, and each table was able to enjoy their own pie. Marisa purchased chicken from Swingle Meat Co. in Jackson, CA, which Dacklin’s brother in law barbecued for the wedding dinner, accompanied by local vegetables from Mama Earth Farm. As a no-contact breakfast option, Marisa made eight different types of individually packaged oatmeal that guests could simply add water and eat.
BevMo in South Lake Tahoe was able to deliver all of the beverages to The HideOut. For desserts, Sugarcoated Cupcakes prepared five different flavors of individually packaged cupcakes, handmade with love. Dacklin was especially partial to the Chicken & Waffle flavor.
Marisa ensured that guests were kept safe by creating to-scale maps for seating with proper space between parties, chairs, and tables. Each quarantine group was at its own table, and they rented two-top cocktail tables for the smaller parties to maintain an intimate vibe. Marisa and Dacklin sent out a written letter to each of their guests in attendance requesting everyone to acknowledge each other’s space and comfort level to protect both physical and mental health. They were delighted that all of their in-person guests were extremely accommodating and respectful.
An online option for the ceremony was essential, as Dacklin’s parents were unable to attend in person. Over 60 of their guests were able to tune in virtually through Wedfuly. Even their Officiant, Dacklin’s uncle, was remotely in attendance to marry them. Dacklin worked diligently to make sure the ceremony would translate well on the virtual platform using The HideOut’s satellite internet. Fortunately everything went smoothly!
Though these times are uncertain, love has the power to prevail above all else. Marisa and Dacklin’s wedding was not only an incredibly thoughtful representation of their love for each other, but the high level of respect that they have for those they love the very most. With each detail carefully thought out and executed, this perfect wedding celebration was an amazing experience amidst a global pandemic. Everyone remained safe and happy and left the weekend full to the brim with love and cherished memories. Congratulations to Marisa and Dacklin!
Venue: The HideOut | Photographer: Sarah Rittenour Photography | Videographer: Vow + Covenant | Zoom Coordinator: Wedfuly | Flowers (wedding party, arch, centerpieces): Inspirations by Gina | Decor for Ceremony Aisle: Mama Earth Farm with arrangement by Cynthia Shambaugh | Lavender: Bluestone Meadow Farm | Masks: Marissa D Poulin Designs | Cake: Sugarcoated Cupcakes | Beverages: BevMo (South Lake Tahoe) | Bride’s Dress: Emerald City Gowns | Tailoring: Lammay | | Hair and Makeup: Rah Hair Studio | Rentals: Premier Event Rentals | Rehearsal Dinner Food: Ray’s Take n’ Bake Pizza | Wedding Dinner Food: Swingle Meat Co., Mama Earth Farm
A Lofty Location for a Wonderful Wedding
Walk down the aisle in one of the most breathtaking venues in the Lake Tahoe region. Nestled among towering mountains, Northstar California boasts all the splendor that this area has to offer. While Northstar is most renowned as a premier ski resort, it is also the perfect location for your Lake Tahoe wedding, and an excellent place to enjoy nature with the ones you love most.
Photo Credit: Theilen Photography
All weddings at Northstar are held at the awesome Zephyr Lodge, which sits atop the mountain at 8000 feet elevation. The Lodge is accessible only by gondola and chairlift, affording guests the unique experience to see the Sierra Nevadas from the air. Zephyr Lodge operates as a fully functional restaurant during the winter ski season, but lends its charming ambience and panoramic views to weddings from June to September during the gorgeous alpine summers.
1. The Goodness Photography
2. Katherine Nicole Photography
3. Ciprian Photography
4. The Goodness Photography
5. Lily Rose Photography
Zephyr Lodge is a rustic modern masterpiece on the mountain. A LEED certified building made with reclaimed materials, the Lodge complements the majesty of the surrounding alpine landscape beautifully. The restaurant is no stranger to a big crowd and can host up to 300 guests at a time, with cocktail hour held outside on the patio and the reception indoors. Due to its vast open floor plan, couples have the opportunity to customize their own layout within the space.
1. Katherine Nicole Photography
2. The Goodness Photography
3. Theilen Photography
4. The Goodness Photography
One of the wonderful advantages of hosting a wedding at Northstar is their all-inclusive wedding weekend package. This offering includes such details as linens, flatware, tables, staff, chairs, and much more within the price of the package. Northstar seeks to make the wedding planning process simple by including an Event Manager with each package who specializes in helping couples plan their wedding menus, overseeing set up, and managing on-site staff. Furthermore, couples have the opportunity to add on an Event Package, which includes details such as the dance floor, table numbers, outdoor lighting, and the ceremony arch.
1. Nichols Photographers
2. The Goodness Photography
3. Lily Rose Photography
In addition to mountaintop nuptials, Northstar offers a multitude of entertaining activities both on-site and in the area during the summer months. Fun-filled favorites include golf, mountain biking, youth activities, swimming, retail shopping, and dining. The property is also very close to North Lake Tahoe for those looking to enjoy aquatic activities. Guests can take advantage of free on-site transportation within the grounds, and can opt to charter buses to off-site events throughout the weekend. Northstar also has a variety of restaurants where couples can choose to host a rehearsal dinner or farewell brunch.
Northstar strives to provide an incredible wedding experience from start to finish. With endless options, helpful staff, and the backdrop of the Sierras, it’s impossible not to fall deeply in love with everything this magical place has to offer. If you’re looking for the perfect place to say “I do” in Lake Tahoe, look no further than Northstar California.