Snowy Nuptials on the West Shore
For a Lake Tahoe winter wedding, the weather is always unpredictable. It can be bright and sunny, with the Lake looking dazzlingly azure. Or on the other hand, Mother Nature might decide to drop some bridal white snowflakes on the celebration. But no matter what the weather may be on a Tahoe winter day, it’s always a memorable occasion for a wedding!
When Will and Joyce selected the West Shore Café as the site for their celebration, they were hoping for a clear wedding day. They envisioned snow-covered mountains and a brilliant blue Lake on full display for their guests to behold. But instead, Old Man Winter decided to add himself to their guest list.
So when snow began to fall on the morning of their wedding, Will and Joyce were faced with a choice. They could move the ceremony inside the West Shore Café where guests would be sheltered from the elements. Or they could let their guests experience the authentic beauty of Lake Tahoe in the winter, and keep the ceremony outside as they had planned.
Since some family members had traveled all the way from China to witness their marriage, Will and Joyce quickly reached a decision. Celebrating in the snow was the only way to go!
The couple’s wintry wedding was creatively captured by Andrew & Melanie Photography. Tahoe Engaged is delighted to share these photos of Will and Joyce’s unforgettable day.
In the end, Will and Joyce were glad that they braved the storm, and the guests reveled in experiencing a Lake Tahoe winter wedding. Of course, they were also happy to come indoors for a heartwarming dinner and festive dancing afterwards. But the bride’s dad asked the photographers to come back outside for one more memorable moment. Even with all the snow piled up on his car, he was grinning ear to ear, giving a big “thumbs up” for the magical day that he had enjoyed.
Ceremony and Reception Site: West Shore Café | Photography: Andrew & Melanie Photography | Wedding Planner: Wild & Lovely Events | Hair & Makeup: Salon Be | Music: Modern Wedding DJ’s | Catering: West Shore Café | Desserts: Cafe Madeline
Rustic and Relaxed at Granlibakken Tahoe
A nature-loving couple living in the big City, Whitney and Richard really wanted an outdoor venue for their wedding. Whitney liked boho elements, so the couple was seeking something on the rustic side. After seeing some sites in San Francisco, they realized that Lake Tahoe was a much better fit for their style. Plus, Tahoe already had a special place in their hearts – Whitney and Richard got engaged there too!
Meeting and Engaging
Whitney and Richard met when they were students at the University of Oregon. They dated there for a while, then went their separate ways, but remained friends. Eight years later, they reconnected. The couple dated long distance until Whitney was able to join Richard in San Francisco.
They got engaged at the top of Squaw Valley’s KT-22 chairlift during a late-season ski trip. On a previous visit, Richard had scoped out a gorgeous tree with a backdrop of Lake Tahoe. But to reach the spot he had selected, they had to go past an “Experts Only” sign, which scared Whitney.
Fortunately for Richard, he was able to convince Whitney to go up to his chosen proposal place, and she excitedly said “Yes!” when he popped the question. And fortunately for Whitney, they skied down an easier way afterwards. [Publisher’s Note: There is no such thing as an “easy” way down from KT-22, so they both must be great skiers!]
Wedding Planning Particulars
Regarding their search for the right site, Whitney explains how she and Richard reached their decision. “Granlibakken had the onsite accommodations we were hoping for, a low-key vibe and the property possesses a lot of natural beauty,” she notes. Richard had even stayed at the property as a kid when his family frequently visited Tahoe.
While Whitney likes being creative, she didn’t want to DIY anything for her wedding. “It was really important to me to just be able to enjoy the day and not have to be fussing about other things,” she says.
The groom personalized the day in one special area: his hobby, calligraphy. Richard wrote names on the escort cards for each guest. “Just kind of a nice touch that I wanted to add,” he says.
The Big Day
Even though their wedding was in early June, the couple was concerned about the weather. “There had been a ton of snow in Tahoe this year,” says Whitney, who visited the venue a month before the wedding and found patches of show all around. Nevertheless, Whitney and Richard decided to have the wedding outside. There was a little rain in the morning, but then it cleared. “It really was perfect,” she says. “Sunny and warm.”
One hundred guests attended the wedding, including the bride’s family from her home state of Alaska, as well as guests from Ireland, Texas and other parts of California. Richard’s long-time friend, Mac, officiated the ceremony.
Before their I Do’s, Whitney and Richard had a First Look, then spent some additional time together. Whitney recalls, “We took some time to go to a pier to take some photos with our photographers. And despite the fact that it threw off our timeline a tiny bit, it was totally worth it to have that quiet alone time before the ceremony.”
Many wedding details stood out for the couple. For example, their florist, Love and Lupines, created a stunning arch, bouquets and centerpieces. Rental items from Celebrations! Party Rentals, along with a “Tahoe Tree” napkin fold fashioned by Granlibakken, added to the ambience. And cupcakes from Sugar Pine Cakery were so yummy (guests kept devouring them!) that the newlyweds almost didn’t get any.
After an outdoor ceremony and dinner, it started to rain, so the party moved inside the Big Pine Lodge, where the wedding party stayed for the weekend. The indoor setting provided the perfect opportunity for toasting the newlyweds.
Back outside, two-thirds of the dance floor was covered by the lodge’s roof to keep people dry, but water lovers also had the option to dance under the drops. “There was never a dull moment on the dance floor and we never had to lure people out to the party,” says Whitney. Guests especially enjoyed dancing to Led Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain.”
As the night wound down, Whitney and Richard relaxed by the fire pit for some late night portraits with their photographer, Marie-Louise Palmqvist, owner of VILD Photography. Palmqvist recalls the wedding fondly. “Perfectly laid back, the entire day couldn’t have gone more smoothly, which meant we simply got to enjoy taking photos,” she says.
Looking back on the day, Whitney and Richard were grateful for all of their service providers who helped make it a memorable experience for everyone. “Honestly, the day from start to finish was completely magical,” says Whitney.
Hire a planner. The couple, who lived in San Francisco while they planned their Tahoe Wedding, recommends hiring a local planner to assist with wedding details. “Our planner, Stephanie Morris of Stephanie Marie & Co. was hugely instrumental in the way everything unfolded, including the months leading up to the wedding,” says Whitney, who praised the planner’s help finding and hiring vendors. “We couldn’t have pulled it off so successfully without her.”
Relax and roll with it. Palmqvist loved the couple’s dance party at the end of the celebration. She also praised Whitney and Richard for how they handled the changing weather. “It’s not worth freaking out if the weather changes,” she says. “Keeping a good attitude and enjoying the day for what the day is, that’s the best thing you can do.”
Trust your service providers to make it great. As she began to plan her wedding, Whitney recalls, “I definitely spent a lot of time on Pinterest and Instagram, and while helpful, I think it may have been more overwhelming than anything. There is so much beautiful inspiration out there, but it sort of left me feeling lost.” But then the couple placed their trust in the team of experienced service providers they hired (including 3 members of Tahoe Engaged). In the end, Whitney concluded, “I know we’re biased, but for us, everything was just perfect.”
Photographer: VILD Photography | Venue and Catering: Granlibakken Tahoe | Bride’s Dress: Eddy K | Bridal Salon: Bataeu Bridal Boutique | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: BHLDN | Groom & Groomsmen’s Attire: Indochino | Wedding Planner: Stephanie Marie & Co. | Hair and Makeup: Solstice Weddings and Special Events | Florist: Love & Lupines Floral Design | Rental Items: Celebrations! Party Rentals | Cake Designer: Sugar Pine Cakery | Music: DJ Tony
Intimate Vintage Nautical Nuptials
Inspired by the grand nautical traditions of Lake Tahoe, this intimate styled celebration takes place and on a stunning Chris Craft wooden boat, the Wild Goose II, on Tahoe’s crystal-clear waters. A summery, lace-topped gown with a flowing, champagne underlined train and tied with a blue satin bow perfectly complements the soft curls and vintage inspired makeup worn by the bride. Sapphires, diamonds and aquamarine jewels for the perfect alternative bride dangle from her ears and flash from her ring finger. A lush bouquet with pastel colored roses and blue thistle, overflows with eucalyptus, while a eucalyptus garland garnishes the back of the Wild Goose II, and eventually adorns the base of the sweetheart table at the end of a private estate pier. Custom plates from a local potter grace the table along with antique flatware, crystal chandelier candelabras, crystal glasses and a stunning floral centerpiece. A delicate white cake with a simple blue and gold leaf accent topped with blue thistle sweetened the end of the day.
Photographer – Someplace Images | Location – Wild Goose II | Dress Designer – J&L Designs Boutique | Floral Designer – Love and Lupines | Handmade Goods Designer – Blue Wolf Studios | Jewelry – Kimberly Collins Colored Gems | Hair Stylist – Gabriella Kramer | Makeup Artist – Angelina Inez | Cake Designer – Confection
Southern Barbecue Meets the North Shore
Moe’s Original Bar B Que, known for its Southern victuals, is an amazing spot in Tahoe City for a rehearsal dinner, engagement party or other wedding event.
Ginger Karl, Catering Manager at Moe’s, handles all of their special events and group gatherings. Although she has a busy schedule, Ginger recently chatted with Tahoe Engaged about her life and her work.
Moe’s Grows in Tahoe City
First, some background about how Moe’s made its way to Tahoe City. Owners Joshua Wallick and Eric Pilcher studied under the founders of Moe’s BBQ for five years to perfect their “pit master” Southern Barbecue skills. Then in 2013, they moved Westward to North Lake Tahoe.
The next year, Moe’s opened its first lakefront location, at 120 Grove Street. Then in 2018, they moved next door into the Tahoe City Marina building. This facility, at 700 North Lake Boulevard, has four times the seating capacity of their previous space, as well as additional catering capacity for larger groups. Patrons of Moe’s can arrive by car, boat or bicycle.
“Moe’s is a great option for casual lakefront catering in the dining room,” says Karl, noting that the dining room seats 70 people, the front porch accommodates 60, and the outdoor patio can host 80 guests.
Photo: Julie Stanley
Photo: Jacqueline Robbins
Moe’s also caters off-site events with a BBQ trailer that can be incorporated for smoking ribs and chicken at outdoor locations.
Recently Moe’s released their first brewed beer, the “Moe’s-aic IPA.” The restaurant also has a full bar. Their next project is a brewery bar which will open in a new space within the 700 North Lake Boulevard location.
“We focus on a fun, casual experience for the group,” Karl says, explaining that groups can choose from paper plates and plastic-ware or upgrade to porcelain plates, cloth napkins and silverware.
Ginger Karl enjoys live music, camping, biking and anything in the great outdoors. She loves spending lots of time with her new black lab puppy, Roxxy.
Ginger Karl with Joshua Wallick, Moe’s Bar B Que
A native of Columbus, Mississippi, Karl graduated from Mississippi State University and moved to Vail, Colorado, where she handled catering at a high-end bowling alley. Later she moved to North Lake Tahoe, where she became Membership Director for the North Lake Tahoe Chamber. In 2018, she became Moe’s Catering Manager.
Karl comes from a long background of restaurant and catering/event experience. She says Moe’s serves the style of BBQ she grew up on in the South. She says it’s the perfect venue and food for laid back couples who want to have a good time with their friends and family. Think red and white checkered table cloths, casual fun and great food!
Here’s how it works: for a standard catering menu, couples would typically pick one meat: Chicken, Pork or Turkey; and then choose two sides, such as Mac & Cheese, Marinated Slaw, Baked Beans or Potato Salad. Top off the meal with desserts like Banana Pudding, Mud Pie and Chocolate Icebox Pie.
“We’re experts in portioning meat for parties,” says Karl. “You’re never going to run out of food with Moe’s.” Aside from meats, Moe’s also offers items for guests with dietary restrictions, including a gluten free, dairy free, or egg free menu. Many of the sides at the restaurant are vegetarian – they even offer a smoked tofu called “SMOFU”.
Karl’s advice to couples planning their rehearsal dinner? “The wedding day is such a whirlwind, it’s nice to incorporate something that’s going to be memorable,” she says, noting that some couples have added lighting or special decorations to their rehearsal dinner.
Photo: Julie Stanley
The mood at Moe’s? “Laid back, fun, not stressful, with great music playing,” says Karl. And best of all, “You’re right on the Lake.”
Contact Moe’s Original Bar B Que:
Ginger Karl, Catering Manager
Email: [email protected]
Showered with Love
On a Spring Saturday in Squaw Valley, the skies were overcast and showers were in the forecast. For Lauren and Mikael, this gray day was a great day for their wedding.
Photographer Tim Halberg captured all the precious moments and delicious details of this beautiful celebration.
The couple, who met online on Match.com, dated for two years before getting engaged in a very romantic moment. They spent the day at the beach in Half Moon Bay with their puppy. On the way home, they stopped for dinner and drinks at the Moss Beach Distillery. Before dinner, they enjoyed the fire pits and snuggled in blankets on the dog-friendly patio, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Then right before sunset, Mikael, a firefighter, suggested taking a photo out on the picturesque cliff. He popped the question on a path overlooking the beach. “The whole outside of the restaurant exploded in cheers and applause,” says Lauren, who works in medical device sales. “It was amazing.”
The couple wanted a destination style wedding that their guests could drive to, spend the weekend and all enjoy time together. Lauren and Mikael fell in love with the Resort at Squaw Creek during their venue tour.
“It is a magical place where beautiful meadows are surrounded by snowcapped mountains,” gushes Lauren. “The outside was perfect and we loved that our guests could stay at the hotel, walk to the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception. And the bonus was Sandy’s Pub, where we could host an after-party. Truly a romantic location.”
The Color Palette
A gray, white and green color scheme provided a perfect match for the couple’s Tahoe nuptials. “We wanted to use natural colors that would enhance the beauty of Tahoe and not take away from it,” says Lauren. These color choices blended harmoniously with the cloud cover, the majestic mountains and the verdant valley that surrounded the couple.
The ceremony was held on the resort’s spa deck. “The ceremony was simple and romantic, with the outdoor fireplace overlooking the meadow and snowcapped mountains,” says the bride.
Lauren looked stunning in a lacy gown with a low beaded back from Enzoani, along with impeccable hair & makeup from Love is in the Hair. Mikael wore a charcoal grey suit, with a grey and silver paisley tie, white pocket square, watch and cuff links, a gift from his bride.
Seeing each other for the first time at the wedding was emotional for the bride and groom. “He looked so handsome and he was so happy. I knew he was the man I was meant to marry and I just couldn’t wait to hold his hands and be there with him, as we said ‘I do,’” recalls Lauren. Mikael remarks, “There was the most amazing and beautiful woman in the world and she was coming down the stairs to marry me. I was fighting tears her whole way down the aisle.”
The couple wrote their own vows. As soon as Mikael slid the wedding band on Lauren’s finger, it started to rain. Lauren says that moment felt magical. (In some cultures, rain on your wedding day is considered auspicious, as it symbolizes cleansing and fertility.)
Guests opened their umbrellas and savored the moment. The bride says it made for some laughs and amazing pictures. “There is a picture of us walking down the aisle after we were married and my brother hands me an umbrella,” says Mikael. “I’m holding Lauren’s hand and so the umbrella is actually over me and not her. I caught a lot of flak for not covering her with it, but it makes for a great picture.”
The reception was also held at the resort in the ballroom. “The reception was gorgeous with champagne drapes, elegant lighting and beautiful flowers,” says Lauren. The ballroom had two big windows and a patio which the couple and their guests used for a cigar and whiskey bar, which Lauren says, “was a big hit.”
The menu included hors d’oeuvres, salad and an entrée choice of grilled NY sirloin, stuffed chicken with chevre fondue or cauliflower steak with smoked tomato, grilled Portobello, roasted shallots and pine nuts. For dessert, everyone enjoyed vanilla sponge cake, strawberry filling, vanilla buttercream frosting and chocolate covered strawberries, as well as treats like mini cake bites, mini strawberry shortcake and chocolate, caramel pistachio bites.
The Photographer’s View
Photographer Tim Halberg loved shooting Lauren and Mikael’s wedding. Here he shares a few teachable moments from this wedding:
“Getting ready on property makes things way more relaxing and saves time on the wedding day,” he says. “Making time for portraits when the light is best was a win. Having a coordinator to run the day and ensure all of the details were in place.”
He also appreciated how much the couple embraced Mother Nature. He says Lauren and Mikael were OK with the rain coming down a little bit and not letting it ruin the day. It only added to the experience and made things special. “It’s Tahoe/the Sierra Nevada…rain happens, and it’s a beautiful thing.”
Comments from the Couple
“Give yourself enough time and hire a wedding planner,” advises Lauren.
“Support your wife and don’t forget to have fun,” says Mikael.
“It truly was the best day getting to marry Mikael and having so many of our loved ones celebrate with us,” says Lauren. “No other time in our lives will all our loved ones be at the same place with us. It was definitely a weekend we’ll never forget.”
Photographer: Tim Halberg | Venue and Catering: The Resort at Squaw Creek | Wedding Planner: Audere Events | Hair and Makeup: Love Is In The Hair | Florist: Stems by Diana | Rental Items: Celebrations! Party Rentals | Music: DJ Eli FreshMode
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.
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.
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.