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.

Swoon Bridal wedding dress salon in Reno near Lake Tahoe

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.

Michelle Depoali Owner of Swoon Bridal wedding gown salon in Reno Tahoe area

“What makes Swoon special is our bride. Our Swoonies come from all walks of life, with different styles, diverse backgrounds, unique body types, and a beautiful story to tell. It’s our great honor to be a small part of telling their wedding story exactly as they always imagined it.”       – Michelle Depoali, Owner of Swoon

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.

Swoon Bridal salon in Reno features vast collection of wedding dresses

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.

closeup of Swoon bridal gown on mannequin

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.

experience trying on a wedding dress at SwoonThis 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:

Store Images – Gagewood   |   Dress Images – Cindy Rahe   |   Boomerang – Tony Castaneda Films

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!

The Celebration

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!

Vendor Credits

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.

wedding ceremony in mountains at Northstar near Lake Tahoe
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.

wedding couple boarding chairlift at Northstar Californiawedding couple riding chairlift at Northstar CaliforniaZephyr Lodge wedding venue at Northstar near Lake Tahoewedding couple on mountaintop at Northstar California near Lake Tahoewedding couple walking at sunset in mountains at Northstar California
Photo Credits:
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.

cocktail reception on outdoor patio at Zephyr Lodge wedding Northstar CaliforniaNorthstar California staff serving hors d'oeuvres at wedding reception near Lake Tahoelarge wedding reception at Zephyr Lodge Northstar near Lake Tahoewedding couple outside Zephyr Lodge Northstar near Lake Tahoe
Photo Credits:
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.

wedding ceremony area on mountaintop at Northstar Californiawedding reception table at Zephyr Lodge Northstar near Lake Tahoeplace setting at wedding reception Zephyr Lodge Northstar California
Photo Credits:
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.

wedding couple at sunset on mountaintop at Northstar near Lake Tahoe

Photo Credit: Nichols Photographers

The Impact of COVID-19 on Lake Tahoe Weddings

Typically, this time of the year means back-to-back weddings for professionals in the Lake Tahoe wedding and events industry. However, 2020 is certainly not a typical year. With the impact of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, weddings have come to a screeching halt in the capacity that we are used to, save for elopements and some smaller ceremonies.

The wedding industry is a complex structure of unique businesses, each providing a piece in the intricate puzzle that is the perfect event, a truly tailored and curated experience for each couple. Many service providers in the Lake Tahoe area have had to reinvent their business structure in order to stay afloat. Some are bracing themselves for the impact of what a slow season could mean to their future, but all are remaining as positive as possible. 

In an effort to capture their voices, we interviewed members of the Tahoe Wedding Industry Group (TWIG) to learn more about their individual experiences. Here are their responses and comments, in their own words.


Have you been able to do any weddings this season yet?


  • 83% answered Yes.
  • 17% answered No.



How has your 2020 wedding season been affected by COVID-19?


Michelle Morton, Operations and Sales Manager for Valhalla Tahoe

  • Valhalla Tahoe is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the historic Heller Estate while hosting cultural events like weddings, concerts and plays. Like many wedding vendors and concert venues, we’ve lost or moved more than 96% of 2020 revenue. This has been difficult for all our couples whose dream weddings had to be postponed or modified, and because we’re unable to make the upgrades and improvements to the property that were slated for this year.
wedding ceremony at Valhalla Lake Tahoe impacted by COVID-19
Photo: Michelle Morton, Valhalla Tahoe


Christa Deane, Officiant, Mountain High Weddings

  • Busiest summer I have had.


Michelle Depoali, Owner of Swoon… A Bridal Salon

  • Our brides have found many paths forward to a joyful union. We had many brides elope and are planning a large party next year, postpone to 2021, or embrace intimate gatherings of 50 of their favorite people.  It’s inspiring to see!


Cathy Becker, Manager of the North Tahoe Event Center

  • We have cancelled all of our wedding receptions in 2020.



If you were able to do any weddings, how were they different in the “new normal”?


Christy McDougal, Sales & Venue Manager at Tannenbaum Event Center

  • They are tiny, with masks and spaced tables.


Danell Wilson-Perlman, Managing Member of Reno Tahoe Limousine

  • They were much smaller and mostly held in outdoor areas, while being shorter ceremonies and receptions.


Charleton Churchill of Charleton Churchill Photography

  • More adventure elopements, less party weddings. Intimate and family gatherings, less money spent, etc.
wedding elopement under the stars - Charleton Churchill PhotographyPhoto: Charleton Churchill



What are you offering to your couples who are having to postpone or cancel their wedding dates?


Nancy Rice, Owner of Nancy Rice Artistry

  • We allow them to postpone within a full year without any penalties. Deposits are rolled over.
Nancy Rice Artistry - applying makeup for Lake Tahoe wedding


Cathy at North Tahoe Event Center

  • We postpone with no penalty, if they cancel we refund 50% of what they have paid, if we cancel we refund 95%.


Blanca & Brandon, Owners of Blanca & Brandon Photography

  • We are moving their retainer fee to 2021.

Lake Tahoe wedding couple kissing by the beach

Photo: Blanca & Brandon Photography



What are some changes you’ve made to your business as a result of COVID-19?


Michelle of Swoon Bridal

  • We have made so many changes–we are limiting guest count in our store and so our brides have to pick two of the most important people to them to attend and it has been a lot of fun for the brides and for us. It feels intimate and special and like we are planning something so wonderful to show the world at a later date.


Cathy at North Tahoe Event Center

  • We are prepared when we are allowed to re-open with our COVID plan in place.



How have you been spending your time in quarantine?


Erik Riekenberg, Owner of Epik Weddings & Events

  • Pivoting our packages to fit the times, helping couples move to new dates, working on our business, website, blogs, social media and finding ways to help others affected.
Epik Weddings - Lake Tahoe engagement photo - impact of COVID-19
Photo:  Epik Weddings & Events


Harpist Anne Roos

  • Teaching online harp lessons and performing livestream mini-concerts.


Danell of Reno Tahoe Limousine

  • Transportation remained a necessary business so we didn’t quarantine. However we did take the precautions needed to be safe during COVID-19.


Christy at Tannenbaum Event Center

  • Answering emails and giving private tours for 2021.



What is the best advice you’d give to 2020 couples who are facing uncertainty this year?


Michelle from Valhalla Tahoe

  • If you have to get married in 2020, be flexible and creative. Understand that things aren’t going to be exactly like you dreamed they were going to be. Things will look a little different, but it doesn’t change your love for one another. A wedding is two families coming together to celebrate becoming one. Show the love and respect you have for your friends and new family members by wearing masks when not eating, drinking or taking photos.


Erik of Epik Weddings & Events

  • Your love story is not cancelled. Let’s find a way to have the wedding of your dreams, even if it is smaller this year and a sequel reception next year.
Epik Weddings photography - engaged couple in lake - impacts of COVID-19
Photo:  Epik Weddings & Events


Danell of Reno Tahoe Limo

  • This pandemic isn’t going to last forever, being with your loved ones is going to help you through these tough times. Stick through, you’ll see it all pay off.


Charleton of Charleton Churchill Photography

  • Get married now, elope with a small group of close family and friends, then plan a massive party for guests who couldn’t attend.
couple by Lake at Edgewood Tahoe - wedding impacted by COVID-19
Photo: Charleton Churchill



As a business owner, what has been your saving grace during these trying times?


Christa of Mountain High Weddings

  • I can issue marriage licenses.


Blanca & Brandon of Blanca & Brandon Photography

  • Our amazing couples who are communicative, vendors that we can chat with, and the much appreciated “day off”.


Harpist Anne Roos

  • I am grateful for every day! Things could be sooooooo much worse. I have my health, I have food and a roof over my head. Life is good.
Anne Roos, Celtic Harp Music at small wedding ceremony Lake Tahoe
Photo:  Hall Creations Photography


Michelle from Valhalla Tahoe

  • Living in such an amazing place has been my saving grace. The ability to go out early in the morning or to catch an amazing sunset is worth its weight in gold. Talking to new 2021 couples has also been a saving grace. It’s good to hear hope and excitement in people’s voices. It has been hard to be the bearer of bad news, so being able to share joy again has been uplifting!
couple at sunset - Lake Tahoe wedding impacts from COVID-19
Photo:  Michelle Morton, Valhalla Tahoe


Nancy of Nancy Rice Artistry

  • Trusting god and knowing that as long as I have my health and my family has theirs, it will all be OK.
Nancy Rice Artistry - hair & makeup for Lake Tahoe weddings


As the response to the pandemic has put an end to large gatherings for the foreseeable future, the wedding industry, and many industries like it, has been severely affected.  Though these are uncertain times, one theme remains consistent throughout the industry – “love is not cancelled”.

Celebrating in Tahoe Blue Sky Style

When you’re in love, my how they fly by,
Blue days, all of them gone,
Nothing but blue skies from now on.
– Irving Berlin

Blue Sky Events is a full-service event production company owned by husband and wife duo, Kerry and Jason Hawk.  They consider themselves not just an events company, but experts in all things Lake Tahoe.  Blue Sky specializes in planning, managing, and producing corporate incentive groups, community events, fundraisers, festivals, concerts… and of course, destination weddings.

Photo Credits:
1. Theilen Photography
2. Scott Sikora Photography
3. Brian Walker
4. Mike Larson
5. Theilen Photography
6. Theilen Photography
7. Mike Larson
8. Corey Fox Photography

Kerry’s story began on the East Coast, as she is originally from Pennsylvania. While attending the University of Pittsburgh, she visited Lake Tahoe with some friends for a summer getaway, and met her now-husband, Jason, who is originally from Alabama. Kerry and Jason connected over a love of everything outdoors that Lake Tahoe has to offer, traveling, and now creating event magic together. They’ve been together for 25 years!

During college, Kerry began working as an intern for Zephyr Cove Resort as a summer job in between semesters and made the move to Lake Tahoe permanently after she received her Bachelor’s degree. At the time, Zephyr Cove Resort was looking to expand its events department and commissioned Kerry to design their shoreline events space, one that still stands to this day. It was through this internship that Kerry found a genuine passion for all things event planning. She then gave her notice to pursue her dream of working for herself, and so, Blue Sky Events was born.

Kerry Hawk with Blue Sky Events - Lake Tahoe Wedding PlannerThroughout Kerry’s years in the business, Blue Sky Events has evolved into an event planning powerhouse that seeks to bring people together for a once in a lifetime experience they won’t forget.  They have currently expanded their services to planning events for Google on the West Coast including locations like Phoenix, Denver, Portland, and Seattle.

Blue Sky is about the people, the memories, and the human connection. With a company culture that revolves around professionalism, fun, and attention to detail, Kerry and her team take pride in their ability to create a personalized experience for each unique client’s needs. The Blue Sky Events team is composed of incredible full time lead planners and seasonal assistants that come back year after year. They do not simply hire new employees for the sake of hiring; they have carefully curated a team of professionals that fits into their ethos and culture.

Blue Sky Events team for Lake Tahoe weddings
Photo Credit: Mabble Media

This season has been an unprecedented one for everyone in the wedding and special events industry, but Kerry maintains hope for the future. Blue Sky Events endured the hard times of the 2008 recession, and she believes that the lessons they learned at that time will get them through this pandemic as well. Their core focus this season is to support their couples in the best ways they can. Many couples have postponed until next year, and Blue Sky has accommodated this shift without any fees and penalties. They have even made adjustments to current weddings, adjusting to smaller group sizes and accommodating elopements and micro weddings. Working together with the incredible vendors in the Lake Tahoe area, Kerry appreciates how the community has come together to support each other this season.

Through the pandemic times, Kerry sees a silver lining in having to slow down. She has found how deeply she truly loves what she does because she misses it incredibly. For Kerry, it’s been a very eye-opening learning experience, as it can be so easy to take everyday life for granted and get wrapped up in the ‘grind’. Kerry has been utilizing this time to reflect, grow, and better aid her clients moving forward into what she believes will be a stellar season for everyone in 2021. After all, above every dark cloud is Blue Sky.

A Celebration for All Seasons

It’s been said before that rain on a wedding day is good luck. If that’s the case, then Tara and Aaron’s wintry wonderland celebration – which included rain, slush, and snow – must have meant infinite luck and prosperity. Their special day, along with its wide range of seasons on display, was fabulously photographed by KSL Wedding.

Tara and Aaron’s love began years ago at a friend’s 30th birthday party. They met and had a short conversation but Aaron was a little shy. He texted her a few days later asking if she’d like to go on an adventure.  According to Tara, they’ve been on one ever since.

Aaron’s initial suggestion was for Tara to go with him to a friend’s wedding, to which Tara replied, “how about dinner first?”  So their first date was dinner, the second date was the wedding, and both went so well that Aaron asked her out for a third date. He was traveling to Hawaii for work, and knowing that Tara loves to travel, he asked her if she’d like to join him on his trip. And so their adventure began.

At the time, Tara and Aaron were living outside of Seattle, and when Aaron decided to pop the question, he invited their friends and family over for a barbecue. When it was looking like Tara’s brother wouldn’t be able to make it, Aaron became visibly upset. But at the last minute, her brother arrived just in time for Aaron to drop to one knee in front of everyone they loved and say to Tara, “I never want to stop adventuring with you”.

Following their whimsical engagement, Aaron’s job prompted a move to the Reno/Tahoe area. Tara and Aaron quickly began to build a new and exciting life around all the things they enjoyed together, especially adventure. The entrancing Sierra Nevadas and Lake Tahoe stole their hearts instantly, and it only seemed fitting to choose a wedding venue that embodied all the magic of the area. The Lodge at Tahoe Donner in Truckee turned out to be the perfect place for their celebration.

It was always Aaron’s dream to have a snowy winter wedding, but Tara wasn’t a fan of the cold, so they chose a date in September. The week of their nuptials was planned in such a way that friends and family could come early and enjoy the pre-wedding festivities, including golf and a boat cruise across Lake Tahoe. The weather during the week was typical late Summer / early Fall weather with sunny days and crisp evenings – until Saturday, when the two were given the gift of snow on their big day. Aaron got his winter wedding wish after all!

Coming from the Pacific Northwest, Tara is no stranger to unpredictable weather, so she came prepared by ordering blankets and pashminas, and the couple made sure to warn their guests that inclement weather was always a possibility. Their wedding photographers, Kevin and Suzanne of KSL Wedding, also suggested ordering clear umbrellas as a “just in case” item that ended up adding a unique touch to their photos.

The day started off warm and sunny but quickly became cold, rainy, and snowy.  To escape the elements, the ceremony was moved from outside into a heated tent out of the storm provided by the venue. Tucked away and cozy in the middle of a winter wonderland, Tara and Aaron promised each other their biggest adventure yet, forever.

Unique details made their big day truly one of a kind. Tara and Aaron included a table dedicated to lost loved ones to celebrate with them in spirit. Aaron custom made all of their lawn games, which were moved into the tent to be enjoyed out of the blustery storm. Instead of flower girls, Tara had “Petal Pushers”, women in her life that she is incredibly close to, like her aunts, and mother figures.

Accents of the beauty of the alpine wilderness were captured with lush white blooms and rustic greenery beautifully assembled by Love and Lupines. Gold plated decor and woodsy elements encompassed the warm, cozy, mountain elements that Tara and Aaron aimed to share with their loved ones. Tara wore a flowy, elegant ball gown by Hayley Paige from Swoon Bridal that truly tied together all the beautiful details of the day.

After the ceremony, cocktail hour took place under the shelter of the tent surrounded by snow-capped pine trees and snow falling around them. Guests enjoyed the “lawn” games, cuddled up in their blankets, and enjoyed the ambience of this stunning wilderness retreat in the woods.

When it came to treats, Tara doesn’t eat sugar, so she chose something that was special to her – a full popcorn bar with a variety of flavor toppings and salts. Tara even had custom popcorn holders made for her bridesmaids. For those guests who preferred more traditional desserts, Lake Tahoe Cakes created a delectable Red Velvet cake along with chocolate and vanilla cupcakes. The wedding cake even included figurines of their 3 dogs who could not physically be there that day.

The party continued into the night with glow sticks and dancing. Though the weather was a September surprise, each detail of their unexpected change in plans tied the day together beautifully, with Tara and Aaron adjusting their sails to the will of Mother Nature and enjoying their wedding to the fullest. Surrounded by love and snowy pines, Tara and Aaron’s Lake Tahoe adventure was a celebration for all seasons.


Vendor Credits

Venue & Catering: The Lodge at Tahoe Donner  |  Bride’s Gown: Swoon Bridal  |  Cake & Desserts:  Lake Tahoe Cakes  |  Floral Designer: Love and Lupines  |  Photographer: KSL Wedding  |  Wedding Planner:  Marcella Camille Events