Strong Bindings at Squaw Valley
Michelle and Will’s love story began in the towering peaks of Squaw Valley, California, a place firmly entrenched in both of their lives. Michelle’s family has deep roots in Squaw Valley, growing up in the area and skiing these runs their whole lives. Her parents were also married in this very same place in 1986. To Michelle, it only seemed fitting to follow in their footsteps. There was never any question for Michelle and Will, Squaw Valley was the only place to say “I do”.
Michelle and Will met while coaching the Alpine Ski Team at Squaw, and according to Michelle, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. But after coaching summer camp together one year, they quickly grew inseparable. Sharing a love for all things outdoors, they spent every day of that magical summer together adventuring through all the beauty that Lake Tahoe has to offer.
During a relaxing vacation in Colorado, the two ventured up to watch the sunset behind Mt. Sopris. After making Michelle reluctantly exit the car in the cold, Will dropped to his knee and asked Michelle to be his wife as the sun quietly set behind the mountains.
On a flawlessly sunny September afternoon with panoramic views of the Sierra Nevadas, Michelle and Will promised each other forever in their favorite place in the world.
Michelle’s dress, by Spanish designer Pronovias from Swoon Bridal in Reno, encompassed a modern boho style with a classic elegance and lace buttons all the way down the train. Michelle wore her mother’s wedding earrings and kept a sixpence in her shoe given to her by her godmother, who was unable to attend. Having these beautiful keepsakes to walk with her down the aisle made the day so much more meaningful.
Before the ceremony, Michelle and Will shared their first look, which quickly took an interesting turn. While it was a beautiful moment to see one another “dressed up” for each other and not in ski clothes for once, Michelle was stung by a bee on the way to meet Will. Never having been stung in her life, she joked that it was either good luck or a bad omen! And judging by the beauty of their special love, we’re willing to bet it’s the former.
Every last detail of their day was personal, intimate, and filled with joy. Many of Michelle and Will’s friends and family lent a helping hand to bring all the wonderful aspects of their wedding to life. Michelle’s friends helped her build all the florals the morning of the wedding, and she even constructed her own beautiful bouquet of white roses and greenery all by herself! Another friend handmade their boho-inspired signage, surprising Michelle by naming each table after ski runs at Squaw Valley.
The creativity and thought behind every last detail enveloped their day in love. The lovebirds celebrated their mutual love of tacos with a catered Taco Bar by PlumpJack Squaw Valley. Their cake featured an original Nao by Lladro vintage cake topper that sat atop Michelle’s parents’ cake 33 years before.
During their vows, Will mentioned that he hopes Michelle will wait for him at the bottom of the mountain on a powder day. Though Michelle has yet to beat him down the mountain, she is definitely up to that challenge! Under the magical spell of their favorite mountain, Will and Michelle’s day was an incredibly thoughtful and heartfelt tribute to their undying love for one another.
Ceremony & Reception Site and Catering: PlumpJack Squaw Valley | Photography: Annie X Photographie | Bride’s Gown: Pronovias from Swoon Bridal | Wedding Planner: Justeen Ferguson | Hair & Makeup: Jamie Latchaw, bride’s sister-in-law | Officiant: Jeff Colt, groom’s brother | Music: Mr. D DJ Services | Cake: Nancy Delumyea, bride’s mother
Love Wins Out at The Hideout
Tawny and Andrew first met during their senior year of high school near Houston, Texas. Andrew caught Tawny’s eye, and she convinced a mutual friend to set them up as dates for the prom. Following high school, they were separated for eight years by college and career building. Nevertheless, a long-distance love sprouted and continued to grow.
After orchestrating a surprise proposal in their hometown, Andrew finally joined Tawny in Southern California, where she had established a thriving career as a professional dancer. In seeking a secluded site for their wedding celebration, the couple chose The Hideout at Kirkwood. Not only is The Hideout located on forty acres of pristine mountain terrain, but it allows couples to create weddings that are personal and unique, choosing which parts of the venue they want to use and when.
Complete with fun wooden signs hung on trees to set the mood, and a gorgeously delicate lace dress for the bride, Tawny and Andrew’s special day was delightfully chronicled by Marie-Louise Palmqvist and Rob Cole of VILD Photography. “By choosing neutral and natural colors,” Palmqvist commented, “the couple allowed the natural beauty to really shine through all of the pictures we captured.”
What was the photographer’s most memorable moment? Palmqvist recalls, “While it’s hard to choose a ‘favorite shot,’ getting to capture the couple beneath their ‘send off’ parachute really was something we’ll never forget.”
Venue: The Hideout at Kirkwood | Photographer: VILD Photography | Bride’s Dress: Ventura’s Bridal Fashions | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids Dresses: Vera Wang for David’s Bridal | Groom’s Party Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Hair and Makeup: Bridal Beauty On-the-Go | Flowers: Enchanted Florist | Rentals: Forever Vintage Rentals | Invitations: Vista Print | Caterer: Lake Tahoe Catering Company | Cake: Lake Tahoe Cakes | Music: Music in Tahoe
Dramatic and Bold at Thunderbird Lake Tahoe
The iconic Thunderbird Lodge is a stunning historical landmark that hugs the rugged eastern shoreline of Lake Tahoe. It harkens back to a gilded era from a century ago, and dazzles visitors with its unparalleled views and distinguished design. In other words, Thunderbird Lake Tahoe is a fabulously spectacular site for a wedding.
Inspired by the Thunderbird’s Sierra stone architecture and the Lake’s beautiful brilliance, a creative team of wedding professionals recently collaborated on a styled shoot to showcase the magnificence of the property. Led by photographer Carly Jurach of Somplace Images and designer Bethany Frediani, this team of nuptial experts developed a bold color palette and dramatic art nouveau styling that captured the essence of the Roaring Twenties while heralding some new trends for the 2020’s.
As the photos below clearly show, the results of this labor of love were way beyond lovely.
Benefits of a Styled Shoot
Engaged couples may not initially appreciate the value of a styled shoot, because the “wedding” is not real. But as photographer Carly Jurach of Someplace Images explains, many couples want something at their wedding that they haven’t seen before at other weddings. “For me, creating a styled shoot is essentially inspiration that I can give to my clients,” she says. And for couples who become inspired by the images they see in a styled shoot, Jurach notes that these images “provide an important photo reference for what they are trying to communicate to their vendors.”
A styled shoot also showcases what wedding service providers can do for couples when they are given the creative freedom to come up with something new and different. Jurach believes that when couples see that creativity, it builds their trust in these vendors. “Styled shoots specifically show you what vendors are capable of,” she remarks.
Your Fabulous Thunderbird Wedding
Known as “Lake Tahoe’s Castle-in-the-Sky,” the Thunderbird Lodge offers a most enchanting and memorable location for your Tahoe wedding. The historic stone house and grounds overlook the spectacular shoreline, while the azure Lake and surrounding snow-capped mountains provide a panoramic backdrop for your nuptials.
The guest capacity for a wedding at Thunderbird Lake Tahoe is generally 120 people. There are three main areas that can be used for weddings:
- The lakeside Main Lawn with its jaw-dropping views is available either for ceremonies or outdoor dining (weather permitting).
- The Lighthouse Room seats up to 90 dinner guests. It offers some of the best views of the Lake and has an adjacent state-of-the-art kitchen for catering.
- The Old Lodge is historically significant and may be used only by special arrangement.
More information about weddings the Thunderbird Lodge can be found on their website.
Venue – Thunderbird Lake Tahoe | Photographer – Someplace Images | Event Designer – Bethany Frediani | Bride’s Attire – The LAW Bridal | Cake Designer – Rebel Pioneer Bakery | Calligrapher – Sugar Pine Calligraphy | Design and Decor – Lucky Burro Event Rentals & Design | Equipment Rentals – Forever Vintage Rentals | Floral Designer – Twine & Dandy Floral Design | Linens – La Tavola | Hair Stylist – Gypsy Roots Co | Makeup – McKenzie Morrison | Jewelry – Trunk Show
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