Questions to Ask While Planning Your Lake Tahoe Wedding
Thinking about having your wedding in Lake Tahoe? You won’t be disappointed – Lake Tahoe’s gorgeous landscape and various seasons make it one of the best places to recite your vows to the person you love most. If you’re looking for something romantic, but adventurous, you’ve made a great choice!
Photo: Ciprian Photography
Lake Tahoe, while breathtakingly picturesque, is also wildly shifting – in weather, seasons, and temperature. Whether you have been to Tahoe before, or this is your first visit, here are some essential questions to think about to ensure you and your guests experience the best the region has to offer.
What is the best season for a Lake Tahoe wedding?
This is an important question. Each season in Tahoe carries a different perspective and feeling – there really isn’t a “best”. What is the vision you have for your wedding day? Are you on a powdery white winter mountain; the snow sparkling around you? Or are you standing on a pristine sapphire beach in the summer? Maybe you are planting your first kiss as husband and wife amid a golden Aspen grove in the fall. Or are you and your guests surrounded by butterflies and spring wildflower blooms high on a mountaintop? Whatever you choose, a truly magical wedding experience is possible. Remember though – weather is unpredictable in the mountains. Summer days can bring a rogue hail storm, spring can be chilly, fall is known for unexpected snowstorms, and an unplanned winter blizzard can derail your guests as they travel.
The most important thing is to be open-minded and flexible, especially if you have an outdoor wedding. Which begs the next important question…
What is the best location for a Lake Tahoe wedding?
The lake shore in Tahoe can be overwhelmingly gorgeous, and it works perfectly for a nautical or beach theme. If you’re looking to have your wedding by the water, then you will probably want a summer or fall wedding. If you’re planning on a winter wedding, you won’t be disappointed. Many of the local ski resorts offer wedding packages that will have you and your guests experiencing the best of Tahoe’s powdery mountains.
Photo: Nina · Photography
The biggest question you will face when it comes to deciding on location is indoor or outdoor? There really is nothing like taking your vows on a mountaintop or in front of Lake Tahoe’s spectacular scenery, but you might not want to risk the unpredictable weather patterns and opt for an indoor wedding. There is an abundance of stunning indoor venues that specialize in the Lake Tahoe wedding experience. Speaking of experience…
What will my guests do?
Thinking about your guests when making these key decisions will make your wedding more enjoyable for everyone. Reno airport is only 35 miles away – great for guests that need to book flights. Lake Tahoe is a superb choice for a wedding as it boasts endless adventures – there really is something for everybody. What do most of your guests like to do? Depending on the season they can enjoy hitting the slopes, rafting down a river, hiking through forest trails, mountain biking, paragliding, or just chilling on the beach with a good book. Make sure to reserve a room block in one of the many hotels for your guests. Besides getting a discount, they can plan excursions together.
You really can’t lose with Lake Tahoe as your wedding day backdrop. Just remember to keep an open mind and have a backup plan if your wedding will take place outdoors. Be flexible, consider your guests, and sit back and enjoy all the Sierra Nevada’s have to offer. It will be a day that you’ll never forget.
Rustic Elegance by the Truckee River
Everything about Ali and Nick’s wedding was joyfully personalized and thoughtfully fashioned. (After all, the groom is a professional jewelry designer.) But what really mattered most to the couple was bringing their loved ones together in one place to enjoy the beauty of Tahoe. Ali and Nick loved every moment of their celebration, and it certainly shows in these photos, creatively captured by Just West Co.
Nick, a skilled jewelry designer and Owner of Nick Engel & Co., first met Ali on Baker Beach in San Francisco. He recalls, “I don’t remember if I shook her hand, hugged her, or both – but I do remember feeling immediately comfortable.” Ali concurs, “When I met Nick, I was instantly smiling and laughing.”
In her work as an auditor, it’s Ali’s job to thoroughly analyze the data she is given and draw logical conclusions. However, in the case of Nick’s proposal, Ali missed a few data points and was caught completely off guard when it happened! But as she later acknowledged, “I loved every second.”
A week before he proposed, Nick asked Ali if she could help one of his friends, Danny, who was building his photography portfolio and needed couples to pose for pictures. Ali recalls, “I happily agreed and started planning what outfit I should wear for a beach sunset photo shoot, completely unaware! When we got to Baker Beach (the beach where we first met…still no clue), I didn’t know why Nick wouldn’t park in the parking lot and instead parked in the nearby neighborhood – which meant we had to climb down some dirt path/stairs to get to the beach. But of course that is the romantic way down.”
This romantic trip to the beach took a crazy twist – literally – when Ali slipped, fell and turned her ankle. Like a good boy scout, Nick was prepared for this unexpected situation, as he whipped out a bottle of chilled champagne to ice down Ali’s swollen ankle. Still not connecting the dots, Ali continues the story. “At this point, I see Danny off in the distance and point in the direction and ask Nick, ‘Isn’t that Danny over there?’ Nick then got down on his knee and asked me to marry him. And of course, I said yes!’”
The perks of marrying a jeweler… the rings and bling. Some women plan the perfect ring and leave hints of every aspect they desire. Ali took a different approach, she knew she wanted an elongated shaped diamond, rose gold, and that was it. The rest was left up to the expert – and Nick hand-fabricated a completely custom, unique diamond engagement ring.
In choosing a location for Ali and Nick’s nuptials, the mountains have always called to both of their families. Ali’s parents met on the ski slopes in the singles line, and Nick grew up going to the slopes with his parents. So, Nick and Ali could think of no other place to get married than in Tahoe. The ceremony and reception were just steps from the trail where they first said “I love you” to each other, and they were inspired by the Truckee River and all the surrounding natural beauty for their wedding theme.
There were many projects and personal touches that transformed a riverside park into a romantic fairy tale. Vintage doors were draped with eucalyptus and flowers centered at the start of the aisle. Birch wood was utilized throughout the venue, collected from a tree cut down at a friend’s house. Recycled wine, whiskey, and gin bottles – all consumed by the bride and groom (now that’s what you call a labor of love!) – were scattered throughout with flowers and eucalyptus. And hand-painted wooden signs displayed the groom’s artistic touch.
Jewelry was all over this wedding! Nick and his team helped make custom earrings for all the women in the bridal party. Ali also commissioned Nick to make the stunning, custom “something blue” earrings of her dreams with diamonds, sapphires, and her birthstone – tanzanite. On the wedding day, Nick surprised Ali with a delicate and beautiful wedding band, and another ring circled with diamonds in a design that Ali had been admiring for months.
The wedding flowers had a soft, gathered, vintage feel, inspired by a field of wild flowers rather than a formal bouquet. The florist used eucalyptus, baby’s breath, spray roses, delphinium, larkspur, eryngium, roses, Queen Anne’s lace, dusty miller, alstromeria, Italian ruskus, curly willow, and more! The park itself also provided a beautiful, natural backdrop and the flowers perfectly accented the outdoor venue.
Keeping with the DIY and repurposing spirit of the wedding, the florist gathered up the flowers after the wedding reception. These flowers were then donated to The Petal Connection, a group of incredible volunteers who gather together to bring love and joy to hospice patients, their families, and seniors in the community. This act of kindness blesses not only the recipients, but also the person whose hands created the floral designs. And of course, it reflects the generous spirit of the newlyweds, too!
Photographer: Just West Co. | Ceremony & Reception Venue: Truckee River Regional Park | Jewelry: Nick Engel & Co. | Bride’s Gown: BHLDN | Groom’s Attire: Armani | Attire for Female Attendants: Jenny Yoo Collection | Attire for Male Attendants: Jos. A. Bank | Hair & Makeup: I Do Weddings Truckee | Cake: Sugar Pine Cakery | Flowers: Susan Forde | Music: DJ JB | Officiant: Corey Fugman (family member) | Rental Items: Camelot Party Rentals and Forever Vintage Rentals
A Magical Mountaintop Marriage
For their destination wedding, Sara Beth and Sam left behind the hustle & bustle of San Diego for the spectacular Sierra views from the Zephyr Lodge at Northstar California. With expert planning assistance from Cara Bruno at Northstar and Lindsey Johnson with Blue Sky Events, the couple created a mountain-rustic-themed celebration that left everyone enraptured. Fantastic photos of their special day were captured by Theilen Photography.
Sara Beth grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area (Fremont), while Sam was originally from Baltimore. They both ended up moving to San Diego, but it took a cell phone dating app called Tinder to bring them together.
Their first date was at a restaurant in Little Italy in downtown San Diego. Sara Beth’s right foot was in a cast at the time, and she was using crutches to get around. On a good day when she has all 4 limbs working properly, she doesn’t do much in the kitchen. So she was thrilled when Sam said he was willing to come over to her house for a second date to help her prepare stuffing for a “Friendsgiving.” And soon they became much more than friends.
While enjoying a summer vacation in Oregon, Sam took Sara Beth to see the beautiful Multnomah Falls. It was Sam’s birthday and he wanted to make the occasion memorable. So, while standing on a bridge in front of the falls, he got down on one knee and proposed! Sara Beth was very surprised but immediately said “Yes!” For Sam, it was the best birthday present ever.
The couple chose Northstar California as the site for their celebration because they loved so many things about the location! Sara Beth and Sam found the mountains to be breathtaking regardless of the season… whether they were covered with beautiful vegetation or snow. So the mountaintop venue was the perfect place for their celebration. They also liked The Village at Northstar – with its shops, restaurants and lodging options, guests would not need transportation to any of the events once they arrived. A fun added feature was having the guests take the gondola and chairlift rides to the top of the mountain for the wedding.
The beauty and emotion of Sara Beth and Sam’s special day was wonderfully captured in this highlight film from Videoquest Productions.
Jewish Wedding Tradtions
To sanctify their marriage, Sara Beth and Sam chose to incorporate many important traditions from their Jewish faith. Some of these traditions are described below and beautifully illustrated through the images from Theilen Photography.
Prior to the ceremony, the couple, immediate family, wedding party members and the rabbi gather for the ketubah ceremony – the traditional Jewish marriage contract signing.
The chuppah serves as the focal point for the ceremony, under which the couple stands. It represents a Jewish home, symbolized by a cloth canopy and the four poles. It is open on all sides, to represent hospitality to one’s guests.
Male guests, Jewish or not, typically cover their heads with a cap, known as a kippah or yarmulke, as a sign of respect.
Two Kiddush cups are placed under the chuppah and used for the ceremony. The couple sips ceremonial wine from the first cup and receives a blessing from the rabbi. Later, after the exchange of rings, the rabbi reads or chants seven blessings called the Sheva Brachot. These blessings are completed with the sipping of wine from the second cup. Kiddush cups are often kept as family heirlooms – the cups used at this wedding were also used by Sara Beth’s parents when they were married.
According to Jewish tradition, the groom places a gold ring on the bride’s index finger of her right hand because it is believed that the index finger has a direct connection to the heart. For this ritual, Sam and Sara Beth used a wedding band that had been passed down through several generations of Sara Beth’s family for over a hundred years.
In the Sephardic culture, a Tallit cloth is used to wrap the couple under the chuppah, symbolizing their union, as well as the protection of God. If you’re wondering whether God was watching over this wedding, check out the awesome final photo in the batch below.
During the final moments of a Jewish ceremony, the groom breaks a glass (usually wrapped in a cloth napkin or bag to avoid injury!) with his foot. The breaking of the glass signals the end of the ceremony, and guests shout “Mazel Tov!” – meaning “Congratulations!”
One of the highlights of a Jewish wedding reception is the hora. As traditional Jewish music plays, guests dance in circles and the couple is seated on chairs and hoisted into the air. (Lightweight chairs with arms are preferable for safety reasons.)
Congratulations to Sara Beth and Sam for elevating their relationship – and their wedding celebration – to a new level!
Photographer: Theilen Photography | Ceremony & Reception Venue: Northstar California, Zephyr Lodge | Bride’s Gown: Casablanca | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Watters – Wtoo | Hair & Makeup: RAH Hair Studio and Sublime Beauty | Groom’s Party Attire: Kenneth Cole | Cake & Desserts: Flour Girl Wedding Cakes | Flowers: Art in Bloom | Music for Ceremony: Steel & Ivory | Music for Reception: Pop Fiction | Officiant: Rabbi Ethan Bair | Rental Items(Stage, Dance Floor, Linens): Celebrations! Party Rentals | Photobooth: PicBox Photo Booth | Videographer: Videoquest Productions | Wedding Planner: Blue Sky Events
Group Bike Rides for Your Tahoe Destination Wedding
It’s no secret that many wedding couples have their destination weddings in Lake Tahoe so that guests can partake in experiential outdoor activities. A bike “Tour de Tahoe” is a great way for your guests to take pleasure in the region’s scenic beauty, and there are many biking options available.
One of the safest – and one of our favorite – places to cycle is a paved bike path that runs for about 10 miles from Tahoe City along the West Shore to Sugar Pine Point State Park. You can rent bikes at the Olympic Bike Shop or Willard’s Sport Shop, then enjoy the happy trails and beautiful views.
Photo Credit: Laura Allen, TahoeLauraLuxuryHomes.com
Another great paved trail goes from Squaw Valley along the Truckee River to Tahoe City, a distance of about 7 miles. Bike rentals are available from Parallel Mountain Sports and Mountain Mike’s Sports.
Right now, there is major road construction as you reach Tahoe City, so the trail may be closed occasionally at this location. Otherwise, this Truckee River Trail connects with the West Shore Trail described above. So if you have a whole day available for bicycling, you can ride all the way from Squaw Valley to Sugar Pine Point State Park and back. The total round-trip distance is 34 miles.
If your group is staying in the town of Truckee, there is another paved trail along the Truckee River that’s worth cycling – the Legacy Trail. Rent a bicycle from Bike Truckee in the Historic District, and ask for directions to the trailhead.
Perhaps your group wants something more adventurous than a paved path. If so, there are many miles of mountain biking trails in the North Lake Tahoe region. Our all-time favorite is the Flume Trail on the Nevada side of the lake. If you rent from Flume Trail Bikes, you can be shuttled for no additional charge to Spooner Lake, where this epic 14-mile journey begins.
From Spooner Lake, the trail starts with a climb of over 1,000 feet before it descends to Marlette Lake. If your wedding is in the Fall, the aspen trees will put on a spectacular display of color.
After a mile-long ride along the shore of Marlette Lake, the Flume Trail begins. The views of Lake Tahoe are absolutely jaw-dropping!
But there are many places along the Flume Trail where it is essential to keep your eyes on the trail, for safety’s sake.
So if you want to take in the stunning vistas, look for a safe place to stop, then look to your heart’s content.
Finally, think “safety” if you’re cycling on a road with motor vehicles. Our thanks to Curtis Fong, CEO of Bike the West, for providing these “Rules of The Road”:
- Keep your bike as far to the right of the road as possible to allow for vehicles to pass.
- If emergency vehicles are coming, pull off to the side of the road and stop.
- Ride single file except to pass.
- When passing anther cyclist, call out “passing on your left.”
- Stop signs and stop lights apply to bikes, too.
- Yield to pedestrians crossing the road. If you need to cross the road, make sure cars have come to a stop before proceeding.
- Make proper hand signals when turning.
May your path to wedded bliss include a beautiful bike ride in North Lake Tahoe!
Photo: Hoffer Photography
A New Tahoe Trend: Indian Weddings
Like many couples, Amita and Sagar wanted to have a destination wedding to make their celebration memorable – and to have a bit of a vacation – both for their guests and themselves. Since they love being out in nature and by the water, Lake Tahoe was the perfect choice for their wedding location.
Amita and Sagar selected the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe as their wedding venue. Their special day was picturesque, relaxed and fun – as beautifully documented by Tahoe-based Theilen Photography – full of the rich colors and customs of Indian weddings that have existed for hundreds of years. The lake, mountains and evergreens provided a majestic backdrop for the ceremony.
For many years, Lake Tahoe wasn’t hosting a lot of Indian weddings. But that is now changing, as couples like Amita and Sagar have begun to discover that Tahoe provides a spectacular setting for the pageantry of an Indian wedding. As Caity Hunt, Senior Event Sales Manager for the Hyatt Regency noted, “Our wedding staff is now familiar with the traditions and cultures of Indian weddings… The couples we have worked with try to find a balance between meeting their cultural expectations and having it blend with their current American lives.”
Amita and Sagar chose a Hindu ceremony that mixed traditions of both Gujarati and Telugu cultures. They infused rich tradition with a casual fun and playfulness, as seen in these two Indian rituals:
Angulyabharanamu (Exchange of Wedding Rings)
While 200 guests looked on, Amita and Sagar exchanged rings as a symbol of their commitment. Once the rings were exchanged, they were placed into a pot for a game where Amita and Sagar each tried to pull the rings out of the pot first to see who would “rule the roost” at home. Amita won, but Sagar laughed, “Amita cheated all three times!” To which Amita replied, “Without a doubt, I did not cheat during the ring game; Sagar mistakes excitement and exuberance for cheating.”
Talambralu (Showering of Rice)
Amita and Sagar showered each other with turmeric-coated rice, which according to tradition, is supposed to bring the couple a life filled with happiness, love, and laughter. And judging by these photos, they are certainly off to a great start with that!
India’s Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim communities each have their own marriage ceremonies and customs. Typically, Indian weddings are a multi-day celebration with many events. But Amita and Sagar deviated from Indian traditions somewhat for their Lake Tahoe celebration. Sagar explains, “We didn’t want a ton of events, so we and our guests could relax and enjoy the area.”
But one tradition that Amita felt was essential for celebrating their heritage was the Mehendi Ceremony, where a professional mehendi artist applies henna (a paste made from the finely ground leaves of the henna plant) in intricate designs to the hands and feet of the bride. These designs symbolize joy, beauty, spiritual awakening and offering. According to tradition, the darker the color of the bride’s henna, the more her partner will love her.
Amita and Sagar’s main advice for other Lake Tahoe wedding couples – hire a wedding planner (they chose Lindsay Townsend with Cloud Nine Event Company). “The money you spend on a planner will be worth it – the time and stress you save will be worth the cost, many times over!”
Looking back on their spectacular celebration, Sagar remarked, “The whole weekend felt very ‘Tahoe’ – everything was beautiful but not over the top… it was all very relaxed and fun.” And it was perfectly captured in this delightful wedding video produced by Darren Baca of Reel Eyes Media:
Photographer: Theilen Photography | Videographer: Reel Eyes Media | Ceremony & Reception Venue: Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe | Bride’s Attire: Shyamal & Bhumika | Groom’s Attire: Manyavar | Hair & Makeup: r!ah Hair Studio | Mehendi: Henna Blessings | Caterer (Indian Food for Reception): Ruchi | Décor & Floral Design: Red Carpet Events | Music: DJ Tanveer | Hindu Priest: Vinod Dave | Mandap Rental: Avasar Mandap | Stationery: Reno Print Store and Deckle Edge | Wedding Planner: Cloud Nine Event Company
Your Lake Tahoe Wedding Invitation – Getting It “Write”
Your Lake Tahoe wedding invitation should set the tone to elicit a “must-attend” response from your guests. Although electronic invitations may have become more feasible with technological advancements, it is still considered “proper etiquette” to send a beautiful paper invitation through the good old U.S. Postal Service. More importantly, in this day and age of incessant spam in our in-boxes, a mailed invitation shows your guests that you have made the effort to personally request their presence at your wedding, and it will better motivate them to be there.
Union Street Papery is the ultimate destination for sensational stationery. These paper mavens have their pulse on all the latest designs and trends, so you can express your style with pizazz, and get your guests buzzing about your big day.
Here are the typical components of your wedding stationery wardrobe:
- The wedding invitation piece is the main event and should include your names. If your parents are helping to pay for the wedding, it should include their names as well. Other details include date, time, ceremony location and reception if they are in the same location. Since you may want to frame your invitation do not write in the corners “Adults Only”, “Black Tie” or “No Gifts”. Save this information for a separate Information card.
- If your reception is in a different location than the ceremony, you will need a Reception Card with the name and address of the wedding reception. Also include the time the reception starts and provide information as to what type of meal will be served, such as “Dinner and Dancing”.
- A Transportation / Information Card typically is two sided with easy to read font. If you are providing group transportation to and from the wedding from one or more hotel properties, specify the name of the hotel and what time to meet in the hotel lobby for departure. If the guests are self-driving to the wedding, provide detail driving instructions that you have driven, do not rely on directions from Google. If you are having an outdoor ceremony, cocktails and/or reception provide this information, and give average temperatures for this time of year and advise on attire and proper footwear.
- For Pre and Post Wedding Weekend Events, you should have a separate card listing the activities, location, time, what to wear and if transportation will be provided.
- The Response Card should have a space for guests to write their name indicating if they will or will not attend the wedding. If you are offering a meal choice, have the guest indicate their entrée preference by writing their name(s) next to the choices you are offering. If you are providing group transportation, have guests confirm they are taking transportation and if there is more than one hotel in your room block, specify the hotel name. For pre and post wedding weekend events, have them RVSP to all events attending. You will want to pre-stamp all your response cards for your guests convenience (US only not overseas).
- The Envelope Please… It’s gorgeous to line your envelope, so select a lining that will wow and coordinate with your wedding invitation and all the wardrobe pieces going inside.
We caught up with Stacey, the Top Doll at Union Street Papery, to learn more about their approach to creating an inviting wedding invitation.
When and how did you get into the stationery business?
My first high school job was at a beautiful local stationery store that I had shopped at as a kid. I loved paper and stickers, and lucked into landing a job there. I quickly moved from general retail to invitation design and consultation which really captured me.
How do you stay on top of the latest stationery trends?
We have built some amazing relationships with designers and other stationers over the years, and are in constant communication with them. Instagram and Pinterest have been very influential (and helpful to dig into the wedding vibe of our couples), as have a few blogs and publications along the way.
New vendors/designers reach out to us on a daily basis, so we can follow up on what interests us and work for our clientele.
What’s the best way for a wedding couple to prepare for their first stationery visit?
Doing even just a little homework first is somewhat helpful: creating Pinterest board showing color, florals, site location can really help us focus in on their invitation style. Having an idea of budget and items that they want to include in the suite can really set us off in the right direction as well. We understand that this is usually a once in a lifetime experience that they need help and guidance with, so we also are prepared to explain all the options from the beginning. Their invitations are the first true glimpse into their wedding, and we hope that is as important to them as it is to us.
What is your approach to working with wedding couples?
We really try to get to know our couples story: How they met, where they come from, what they do, what is important to them, why they have chosen their venue, etc. We encourage them to put their personality into their paper, just as they will to the rest of the event. We can guide them as much or as little as they want, customize anything with art, graphics, or calligraphy to set just the right tone for their big day.
Other Inviting Tips
We recommend sending hotel information with your Save the Date, not the wedding invitation. Hotel room blocks should be secured as soon as you know your wedding date and reception location, because guests need to make their flights and other travel plans sooner than two months before the wedding. Also, many hotel properties have release dates on their room blocks, so you will want your guests to make their reservations several months before the wedding.
Once your wedding stationery ensemble has been printed, it’s time to take one invitation set to the post office to weigh. With all the components, it will definitely weigh more than your average envelope. Once you know the postage price per envelope, you can select a stamp that you love by either selecting something the post office currently offers, or having a custom stamp created for you. You can also have your wedding envelopes professionally hand addressed by a calligrapher – now that’s attention grabbing!
Finally, please, please make sure you have the stamps hand-cancelled when bringing them to your local post office. Do not drop them into the black hole of a blue mailbox, because the Postal Service machinery may not be kind to your wedding invitation. Then, sit back and experience the excitement as the responses start to roll in!