For a Rustic Lake Tahoe Wedding, Truckee Rocks
Just 12 miles north of Lake Tahoe, the quaint town of Truckee is steeped in history, channeling the old gunslingers of the past. Truckee gives off a rustic, historical vibe – perfect for a mountain destination wedding. There, you will find several wedding locations that are beautiful, intimate, and off the beaten nuptial path.
The Truckee River Regional Park
Spanning 62 acres, the Truckee River Regional Park offers a large outdoor amphitheater where guests can lounge on blankets on the green lawn while the couple says their vows. For a more intimate gathering, head to the lower area and treat your guests to a ceremony right on the Truckee River’s edge. The park is located on Brockway Road and is walking distance from downtown Truckee and nearby hotels, including the Cedar House Sport Hotel and Best Western.
Photo: Just West Co.
The Truckee River Winery
Truckee’s only winery, dubbing itself as the “highest and coldest”, is available for events on its outdoor lawn. With bocce courts and BBQs, the Truckee River Winery treats your guests to down-home time paired with some of the best wine in the Sierra Nevadas. The twinkle lights that make the evening shine only add to the already magical experience of holding your wedding at a winery.
Head to the west end of Donner Lake and recite your vows at the West End Beach Pavilion. As the largest beach in Truckee, the sand, grass, and picnic areas span 10 acres. The breathtaking views of the mountains and the clear waters of Donner Lake make any ceremony unforgettable for all attendants. The pavilion can be rented out for weddings with parking included. There are plenty of house rentals sprinkled along the lake, allowing your guests a true Alpine lake experience.
Photo: Nina · Photography
The Clair Tappaan Lodge
Far above Donner Lake near the Sugar Bowl ski resort, the Clair Tappaan Lodge is an ideal venue for a rustic mountain wedding. Tucked in a forest of towering pines, the lodge is equipped to accommodate up to 145 overnight guests. Affordable wedding packages include your own staff and a personal chef. What could be more romantic than twinkle lights strung throughout the woods as you tie the knot with your beloved?
Photo: Light the Moment
Alder Creek Adventure Center
Spectacular in winter or summer, the Alder Creek Adventure Center in Tahoe Donner offers affordable wedding packages for small and large groups. Guests have the opportunity to enjoy horseback riding, mountain biking, or hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. The mountainous fireplace and monumental windows will give your wedding a truly rustic experience without sacrificing luxury. Tahoe Donner offers many options for home rentals for your guests, so nobody will have to drive too far.
Photo: Bill Stevenson Photography
Besides these lesser-known venues, Truckee is home to hotels, golf courses and ski resorts that offer a variety of wonderful wedding options. Whether you end up choosing a larger venue or one of these smaller intimate sites, you can be sure that your guests will have an experience that they’ll remember for years to come.
Lake Tahoe Winter Activities for Your Wedding Guests
Keeping your guests entertained is not something you’ll have to worry about when planning your winter wedding at Lake Tahoe. No matter what they are into or what the weather is – there are always plenty of activities on the docket around the Lake. From skiing to more “insider” events, here is your guide to giving your guests the best Tahoe experience in the colder months.
World Class Skiing and Snowboarding
Guests can take their pick of eight ski resorts in the North Lake Tahoe region. A Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows lift ticket gives access to over 6,000 acres of terrain across two resorts. Ski both in one day by taking the shuttles that run the six miles between them. Other options include Tahoe Engaged Member Northstar California, where you can cozy up next to a fire pit in the Village, and Homewood Mountain Resort, offering some of the best views of the Lake from the top.
Nothing says winter quite like leisurely laps around an ice skating rink. The Northstar California skating rink, in the Northstar Village, is free to the public. Skate rentals are available. Perfect for the whole family, the rink is lined with outdoor fire pits. Free smores are served daily at 4 pm. Your guests can enjoy a hot cocktail by the fire while their kiddos roast gooey, chocolatey, marshmallows.
Check out the Tahoe Forest backcountry with a snowmobiling tour. Tours accommodate beginners through the more adventurous. Lake Tahoe Snowmobiling offers tours through the wilderness, on groomed trails, in open meadows, and up the mountain where your guests can experience stunning views of Lake Tahoe.
Get romantic on a horse-drawn sleigh ride. All ages are welcome to experience a jaunt through the pines in an old-fashioned sleigh. Your guests will listen to their guide tell stories and they will have the opportunity to take unique photographs that will last them a lifetime.
For your craft beer enthusiasts or for those just wanting to get out of the cold, encourage your guests to check out North Lake’s burgeoning beer scene. Book through Tahoe Brew Tours so everyone can imbibe and not worry about driving the winter roads. Tours take guests to FiftyFifty Brewing Company, Alibi Ale Works, and Tahoe Mountain Brewing.
This is only a snippet of activities that are available for your guests. Tahoe also boasts an abundance of seasonal festivals, live music performances, and other fun events that happen along the North Shore. The North Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and the Truckee Chamber of Commerce both offer an extensive calendar of events. Whatever wintertime activities your guests choose to partake in, they will be left with warm memories of your destination wedding.
Top Tahoe Places to Pop the Question
You’re ready to propose to the love of your life! Congratulations!! Now the big decision is… where to pop the question? If you’ve decided on getting down on one knee in the Lake Tahoe area, we have some great setting ideas for you.
You can’t really go wrong anywhere in the Lake Tahoe basin, with its spectacular beaches, pine tree forests, clear blue waters, and towering mountaintops. Here are some ideas you might not have thought of:
Lake Tahoe Sunset Cruise
Lake Tahoe is North Americas largest alpine lake. Make your proposal memorable by chartering a sunset cruise on one of Tahoe’s many sailing charters. Let the captain do the work as you cruise along the cobalt waters in romantic bliss. Bring along some fine cheese and a bottle of your favorite champagne to make the moment complete.
Sand Harbor Beach
More of an active couple? Make your way to Sand Harbor Beach, located just south of Incline Village. One of the most picturesque beaches in Tahoe, Sand Harbor is home to crystal-clear lake water, awe-inspiring rock formations, and stretches of soft, light sand. Enjoy a picnic and then swim out to a boulder. Or better yet, rent some paddle boards and glide along the glassy water surface as you surprise your significant other.
Photo: Lauren Lindley Photography
Shirley Canyon Waterfalls
There exists a place, a short and easy hike from the base of Squaw Valley, where waterfalls flow along granite rocks. The Shirley Canyon trail meanders along singing brooks and emerald pools. Pack some gourmet sandwiches and hike up to a private spot along one of the many waterfalls that spill out of the Squaw Valley mountain range. A proposal here is sure to create misty eyes and everlasting memories.
Photo: Blue Lotus Photography
Get off the beaten path and head over to Truckee, just 12 miles North of Lake Tahoe. Take a scenic drive up Old Highway 40 and enjoy dramatic views of Donner Lake and the surrounding mountains. Stop at the viewing area just before you cross over Rainbow Bridge. Grab a blanket and scramble up on the boulders to the right of the parking area and find a private spot for your proposal. (Insider’s tip: Get there before dawn and ask her to marry you as the sun rises – this is one of the best locations to experience a striking sunrise over Donner Lake.)
Photo: Niki Ross Photography
Top of Homewood Mountain Resort
If you both ski or snowboard, consider a winter proposal at the top of Homewood Mountain Resort. The view is stunning and offers panoramic views of the Lake Tahoe basin. After she says yes, head across the street to the West Shore Café and dine lakeside for a warm and romantic celebration.
Photo: Studio 22 Photography
No matter what your budget may be, one of these Lake Tahoe locations will inspire a Yes! from your soon-to-be fiancé. Be sure to bring a camera – or better yet, hire a Tahoe Engaged professional photographer – to capture the magical moments. There is no better background for your proposal than Lake Tahoe, a waterfall, or a shimmering sunrise.
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