5 Reasons to Elope to Lake Tahoe

Planning a wedding is arguably one of the most exciting, albeit intense, part of getting married. This year, that process looks a little different. 2020 has been an unprecedented year for us all. Plans have changed for many and the world is a very different place than it was a year ago. With that, weddings have transformed in many unique and creative ways as we adjust to our new normal with COVID-19. Many couples have now chosen to elope to Lake Tahoe for its incredible attributes.  Here are some of the reasons why we believe Tahoe is one of the best places to run away and get married.

1. The Scenery

Lake Tahoe boasts one of the most unique landscapes in the world. From its pristine, crystal clear waters to its jagged mountain peaks, it’s an incredible location to promise forever to the one you love most. It is truly an unforgettable experience to be around the natural majesty that this area has to offer all year round.

Lake Tahoe micro ceremony overlooking Emerald Baycouple eloped to Lake Tahoe walking near forest with fall foliage

Photo Credits: Jocelyn Noel and Shines Photography

 

2. The Intimacy

Make your day all about YOU and your partner. Lake Tahoe is known for its panoramic alpine views and vast wilderness. It’s an easy place to sneak away into the pines for an intimate elopement or micro wedding. If you’re looking to elope in this area, we recommend hiring a local elopement photographer or officiant. They know all the ‘top secret’ locations to truly make your big day one of a kind. 

couple with officiant under pine tree at intimate location near Lake Tahoecouple at intimate beach at Lake Tahoe

Photo Credit: AJ Photography 

 

3. Talented Wedding Professionals

When it comes to wedding professionals, Lake Tahoe is home to some of the best creative talents in the world. If you’re looking to run away to the Sierras, look no further than the incredible vendors here in our area.

Christa Deane Mountain High Weddings officiating elopement in forest near Lake TahoePhoto Credit:  AJ Photography
eloping couple kissing at end of Lake Tahoe pier

 

4. Year Around Activities

Not only is Lake Tahoe picturesque in every way, but it’s also an adventure destination. Whether you’re looking to have guests in town or spend your wedding getaway with your partner, there is something for everyone here. During the summer, you can hit the beaches, take a boat out on the lake, take a hike, and mountain bike some of the incredible trails in the area. During the winter, you can hit the slopes, snowmobile in the backcountry, and enjoy some apres-ski at one of the many great restaurants and bars in the area. 

couple elopes in summer standing in meadow near Lake Tahoecouple walking in Lake Tahoe water with winter snow on mountains nearby

Photo Credits:  AJ Photography and Kyle Beckmann Photography

 

5. It’s the Perfect Place to Begin Your Honeymoon

No need to jet away to another destination, everything you need is right here. Go from enjoying your incredibly intimate wedding day together into an incredible vacation of a lifetime.

couple elopes to secluded location overlooking Lake Tahoe and Emerald BayPhoto Credit: Jocelyn Noel

 

Final Thoughts from a Wedding Pro:

The above photos were taken at elopements officiated by Tahoe Engaged member Christa Deane with Mountain High Weddings.  Christa was kind enough to share some of her thoughts on elopements with us. 

She remarked, “I am loving all the elopements!  I know 2020 has not been as good as we all had hoped for, but I am loving the creativity that is coming from couples and the vendors who have helped them still get married. So many couples have been disappointed in not having their ‘big’ weddings, but on the flip side many were relieved and amazed. A few couples said they ‘got over the big party’ after being able to move the wedding budget to their honeymoon or wedding week, and were able to afford a convertible or upgrade to a suite.”

 

No matter what you’re looking for in your elopement, Lake Tahoe can provide it. From the rustic natural atmosphere to the year around adventures, the Tahoe region will provide everything you’ve ever imagined and so much more.

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

An Engaging Trip through the Tahoe Trees

Audrey and Brian’s love story began when they were in college after moving into houses on the same street. They met at one of Audrey’s house parties and remained friends. After a few years of friendship, the stars finally aligned, and the sparks flew.  In the early days of their relationship, nights were spent discussing their future and being that their visions always aligned. There was no question that this was a ‘forever’ type of love.  Brian says he knew Audrey was the ‘one’ when he learned they both had calico cats – that was all he needed to know.

Their Engagement Session was something straight out of a novel!  A glowing sunset was dipping below the Tahoe tree line while the lovely couple frolicked in the tall yellow grass.  Tahoe Engaged Member Blanca & Brandon Photography had the most delightful time with Audrey and Brian as they celebrated their engagement, documenting their cherished memories for all time!

Brian’s plan was always to propose once he knew for certain he could provide for the love of his life and their future.  So, after receiving the offer for his dream job, he headed straight to his family’s jeweler, Forever Roxx in Incline Village.  He wanted to find a ring that was the “perfect embodiment of Audrey.”  A three stone emerald cut diamond ring with a hand-engraved platinum band was exactly what he was looking for.

On a road trip to Southern California, they reached their final stop in Manhattan Beach. Brian’s original plan was to propose after a lovely sunset dinner by the water. But when he realized that the sun set at the exact time of their dinner reservation, he pivoted last minute and decided on a walk on the beach. Brian dropped to one knee in front of a gorgeous California sunset, the perfect amuse-bouche to a delightful celebratory dinner with some nice champagne.

Though their wedding plans are put on hold due to COVID-19, Audrey and Brian plan to eventually have an intimate gathering surrounded by the ones they love most. The decision to postpone their date was not an easy one, but ultimately it boiled down to celebrating with their friends and families in a carefree environment, filled to the brim with love.

Brian and Audrey know that their special day remains a day to look forward to, whenever time permits. In the meantime, their love will never be canceled.

 

Vendor Credits:

Photographer:  Blanca & Brandon Photography  |  Engagement Ring:  Forever Roxx  |  Location:  Forest Land near South Lake 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.

 

Vendor Credits

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

 

Southern Barbecue Meets the North Shore

Moe’s Original Bar B Que, known for its Southern victuals, is an amazing spot in Tahoe City for a rehearsal dinner, engagement party or other wedding event.

Ginger Karl, Catering Manager at Moe’s, handles all of their special events and group gatherings. Although she has a busy schedule, Ginger recently chatted with Tahoe Engaged about her life and her work.

Moe’s Grows in Tahoe City

First, some background about how Moe’s made its way to Tahoe City. Owners Joshua Wallick and Eric Pilcher studied under the founders of Moe’s BBQ for five years to perfect their “pit master” Southern Barbecue skills. Then in 2013, they moved Westward to North Lake Tahoe.

The next year, Moe’s opened its first lakefront location, at 120 Grove Street. Then in 2018, they moved next door into the Tahoe City Marina building. This facility, at 700 North Lake Boulevard, has four times the seating capacity of their previous space, as well as additional catering capacity for larger groups. Patrons of Moe’s can arrive by car, boat or bicycle.

“Moe’s is a great option for casual lakefront catering in the dining room,” says Karl, noting that the dining room seats 70 people, the front porch accommodates 60, and the outdoor patio can host 80 guests.

Dining area inside Moe's Bar B QuePhoto: Julie Stanley
Group Dinner at Moe's Bar B Que Lake Tahoe wedding rehearsalPhoto: Jacqueline Robbins

Moe’s also caters off-site events with a BBQ trailer that can be incorporated for smoking ribs and chicken at outdoor locations.

Recently Moe’s released their first brewed beer, the “Moe’s-aic IPA.” The restaurant also has a full bar.  Their next project is a brewery bar which will open in a new space within the 700 North Lake Boulevard location.

“We focus on a fun, casual experience for the group,” Karl says, explaining that groups can choose from paper plates and plastic-ware or upgrade to porcelain plates, cloth napkins and silverware. 

 

Meet Ginger

Ginger Karl enjoys live music, camping, biking and anything in the great outdoors.  She loves spending lots of time with her new black lab puppy, Roxxy.

Ginger Karl with Joshua Wallick, Moe's Bar B Que Lake Tahoe
Ginger Karl with Joshua Wallick, Moe’s Bar B Que

A native of Columbus, Mississippi, Karl graduated from Mississippi State University and moved to Vail, Colorado, where she handled catering at a high-end bowling alley. Later she moved to North Lake Tahoe, where she became Membership Director for the North Lake Tahoe Chamber. In 2018, she became Moe’s Catering Manager.

Karl comes from a long background of restaurant and catering/event experience. She says Moe’s serves the style of BBQ she grew up on in the South. She says it’s the perfect venue and food for laid back couples who want to have a good time with their friends and family. Think red and white checkered table cloths, casual fun and great food!

Here’s how it works: for a standard catering menu, couples would typically pick one meat: Chicken, Pork or Turkey; and then choose two sides, such as Mac & Cheese, Marinated Slaw, Baked Beans or Potato Salad. Top off the meal with desserts like Banana Pudding, Mud Pie and Chocolate Icebox Pie.

 

“We’re experts in portioning meat for parties,” says Karl. “You’re never going to run out of food with Moe’s.” Aside from meats, Moe’s also offers items for guests with dietary restrictions, including a gluten free, dairy free, or egg free menu. Many of the sides at the restaurant are vegetarian – they even offer a smoked tofu called “SMOFU”.

Karl’s advice to couples planning their rehearsal dinner?  “The wedding day is such a whirlwind, it’s nice to incorporate something that’s going to be memorable,” she says, noting that some couples have added lighting or special decorations to their rehearsal dinner.

Flower arrangement on table at Moe's Bar B QuePhoto: Julie Stanley
Moe's Bar B Que Lake Tahoe wedding rehearsal - table decor

 

The mood at Moe’s? “Laid back, fun, not stressful, with great music playing,” says Karl.  And best of all, “You’re right on the Lake.”

 

Contact Moe’s Original Bar B Que:

Ginger Karl, Catering Manager

Website: moesbbqtahoe.com

Phone: 530-580-8770

Email:  [email protected]

Visiting Three Sides of Lake Tahoe

Three perfect days on three shores

This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Tahoe Trifecta”

Author: Kirsten Jones Neff

Whether you explore Lake Tahoe by boat, hike to the highest peak, paddle into a secret cove or mountain-bike down a sandy incline, the views will surely take your breath away. Of course, there are those wonderful lazy Tahoe days when it is enough to relax on the deck, sipping ice tea and staring out into the deep blue bliss of the lake, but it is hard to stay put for long when natural wonders and adventures await in every direction. Tahoe is a land of possibility; whatever your age or preferred activities, there are beaches and boat rides, massages and mountaintops, trails and treasures to be found. Below are three suggested itineraries — Tahoe summer days tailored to your heart’s desire, depending on whether you are searching for restorative quiet, vigorous activity or playful family time. On the northern beach at Sand Harbor you will find several rental outfits. You can rent SUPs and kayaks at Sand Harbor Rentals, Jet Skis at Sand Harbor Water Sports, and even jet boots at Tahoe Jetovator. Bring your goggles and swim and boulder along the shore, exploring sandy coves north and south of the park.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Lake Tahoe wedding group activities

For dinner, make a reservation and enjoy lakeside views at the Lone Eagle Grill at the Hyatt or head up the mountainside for stunning panoramas from the Big Water Grille. Or if you just want to grab some grub on your way home from the beach, stop by T’s Mesquite Rotisserie in Incline or the Char Pit in King’s Beach, a classic old-time joint serving burgers, fries and shakes.

 

East Shore: Outdoor Adventure

Hoping for one of those days where you leave it all on the trail? Whether you prefer to hike or bike, Nevada’s Incline Village and East Shore offer excellent opportunities to utterly exhaust yourself as you soak up the sights. If you’re a mountain biker, Flume Trail Bikes is the place to start. Bring your own bike or let the staff set you up with a bike and all the gear you’ll need. The shop offers shuttles for two exhilarating rides — the Flume Trail from Spooner Lake or, on even-number days of the month, the Tahoe Rim Trail from Tahoe Meadows.

Both are one-way rides, and you’ll get your climbing in on either one, as well as some technical downhill. Both routes bring you back to Flume Trail Bikes at the base of the mountain. If you prefer to travel on foot, you can head straight up Tunnel Creek Trail. It’s steep, which is exactly why you’ll be rewarded with some of the most dramatic views of Lake Tahoe available. Whether you’ve biked or hiked, when you finish you’ll be hungry, so stop by Tunnel Creek Cafe next door to the bike shop, where delicious salads and grilled sandwiches are the order of the day, along with an array of craft beer on tap.

After lunch, cool down with some lake time at nearby Sand Harbor. It is best to take the East Shore Express shuttle, which runs every 20 minutes from Incline, so you can skip the challenge of parking in the popular state park.

 

North Shore: Peace and Pleasure

Daybreak is Tahoe’s most serene time of day, and there is nothing quite as calming as an early morning kayak or stand-up paddleboard ride, silently breaking the smooth surface of the crystal-clear water, then peering down to see massive boulders resting on the sandy lake floor below. Several North Lake spots rent both kayaks and SUPs, and Waterman’s Landing in Carnelian Bay also rents outrigger canoes. There you will find the Waterman’s Landing Cafe for those who want to caffeinate before heading out. Tahoe Adventure Company in Tahoe Vista also offers rentals, as does Tahoe Paddle and Oar, in Kings Beach.

If you prefer to start your day on land, get your vinyasa fix at The Yoga Room in Tahoe City. Or to bring your yoga practice to the water, try paddleboard yoga through Mountain Lotus Yoga.

For brunch or lunch, Tahoe House Bakery and Cafe in Tahoe City makes sandwiches with fresh-baked bread and has a reputation for the best European-style coffee in the area. For lunch to go, swing by the tucked-away local favorite Sugar Pine Cakery and Cafe in Lake Forest — a great place for gluten-free treats — and take your feast and good vibes into the woods.

At the nearby North Tahoe Cross Country Center you can hike or rent mountain bikes to explore the woods on some of the 45 miles of Tahoe’s most popular trails, including several dog-friendly routes. The rental center provides maps of the well-marked trails. After hiking or biking, get back on track with your rest and recovery regimen at Massage on the Lake in Tahoe City, where the bodywork therapists are “amazing,” according to locals in the know.

Mountain Biking Lake Tahoe wedding group activities

For a perfect finale to a peaceful day, book an evening cruise with Stellar Tahoe out of Carnelian Bay. Owners and charter hosts Matt and Bethany Lund, who offer a variety of set and custom tours, know every nook and cranny of the lake, as well as the most majestic views. Chambers Landing Bar, home of the famous Chambers Punch, is a favorite sunset stop to make before heading home under the rising moon.

 

West Shore: Family Fun

The West Shore is a giant playground for family fun. Start your day just two miles south of Tahoe City at the Fire Sign Cafe, a longtime local favorite for breakfast scrambles and omelets.

After breakfast, you may need a round of roshambo to decide where to go next: rent rubber boats and tubes at Truckee River Raft Company or Truckee River Rafting, to float down the Truckee River? Visit the Granlibakken Resort treetop adventure ropes course? Or head to High Sierra Waterski School, with locations in both Sunnyside and Homewood, where the family can rent an array of waterborne vehicles, or sign up for waterski, wakeboard or wake surf lessons?

If you are a hiking family, try the Stanford Rock Trail, which starts in Sunnyside, a recently reworked route with abundant wildflowers and waterfalls (depending on the time of year) and lake views from the top. This is a rigorous climb (11.4 miles and 1,900 feet of elevation gain) if you do the whole loop, but is easy to adjust for an out-and-back.

For lunch the West Shore Cafe in Homewood has lovely lakeside tables. Another option is to stop by Obexer’s General Store, grab deli sandwiches and head to D.L. Bliss State Park. There you can swim and explore coves or hike south on the Rubicon Trail toward Emerald Bay. This trail, which takes you along the cliffs above the lake and offers some of the best hiking views of Tahoe, is long (6 miles each way) but can also be adjusted for a shorter out-and-back.

Wrap up the fun at Sunnyside, a West Shore lodge with two restaurants — the Mountain Grill (where the music never disappoints) or the Lakeside Dining Room. The lodge is popular with visitors and locals, so reservations are a must.