A Tahoe Wedding Professional Says “I Do”

As the Director of Special Events at the Tahoe Mountain Club, Dana Rivers has helped couples plan their Lake Tahoe weddings for the past six years.  Recently, Dana celebrated her own special day.  So, having seen the planning process from the perspective of a bride, as well as an industry professional, Dana is in a unique position to offer advice to engaged couples. 

Tahoe Engaged is delighted to share the story of Dana’s wedding.  Along with this story, Dana also offers her knowledgeable suggestions for a successful celebration.

 

Dana’s Advice

Never second guess yourself.  Never stray from your ideas and decisions.  Once you make a decision, stick with it!

 

 

The Proposal

So how did this love affair begin?  Dana and Jack actually met through an online dating site called Tinder.  Jack was living in South Lake Tahoe at the time.  Although the drive to Truckee to see Dana was spectacular, it took more than an hour each way.  After 9 months of dating, Jack decided Dana was “the one,” so he made the move to be with her all the time.

In October 2016, Jack took it upon himself to ask Dana’s grandfather for permission to marry Dana before he passed away from cancer.  (Dana loved and adored her grandpa.)  Then Jack conferred with Dana’s mom to select an engagement ring, and he securely packed the ring away for what was to come.

The following month, Dana & Jack, along with two of their friends, took a 2-week vacation to New Zealand.  The highlight of their trip was a boat cruise on spectacular Milford Sound.  As the boat passed in front of a gorgeous waterfall, Jack pulled out the ring and popped the question. Although it was a cold and rainy day, and Dana was soaking wet, she delightedly screamed “YES!”  The two friends who were traveling with them were tipped off about the “surprise” proposal, so they were ready with their cameras.

 

Finding the Right Site

Over the next 11 months of their engagement, the wedding planning process went quite smoothly for Dana… after all, she is in the wedding industry.  But the hardest part was something she had thought that would be easy – the selection of a site for the celebration.  She recalls, “I always assumed I was going to get married outdoors at one of our venues. [Tahoe Mountain Club has 4 different wedding locations.]  But because Jack’s busiest time is the summer and I’m busy doing weddings in the summer, we wouldn’t be able to get married until October. We had concerns that the weather might be colder then we wanted it to be. We began to think maybe Tahoe wasn’t going to be the location after all.”

Following a recommendation from their photographer, Andrew and Melanie Photography, the couple ended up securing the River Highlands Ranch near Grass Valley for their wedding venue.  So this was a destination wedding, as Jack is originally from Idaho and Dana’s family traveled from Southern California.  To make it easier for out-of-towners to get to their gathering, the couple arranged for a room block at the Gold Miners Inn in Grass Valley.

 

Dana’s Advice

It’s never too early to start planning your wedding.  My whole goal was to not get stressed out in the last month. I didn’t want to be overwhelmed, and I recommend you try to get things done as soon as you can.

 

Wedding Style

Dana wore a Maggie Sottero sheath bridal gown with a double-keyhole back, and gorgeous lace and beading.  “I do love bling!  I wanted something sparkly, but not too overwhelming, definitely classic and elegant. I found all of that in this one gown.” 

For her hair, Dana definitely wanted to show off the back of her gown. “I made a joke before my wedding that I was going to walk down the aisle backwards because I was just so in love with the back of my dress!” So she chose an up-do for her hairstyle, with little curls pulled around the sides of her face.

Dana’s eight bridesmaids wore off-the-shoulder long burgundy dresses, while Jack and his six groomsmen wore charcoal gray suits with burgundy ties.

 

Dana’s Advice

I always imagined him seeing me for the first time walking down the aisle.  But on such a big day, I knew the time was going to fly by.  I really wanted to make sure that I made the most of the timing of the day.  I also wanted just that private moment with Jack before the ceremony.  So we did do a First Look. We then did our pre-ceremony photos with the wedding party, and I’m glad we did!  It relaxed my excitement and allowed us to enjoy our cocktail reception.

 

Personal Touches and Generous Contributions

Dana loves the color gold, so she knew she wanted to incorporate hints of gold with burgundy blush tones in the color palette, with greenery to keep it natural.  Dana personally monogrammed napkins with their initials for all 150 guests, a keepsake that she now has a full set of.

Jack constructed the seating chart using wooden planks, and he also made the signage for the wedding.

One of Dana’s bridesmaids gifted a beautiful leather-bound guestbook, designed by the bridesmaid’s brother-in-law, who has a leather-making company.

As a labor of love, friends from Dana’s work furnished all of her personal flowers, as well as the ceremony and reception flowers.  Another co-worker made Dana and Jack’s 3-tier wedding cake, which included a white cake with raspberries, and Jack’s favorite – carrot cake!  Four flavors of cupcakes were also baked with love.

 

The Big Day

With rolling hills and oak trees surrounding the ceremony lawn, the prelude music started at 3:00pm as guests were seated.  Dana was escorted down the aisle by her brother, as thoughts turned to her loving grandpa who originally was to accompany her. With her best friend’s dad officiating the ceremony, Dana and Jack exchanged vows that they wrote themselves.

The cocktail reception immediately followed the ceremony and was adjacent to the ceremony lawn, underneath the oak trees.  A food station featured the couple’s favorite New Zealand treat – an hors d’oeuvre of potato wedges topped with sour cream and sweet chili sauce – which all of the guests loved.

Then it was time for a sumptuous dinner inside the barn, which included stuffed chicken breast, tri-tip, several salads, mac and cheese, roasted potatoes, mixed vegetables.  Dana fondly recalls, “The dinner was a buffet, and it was absolutely amazing.  Everyone’s concern about a buffet is that the food will be cold, or the food doesn’t hold-up well. It was a nice feeling that everyone was raving about the food.  After all, it’s an expensive investment. The caterer really nailed it!”

 

Some Final Thoughts from Dana

Dana has worked for 6 years at the Tahoe Mountain Club, and now that she has been a bride, she feels like she can relate better to her couples. 

When it comes to selecting vendors for your wedding, Dana recommends that you make sure prospective vendors are really listening to you and offering you custom responses.  Look for service providers that respond to you promptly.  Choose service providers who have years of experience and know what they are doing.  Don’t just go with the lowest price, because you get what you pay for!

Finally, Dana understands that during the planning process, your friends and family may voice their opinions.  But she recommends not letting the ideas of others affect you.  It is your wedding day, so take pride in what you are planning, and have trust in your vendors to give you the most amazing day of your life!

 

Vendor Credits

Photographer:  Andrew and Melanie Photography   |  Ceremony & Reception Venue: River Highlands Ranch  |  Bride’s Gown: Maggie Sottero   |  Bridesmaids’ Dresses: LuLu’s and  Azazie  |  Hair: Kolor by Kori  |  Makeup: Amanda’s Aesthetics  |  Groom’s Party Attire:  Blue Garter Bridal and Tux  |  Guest Book: Hide Stitch and Hook  |  Cake & Desserts: Kendra McGargill  |  Caterer: Antonio’s Catering  |  Flowers: Kathy Mooney, Jodi Goux and Laura Santamaria  |  Music: DJ Klick  |  Officiant: Bob Snyder (Bride’s Best Friend’s Father)  |  Rental Items: SRC Party Rental and Tin Roof Farmhouse |  Videographer:  Davey Hibler Productions  |  Wedding Planner: Wild and Lovely Events

 

I Do’s with Spectacular Views

On a picture-perfect Lake Tahoe afternoon, Pamela and Dan blissfully exchanged wedding vows in an awe-inspiring North Shore setting.  Featuring a vibrant yellow and “Tahoe Blue” color palette, the beauty and joy of their lakefront celebration was expertly captured by Nick Higman Photography.  Nick and his associate chronicled the spirit of the day in photographs to last a lifetime.

 

As an added bonus, here are a couple of images from the photo booth provider, Cornerstone Entertainment:

 

While Pamela, a Bay Area native, often spent weekends in Tahoe with her family, Dan grew up in Nebraska where the magic of Tahoe wasn’t known to him until he moved to California after college. However, they both shared a draw to its natural beauty and endless outdoor activities.

During a short vacation from medical school, Dan and Pamela were visiting the sandy shores of Tahoe, beautifully backlit by the sunset and the Sierra Mountains, when Dan dropped down on one knee to pop the question. 

This perfect Tahoe proposal deserved the perfect Tahoe wedding – so one year later, they tied the knot beside those same crystal blue waters.  The couple selected Gar Woods Grill & Pier as the ideal venue to share their special day with friends and family and enjoy the idyllic Tahoe views.

Their wedding vision started with the sunflower, which laid the foundation for the decor.  Pamela had always loved sunflowers. They are bright and cheery, and as warm and inviting as the sweet summer sun – perfect for their Tahoe wedding.

Although they are often do-it-yourselfers, Pamela and Dan also knew when to pull in help from local vendors, who worked together to make their wedding sparkle.  Their Wedding Planner, Events of Distinction, orchestrated the logistics of their day to ensure a seamless execution.  To ensure an on-time performance, Reno Tahoe Limousine transported wedding party members to the celebration in style.

The waterfront ceremony location at Gar Woods provided an amazing panorama of the Lake’s awesome beauty.  Arrangements of sunflowers and wildflowers, creatively designed by Wanda’s Floral and Gift, lined the aisle as Pamela and Dan joyfully exchanged vows.

After witnessing wedded bliss, guests were escorted to the outdoor balcony at Gar Woods, which offered a picturesque location to watch the sunset over the Tahoe Mountains. As a full-service restaurant, Gar Woods allowed guests to select their entrée from their lakeside seats, which added a personalized feel to the delicious dinner.

After dinner, Moonlight Mobile DJ got guests revved up on the dance floor with a festive assortment of everyone’s favorite tunes.  To complement the décor and the Tahoe locale, Sugar Pine Cakery provided a cake adorned with flowers, accompanied by cupcakes and assorted desserts displayed upon tree rounds.

When the last song ended, Pamela and Dan were sad to see the festivities come to a close.  But they were thrilled knowing they had experienced a magical day, filled with the joy of family and friends coming together, celebrating by the shores of Lake Tahoe.

 

Vendor Credits

Photographer: Nick Higman Photography  |  Ceremony & Reception Venue: Gar Woods Grill & Pier  |  Cake & Desserts: Sugar Pine Cakery  |  Floral Designer: Wanda’s Floral and Gift  |  Bride’s Gown: Watters Wtoo  |  Hair: Kristie Pellegrino  |  Makeup: Kiss and Makeup Reno  |  Music: Moonlight Mobile DJ  |  Officiant: India Wood  |  Photo Booth: Cornerstone Entertainment  |  Transportation: Reno Tahoe Limousine  |  Wedding Planner: Events of Distinction

 

 

An Out of the Ordinary Wedding – Tahoe Tropical

We are delighted to feature this spectacular wedding produced by TWIG member and wedding planner extraordinaire Kerry Hawk, along with her outstanding team at Blue Sky Events.  With the azure waters of Lake Tahoe as their backdrop, this adorable couple enjoyed a sparkling celebration at the West Shore Café, which was beautifully photographed by Rose Street Studio.

Kendra and Carl are a true “Tahoe Couple.” Having grown up in small Northern California towns, they were both drawn to Tahoe by friends to pursue the “Tahoe Mountain Lifestyle.” They met one summer while both working in the Banquet Department at The Hyatt Regency in Incline Village, and life was never the same.

This delightful couple shared their vows with each other on an amazing early summer day in June, surrounded by family and friends at the lovely West Shore Cafe in Homewood.  The sweet and very special Ceremony took place on the expansive lawn, overlooking the different shades of Tahoe Blue, complete with a surprise Bagpiper to honor both families.

The bride’s chic vision was beautifully executed with the help of Blue Sky Events, with elegant details and exotic florals from Stems by Diana. Though not the normal Tahoe décor, the tropical theme chosen by the couple blended perfectly with the clear blue waters of the Lake.  Explains Kendra, “I wanted something to stand out and not be the typical theme – we liked the juxtaposition. That’s also why we chose king proteas as our main flower – it is so unique and majestic and out of the ordinary.”

For the cocktail hour, mingling and hors d’oeuvres on the deck and pier was finished with an outstanding sunset. Then, guests moved inside the Main Dining Room for a scrumptious dinner.  Paying homage to where Kendra and Carl had met, the magnificent cake and delicious whoopee pies were provided by The Hyatt Regency.  The celebration continued into the night with joyful dancing, courtesy of Brian Hess Music.

 

Vendor Credits

Wedding Planner: Blue Sky Events  |  Photographer: Rose Street Studio  |  Ceremony & Reception Venue: West Shore Café   |  Floral Designer: Stems by Diana  |  Dress Designer: Hayley Paige |  Hair & Makeup: Kiss and Makeup |  Cake & Desserts: Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe  |  Linens: La Tavola  |   Ceremony Bagpiper: Sean Cummings  |   Reception Music: Brian Hess Music  |  Videographer: Dax Victorino Films

 

Happily Ever After Begins With a Tahoe Lakefront Setting

It was truly an honor to have world-renowned photographer, Catherine Hall, submit her lakefront wedding for publication in our blog. Catherine has fabulously photographed weddings all over the world, but until we received her submittal, we had no idea how strong her connection to the North Lake Tahoe area is… so strong that once Erik proposed, they knew immediately where they wanted to have their wedding celebration.

 

 

As a photographer and creative director of Catherine Hall Studios, Catherine knows how to capture the moment. So when she spotted Erik on a dance floor at the Wanderlust Festival in Squaw Valley, she knew that she had to take action. After some urging from her sister, Catherine asked Erik to dance. They stayed up until 3 in the morning, and the rest was history.

“I knew she was the one after our first kiss that night,” Erik says. It was on a trip to the Redwoods that Erik, owner of Strategic Event Evolution and Design, made it official. He led Catherine to a secluded redwood grove. Surrounded by the towering trees, Erik proposed.

“I was so shocked that I did not even answer yes for a long time,” Catherine recalls. “He had to ask me twice!” Of course, she happily accepted the ring, a sparkling vintage piece carefully chosen by the groom.

Catherine’s artistic DNA came into play during planning, as she and Erik envisioned a wedding that truly represented the couple: warm, modern, unique… and of course, Lake Tahoe. You see, not only did the couple meet in the North Lake Tahoe area, but Catherine was practically raised on the slopes of Squaw Valley, racing as a member of their Ski Team for 10 years. So, for their perfect wedding venue, the couple chose a stunning, secluded retreat – a charming lakefront home owned by a close family friend.

“The environment of Tahoe and the lake is so beautiful that we wanted the wedding design to compliment, not compete,” Catherine says. With the couple’s direction, their team of service providers created perfect blend of romantic and rustic: elegant white roses paired with natural greenery, tiny glass vessels filled with wildflowers, tables adorned with pinecones and knotty wood accents. A swirled white cake from Sugar Pine Cakery sat atop a tree stump, while lights twinkled from the ceiling of the tent installed by Camelot Party Rentals.

With Lake Tahoe’s serene waters as their backdrop, Catherine and Erik joyfully exchanged vows in their lakefront location. The bride wore a delicate fluted lace dress from Pronovias, while the groom donned a handsome blue Ted Baker suit. The bridesmaids wore floor-length BHLDN dresses in a pretty shade of periwinkle, paired with JBalducci moondrop earrings gifted by the bride. The groomsmen wore gray suits, complete with matching Michael Kors ties gifted by Erik.

Personal touches made the big day all the more special. For her “something borrowed” and “something blue,” Catherine wore her grandmother’s favorite aquamarine ring, and her grandmother’s wedding band was displayed on the bouquet. For drinks, they served specialty cocktails, both hilariously named by Erik: “The Bridezilla” and “The Yes Man.”

Erik also surprised the bride with a heartfelt gift that symbolized their relationship. “When we first started dating, we were at a gallery and I noticed an art piece that showed an extreme, most beautiful connection between the couple,” Catherine recalls fondly. “I remarked that this connection reminded me of us. He surprised me with the original painting.”

Through the excitement, Catherine and Erik treasured being in the moment during their lakefront wedding celebration, and from that experience, Catherine offers this word of advice for other brides-to-be: “Be present on the wedding day,” she says. “Don’t stress out. Enjoy every minute.”

Vendor Credits

Photographer: Sallee Photography | Planner: MAP Events | Ceremony & Reception Venue: Private Estate in North Lake Tahoe | Floral Designer: Asiel Design | Dress Designer: Pronovias | Bridesmaid Dress Designer: BHLDN | Wedding Dress Boutique: Novella Bride | Groom’s Wardrobe Designer: Ted Baker | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Groom’s Shoes: Cole Haan | Bride’s Jewelry & Accessories: Nordstrom | Groom’s wedding band: Jewelry by Johan | Engagement ring: Vintage | Hair & Makeup: SHE artists | Invitations: Starboard Press | Wedding Paper Goods: The DIY Store | Officiant: Robert Novogratz | Caterer: As You Wish Catering | Cake & Desserts: Sugar Pine Cakery | Rentals & Lighting: Camelot Party Rentals | Linen: Napa Valley Linens | Ceremony & Reception Music: Mixx Company Band | Videography: AVR Films | Transportation: Northstar Transportation