Posts Categorized: Real Weddings
Love Wins Out at The Hideout
Tawny and Andrew first met during their senior year of high school near Houston, Texas. Andrew caught Tawny’s eye, and she convinced a mutual friend to set them up as dates for the prom. Following high school, they were separated for eight years by college and career building. Nevertheless, a long-distance love sprouted and continued to grow.
After orchestrating a surprise proposal in their hometown, Andrew finally joined Tawny in Southern California, where she had established a thriving career as a professional dancer. In seeking a secluded site for their wedding celebration, the couple chose The Hideout at Kirkwood. Not only is The Hideout located on forty acres of pristine mountain terrain, but it allows couples to create weddings that are personal and unique, choosing which parts of the venue they want to use and when.
Complete with fun wooden signs hung on trees to set the mood, and a gorgeously delicate lace dress for the bride, Tawny and Andrew’s special day was delightfully chronicled by Marie-Louise Palmqvist and Rob Cole of VILD Photography. “By choosing neutral and natural colors,” Palmqvist commented, “the couple allowed the natural beauty to really shine through all of the pictures we captured.”
What was the photographer’s most memorable moment? Palmqvist recalls, “While it’s hard to choose a ‘favorite shot,’ getting to capture the couple beneath their ‘send off’ parachute really was something we’ll never forget.”
Venue: The Hideout at Kirkwood | Photographer: VILD Photography | Bride’s Dress: Ventura’s Bridal Fashions | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids Dresses: Vera Wang for David’s Bridal | Groom’s Party Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Hair and Makeup: Bridal Beauty On-the-Go | Flowers: Enchanted Florist | Rentals: Forever Vintage Rentals | Invitations: Vista Print | Caterer: Lake Tahoe Catering Company | Cake: Lake Tahoe Cakes | Music: Music in Tahoe
Snowy Nuptials on the West Shore
For a Lake Tahoe winter wedding, the weather is always unpredictable. It can be bright and sunny, with the Lake looking dazzlingly azure. Or on the other hand, Mother Nature might decide to drop some bridal white snowflakes on the celebration. But no matter what the weather may be on a Tahoe winter day, it’s always a memorable occasion for a wedding!
When Will and Joyce selected the West Shore Café as the site for their celebration, they were hoping for a clear wedding day. They envisioned snow-covered mountains and a brilliant blue Lake on full display for their guests to behold. But instead, Old Man Winter decided to add himself to their guest list.
So when snow began to fall on the morning of their wedding, Will and Joyce were faced with a choice. They could move the ceremony inside the West Shore Café where guests would be sheltered from the elements. Or they could let their guests experience the authentic beauty of Lake Tahoe in the winter, and keep the ceremony outside as they had planned.
Since some family members had traveled all the way from China to witness their marriage, Will and Joyce quickly reached a decision. Celebrating in the snow was the only way to go!
The couple’s wintry wedding was creatively captured by Andrew & Melanie Photography. Tahoe Engaged is delighted to share these photos of Will and Joyce’s unforgettable day.
In the end, Will and Joyce were glad that they braved the storm, and the guests reveled in experiencing a Lake Tahoe winter wedding. Of course, they were also happy to come indoors for a heartwarming dinner and festive dancing afterwards. But the bride’s dad asked the photographers to come back outside for one more memorable moment. Even with all the snow piled up on his car, he was grinning ear to ear, giving a big “thumbs up” for the magical day that he had enjoyed.
Ceremony and Reception Site: West Shore Café | Photography: Andrew & Melanie Photography | Wedding Planner: Wild & Lovely Events | Hair & Makeup: Salon Be | Music: Modern Wedding DJ’s | Catering: West Shore Café | Desserts: Cafe Madeline
Rustic and Relaxed at Granlibakken Tahoe
A nature-loving couple living in the big City, Whitney and Richard really wanted an outdoor venue for their wedding. Whitney liked boho elements, so the couple was seeking something on the rustic side. After seeing some sites in San Francisco, they realized that Lake Tahoe was a much better fit for their style. Plus, Tahoe already had a special place in their hearts – Whitney and Richard got engaged there too!
Meeting and Engaging
Whitney and Richard met when they were students at the University of Oregon. They dated there for a while, then went their separate ways, but remained friends. Eight years later, they reconnected. The couple dated long distance until Whitney was able to join Richard in San Francisco.
They got engaged at the top of Squaw Valley’s KT-22 chairlift during a late-season ski trip. On a previous visit, Richard had scoped out a gorgeous tree with a backdrop of Lake Tahoe. But to reach the spot he had selected, they had to go past an “Experts Only” sign, which scared Whitney.
Fortunately for Richard, he was able to convince Whitney to go up to his chosen proposal place, and she excitedly said “Yes!” when he popped the question. And fortunately for Whitney, they skied down an easier way afterwards. [Publisher’s Note: There is no such thing as an “easy” way down from KT-22, so they both must be great skiers!]
Wedding Planning Particulars
Regarding their search for the right site, Whitney explains how she and Richard reached their decision. “Granlibakken had the onsite accommodations we were hoping for, a low-key vibe and the property possesses a lot of natural beauty,” she notes. Richard had even stayed at the property as a kid when his family frequently visited Tahoe.
While Whitney likes being creative, she didn’t want to DIY anything for her wedding. “It was really important to me to just be able to enjoy the day and not have to be fussing about other things,” she says.
The groom personalized the day in one special area: his hobby, calligraphy. Richard wrote names on the escort cards for each guest. “Just kind of a nice touch that I wanted to add,” he says.
The Big Day
Even though their wedding was in early June, the couple was concerned about the weather. “There had been a ton of snow in Tahoe this year,” says Whitney, who visited the venue a month before the wedding and found patches of show all around. Nevertheless, Whitney and Richard decided to have the wedding outside. There was a little rain in the morning, but then it cleared. “It really was perfect,” she says. “Sunny and warm.”
One hundred guests attended the wedding, including the bride’s family from her home state of Alaska, as well as guests from Ireland, Texas and other parts of California. Richard’s long-time friend, Mac, officiated the ceremony.
Before their I Do’s, Whitney and Richard had a First Look, then spent some additional time together. Whitney recalls, “We took some time to go to a pier to take some photos with our photographers. And despite the fact that it threw off our timeline a tiny bit, it was totally worth it to have that quiet alone time before the ceremony.”
Many wedding details stood out for the couple. For example, their florist, Love and Lupines, created a stunning arch, bouquets and centerpieces. Rental items from Celebrations! Party Rentals, along with a “Tahoe Tree” napkin fold fashioned by Granlibakken, added to the ambience. And cupcakes from Sugar Pine Cakery were so yummy (guests kept devouring them!) that the newlyweds almost didn’t get any.
After an outdoor ceremony and dinner, it started to rain, so the party moved inside the Big Pine Lodge, where the wedding party stayed for the weekend. The indoor setting provided the perfect opportunity for toasting the newlyweds.
Back outside, two-thirds of the dance floor was covered by the lodge’s roof to keep people dry, but water lovers also had the option to dance under the drops. “There was never a dull moment on the dance floor and we never had to lure people out to the party,” says Whitney. Guests especially enjoyed dancing to Led Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain.”
As the night wound down, Whitney and Richard relaxed by the fire pit for some late night portraits with their photographer, Marie-Louise Palmqvist, owner of VILD Photography. Palmqvist recalls the wedding fondly. “Perfectly laid back, the entire day couldn’t have gone more smoothly, which meant we simply got to enjoy taking photos,” she says.
Looking back on the day, Whitney and Richard were grateful for all of their service providers who helped make it a memorable experience for everyone. “Honestly, the day from start to finish was completely magical,” says Whitney.
Hire a planner. The couple, who lived in San Francisco while they planned their Tahoe Wedding, recommends hiring a local planner to assist with wedding details. “Our planner, Stephanie Morris of Stephanie Marie & Co. was hugely instrumental in the way everything unfolded, including the months leading up to the wedding,” says Whitney, who praised the planner’s help finding and hiring vendors. “We couldn’t have pulled it off so successfully without her.”
Relax and roll with it. Palmqvist loved the couple’s dance party at the end of the celebration. She also praised Whitney and Richard for how they handled the changing weather. “It’s not worth freaking out if the weather changes,” she says. “Keeping a good attitude and enjoying the day for what the day is, that’s the best thing you can do.”
Trust your service providers to make it great. As she began to plan her wedding, Whitney recalls, “I definitely spent a lot of time on Pinterest and Instagram, and while helpful, I think it may have been more overwhelming than anything. There is so much beautiful inspiration out there, but it sort of left me feeling lost.” But then the couple placed their trust in the team of experienced service providers they hired (including 3 members of Tahoe Engaged). In the end, Whitney concluded, “I know we’re biased, but for us, everything was just perfect.”
Photographer: VILD Photography | Venue and Catering: Granlibakken Tahoe | Bride’s Dress: Eddy K | Bridal Salon: Bataeu Bridal Boutique | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: BHLDN | Groom & Groomsmen’s Attire: Indochino | Wedding Planner: Stephanie Marie & Co. | Hair and Makeup: Solstice Weddings and Special Events | Florist: Love & Lupines Floral Design | Rental Items: Celebrations! Party Rentals | Cake Designer: Sugar Pine Cakery | Music: DJ Tony
Showered with Love
On a Spring Saturday in Squaw Valley, the skies were overcast and showers were in the forecast. For Lauren and Mikael, this gray day was a great day for their wedding.
Photographer Tim Halberg captured all the precious moments and delicious details of this beautiful celebration.
The couple, who met online on Match.com, dated for two years before getting engaged in a very romantic moment. They spent the day at the beach in Half Moon Bay with their puppy. On the way home, they stopped for dinner and drinks at the Moss Beach Distillery. Before dinner, they enjoyed the fire pits and snuggled in blankets on the dog-friendly patio, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Then right before sunset, Mikael, a firefighter, suggested taking a photo out on the picturesque cliff. He popped the question on a path overlooking the beach. “The whole outside of the restaurant exploded in cheers and applause,” says Lauren, who works in medical device sales. “It was amazing.”
The couple wanted a destination style wedding that their guests could drive to, spend the weekend and all enjoy time together. Lauren and Mikael fell in love with the Resort at Squaw Creek during their venue tour.
“It is a magical place where beautiful meadows are surrounded by snowcapped mountains,” gushes Lauren. “The outside was perfect and we loved that our guests could stay at the hotel, walk to the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception. And the bonus was Sandy’s Pub, where we could host an after-party. Truly a romantic location.”
The Color Palette
A gray, white and green color scheme provided a perfect match for the couple’s Tahoe nuptials. “We wanted to use natural colors that would enhance the beauty of Tahoe and not take away from it,” says Lauren. These color choices blended harmoniously with the cloud cover, the majestic mountains and the verdant valley that surrounded the couple.
The ceremony was held on the resort’s spa deck. “The ceremony was simple and romantic, with the outdoor fireplace overlooking the meadow and snowcapped mountains,” says the bride.
Lauren looked stunning in a lacy gown with a low beaded back from Enzoani, along with impeccable hair & makeup from Love is in the Hair. Mikael wore a charcoal grey suit, with a grey and silver paisley tie, white pocket square, watch and cuff links, a gift from his bride.
Seeing each other for the first time at the wedding was emotional for the bride and groom. “He looked so handsome and he was so happy. I knew he was the man I was meant to marry and I just couldn’t wait to hold his hands and be there with him, as we said ‘I do,’” recalls Lauren. Mikael remarks, “There was the most amazing and beautiful woman in the world and she was coming down the stairs to marry me. I was fighting tears her whole way down the aisle.”
The couple wrote their own vows. As soon as Mikael slid the wedding band on Lauren’s finger, it started to rain. Lauren says that moment felt magical. (In some cultures, rain on your wedding day is considered auspicious, as it symbolizes cleansing and fertility.)
Guests opened their umbrellas and savored the moment. The bride says it made for some laughs and amazing pictures. “There is a picture of us walking down the aisle after we were married and my brother hands me an umbrella,” says Mikael. “I’m holding Lauren’s hand and so the umbrella is actually over me and not her. I caught a lot of flak for not covering her with it, but it makes for a great picture.”
The reception was also held at the resort in the ballroom. “The reception was gorgeous with champagne drapes, elegant lighting and beautiful flowers,” says Lauren. The ballroom had two big windows and a patio which the couple and their guests used for a cigar and whiskey bar, which Lauren says, “was a big hit.”
The menu included hors d’oeuvres, salad and an entrée choice of grilled NY sirloin, stuffed chicken with chevre fondue or cauliflower steak with smoked tomato, grilled Portobello, roasted shallots and pine nuts. For dessert, everyone enjoyed vanilla sponge cake, strawberry filling, vanilla buttercream frosting and chocolate covered strawberries, as well as treats like mini cake bites, mini strawberry shortcake and chocolate, caramel pistachio bites.
The Photographer’s View
Photographer Tim Halberg loved shooting Lauren and Mikael’s wedding. Here he shares a few teachable moments from this wedding:
“Getting ready on property makes things way more relaxing and saves time on the wedding day,” he says. “Making time for portraits when the light is best was a win. Having a coordinator to run the day and ensure all of the details were in place.”
He also appreciated how much the couple embraced Mother Nature. He says Lauren and Mikael were OK with the rain coming down a little bit and not letting it ruin the day. It only added to the experience and made things special. “It’s Tahoe/the Sierra Nevada…rain happens, and it’s a beautiful thing.”
Comments from the Couple
“Give yourself enough time and hire a wedding planner,” advises Lauren.
“Support your wife and don’t forget to have fun,” says Mikael.
“It truly was the best day getting to marry Mikael and having so many of our loved ones celebrate with us,” says Lauren. “No other time in our lives will all our loved ones be at the same place with us. It was definitely a weekend we’ll never forget.”
Photographer: Tim Halberg | Venue and Catering: The Resort at Squaw Creek | Wedding Planner: Audere Events | Hair and Makeup: Love Is In The Hair | Florist: Stems by Diana | Rental Items: Celebrations! Party Rentals | Music: DJ Eli FreshMode
The River of Love
Camie and Eric met in a very Tahoe way – skiing at Squaw Valley! Three years later, they got engaged while on a river rafting trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River with Western Rivers Conservancy.
Camie fondly recalls Eric’s proposal. “He’d arranged for us to go out one morning to Big Creek where we were planning to hike and fish. On my first cast I caught a fish, which never happens. I was asking Eric to help me bring in the line and he was scrambling in his backpack getting the ring. After we let go of the fish, he proposed! I was shocked and very, very excited.”
The following August, Camie and Eric were married at their own estate, the Bullshead Lodge near Squaw Valley. Monique Sady with Photography by Monique captured these spectacular images of their special day.
“From the moment we got engaged, we knew we wanted to get married in Tahoe,” says Camie. “We looked around at a few locations but quickly realized that the property we have would provide a perfect venue as it sits right on the Truckee River. We had a lot of work to do to get it into shape to be the venue.”
Chelsea Grabham with Blue Sky Events, who was the full service Lead Planner and Designer for this wedding, recalls first visiting the venue during winter when it was covered in several feet of snow. “Upon seeing the property for the first time, it was hard to determine the scope of work needed to develop the site for a wedding with over 100 guests,” she says. “With so much snow at the first meeting, and a willow glen in the area where they envisioned the reception, it was clear that it would take a lot of work once the snow melted to get everything in order.”
Grabham continues, “Come Spring, there were only a few short months to design the site, landscape and build the ceremony and reception spaces. It took a lot of coordination between all the partners (landscaper, wedding planner, rental company and owners) to come to final decisions. In the end, the property was completely transformed, much of the hard work done by the clients themselves! It made for a very special venue that was extra personal to them.”
It was also a hectic time for the couple – Eric had just started his own company and Camie had started a new job. But with their friends, parents and Eric’s brothers, all the hard work paid off. Camie was delighted, as she remarked, “seeing the property transform was remarkable after working hard many weekends.”
Designer Paul Waters helped Camie and Eric create a custom wedding image for their Save the Date and invitations. The green and white color scheme coordinated perfectly with the natural beauty of the private estate. A pop of coral (the bride’s favorite hue) added some summer spirit to the design.
“It was a perfect representation of us in a canoe (which is my nickname) on a river (given their importance to our relationship) with Squaw Valley’s mountains in the background,” Camie explains.
Camie looked stunning in a Sarah Seven gown, which featured a beaded top and ivory skirt with a slit in the front. She wore gold drop earrings and a gold bracelet (a family heirloom) that her mother had given her. Eric wore a tan tuxedo with a bowtie.
As 130 guests looked on, the bride entered the ceremony area down a large stone stairway, which was built just for the wedding. “It was a special entrance to witness. The bride walked down the stone steps to meet her father at the bottom who took her the rest of the way to the river front ceremony.” says Grabham. The couple’s friend Drew Dougherty (who also helped transform the property) officiated the ceremony, recounting the couple’s courtship and adding humor.
Since Eric had torn his Achilles tendon just one month before the big day and wasn’t able to stand during the ceremony, the bride and groom sat in chairs facing the guests. “It was really nice to hear the ceremony for the first time while facing our guests and each other,” says Camie, noting that she and Eric wrote their own vows. “Exchanging our vows was so much fun. They represented our personalities and humor. They were heartfelt, personal and represented our commitment to each other.”
Following the ceremony, guests followed a short trail through the forest for a cocktail hour at the river’s edge. In addition to savoring tasty treats from Butter + Salt Catering, guests had an opportunity to fish and play games by the river.
Grabham enjoyed seeing the guests having so much fun. “One guest picked up one of the fly fishing rods that were placed by the groom and started fishing while others were playing bocce ball on the river-stone beach. The groom is an avid fisherman and wanted the river to be a big part of the wedding. It all happened so organically and was exactly how the clients imagined it!”
While guests were reveling by the river, the ceremony space was turned into a delightful site for dining and dancing. A sumptuous family-style meal was served, featuring Grilled Peach & Shishito Salad, Sumac Roasted Salmon and Grilled Tri-Tip. To top off the meal, Paris Cakes in Reno created a beautiful two-tiered wedding cake. The top tier was diary-free since Camie could not have dairy.
The couple asked their respective parents and Eric’s brothers to give toasts during the reception. Then, a top Tahoe band, the Dead Winter Carpenters, revved up the music and guests danced the night away. Camie recalls, “The band was so much fun and such a special treat to have them play in the woods with us.”
In the end, the wedding day was a dream come true for the couple. “Getting married at our house in our backyard and see it transform to an enchanted forest with the river, live music and all of my favorite people was overwhelming,” says Camie. “We had so much fun and it felt very intimate and romantic.”
“Some may imagine that it is easier to have a wedding at a private estate and believe there are cost savings, however it takes much more time, resources and planning than if you were to get married at an event center or ‘turnkey’ venue,” says Grabham, noting that being flexible and hiring reputable professionals are the most important things a couple can do to assure a successful wedding.
Before signing any contracts for a “private estate wedding,” you should ask lots of questions. For example, you should not rent a wedding venue that is not permitted or zoned by the county to be a wedding site. You also need to be sure there is adequate electricity for additional property lighting, tent heaters, music equipment, etc. In addition, you should consider things like parking, bathrooms, water supply, and all the other logistics of building an event venue from scratch, while ensuring it’s a comfortable and safe space for you and your guests.
Wedding Planning & Design: Blue Sky Events | Photographer: Photography by Monique | Cake: Paris Custom Cakes | Caterer: Butter + Salt | Flowers: Martha Bernyk Floral Design | Hair and Makeup: The Decorated Bride | Music: Dead Winter Carpenters | Rental Items and Tenting: Celebrations! Party Rentals and Tents | Transportation: Reno Tahoe Transportation | Videographer: Distinctive Video Productions
The Height of Nuptial Bliss
Adrian and Nate met through mutual friends at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo when she was on the women’s lacrosse team and he was on the men’s team. They dated for five years before getting engaged at the summit of Mount Tallac on the South Shore of Tahoe during a morning hike on the 4th of July weekend.
A little over a year later, they were married outside the Zephyr Lodge at Northstar California, in a fall wedding. “I always knew I wanted to get married in Tahoe,” says Adrian, who spent her childhood summers at her parent’s cabin at Fallen Leaf Lake.
Their photographer, Ciprian Photography, captured all of the magical moments, while their Wedding Planner, Stephanie Marie & Co. made sure their special day flowed smoothly. “Establishing a rapport with my clients is paramount to having successful working relationships,” says Ciprian. “Adrian and Nate were just that, easy to get to know, talk to and communicate with. Wonderful couple.”
Most of the 115 guests were from the Bay Area, as well as out-of-town guests, including some from England, Switzerland, Austria, New York, Maine, Colorado, Washington and Oregon. Since many guests were traveling a long distance, Adrian and Nate valued having a venue that could host both the ceremony and reception. “The reason we picked this location was honestly the gondola/ski lift ride on the way up,” says Adrian. “We thought, ‘what a cool way to get to a wedding?!’”
The couple had a First Look photo session in Northstar Village. Adrian remembers feeling overwhelmed and excited when she first saw her groom. “I would not label myself as a ‘crier’ but immediately burst into tears when I saw Nate,” she says. “After all the wedding build up for 14 months, I was so comforted to see him that I burst into tears.” Nate recalls that he grew “increasingly happy as I saw how happy Adrian was.”
Then the wedding party took the gondola and chairlift up to the fields surrounding the Zephyr Lodge. Adrian loved her wedding flowers from Love & Lupines, especially the bouquets and the ceremony “altar piece” from Manzanita Glow. She wanted the décor to be natural as possible, so she chose earth tones including greens, maroons, oranges, dark yellows, wood and bronze. Their coordinating invitations were on brown recycled paper with a rose gold tree ring print.
The ceremony was very personal, with all of the content created by the bride, the groom or their officiant Graham, who is Adrian’s brother-in-law. “We wrote our own vows, had a couple of readings by family members and walked down the aisle to acoustic guitar,” says Adrian, who wore a V-neck, floor length dress, with a key hole on the back in a large laser print lace. “It was very special.”
The couple loved their reception at Zephyr Lodge. Guests dined on Mexican food followed by individual pies, instead of cake. Then it was time for dancing. Nate remarked, “All of our friends and family let loose and you got to see everyone’s personality as we all danced together.”
Adrian recalls her favorite wedding day memory: “Right after our ceremony, after we had just walked back into Zephyr, and we were by ourselves for like three seconds and both of us realizing we were married!”
Nate was surprised by how quickly the wedding day went. “Luckily, the pictures were a great way to remember each moment afterwards,” he says.
The newlyweds advise other couples to plan some alone time during the big day to reflect on everything that is going on. “There is only one day of your wedding, so take a minute to soak it in and recharge for the next event and interactions,” says Nate.
Ceremony & Reception Site: Northstar California | Photographer: Ciprian Photography | Wedding Planner: Stephanie Marie & Co. | Ceremony Décor Rentals: Manzanita Glow | Hair & Makeup: Art of Beauty | Flowers: Love & Lupines | Desserts: Flour Girl Wedding Cakes | Music: Brian Hess Music