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!

Bride on Pier Lake Tahoe weddingPhoto: 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.

Winter Wedding in Lake TahoePhoto: Charleton Churchill Photography

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.

Wedding Party in Forest Ritz-Carlton Lake TahoePhoto:  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. 

Your Lake Tahoe Wedding Invitation – Getting It “Write”

Your Lake Tahoe wedding invitation should set the tone to elicit a “must-attend” response from your guests.  Although electronic invitations may have become more feasible with technological advancements, it is still considered “proper etiquette” to send a beautiful paper invitation through the good old U.S. Postal Service.  More importantly, in this day and age of incessant spam in our in-boxes, a mailed invitation shows your guests that you have made the effort to personally request their presence at your wedding, and it will better motivate them to be there.

Union Street Papery is the ultimate destination for sensational stationery.  These paper mavens have their pulse on all the latest designs and trends, so you can express your style with pizazz, and get your guests buzzing about your big day.

 

Here are the typical components of your wedding stationery wardrobe:

  • The wedding invitation piece is the main event and should include your names. If your parents are helping to pay for the wedding, it should include their names as well. Other details include date, time, ceremony location and reception if they are in the same location.  Since you may want to frame your invitation do not write in the corners “Adults Only”, “Black Tie” or “No Gifts”.  Save this information for a separate Information card.
  • If your reception is in a different location than the ceremony, you will need a Reception Card with the name and address of the wedding reception. Also include the time the reception starts and provide information as to what type of meal will be served, such as “Dinner and Dancing”. 
  • A Transportation / Information Card typically is two sided with easy to read font. If you are providing group transportation to and from the wedding from one or more hotel properties, specify the name of the hotel and what time to meet in the hotel lobby for departure.  If the guests are self-driving to the wedding, provide detail driving instructions that you have driven, do not rely on directions from Google.  If you are having an outdoor ceremony, cocktails and/or reception provide this information, and give average temperatures for this time of year and advise on attire and proper footwear.
  • For Pre and Post Wedding Weekend Events, you should have a separate card listing the activities, location, time, what to wear and if transportation will be provided.
  • The Response Card should have a space for guests to write their name indicating if they will or will not attend the wedding. If you are offering a meal choice, have the guest indicate their entrée preference by writing their name(s) next to the choices you are offering.  If you are providing group transportation, have guests confirm they are taking transportation and if there is more than one hotel in your room block, specify the hotel name.  For pre and post wedding weekend events, have them RVSP to all events attending.  You will want to pre-stamp all your response cards for your guests convenience (US only not overseas).
  • The Envelope Please… It’s gorgeous to line your envelope, so select a lining that will wow and coordinate with your wedding invitation and all the wardrobe pieces going inside.

 

We caught up with Stacey, the Top Doll at Union Street Papery, to learn more about their approach to creating an inviting wedding invitation.

When and how did you get into the stationery business?

My first high school job was at a beautiful local stationery store that I had shopped at as a kid. I loved paper and stickers, and lucked into landing a job there. I quickly moved from general retail to invitation design and consultation which really captured me.


How do you stay on top of the latest stationery trends?

We have built some amazing relationships with designers and other stationers over the years, and are in constant communication with them. Instagram and Pinterest have been very influential (and helpful to dig into the wedding vibe of our couples), as have a few blogs and publications along the way.

New vendors/designers reach out to us on a daily basis, so we can follow up on what interests us and work for our clientele.


What’s the best way for a wedding couple to prepare for their first stationery visit?

Doing even just a little homework first is somewhat helpful: creating Pinterest board showing color, florals, site location can really help us focus in on their invitation style. Having an idea of budget and items that they want to include in the suite can really set us off in the right direction as well. We understand that this is usually a once in a lifetime experience that they need help and guidance with, so we also are prepared to explain all the options from the beginning. Their invitations are the first true glimpse into their wedding, and we hope that is as important to them as it is to us.


What is your approach to working with wedding couples?

We really try to get to know our couples story: How they met, where they come from, what they do, what is important to them, why they have chosen their venue, etc. We encourage them to put their personality into their paper, just as they will to the rest of the event. We can guide them as much or as little as they want, customize anything with art, graphics, or calligraphy to set just the right tone for their big day.

 

Other Inviting Tips

We recommend sending hotel information with your Save the Date, not the wedding invitation.  Hotel room blocks should be secured as soon as you know your wedding date and reception location, because guests need to make their flights and other travel plans sooner than two months before the wedding.  Also, many hotel properties have release dates on their room blocks, so you will want your guests to make their reservations several months before the wedding. 

Once your wedding stationery ensemble has been printed, it’s time to take one invitation set to the post office to weigh.  With all the components, it will definitely weigh more than your average envelope.  Once you know the postage price per envelope, you can select a stamp that you love by either selecting something the post office currently offers, or having a custom stamp created for you.  You can also have your wedding envelopes professionally hand addressed by a calligrapher – now that’s attention grabbing! 

Finally, please, please make sure you have the stamps hand-cancelled when bringing them to your local post office.  Do not drop them into the black hole of a blue mailbox, because the Postal Service machinery may not be kind to your wedding invitation.  Then, sit back and experience the excitement as the responses start to roll in!

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

 

Be a Tahoe “Green” Wedding Guest

Being green isn’t a trend, it’s a lifestyle, especially in the Sierra Nevada. Environmentalism is the characteristic spirit of our Lake Tahoe culture, and as a wedding guest to our community, you can partake in our beliefs and aspirations too.  With just a few ‘in-the-know” tips, it’s not difficult for your wedding guests to be eco-friendly, and help keep Tahoe “green” (and blue)!

 

As a wedding couple, you can help promote sustainable modes of transportation to your guests.  Anyone who is concerned about the impact of driving from the Bay Area to Tahoe for a Lake Tahoe destination wedding should consider riding Tahoe Convoy.  A luxury weekend shuttle, Tahoe Convoy brings Bay Area residents to the Lake, traveling Eastbound on Friday evenings and returning westbound on Sunday evenings.  Another green alternative is the Amtrak California Zephyr passenger train, which has a stop in Truckee’s Historic Downtown.

Once your guests arrive in North Tahoe, they can be car-free!  There is a local bus system – the Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit (TART), an extensive bike path network, bike share systems, and multiple taxi operators as well as Lyft and Uber. For the day of your wedding, Reno Tahoe Limousine offers a wide variety of group transportation options to take your guests from their hotel to the wedding location.

Recommend that your guests stay at the Cedar House Sport Hotel, a “lifestyle hotel with a strong environmental consciousness.”  The hotel was sustainably built using recycled materials and adheres to LEED environmental standards. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.)  Give your guests a gentle reminder that when they leave their hotel rooms, to please turn off all the lights and power down the thermostat.

Once your guests have arrived in the Lake Tahoe region, it’s important for them to stay hydrated.  The humidity is lower, and some of the Tahoe wedding venues are perched on high-elevation mountain tops.  So, suggest that your guests bring a reusable water bottle with them during their stay – they can fill up at any of the fountains throughout North Lake Tahoe.

We hope you will make a vow to a green lifestyle and live environmentally ever after.  Happy Earth Day each and every day!

 

Credits:

Image #1 –  Photography:  Simply Rose  |  Floral Design:  Garden Party Flowers

Image #2 –  Photo credit:  Kaleb Norman James Design

Image #3 –  Photography:  Mark Andrew Studios | Planning, Floral Design, Styling & Production:  Rebecca Rose Events |  Calligraphy:  Carole Murray

Image #4 –  Photo:  Cayton Photography

Image #5 – Photography:  La Dolce Vita

Image #6 –  Photo credit:  Jamali Garden

Image #7 –  Photography:  Alea Moore Photography  |  Calligraphy:  Callie Brennen Design

Image #8 –  Photography:  Greg Finck

Image #9 –  Photography:  Simply Rose  |  Cake Design:  Sweet Naturally Bakery

 

A Season of Change – Tahoe Spring Weddings

Old Man Winter is a little late in leaving this year, but soon we will be welcoming warmer weather in the North Lake Tahoe region.  There’s something spectacular about Spring in the Sierra Nevada.  We dust off the biking trails, don our wetsuits to paddle the lake and start working our golf swing again.  

And it’s a wonderful time for a wedding!  How lucky you are if you have chosen to get married in the season of abundant flowers, pastel palettes and edible garden delights.  Here are some inspirations for you to consider.

 

Seasonal Savings

When it comes to choosing what time of year to get married in the Lake Tahoe area, it pays to check out the value pricing offered during the spring season. While the snow covers the ski slopes from December through Easter, the hotels, restaurants and other services in Tahoe are at their peak season, and pricing is generally higher. 

But during the shoulder season in Lake Tahoe – which is after Spring Break but before the schoolkids return to hit the beach in June – prices are typically less expensive.  Wedding venues and service providers usually have more availability, making it easier for you to get your first choice. The winter and summer crowds are no longer here, making spring a pleasant time to get around the Lake with ease.

Floral Abundance

The grounds are awakening with spring and everything is coming up roses… along with your other in-season loves of peonies, daffodils, gerbera daisies, hyacinth, ranunculus and tulips. Selecting in-season flowers is a smart way of saving. Plant your ceremony aisles with potted blooms, garnish your glass of bubbly with edible petals, or adorn your beverage station in a plethora of florals.  Always consult with your florist to get the most bang for your buck.

Farm to Table Culinary Expressions

If you have selected a Tahoe spring wedding you’ll be able to offer your guests a fresh seasonal banquet from the garden. Avoid the heavy comfort foods from winter and start with a bright, hearty mix spring salad.  Add a colorful pop of rainbow carrots, heirloom tomatoes and top it off with a citrus vinaigrette.  Wedding Brunches are perfect for spring, featuring action food stations that offer everything from vegetable omelets to Spring Lamb.  Sourcing locally is huge in Lake Tahoe, whether it’s fresh produce or local beers, ask your catering pro to help you create a menu to remember.

 

So spring forward for a gloriously verdant Tahoe wedding!  The members of Tahoe Engaged are here to help you create a delightful celebration.

 

Credits:

Image #1 –  Photography: Studio Ohlala

Image #2 –  Photography: Natalie Watson  |  Stationery: Ceci New York  |  Calligraphy: The Left Handed Calligrapher

Image #3 –  Photography: Austin Gros  |  Floral Design: Amy Merrick

Image #4 –  Photography: Sawyer Baird  |  Event Design: Samantha Anderson Events  |  Planning: Chancey Charm  |  Floral Design: Stephanie Gibbs Events  |  Rentals: Snyder Event Rentals

Image #5 – Photography: Julie Paisley

Image #6 –  Photography: Christine Chang  |  Planning: So Happi Together

Image #7 –  Photography: Theo Milo  |  Event Planning & Design: WED  |  Floral Design: SYG Designs

Image #8 –  Photography: Greer Gattuso

Image #9 –  Photography: Whitney Heard  |  Cake Design: Nadia and Co.

Intro Image – Photography: A Bryan Photo  |  Event Design: Calder Clark

The First Step to an Amazing Celebration

You have never planned a wedding before, so you’re not expected to know what you don’t know… until someone with nuptial knowledge and experience shows you what’s really possible, practical and suitable for your budget.  That’s why as a wedding couple about to embark upon planning your special day, it’s important to surround yourself with the best wedding industry professionals.

Photo:  Ciprian Photography
Location:  Resort at Squaw Creek

Typically, you would start with a Wedding Planner and Designer, whose role is similar to that of a Project Manager.  With their extensive knowledge of the Lake Tahoe region, the Wedding Planners from Tahoe Engaged offer expert advice to help you select the right site and service providers for your Tahoe celebration.

(By the way, we refer to your team of wedding professionals as service providers, not vendors.  We’re not exactly sure who coined the term “vendor” for a wedding, but this term usually conjures up images of a guy on the street corner selling hot dogs, or a machine spitting out a candy bar after you insert a few bucks.)

A Wedding Planner also develops project management tools such as a timeline, schematic floor plans and a vendor list, in order to efficiently orchestrate your celebration.  Finally, the Wedding Planner is on site for your rehearsal and wedding day, overseeing every intimate detail of the wedding, and managing the “dream team” of wedding professionals that you have secured.  You simply relax and savor the experience!

Wedding Planner Winter Tahoe - Charleton Churchill PhotographyPhoto:  Charleton Churchill Photography

A Wedding Planner with design experience can complement your wedding visions and offer ways to make your wedding more amazing than you could ever imagine.  A Wedding Designer should have formal training in a relevant field such as Floral Design, Interior Design, Graphic Design or Fashion Design.  

Photo:  Larissa Cleveland

You should carefully examine the Wedding Designer’s portfolios and other materials that demonstrate how he/she has designed prior weddings.  Since the Wedding Designer needs to understand your personal preferences in order to design a wedding that reflects your personal tastes, they should also be asking you lots of questions, so they can begin to understand what’s important to you.

Wedding Table Design - Chaz Cruz PhotographersPhoto:  Chaz Cruz Photographers

So, for the same reasons that professional accountants are used to help with your income taxes, professional Wedding Planners and Designers are hired to help couples with their weddings.  The only difference is that a wedding celebration is a lot more fun than Form 1040!