Real weddings, great group activities for your guests, top tips from wedding pros… we have everything you need to know about a North Lake Tahoe celebration.
Posts Categorized: Tips from the Pros
Your Guide to Tahoe Wedding Transportation
As a Managing Member of the leading transportation company in the Lake Tahoe region, Danell Wilson-Perlman is always on the move. But she was kind enough to put the brakes on her busy schedule at Reno Tahoe Limousine and talk with Tahoe Engaged about her background and business. Danell brings amazing life experiences to the Reno – Lake Tahoe community, and she is a wealth of information about moving people in style.
Born and raised on the southernmost tip of Africa, Danell started working at a local tourism office when she was 16 years old, and that’s when she began to dream about living overseas. After graduating from a college in Cape Town with a degree in Tourism and Travel Management, she landed a job in 1994 at the Royal Gorge Cross-Country Ski Resort near Soda Springs, and eventually was offered full-time employment there. In 1997, when Danell went to rent a car from a Truckee rental agency, she happened to meet the owner, Ron Perlman. She not only rented the car, but ended up marrying the owner!
Danell has many fond memories of both her life and business partnership with Ron. She recalls, “My husband started Royal Limousine in 1987 in Truckee as a hobby. He had an automotive shop, part shop and car rental agency at the time, but always had a love for cars, so he bought a used limo he restored for fun. Then his friends started calling to see what it would take to rent it, and that is how it all started. I already saw the potential of the company from early on, so in 2002 I came on board to assist him with the operations of the car rental and limo companies. We moved the operation to Reno in January 2008 with 6 vehicles. We now have 28 in our fleet.”
Danell and Ron are very proud of how they have built Reno Tahoe Limousine from the ground up to become a leader in the transportation industry. Wedding couples often have important concerns about getting their guests – and themselves – to their celebration, so we asked Danell to enlighten us all on the finer points of people-moving.
What are the most common issues you encounter when providing transportation for weddings?
Timelines are crucial and it’s very important to realize that we are in larger vehicles and in commercial vehicles, so we cannot drive the speed of a race car. Our chauffeurs have to abide by strict rules – you have to account for traffic and for loading and unloading passengers. It all takes time. Summer in Tahoe on a Saturday, you have to account for major traffic delays. In winter, there is traffic between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. from the ski resorts, and you cannot get around Emerald Bay.
If the couple or planner is not familiar with the layout of the property, we will send one of our staff to go scout the location to make sure certain vehicles will fit in tight spots, turnaround areas, steep uphills or downgrades. Certain vehicles will bottom out, so you have to be mindful. During winter, can the vehicles get into the property with snow on the ground or do we have to drop at the street and have SUV’s shuttle them in and out?
Are there any common misconceptions about wedding day transportation services?
Transportation can make or break an event, that’s why it is such an important piece of the wedding day plans. We still have couples call the day of, looking for last minute transportation, because someone forgot to order car service. We have pulled it off many times, but it adds unnecessary stress on their wedding day. The idea that family members or friends will be their drivers for the day – that is a recipe for chaos.
What things should couples ask about before booking their wedding transportation?
First and foremost, they need to ask if they are licensed in the state that the couple will need transportation in.
Ask for a certificate of insurance. Most commercial transportation companies these days carry $5 million, but they need to carry a minimum of $1.5 million if they are a commercial transportation vendor.
Make sure their drivers are drug tested and are part of a drug testing consortium where they will also be randomly tested throughout the year and that background checks are done before they are hired by the company.
What is the required uniform of their chauffeurs? This is super important, I’ve seen some scary outfits in this area before.
During winter, they want to ask if their drivers have snow driving experience, this is important. Ask if it’s a coach, will your driver be able to chain during winter conditions?
Finally, ask for testimonials from their clients which will include contact details.
How do you keep up with the latest developments in transportation services?
We attend the annual global limo and bus conference in Las Vegas to stay on top of trends. Our area is very unique and different than the large cities. The day of the stretch limo is done, unless you are based out of Vegas. Most weddings are using Mini Buses, SUV’s and Mercedes Benz Sprinters these days.
Any other advice for wedding couples?
Take transportation for your big day seriously and if you are moving large groups of people, make sure you have your wedding planner’s staff on the ground to help load and unload guest passengers onto the vehicles. Having ground staff is crucial when passengers are missing, and they can help make the process so much easier. Reno Tahoe Limousine needs to be in communication with your wedding planner and we need to know if cell service will be an issue. So many times with remote areas, passengers are not at the addresses where they are supposed to be, or they are running late, the list is long, so the chauffeurs need to be able to be in constant contact with a planner.
When you’re not working at Reno Tahoe Limousine, what other forms of transportation do you enjoy?
I love horseback riding, taking long walks with our dog, and motorcycle trips with my husband during Spring and Summer. Also, I started a travel program to take women entrepreneurs to South Africa to collaborate and exchange with like-minded women entrepreneurs and see part of my beautiful homeland. So this keeps me busy, but it feeds my soul!
Your Guide to Tahoe Wedding Transportation
Every couple planning a Lake Tahoe wedding should consider arranging transportation to and from their celebration. Since some of your guests may be unfamiliar with the area, they will appreciate the convenience of leaving the driving to someone in the know. More importantly, securing the services of a transportation company will avoid the risk, worry and liability involved with drinking and driving.
At some wedding venues, it may not even be feasible to accommodate all of your guests’ cars, anyway. Contact your site to find out how many parking spaces are typically available for guests, and for your vendors too. If the venue doesn’t have enough parking, ask if there is another location nearby that can be used, such as a schoolyard or open space. You would then need to transport guests from that location to the wedding.
From a timing standpoint, you need to think about transportation for your guests first, because you will want to make any necessary arrangements before ordering your invitations. If you decide to provide transportation for guests, include that information on an insert card that accompanies your invitations.
According to WeddingWire, most couples spend anywhere from $500 to over $1000 on transportation. The average is about $750. But before booking your rides, you need to do your homework.
The Coach Awaits!
Buses, commonly referred to as “luxury coaches” by transportation companies, come in variety of capacities, ranging from about 15 passengers up to around 55. There’s always a minimum rental period required – depending on the transportation company and the type of vehicle you want. The minimum can range from three to five hours.
Like buying groceries at a supermarket, the larger-size coaches cost more, but they are generally less expensive on a unit price basis. If you’re considering larger coaches, check with your venue to make sure there is enough room to accommodate them.
In providing transportation for guests to get to your Lake Tahoe wedding, you will also need to transport them back to where they were picked up. Depending on the length of your wedding and how the transportation company prices its vehicles, you may or may not need to secure two separate transports. Sometimes it’s less expensive to hire a coach for the entire day and pay for standby time while the coach isn’t needed. The transportation companies you contact should do the math and let you know which alternative is cheaper.
If you need to hire two separate vehicles, consider a shuttle arrangement at the end of the wedding with a smaller vehicle to save some money. Some of your guests may want to leave early, especially the older guests. You can start shuttling your guests back to their original location about two hours before the official end of the festivities.
Transportation for Yourselves
Since this is one of the most important days of your life, you certainly want to get to your own wedding in style. And to properly recognize your wedding party for the role they are playing (and for all their support), it’s a great idea to arrange special transportation for them, as well.
Standard limousines typically come in 6, 8, and 10-passenger sizes, however the passenger rating is always higher than what is really comfortable, especially when you’re all dressed up and holding a bouquet. So, if you need to transport 6 bridesmaids, get at least an 8-passenger limo. Regardless of the limo size, there is always a minimum rental period, usually three or four hours.
If you like to be different, there are many unconventional modes of transportation that you can also consider for your wedding day. Check out these possibilities:
Samantha Hartery Photography
Mark Williams Studio
Michelle Lange Photography
Choosing a Transportation Company
Call transportation companies for price quotes. Make sure you know what types and sizes of vehicles you need, as well as the pick-up and drop-off locations and the estimated times of service. Ask for a written quote first before you provide a deposit.
Ask the following questions:
How long has your company been in business?
Do you own your own vehicles? (the answer should be “yes”)
How frequently do they undergo routine maintenance?
Can you provide an insurance certificate for your vehicles?
What training and licensing do your drivers have?
What kind of attire do your drivers wear?
Does your quoted price include all taxes and gratuities?
If possible, make a trip to the company’s lot and take a look at their fleet, and note their state of cleanliness. Also, make sure the vehicles have currently valid commercial license plates.
After you have selected your preferred transportation provider, request a contract if the written proposal they provided doesn’t also serve as a contract. Check all the details very carefully – the date, times, number of passengers, make, model, and color of vehicle – before signing and paying a deposit.
Instead of a multi-hour rental period, ask if you can pay in advance for a “one-way transfer” to get to your wedding. If this is possible, you can make the same kind of arrangements to leave the reception at the end of the day.
Another cost-effective choice – you can also arrange for ride sharing, such as Uber or Lyft, or a local taxicab company to transport your attendants to and from the wedding.
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Overall, it takes some effort to make transportation arrangements for your Lake Tahoe celebration, but your guests and wedding party members will really appreciate the thoughtful gesture. Then, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride on your special day!
Protect Your Tahoe Wedding Investment
You’re engaged (CONGRATULATIONS!!) and about to start planning your Lake Tahoe wedding. You will need a venue and a team of qualified wedding service providers to help you have a fabulous wedding day. But before you venture out to research and interview wedding professionals, it is important to understand that not all venues and service providers are alike.
Anyone who operates a wedding business should know and understand “best practices” for being in business. You as a consumer should only engage with wedding service providers who not only have a business license and insurance, but also give you a written contract for their products and services. Make sure everything you have discussed and want for your wedding is initially put into a written proposal. Once you accept the service provider’s proposal, ask for a contract.
Don’t sign the contract until everything you wanted is clearly written into the contract. Make sure that you understand the terms (form of payments) and all the clauses. If you do not understand the contract that you are about to sign, consultant with an experienced wedding planner who has an expertise in wedding contracts, or an attorney. If you are happy with the written contract and want to secure the venue or service provider, the wedding couple (buyer) signs and dates the contract first, preferably in blue ink. Then, the couple returns the original contract to the venue or service provider (seller) for them to sign and date. The wedding couple should then request a copy of the signed and fully executed contract for their records.
Can you protect your wedding “I Do’s” with insurance? You absolutely cannot buy wedding insurance for change of heart if you get cold feet. But you can buy wedding insurance to protect your investment in case of natural disasters such as hurricanes, fires and earthquakes. Although there should be a well-written clause in your contract called “Force Majeure” (also known as an Act of God), insurance policies help couples recoup expenses when wedding plans deviate. Policies typically cover lost expenses due to inclement weather, illness, venues or service provider issues, attire damage and military deployments.
Weddings are an investment. At Tahoe Engaged, we ask that you please understand the legal documents you are about to sign and only engage with reputable service providers and venues. You can be assured that the venues and service providers listed on Tahoe Engaged are all carefully curated and follow best practices.
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!
Lake Tahoe, while breathtakingly picturesque, is also wildly shifting – in weather, seasons, and temperature. Whether you have been to Tahoe before, or this is your first visit, here are some essential questions to think about to ensure you and your guests experience the best the region has to offer.
What is the best season for a Lake Tahoe wedding?
This is an important question. Each season in Tahoe carries a different perspective and feeling – there really isn’t a “best”. What is the vision you have for your wedding day? Are you on a powdery white winter mountain; the snow sparkling around you? Or are you standing on a pristine sapphire beach in the summer? Maybe you are planting your first kiss as husband and wife amid a golden Aspen grove in the fall. Or are you and your guests surrounded by butterflies and spring wildflower blooms high on a mountaintop? Whatever you choose, a truly magical wedding experience is possible. Remember though – weather is unpredictable in the mountains. Summer days can bring a rogue hail storm, spring can be chilly, fall is known for unexpected snowstorms, and an unplanned winter blizzard can derail your guests as they travel.
The most important thing is to be open-minded and flexible, especially if you have an outdoor wedding. Which begs the next important question…
What is the best location for a Lake Tahoe wedding?
The lake shore in Tahoe can be overwhelmingly gorgeous, and it works perfectly for a nautical or beach theme. If you’re looking to have your wedding by the water, then you will probably want a summer or fall wedding. If you’re planning on a winter wedding, you won’t be disappointed. Many of the local ski resorts offer wedding packages that will have you and your guests experiencing the best of Tahoe’s powdery mountains.
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.
Never second guess yourself. Never stray from your ideas and decisions. Once you make a decision, stick with it!
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.
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.
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.
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!
If you were recently married in North Lake Tahoe, or if you are a professional photographer who recently photographed a wedding in North Lake Tahoe, we would love to consider your wedding for publication in our blog. To provide us with more information about your wedding, please, please click here.
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