Thunderbird Lodge - Photo by Vance Fox
Couples in love with the great outdoors will find Lake Tahoe an ideal location for elegant alfresco ceremonies or ceremonies as playful as one featuring two bikers married atop Harleys in front of 50 guests. Pristine alpine air, mountain vistas, a full moon reflecting off the water and a sparkling blue lake make for a fairytale backdrop for your special day. The first step is to choose the outdoor venue.
Get a Little Adventurous
Venue options abound for those who want to get a little wild. At Heavenly, skiers can exchange vows on Ridge Run, then schuss down the slope to a gourmet picnic served on a table carved from snow. In summer, brides and grooms can take their love to new heights in a hot air balloon. Reverend Ron Sayed, co-owner of The Wedding Chapel at Harveys, even married one couple while scuba diving in Lake Tahoe. The minister and the couple held up vows written on grease boards.
Mix It Up—Outdoors and In
One popular option, especially for more adventurous ceremony settings, is to hold the ceremony outdoors, the reception indoors. Ceremonies can then include a handful of guests while the indoor reception can accommodate larger parties. At Squaw Valley USA, couples marry inside the cable car leading to 8,200-foot High Camp, then ski down to an indoor reception in the Mountain Stream Room at The Village at Squaw Valley, which has view of the resort’s mountain peaks. At the Thunderbird Lodge, brides and grooms snow shoe down from the road to the lodge, where they marry outside in the lakeview gazebo or on the snow-covered lawn. A reception inside the lodge—a private setting popular with rock stars and politicians—or at a nearby location follows.
In the summer, couples who want the event to occur outdoors from start to finish will find many open-air sites around the lake. Mobile DJ Dona J. Baxter, who has spun tunes at Tahoe wedding receptions for decades, especially likes Timber Cove Marina at South Lake Tahoe. The couple marries under an arch on the sand, steps away from the water. A waterside tent houses tables, a buffet and a dance floor.
Burn Off Your Nerves
If your idea of relaxation is sneaking in a hike or an early morning ski on your wedding day, you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities perfect for easing those pre-wedding jitters and entertaining guests. Minister/wedding consultant Bev Bedard remembers one wedding at the Squaw Valley Chapel that gives a new meaning to “taking the plunge.” When the bride walked into the chapel before the ceremony, she looked like “she’d been dragged through a knot hole.” Her hairdresser followed her, fixing her damaged do.
“Just before the bride left for the church she did a bungee jump at Squaw Valley’s High Camp,” recalls Bedard. “She jumped from the tower dressed in her formal attire.”
Tahoe’s Wedding Experts Say . . .
Photo by Catherine Hall
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