Gina Munda Photography
The entire Lake Tahoe region boasts amazing alpine scenery, but it’s tough to beat the 72 miles of shoreline—whether drenched in warm summer sun or draped in dazzling winter whites. “People want lakefront weddings because the lake is so breathtaking,” says Martha Janer of Truckee-based Mountain Magic Catering. “For people to come from out of town, it’s like, ‘Whoa.’”
Brides and grooms have ample lakefront venues from which to choose, from rustic to refined, and at a variety of price points. Here are some spots to consider.
130 W. Lake Blvd.
Tahoe City, Calif.
The Gatekeeper's Museum at William B. Layton Park along Lake Tahoe's west shore capitalizes on its affordability and rustic charm. It is one of the region's lesser known wedding venues, but that is starting to change, says Javier Rodriguez, museum coordinator.
The museum sits on the spot that once was home to the local "water master," who operated the 17 gates used decades ago to regulate lake overflow into the Truckee River. The original cabin was destroyed by arson. The reproduction in its place is run by the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society.
Receptions and ceremonies are set up on the lawn adjacent to the museum and, often, in tents that—with rented flooring, linens and china—can transform the space into swank party quarters. The museum allows for up to 300 people and charges $3,000 for a six-hour rental and $5,000 for the entire day.
"It is a beautiful location. There's nothing like it on the lake," says Rodriguez. The bridal season at William B. Layton Park runs from late spring to early fall.
Inn by the lake
3300 Lake tahoe Blvd.
South lake Tahoe, Calif.
Inn by the Lake is centrally located, with easy access to Lake Tahoe's beaches and the casinos at the Nevada state line. The resort is across the street from El Dorado Beach. Wedding ceremonies and receptions for up to 100 guests generally take place in the inn's event center. Smaller groups can utilize gardens on the grounds for the ceremony.
Inn by the Lake offers an assortment of lodging, from deluxe two-bedroom suites with kitchens and one-room spa suites to more standard rooms. "We have something literally at every price point," says general manager Dan McHale. The property also is next to an RV park, which is a selling point for some out-of-town guests.
The resort's bowling alley, Tahoe Bowl, is a popular choice for post-rehearsal dinner fun. "It sounds funny for a wedding venue, but [bridal parties] go in, have a glass of wine and the next thing you know, they're having the time of their life," he says.
Sugar Pine Point State Park
7360 W. Lake Blvd., Tahoma
(530) 525-5060 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The historic 11,000-square-foot Hellman-Ehrman Mansion is the gem at Sugar Pine Point State Park, and the two miles of sparkling lakefront and dense forest of sugar pines, firs and other trees are icing on the cake. The home was built in 1903 for a San Francisco banker whose daughter inherited the opulent Pine Lodge and spent summers hosting friends for boating, hiking and croquet.
Ceremonies take place on a stretch of lawn overlooking the lake. Receptions for a maximum of 140 guests take place outdoors on the east side of the mansion. The bridal party has access to the former butlers' cabin as a changing area.
The mansion, just north of Meeks Bay, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public for tours. As such, according to ranger Michele Green of California State Parks, the venue comes with restrictions: no set up until 3:30 p.m., limited power (though rental generators are allowed) and a 10 p.m. curfew. Fees, parking permit information and additional details are available under the "special events" link on the park website.
"Our primary mission is historic preservation of the property," says Green. "This is a good location for someone who wants nature, is easygoing and can overcome some of the logistical issues."
Zephyr Cove Resort/Lake Tahoe Cruises
760 U.S. Highway 50
Zephyr Cove, Nev.
At Zephyr Cove Resort, you can get married by the lake or on the lake aboard the Tahoe Queen paddlewheeler. "It's very peaceful, and it's very private, which is a huge selling feature," says Lindsay Townsend, event manager for the resort and Lake Tahoe Cruises. The venue also is year-round—cruises included—which is unusual for most lakefront wedding properties.
There is no set order for land-and-lake affairs, Townsend says. Some brides and grooms secure the Tahoe Queen for the rehearsal dinner. Some marry aboard (the maximum guest count for ceremonies is 84 and 130 for dinner service). Others hold the ceremony on the shore, then board with guests for the reception—or keep to the lakefront for the party, then head out on the lake the next day for brunch.
"Our Zephyr Cove location is beautiful in its own way, but I wouldn't call it private," says Townsend, who also helps reserve blocks of cabins at the resort. "The Tahoe Queen is a different experience. It's just kind of magical, especially for the guests who've never been to Lake Tahoe or never been on the lake."
Did you like what you read here? Click here to request a free copy of the latest OUR WEDDING magazine.