Why Lake Tahoe is the best setting for every kind of wedding.
Many couples feel they have to choose: mountains or beach? Outside or indoors? At Lake Tahoe, you can have it all in one setting. Majestic, snow-capped peaks. A peaceful, unspoiled beach framing glimmering blue water.
On a boat, on the shore, in an alpine meadow or on a mountainside, or in an elegant lodge – you choose the stage. The beauty of planning your big day at Lake Tahoe is that the lake and surrounding peaks will accommodate every personality and wedding theme.
Six reasons Tahoe is the perfect wedding setting
Best wedding locations in Lake Tahoe
Top Wedding Photographers in Tahoe
The Tahoe Bucket List
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1. Tahoe is diverse and beautiful. Whether your theme is rustic, elegant, formal, casual, eco-friendly, outdoors or in…Tahoe will deliver.
2. Tahoe is a premier vacation destination. There’s no better way to see it than by planning and hosting your wedding here. And your guests will be thrilled to travel to attend the wedding.
3. Enjoy the convenience of one-stop wedding shopping. Everything you need is right here – spas, casinos, bars, hiking trails, and adventure for your bachelor/bachelorette parties. Fine restaurants for catering. Florists. Musicians. Wedding planners. And, a gorgeous setting for your honeymoon!
4. Resorts like Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood offer full-service wedding packages, onsite wedding planners, and all the connections you need to make your wedding unforgettable. This is especially helpful if you’re planning the ceremony from out of town; let the resorts do all the heavy lifting so that you can relax and enjoy the celebration.
5. Because Lake Tahoe is a resort community year-round, there is an abundance of award-winning chefs, bakeries, florists, and other specialists close at hand. Everything you need is at your fingertips.
6. The resorts offer literally hundreds of lodging options ranging from romantic, luxury honeymoon suites to blocks of full-service hotel rooms, condos, townhomes or vacation rentals for your guests.
A Wedding for Every Season
|How to plan the perfect wedding any time of year in Lake Tahoe
No season is off limits at Lake Tahoe. In summer, the deep blue waters lap at the shoreline with lush green forests giving way to rocky peaks. In winter, the mountains are blanketed in up to 10 feet of fresh powder, but the lake never freezes, and the evergreens continue to provide a beautiful canopy. Spring and fall provide lush displays of wildflowers and fall colors.
Choosing the perfect time of year to host your wedding is a matter of personal taste. Winter wonderland or summer night’s dream? Fall colors or spring wildflowers?
Here are a few tips for planning the perfect Tahoe wedding in every season:
1. If you’re not from the area, plan a scouting trip to Tahoe in the season in which you want to wed. If that’s not possible, ask local venues and photographers to show you photos and details that align with the season you choose. This will help you visualize your big day and plan accordingly.
2. Popular holiday weekends fill up the fastest, so book early if you have your sights set on those dates. If your schedule is more flexible, ask about quieter weekends (usually spring or fall) or even midweek for the best deals on venues and lodging. With so many gorgeous venues available, you’ll be sure to find something perfect for your big day.
3. Getting to and around Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is an easy hour’s drive from the Reno-Tahoe airport, or a couple of hours from Sacramento’s airport. Three major highways (I-80, U.S. 50 and U.S. 395) lead to the Lake Tahoe region. These all-weather freeways branch out to reach the resorts throughout North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe.
4. While every season is popular at Lake Tahoe, the ski resorts may offer special deals during the warmer months. Even in high season, there are specials for lodging when you book several rooms or condos together. Ask the reservations experts.
5. Embrace the season. No matter which season you choose for your wedding, your wedding coordinator can help you source local, in-season food and flowers. Choosing what’s in season not only complements the gorgeous Lake Tahoe surroundings, but it could also save money too.
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Best for: A gorgeous, private, mountaintop wedding at 8,200 feet. You and your guests will ride the Aerial Tram a mile up to Lakeview Lodge where you can have the ceremony, cocktails and full service dinner. Tamarack Lodge at the top of Heavenly’s Gondola is another gorgeous venue. Either way, the resort will pair you with a full team of wedding planners who will take care of every detail.
Don’t miss: Sip a cocktail or enjoy your first dance on one of the decks overlooking Lake Tahoe. Grab your photographer and explore all the little alcoves and overlooks that make for stunning wedding photos.
Best for: Lift-accessed ceremonies outdoors or inside an elegant mountain lodge, plus onsite lodging for guests at every price point. Located just 36 miles south of Lake Tahoe, Kirkwood is a secluded, tranquil destination for your mountain wedding. Summers in Kirkwood offer snowcapped peaks, alpine lakes and abundant wildflowers. In the winter, experience dramatic mountain vistas and a skiing experience for true alpine enthusiasts.
Don’t miss: Kirkwood often has lodging deals and free nights available when you book your wedding early. Ask when you call the reservations specialist.
Best for: A variety of venues, from intimate celebrations in the lodge, in a wildflower meadow, on the mountaintop, on the greens of the golf course, or overlooking the ice skating rink. Northstar also offers a LEED-certified venue perched above 8,000 feet. All of it is situated between the North Shore of Lake Tahoe and the town of Trukee.
Don’t miss: Have an elegant, rustic rehearsal dinner at TC’s Pub. It’s a great place for guests to settle in, enjoy refined but hearty food and get to know one another before the ceremony day.
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Matt and Tara Theilen
are destination wedding photographers who are based in the Lake Tahoe area. Their passion is telling the story of couple's wedding days through creative documentary photography. (image: www.theilenphoto.com)
Ciprian is a photojournalist who specializes in capturing authentic images of Lake Tahoe weddings, families, and other special occasions. Locals say he is able to capture all the emotions of the day and the personality of each couple he photographs.
Chris Werner has photographed weddings at several Tahoe locations and knows the ins and outs of capturing images that showcase the people and the natural surroundings of Lake Tahoe.
Tips for getting the best wedding photos:
It's important to work with your photographer about making time for photos during the ‘golden hour’ in order to take advantage of the best light in the day. This is about 1 hour before sunset to 30 minutes after sunset. Cloudy skies are actually better than the bright blue days that most people think they want.” –Theilen Photo
Also, to prevent wardrobe malfunctions, tell your guests where the ceremony is being held, the photographers say. “Heels probably aren't the best choice if you are having a ceremony on the beach or in the grass.”
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Can’t-Miss Activities In and Around Lake Tahoe
Whether you’re a local or just visiting Tahoe for your wedding, there are several attractions you won’t want to miss. Add these to your list and share them with your guests who are traveling in from out of town. It will make your destination wedding even more unforgettable.
Pack a picnic and sit on the shore of the lake at sunset. Many restaurants will even prepare a picnic meal for you to take to the lake.
Try stand-up paddle boarding on the lake. Or kayaking, or sailing! Rentals and guides are widely available.
Hike along the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 165-mile long trail that encircles the lake and samples the varied terrain and panoramic views along the way. No need to hike the whole thing. The trail is divided into smaller sections for day hikes.
If it’s wintertime, you can ski two states on the same trail at Heavenly.
Rent a bike and pedal around Lake Tahoe’s 72 miles or up historic Old Highway 40 to iconic Rainbow Bridge.
Experience the beauty of a star-studded night sky with Star Tours, which are astronomy tours offered at many area ski resorts. Some also offer guided stargazing kayak tours on the lake.
Do some sunrise yoga on the shores of the lake or mountaintop patio. Many resorts offer indoor yoga classes, too.
Groove to free music all summer long with High Notes, North Lake Tahoe’s Summerlong Music Series. It features free outdoor concerts throughout July and August every day except Mondays.
Tee off at one of the dozens of golf courses that are within an hour’s drive of the lake.
In winter, go skiing, take a snowmobile tour, sleigh ride or snowshoe hike!
Fish for trout on Lake Tahoe. Fishing charters, equipment rentals and guides are available throughout the area.