Weddings come in many different shapes and sizes, and it’s important that couples find the perfect wedding for them. While some couples may be dreaming of a large wedding, others set their sights on a small, intimate elopement. Tahoe is gorgeous and the perfect place for this, and who better to share with us their tips and tricks on eloping than one of our favorite photographers Ruthanne Z. Keep reading for her insider knowledge on how to make your elopement an unforgettable experience. And, tune into our Instagram this weekend to watch her takeover, you won’t want to miss it!
As a born & raised local to Lake Tahoe and elopement expert, I get quite a few questions on a regular basis from couples looking to elope here, all asking: how do we do it?! Lucky for you, this is kind of my specialty, and I am SO excited to be sharing insider tips & tricks on how to plan the best Lake Tahoe elopement!
When my husband and I got engaged, we really struggled to connect with the idea of planning a big wedding. It didn’t fit who we were, or the timeline we wanted. And to be totally real with you, it gave me major anxiety. When we realized that we could elope with just our family members present, everything changed for us. It was like the veil was lifted, and we could focus on what truly matters in it all, US.
I want to be super clear, while I specialize in elopements and feel super strongly about how incredible they are, I don’t think they’re for everyone. But, if you’re struggling to feel excited about a traditional wedding like I did, I want you to know that there are more options out there, and you’re not limited in what’s possible! Your wedding day is an incredible opportunity to have an experience that will inspire you for the rest of your life.
So, without further ado, here are my Five Tips for planning your Lake Tahoe Elopement!
Set The Date
The first step to planning your Lake Tahoe elopement is choosing your date or general season. I typically work with two kinds of couples. Couples who have a trip planned and decide to add their elopement to the fun, or couples who are open to the best time/weather/ideal date. Whichever you are, no biggie! Get a general idea of the timeframe you’d like to be in and go from there! You’ll most likely want to fly into Reno, Nevada (RNO), or Sacramento, CA (SMF) – but I’d avoid going much further away unless you’ve got a road trip planned!
Book Your Photographer
Tahoe is huge, and a pretty diverse location as far as scenery, seasons, and weather. I highly recommend working with a local photographer as your next step – because there are a ton of factors that only locals know of when it comes to planning these types of events. As an elopement-only photographer, I often take on the role of coordinator and planner because my couples need that, and hiring a separate entity for that is not always possible!
Plus – the entire day is usually scheduled around the best light & photo times, so why wouldn’t I be part of it!? When you’re eloping and looking to have an adventure, working with a local photographer can often help eliminate stress behind doing hours of research and give you some serious peace of mind in the details of your day. I send out a massive list of recommended vendors and locations once couples book, which feeds into our next few points!
Location, Location, Location
Tahoe. Is. Huge. I think a big misconception is that Lake Tahoe is this cute little mountain town, and that’s it! Spoiler alert, the lake is 72 miles around, and in both California AND Nevada. Whoa! Each side of the lake has its own history and personality, so researching (and leaning into local vendors for advice, again!) which part you’d like to stay on can make or break it!
The general locations I break it up into are: Truckee, North Lake, West Shore, South Lake (CA), and South Lake (NV). Truckee is 15 minutes northwest of North Lake and is where I was born and raised. It’s a cute little hallmark town with lots of hip shops, restaurants, and amazing access to everything you could want. I consider North Lake from Tahoe City to Incline Village, West Shore from Tahoe City to Meeks Bay, and South Lake from Emerald Bay to Zephyr Cove, obviously split up by the state lines. Digging into the locations here might be more than you bargained for, but if you’d like to hear more you can head over to my podcast episode about eloping in Lake Tahoe to listen to my personal take on each location!
Find Your Team
Once you have your location selected, you can give the rest of the vendors you hope to hire the information they might need to send over quotes and services. Typically, my couples book an officiant (shoutout to Ceremonies By Meredith, she’s my #1!), florist, and hair and makeup. Other vendors to consider are a caterer for a private meal at the home you rent (I’m a huuuge fan of this!) or a musician to accompany us at your ceremony. Just because it’s an elopement, doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on the fun of working with vendors who will help make the day extraordinary, which brings us to….
Make It Your Own
Eloping does not automatically mean that your day is any less deserving of the details and intentionality behind what you’re doing. My favorite part of my job is that every single elopement is entirely unique and authentic to the couple. Be sure to make the day your own — whether that means watching the sunrise together, getting a killer breakfast the morning of, going sailing with your guests the evening before, taking a midday nap, or wearing your great aunt’s vintage fur and timberland boots. Whatever makes it your own, embrace it, and don’t be worried about rules. This is your day, your way.
And there you have it! This list is not meant to serve as an end all be all, but as a guide to get the ball rolling! If you’d like to learn more about having the Lake Tahoe elopement of your dreams, I’d love to help! You can listen to my podcast, The Elopement Podcast on iTunes or Spotify, and of course, come on over & follow me on Instagram! Lake Tahoe is a special place, and no matter what kind of wedding you have, I hope you get to experience the magic it has to offer on your big day.