Lake Tahoe

Wedding Guide

Crystal clear alpine lake flanked with towering pines and spectacular mountain views is a year-round wedding location like no other…


Weddings at Lake Tahoe are unique. Cleaner-than-clean waters are splashing onto sandy shores, while gigantic trees and alpine vistas around the lake offer postcard-like ceremony backdrops. It is a preferred choice for destination weddings, elopements, reunions and honeymoons because of the unspoiled nature and romantic vibes. Even during the times of COVID-19, there are outdoor venues where alfresco ceremonies and receptions are allowed. Whether you are planning an intimate gathering or a grand wedding, you are sure to find a gorgeous hotel, high-end resort or a cozy mountain lodge where you can celebrate. Enjoy reading this guide while planning your big day!


In spring and summer, nature is in full bloom, fall is filled with moody hues, warmness and romance, while winter is a fairy-tale in white. If you want a beach ceremony and summer vibes, head off to Lake Tahoe in July or August. Touristy areas are much less crowded in September, so this is a popular month for outdoor weddings too. For winter wonderland experience, choose a date from January to March, and to get the lowest prices then aim for March or November. Remember that weather at mountain locations such as Lake Tahoe can be unpredictable. Rain can easily spoil your plans for an outdoor wedding, so always have a plan B ready. To make sure you don’t miss a fabulous outdoor photoshoot, make flexible plans and be prepared to go with the flow. If it is raining in the morning, maybe you can move the photography session for afternoon hours. Another issue can be smoke from forest fires. Since wind can carry smoke for miles, you might want to stay inside for the reception and do a couple of portraits outside.


Lake Tahoe has two main areas where you can find fantastic wedding venues. While South Shore is packed with luxury hotels and resorts, North Shore feels more secluded and pristine. Both areas are exceptionally beautiful with alpine-style ski areas and charming towns, but North Shore is much less crowded even during the peak seasons while South Shore is louder and more popular for tourists. When choosing a location for your event, look for venues that satisfy your criteria in terms of ambience, food, accommodation and services. Because you can easily boat between the two shores, you can even book a venue on one side of the lake and do a photoshoot in another.     


Lake Tahoe is a protected area, which means there are many restrictions regarding weddings and other events. There is a strict “no trace” rule, which means you have to pick up all the litter and leave nothing behind you. The locals are friendly, but they are extremely environmentally conscious, and they take their surroundings seriously. You are not allowed to tamper with trees in any way (this applies even to fairy lights and other decorations), and you must keep the waters clean.Each of the venues has its own restrictions and lists of prohibited items, so make sure to familiarize yourself with them before you start planning. Because outdoor weddings are subject to noise regulations, you shouldn’t party outside after 10 pm. You can either hold a daytime reception or consider moving inside if your venue has an indoor reception area.Parking is not allowed in many locations around Lake Tahoe. If you are booking one of the major venues, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if your wedding location is off-the-beaten-path, then you might need to organize a shuttle or boat service for your guests.


Planning a Lake Tahoe wedding is easy because all the local vendors are working closely with each other. Venues often have all-inclusive packages and can sort out everything from food and drinks to awesome ceremony arbors. Even if they don’t have in-house catering, they’ll give you a list of their preferred vendors. It is much easier to get high-end vendors when you are celebrating at a small place like Tahoe. But sometimes it is best to bring your own team to a destination wedding, so consider booking a photographer, hairstylist and makeup artist close to home. This is convenient when you need the same group of people for the engagement shoot, wedding and other special occasions.


Weddings at Lake Tahoe can be pretty expensive, especially if you want to tie the knot during the peak season (in summer or winter). The most exclusive venues charge $10,000 or more, plus you can expect to pay around $500+ per night for accommodation. However, you can find small but gorgeous rustic venues where you

can hold a ceremony for as little as $500, throw a reception party for $2,000 to $5,000 and get a discount for group bookings.


Lake Tahoe has incredible photo backdrops with crystal blue waters, iconic pine trees, waterfalls and green meadows flanked with vibrant wildflowers. You’ll have fantastic portraits even if you don’t go far from your pretty hotel, bungalow or spa retreat. But if you feel adventurous, you can try to find hidden beaches and coves, pose in front of a steamy waterfall or on a small island nestled in the middle of the lake. Here are some of the picturesque photoshoot locations I love:


  • Emerald Bay State Park boasts six miles of pristine shoreline and fantastic hilltop views of the lake.
  • Rubicon Bay is wedged between Emerald Bay and Tahoma featuring some of the quietest and most romantic locations for elopements and honeymoons.
  • Hidden Beach is right next to Highway 28 but feels secluded and guarantees amazing portraits.
  • Sand Harbor is surrounded by cedar trees and large boulders which will make your wedding photos one-of-a-kind.
  • Crystal Cove is located on the tranquil north shore and surrounded by breathtaking mountain views.
  • East Shore has fantastic beaches and the best sunsets, so make sure to capture the golden hour while you are there.
  • Aspen Grove is one of the most loved locations on the north shore and a perfect place for woodland-themed wedding photoshoots.
  • Sugar Pine Point State Park has the tallest pine trees and the most scenic photo backdrops.
  • Logan Shoals Vista Point has gorgeous views like Emerald Bay minus the crowds.
  • Bonsai Rock is a remote spot with the most dramatic sunsets and a unique natural setting which makes it worth visiting even for just a few shots.
  • Eagle Falls are located on top of Emerald Bay. It is a photoshoot location for adventurous couples who want their photos to be different from all the others.
  • Fannette Island is right in the middle of Lake Tahoe, and it makes a lovely backdrop when you are posing atop Emerald Bay. If you want otherworldly images, you can plan to do a photoshoot there.
  • Vikingsholm is a beautiful Scandinavian castle where you can make a few romantic portraits if you are doing a photoshoot at Emerald Bay.
  • Tahoe Rim Trail offers beautiful mountain landscapes. Even though it is challenging to get there, you should go if you want amazing photos.Eagle Point Treeline is another scenic location for photo sessions, especially if Emerald Bay is too crowded or too or ordinary for you.


Sparkling lake surrounded by sandy beaches, pine trees and luxury retreats make a beautiful setting for an intimate alfresco ceremony any time of year. There is

a huge selection of gorgeous venues, but I hand-picked 15 most intriguing and visually exciting locations that range from remote and idyllic rustic lodges to

high-end lakefront resorts. Some of them might not be open for visitors right now due to COVID-19, but check them out if you are planning a wedding later this year, in 2021 or beyond.

Lake Tahoe weddings are special because the natural surroundings are ideal for wedding photography and all kinds of sports and leisure activities that will make your wedding memorable. A short ride away from San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento and other cities, it is a convenient location for elopements and intimate weddings, but it is also the perfect destination for grand destination weddings and honeymoons. Since it is a popular mountain getaway in California, you need to book your venue at least a year in advance. And to make the most of your trip, include some outdoor adventures in your itinerary.Happy planning!