Kimmi Cranes is a Lake Tahoe wedding photographer specializing in capturing vibrant and candid portraits that tell a unique story.
Servicing Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Reno, and available for travel worldwide.
Some basics: you’ll need a marriage certificate, an officiant, and witnesses to sign the marriage certificate after your Lake Tahoe elopement ceremony. The witnesses can be a close friend or family member, each of you will need your own witness. A legal elopement is a party of five or more. (Side note: As of 2020, during Coronavirus social distancing times, the maximum allowed is 10 people for an elopement.)
You may also want to reserve a venue for a dinner reception after the ceremony, as well as lodging and accommodations for yourself and your guests. During peak season, lodging and dinner reservations may be difficult to secure, so plan early and call ahead to a few local options. Read on below for some advice and different options regarding Lake Tahoe elopement packages.
Depending on where you choose to get married and hold the ceremony, there are Special Use Permits required to host a wedding or elopement ceremony at certain National Parks and National Forest Land. This applies to areas on both the California and Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. The permit for special events and usually starts at $50 for smaller intimate events, and goes up in a sliding scale based on number of guests. You can read more details about the permits required at the Lake Tahoe Basin Management and Nevada State Parks websites.
Since Lake Tahoe is located in both California and Nevada, where you choose to have your elopement ceremony will determine which state you will need to file your marriage license. If you’re planning your Lake Tahoe elopement on the Nevada side, you will need to file for a Nevada marriage license with the corresponding county (Wahoe County, Douglas County, or Carson County).
If you would like to have your elopement ceremony on the California side, you’ll need either a confidential marriage license (issued to the officiating minister) or a public marriage license (issued by the county clerk). In this case, you will still need to check with the corresponding California county of your location, either Placer County or El Dorado County. Marriage license requirements may change from time to time, so it’s advisable to check with the local county clerk of the current requirements and lead time.
Book a flight to Reno! This international airport is only an hour from Lake Tahoe, and most airlines have non-stop flight options from major airports to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO). There are plenty of shuttle buses departing hourly that will take you from the Reno airport to any major casino on both the North Shore and South Shore.
Another option is to fly into Sacramento International Airport (SAC), which is located two hours west of Lake Tahoe and driving on Highway 80 or Highway 50 towards Lake Tahoe. As a last resort, you can also fly into San Francisco (SFO) or Oakland (OAK) — but both options are 4+ hours away from the lake.
Lake Tahoe’s brilliant gem. Picturesque in every way, Emerald Bay is a vibrant blue-green bay that is surrounded by snowy mountain peaks. Accessible through the Vikingsholm Trail and parking lot, this scenic overlook offers a stunning view of the lake and the iconic Fannette Island.
This national and state landmark makes a stunning backdrop for your Lake Tahoe elopement ceremony. Located on the West Shore by Meek’s Bay, this park offers beautiful sunrises and vistas reminiscent of camp and summer days swimming in the lake. As a bonus, the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion is just up the road, a historic summer retreat which is definitely worth a visit.
Tucked away in a secluded area just south of the lake, Tahoe Paradise Park is an idyllic respite among the trees. You can have your Lake Tahoe elopement ceremony under a redwood gazebo, and then take the wedding photographs underneath a 1000-year-old cedar tree. It is absolutely enormous and just a wonder to be present around. There is magic and history and serenity in this place, along with a mirror lake that provides a stunning background to your wedding vows.
A hidden gem within South Lake Tahoe! Centrally located and close to restaurants and shops, Regan Beach is the perfect elopement area for ease of accessibility for elderly family members and young children. It is handicap accessible and available for special events year-round which is great for winter Lake Tahoe elopement packages. The gardens are secluded by tall pine trees, giving you privacy from onlookers. After the vows are said and the rings are exchanged, you can stroll down and enjoy the beach which is only a few feet away!
Logan Shoals is exceptional for sunset ceremonies where the light pink and blue glow of the Sierra Nevada skyline lights the sky. For smaller ceremonies, there is a private enclave a few steps away from the accessible path that is perfect for an intimate elopement ceremony. Located on the South-East shore, this Vista Point is accessible from Highway 50 and is close to other attractions like Nevada Beach and Cave Rock.
Whether your wedding is during the spring, summer, winter or fall – Tahoe has plenty of resorts offering a year-round outdoor wedding options. Couples seeking a tranquil getaway in Lake Tahoe should search no further. In the South Shore, Black Bear Lodge is one of the most idyllic and charming Lake Tahoe wedding venues. With a beautiful and warm mountain lodge, picturesque gardens and grounds, and on-site cabins for your wedding suite – Black Bear Lodge is the ideal spot to host an intimate destination wedding.
In the North Shore, a dream venue for couples wanting a luxury celebration is the Ritz Carlton in Truckee. The Chateau at Incline Village is a breathtaking wedding venue located on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, providing traditional Tahoe vibes with stone and timber construction. Here are some of the top Lake Tahoe wedding venues:
To ensure a smooth and problem-free elopement, it’s best to hire a planner who knows the area and all the necessary permits and things that you should book in advance. Some ministers also do permits and marriage licenses included with their Lake Tahoe elopement packages, so it’s good to ask. Some of my favorite wedding planners are Tawni from Pomegranate Occasions and Karie from She Said Yes! Weddings. For officiants / ministers, check out Meredith from Ceremonies by Meredith or Cindie Wilding. Lastly, flowers! I love Drea’s special elopement flower arrangements at High Mountain Greenery.
It depends on how long you need photography services for. I usually recommend at least two hours to fully capture the elopement ceremony plus some wedding photographs with family and friends after. I offer half-day (4 hours) and full-day (8 hours) Lake Tahoe elopement packages. That gives us enough time to go on a hike, hop into some kayaks, or do any adventure that you desire around these beautiful mountains and lake. All Lake Tahoe elopement packages for photography include archival quality prints, high-resolution image downloads, a print release, and a canvas or leather album to remember your elopement ceremony for many years to come.
Looking for ideas for the best places to elope?
We also have a guide on how to elope in Lake Tahoe.