What do you need to elope in Lake Tahoe?
Some basics: you’ll need a marriage certificate, an officiant, and witnesses to sign the marriage certificate after your ceremony. The witnesses can be a close friend or family member, each of you will need your own witness. The photographer also counts as one, if you prefer to elope privately just the two of you!
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.
Read our elopement guides regarding how to elope, where to elope, and the all legal paperwork and preparation that you need.
Is a Nevada Marriage License Valid in California?
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.
Special Use Permits for Eloping in Tahoe
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.
How to Get to Lake Tahoe
The closest airport to Lake Tahoe is the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO), which is located about 60 miles away from the lake. There are direct flights to Reno-Tahoe International Airport from many major cities across the United States, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, and Chicago.
Another option is to fly into Sacramento International Airport (SMF), which is about 2 hours away from Lake Tahoe by car. Both airports have rental cars available for visitors who want to have the flexibility to explore the area on their own.
Several companies offer shuttle services between the airport and Lake Tahoe, including North Lake Tahoe Express and South Tahoe Airporter. If you’re staying at a hotel or resort in Lake Tahoe, many offer complimentary shuttle services to and from the airport. Taxis and ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, are also available in the area.
During the winter months, it’s important to note that chains or snow tires may be required on some roads leading to Lake Tahoe due to snowy conditions. Be sure to check the weather and road conditions before your trip and plan accordingly. Overall, flying into and getting to Lake Tahoe is relatively easy, with several transportation options available to suit different preferences and budgets.
Lake Tahoe Weather
Lake Tahoe experiences a four-season climate, with distinct weather patterns throughout the year.
Summer (June-August): The summer months are the most popular time to visit Lake Tahoe. During this season, temperatures typically range from the mid-60s to low 80s Fahrenheit (about 18 to 27 degrees Celsius) during the day, with cooler temperatures at night. Thunderstorms are common during the afternoons, and visitors can expect plenty of sunshine and clear skies in between. Be sure to pack sunscreen and a hat, as well as a light jacket or sweater for the cooler evenings.
Fall (September-November): Fall in Lake Tahoe is known for its vibrant colors, as the leaves on the trees change to shades of red, orange, and gold. During this season, temperatures start to cool off, with highs ranging from the mid-40s to low 70s Fahrenheit (about 7 to 22 degrees Celsius). Visitors can expect sunny days and crisp, cool nights. It’s a good idea to bring layers, as the weather can be unpredictable during this time of year.
Winter (December-February): Winter in Lake Tahoe is characterized by its snow-covered mountains and winter sports activities. Temperatures during this season can range from the low 20s to mid-40s Fahrenheit (about -6 to 7 degrees Celsius) during the day, with colder temperatures at night. Visitors can expect frequent snowfall and occasional blizzards, and it’s important to be prepared with warm clothing and proper winter gear if planning to engage in outdoor activities.
Spring (March-May): Spring in Lake Tahoe is a quieter time of year, as many visitors opt to visit during the more popular summer or winter months. Temperatures during this season typically range from the mid-30s to mid-60s Fahrenheit (about 1 to 16 degrees Celsius) during the day, with cooler temperatures at night. Visitors can expect sunny days and occasional rain showers. It’s a good idea to bring layers, as the weather can be unpredictable during this time of year.
Overall, Lake Tahoe’s climate offers visitors a range of outdoor activities and scenic views throughout the year, but it’s important to be prepared for the weather conditions during each season.
Best Elopement Locations in Lake Tahoe
Emerald Bay State Park Lookout
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. Emerald Bay State Park is a popular location for weddings and other outdoor events, and it’s important to obtain the necessary permits to ensure that the event goes smoothly. The process for obtaining a permit is relatively simple, but it’s important to plan ahead to ensure that everything is in order for the big day. The park’s office can provide all the necessary information and assistance to obtain the permit.
Sugar Pine Point State Park Pier
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.
Tahoe Paradise Park
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.
Regan Beach West
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 Vista Point
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.
Lake Tahoe Wedding Venues
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:
The Landing Resort & Spa
Black Bear Lodge
The Chateau at Incline Village
Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe
Hyatt Regency Resort Tahoe
Twenty Mile House
Valhalla Lake Tahoe
Tahoe Ridge Resort
Lake Tahoe Elopement Vendors
Lake Tahoe Florists
Lake Tahoe Officiants
Sharon Rusk – “I Do” Tahoe Weddings
Hair & Makeup Artists
That’s me! I’d love to be there to celebrate your elopement. Please contact me for Lake Tahoe elopement photography.
Fun things to do after your Lake Tahoe Elopement guide
- Take a sunset cruise on the lake.
- Go on a hot air balloon ride for a bird’s eye view of the lake and surrounding mountains.
- Enjoy a picnic on the beach or in one of the many scenic parks in the area.
- Visit a local winery or brewery for a tasting.
- Go on a hike in the mountains, such as the popular Mount Tallac trail.
- Take a scenic drive around the lake or through the surrounding forests.
- Rent a bike or kayak and explore the lake and its surroundings at your own pace.
- Visit one of the many hot springs in the area, such as Grover Hot Springs or Travertine Hot Springs.
- Go skiing or snowboarding at one of the many world-class ski resorts in the area, such as Squaw Valley or Heavenly Mountain.
- Relax at one of the many spas in the area, such as The Ritz-Carlton Spa or the Spa at Squaw Creek.
Lake Tahoe Elopement Packages and Pricing
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.
Check out our guide to the best places to elope in California and elopement packages.