10 Things to Know Before Eloping in Lake Tahoe

Situated on the border of California and Nevada lies one of the most beautiful lakes in the United States: Lake Tahoe! With its gorgeous crystal clear blue waters (which earned the lake its nickname “Big Blue”), sandy beaches, mountain views, and lush forest scenery, this location has something for everyone. It never disappoints! This is why Lake Tahoe elopements are some of my favorites to capture because no matter where you decide to say “I do” you’re met with absolutely stunning views!

As an experienced adventure elopement photographer, there are a few things I must share with you before you decide to tie the knot there! Keep reading to discover the 10 things you must know before eloping in Lake Tahoe!

photo of bride and groom kissing at Lake Tahoe with a snowy mountain range behind them

1. Different Seasons Offer Spectacular Backdrops For Your Elopement

There’s really no right or wrong time to elope at Big Blue. It really depends on personal preference and what you want the scenery to look like in your Lake Tahoe elopement photos 🙂

Summer is the best time to see the blue waters, and the warm temperatures make it a great time to explore the area. Summer also happens to be the busiest time of year, but if crowds don’t scare you this could be the best choice for you!

Photo of mountains from Lake Tahoe

Fall is another great time for a Lake Tahoe elopement. The temperatures are slightly milder than they are in summer, and you’ll also find it to be less crowded. Parts of the forest transform into beautiful shades of orange and yellow, which can make for beautiful Lake Tahoe wedding photos!

There’s nothing quite like winter at the lake!! If you’ve always dreamt of getting married in a beautiful winter wonderland, eloping in winter might be the right choice for you. 

As a Lake Tahoe elopement photographer, I should warn you that spring is the trickiest season to get married here. The trails can be muddy, and the snow is less pristine. If you love the idea of having spring flowers featured in your Lake Tahoe elopement photos, don’t worry. Depending on how much snow the area received, you can expect to see “spring” well into June!

Photo of couple exchanging vows at a waterfall at Lake Tahoe

2. There Are Lots of Beautiful Locations For a Lake Tahoe Elopement!

It’s no surprise that there are plenty of beautiful spots to elope in Lake Tahoe since the lake is huge! It’s 26 miles long and takes over 2 hours to drive around. There are lots of sandy beaches around the lake, or you can head to the west shore for the distinct rocky vibe that’s iconic to Tahoe. 

No matter what location you choose, I can help you create stunning elopement photos in Lake Tahoe! That being said, many of  Big Blue’s beaches draw a crowd. As a part-time local and Lake Tahoe elopement photographer, I know of lots of less frequented spots for you to tie the knot if you’re interested in a more intimate ceremony! If you’re trying to figure out the perfect location, let’s chat!

photo of bride and groom resting foreheads on each other with Lake Tahoe
photo of couple exchanging vows in private elopement at Lake Tahoe

3. What’s the Best Time of Day to Elope Here?

When it comes to the best time of day for your Lake Tahoe elopement, I recommend either sunrise or sunset.

As a Lake Tahoe elopement photographer, I find sunrise to be a very magical time to get married. If you’re up high on the vistas or mountain tops, you’ll be able to spot a lot of gorgeous colors, which can make for breathtaking photos. Sunrise is also the least crowded time of day, which is perfect for couples who want a more intimate ceremony.  

photo of groom kissing his bride on the forehead while standing on rocks with Lake Tahoe behind them

Sunsets are stunning and can make for gorgeous Lake Tahoe elopement photos! Although sunsets are a breathtaking time to exchange vows and are a great time to capture the famous “Tahoe Blue” in your photos, they do tend to be a bit more crowded than sunrises.

Eloping in Lake Tahoe at midday comes with hotter temperatures and bigger crowds. The harsh lighting and shadows can be trickier to work with from a photography standpoint. If you have your heart set on a midday elopement, I recommend tying the knot in one of Tahoe’s beautiful forests due to the shade at this time of day. For some unforgettable photos, you might also consider getting married in a boat! I recommend Tahoe Sailing Charters if a boat wedding is calling your name.

4. You May Need to Get a Permit to Elope in Lake Tahoe

If you’re planning to hold a marriage ceremony, you’ll need to make sure it’s legal! Whether or not you need a permit for your Lake Tahoe elopement will depend on location. If you’re planning to elope in more popular locations like Emerald Bay State Park or Sand Harbor State Park, you’ll need to obtain a permit from the park itself. In other locations, it will depend. You can reach out to the Tahoe National Forest to find out for sure.

photo of bride and groom spraying their bottles of champagne at their elopement
photo of bride and groom walking towards Lake Tahoe with lanterns in their hands

5. Getting a Marriage License For a Lake Tahoe Wedding Can Be Tricky 

Applying for a marriage license to elope here can be tricky! . This is because Lake Tahoe is divided between California and Nevada. You’ll need to decide which side of the lake you want to elope on. If you get married on the Nevada side of Tahoe, you’ll need to get a Nevada marriage license; if you tie the knot on the California side, you’ll need to apply for a California marriage license. You can get a marriage license in any county of either of these states.

photo of bride and groom sitting on a hammock in the woods playing banjos

6. There Are Lots of Unique Places to Stay in the Area 

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding where to stay when eloping in Lake Tahoe. Choosing a location that’s conveniently located to where you plan to tie the knot is ideal. 

I personally recommend staying on the north shore in towns like Kings Beach, Tahoe City, or Truckee, CA, or Incline Village, NV. The north shore has a small mountain town vibe. South shore Lake Tahoe offers a Las Vegas type of vibe, with its large casinos and more amenities. The downside of this specific location, however, is that the area does tend to see more traffic. 

Photo of bride and groom sitting down, holding hands and looking at each other at their Lake Tahoe elopement
photo of bride and groom holding hands and hiking at their Lake Tahoe adventure elopement

If you’re traveling to your Lake Tahoe elopement, the closest airport is Reno-Tahoe International. It’s located about an hour from North Lake Tahoe, which is incredibly convenient if you have guests flying in! Sacramento International Airport is another option and is only about a two-hour drive from the north shore.

7. Lake Tahoe Has Lots of Potential For Adventure

If you’re looking for an adventure elopement, then look no further! No matter what time of year you visit Big Blue, there’s plenty to do. When it’s warm in summer, you can go hiking, water skiing, motorboating, swimming, scuba diving, camping, and tubing down the Truckee River. You can also lay on the beach and enjoy the water. Since fall in Lake Tahoe can be very warm, many of summer’s activities can roll into the season. 

photo of groom helping his bride up a rock face on their wedding day

During the winter, you might consider going skiing or snowboarding, snowshoeing, polar plunging, and XC skiing. If the weather is cold enough, there’s also alpine ice skating. Even if you’re not one for snow sports, many of the hotels offer fire pits you can rent for s’mores and cuddling. I can’t think of a more romantic way to celebrate your Lake Tahoe elopement!

You can enjoy many of winter’s activities during the springtime, but it’s weather dependent. Spring is the most unpredictable time of year, with either the sun shining or snow falling — which will determine if you can enjoy winter or summer activities!

8. Be Sure to Choose a Legitimate Officiant 

When eloping in Lake Tahoe, you’ll want to choose a legitimate officiant. They need to be legal in whichever state you’re getting married in. There are different regulations in California and Nevada, so it’s important to choose wisely for legality purposes. 

Although many of my previous clients have had friends or family members officiate their weddings, Ceremonies by Meredith, Meghan Ruiz, and Mountain High Weddings have come highly recommended from other Lake Tahoe wedding vendors.

Photo of bride and groom dancing on the beach at sunset for their Lake Tahoe elopement
photo of Lake Tahoe at winter time with the mountains in the distance

9. There Are Lots of Great Lake Tahoe Vendors to Choose From!

Are you looking for florist recommendations for your elopement? You want your flowers to really stand out in your wedding photos! I’ve worked with some very talented (and super sweet) wedding florists in the past! I highly recommend Love and Lupines, Wilderland Studio, and Twine Floral Co. for gorgeous flowers for your special day!

If you want to look your best for your Lake Tahoe elopement photos, you’re probably wondering about what hair and makeup artists are available in the area. My past clients have done their own hair and makeup or had someone in their family do it, but Solstice Salon and Hair and Makeup by Lisa come with glowing recommendations.

photo of sunset at lake tahoe
Photo of bride and groom holding hands celebrating their elopement

10. Consider Choosing a Local Lake Tahoe Elopement Photographer

Choosing an elopement photographer who’s local to the Tahoe area can be a big plus. As a part-time local, I know the area better than I know my hometown! My family has resided in the area for generations.

As an elopement photographer in Lake Tahoe, my goal is to create beautiful images for couples who love the outdoors and want a stress-free wedding day experience. I love nature and exploring it with people who also love it!

Ready to Elope in Lake Tahoe?

Are you ready to embark on your journey together and tie the knot in Big Blue? I’m so excited for you! If you’re interested in booking me as your Lake Tahoe elopement photographer, be sure to contact me so we can turn your dreams into reality!

photo of newlyweds holding hands in wildflower field at Lake Tahoe
  1. Ann Marie says:

    What great info! Lake Tahoe is still on my bucket list and I would love to get out there in the Summer. Such beautiful photos and such great info for anyone choosing Lake Tahoe for their elopement. Love it!

  2. Julia Maass says:

    This is such an amazing guide and love all of the beautiful photos!

  3. Sydney says:

    So informational! Lake Tahoe is such a beautiful location to elope, the changing of the seasons and locations really make it such a unique place.

  4. Danielle says:

    These are stunning, wow it is crazy how different it looks depending on the season, such a key point!

  5. I love that you showed off all the different seasons. Super important to take that into consideration when planning your Lake Tahoe Elopement!!

  6. Tessa Klingensmith says:

    Lake Taho is stunning! I love the variety in locations you show too! Definitely saving this for my elopement

  7. Stacy says:

    This resources for eloping at Lake Tahoe is incredibly helpful! I had no idea there were so many different types of landscapes there either. Your photos are incredible.

  8. Naomi Levit says:

    Lake Tahoe looks like an amazing location to elope! I would love to travel there this summer! So inspiring 🙂

  9. Daria says:

    This guide is a goldmine of information, and Lake Tahoe looks like a perfect location for an elopement! Love your photos, so beautiful! Thank you for sharing 🙂

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