Lake Tahoe just seems to bring out the happy in people. Young or old, nearly-weds or old-timers. Lake Tahoe weddings just seem so full of pretty that you can almost reach out and touch it. And while Tahoe may be a dream destination spot for your own nups – this couple had only to look in their own back yard for their amazing photographers, Johnstone Studios. All you have to do is take one look at this first shot and you can tell… right? But- there’s SO much more in the gallery, so take some time to dream over there as well.

From the Bride… Many people who are lucky enough to live in Lake Tahoe, California love to use the phrase, “We live where you vacation.” Of course, there was very little debate about where we would get married. I was raised in Tahoe City and Ben, Boston-born, moved to Squaw Valley after college to pursue his love of skiing. Although we live in Reno, Nevada, Tahoe remains our true home. We moved so that I could attend medical school, but Ben continues to work at PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn as the Executive Chef. We met while working together at the beautiful West Shore Cafe and Inn. Needless to say, Lake Tahoe is very important to both of us, especially since it brought us together.

After 5 years, our relationship had survived a long-distance relationship, new jobs, Emergency Room work hours, a new puppy, and medical school. I am ashamed to say I had never visited Yosemite National Park, despite living in California my whole life. Ben planned a weekend trip at the end of October 2011 amidst our busy schedules. We stayed at the historic Wawona Hotel and planned to hike the Panoramic Trail the next day. Ben was nervous, I could tell. He kept reminding me to bring the camera, and asked if it had an automatic timer (this aroused my suspicions because normally he is camera shy). As we hiked, he stopped numerous times trying to pick out a place to eat lunch. Finally, he found our lunch spot, overlooking the famous Half Dome. We were packing up our gear and he suggested we take a photo before we moved on. After setting up the camera, with Half Dome watching over us, he kneeled on the granite and asked me to marry to him. Of course I said yes!

Our wedding was set to take place on July 22nd, 2012 at Ben’s workplace, PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn. He swore he would do his best not to enter the kitchen during his own wedding, my mother was adamant. We are lucky that he works in the most gorgeous location. Squaw Valley is so special; Tram face rises like a granite cathedral at the head of the Valley. This reflected our values and set the tone of the wedding. The environment inspired the wedding, we had no theme, or special colors. We wanted to let Tahoe speak for itself. Bellissima Flowers, owned by a friend of ours, used Tahoe’s wildflowers as a starting point for the design. Ben wore a boutonniere of Indian Paintbrush, a flower I used to drink the nectar from as a child. Our table numbers were painted on rocks from Squaw Creek. Tables were decorated with lichen, sugar pinecones that my mother collected, and beautiful flowers.

I wanted a carefree atmosphere, so my bridesmaids wore dresses of their choosing in a natural color scheme. My grandmother, “Nana,” was unable to make the trip for the wedding so to make sure she was with me, I tied her locket into my bouquet. We were married by my maid-of-honor, Teal, who composed a beautiful ceremony and was able to incorporate so much of who we were as a couple into the script. Ben’s mother, who owns SilverGraphics, created mugs with the special family seal on them as favors. We filled them with wildflower seeds.

I have so many favorite memories, it was the best day of my life. Ben created a fun and delicious menu for our guests: pork belly and heirloom tomatoes, farmer’s market salad, and filet mignon with grits, as a nod to my Dad’s Southern heritage. It was so nice to be able to show all of our friends and family his talents as a chef. After dancing the night away, taking hilarious photos in a photo booth, we were surprised by a dramatic weather change. Thunderstorms are a rare event in Tahoe, but it seemed Mother Nature had a wedding celebration of her own in mind. The sky split open with booms of thunder and lightning. The mountains were illuminated from behind in a way I have never seen before. I could not have asked for a more perfect day.

Wedding Photography: Johnstone Studios / Wedding Venue + Catering: PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn, Olympic Valley, California / Event Coordination: Susi Trottnow of Destination Tahoe / Floral Design: Bellissima Floral / Wedding Cake: Tahoe House Bakery / String Trio: The String Beings / Furniture Rentals + Lighting: Crux Events /Invitations: SilverGraphics / Wedding Dress: Augusta Jones (Jessie) via Swoon Bridal Salon in Reno, NV / Shoes: Pelle Moda

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