Ready to start planning your adventure elopement, and Lake Tahoe is on your list? We couldn’t be more excited for you. Lake Tahoe is a truly unique wedding destination where the fresh mountainous air meets a sandy beach (or rocky if that’s your vibe!), and the sunrises and sunsets are unparalleled. We love this area, especially for the hikes and adventure opportunities – almost everything is easy to access!
Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America, sitting atop the Sierra Nevada mountain range. There are two sides to Tahoe: North Tahoe and South Tahoe. If you’re looking for gorgeous views with a Vegas feel, South Tahoe is for you! If your vibe includes quiet beaches and secluded areas, North Tahoe may be more your jam.
how to elope in lake tahoe
Let’s talk marriage licenses! Lake Tahoe lies both in Nevada and California, so you’ll need to make sure you have the proper marriage license for the side you elope on! Don’t worry – we can definitely help you navigate this part.
To get married in California, you’ll need to obtain a marriage license at any County Clerk’s Office in California. Take a valid ID and $90-$100 cash or check. Marriage licenses in California are valid for 90 days, and you don’t need to get married in the county you receive your marriage license. You can even get married the same day you pick up your marriage license! If you’re traveling from outside of CA, check out El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, and Sierra Counties to obtain a license when you arrive.
To be married in Nevada, you’ll want to ensure your officiant is certified in Nevada. You can search here to see if your officiant is legal to facilitate marriages in Nevada. If you’re traveling from out of town, you can obtain a license at Washoe, Carson City, and Douglas Counties in Nevada on your way to Tahoe.
Either way, you’ll need to make sure you have one officiant and one witness (you’re in luck – we can be both witnesses!) and plan your elopement engagement in advance, so you know where to obtain a marriage license.
permits you’ll need to elope in lake tahoe
There are many ways to elope in Tahoe – on a beach, in the mountains, at a resort, the list goes on and on! Depending on where you’d like to tie the knot, there may be permits required. While weddings may occur on national forest land and are open to the public, they are first-come, first-serve. It’s best to double-check if you need a special use permit for your outdoor ceremony on National Forest land based on location and when all else fails, call (530) 543-2600 to confirm your plans.
the best time of year to get married in lake tahoe
TLDR: You cannot go wrong with the seasons in Tahoe – it all depends on what you and your honey are looking for because there are four full sweet seasons to take advantage of!
Springtime means a bit of snow on the trails, crystal clear water in the streams and lake, crisp air in the 50°-60° range. Think: bundling up for your hike but still dipping your toes in the water and blue skies in the background.
Summer brings hotter weather with temperatures ranging 70°-80°, and lots of people because the weather is just so dang nice. Think: hiking, then swimming, then boating, then picnicking on the beach. All the activities! When location planning, you’ll want to keep in mind that summer is the most popular time of year for visitors.
Fall brings cooler weather with more chances of rain than springtime. Temperatures go back down, the fall leaves are gorgeous in town, and the evergreens are…well, evergreen! Think: fewer people, so you have more opportunities to plan for an elopement location without sharing it.
Lastly, winter! Think: skiing/snowboarding, then eloping in the winter wonderland, then warming up over cocoa as a married couple (hi, if this is your dream adventure elopement, please let us know – we’d absolutely love to help make this happen for you!)
to elope in north lake tahoe or south lake tahoe
There are two sides to Lake Tahoe: North Tahoe and South Tahoe, both fantastic in their own rights and absolutely beautiful. We can definitely help you decide which side fits your elopement style best, and here are a few options/tips that will help you decide.
North Lake Tahoe: More mountain-style feel, fewer people, relaxed vibe, lots of outdoor activity opportunities. Perfect if you’re looking for an intimate elopement with no one around as you take in the beauty of the mountains and lake.
South Lake Tahoe: Less mountain-style, more Vegas-style feel. Casinos, nightlife, trendy restaurants, lots of people. Perfect if you want to hike and relax during the day on a beach, then hit the casinos at night.
WHERE TO ELOPE IN LAKE TAHOE
North Lake Tahoe Elopement Locations
sand harbor beach
Located on the Nevada side of North Lake Tahoe, Sand Harbor Beach is stunning. Rocks peek out from under the water to create amazing photos for your special day. Elopements are allowed at the Ramada, which cannot be reserved but instead operates on a first-come, first-served basis. You cannot elope on the beach any time of the year, but you can absolutely elope at the Ramada and then take epic photos on the beach!
From kayaking/stand-up paddleboarding at Sand Harbor Rentals to hiking up a short half-mile trail on Memorial Point Trail to swimming and snorkeling underwater (did someone say underwater photoshoot?!), this is the perfect adventure elopement location in the summer. If you’re thinking of a winter elopement, check out the horse-drawn sleigh rides with Sand Harbor Sleigh Rides!
Note: your photographer will need a permit to photograph outside of the Ramada, and there is a $10 entrance fee to access the beach. You can call 755-831-0494 if you have any questions about Sand Harbor Beach.
Ready for an adventure? Park on Highway 28 and hike down into this gorgeous (dare we say it) hidden beach. Hidden Beach, NV, features rocky alcoves, the iconic blue lake, and a sweet secret cove we’d love to show you! The water is shallow near the beach and tends to be warmer – this is an excellent spot for a stand-up paddleboard adventure, post-elopement!
The best parking is near the intersection of Lakeshore Blvd and Highway 28 in Incline Village. Phone number to ask questions: 530-543-2694
Located just 30 minutes away from North Lake Tahoe, Donner Memorial State Park offers a camping and elopement adventure opportunity at an equally stunning lake! Extra plus if you have furry friends: dogs are allowed on the Lakeside Interpretive Trail, Zig Zag Trail, fire roads, and along the shore of Donner Lake except for China Cove Beach. Vehicle costs are $5-$10, depending on the time of year.
You can elope overlooking Donner Lake, hike Donner Summit Canyon (a 3.6-mile loop – show up early as it’s heavily trafficked!) or head down to the public piers for a private ceremony on a dock! Piers are enjoyed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Other hikes you won’t want to miss: Azalea Lake and flora lake via donner summit lakes trail, which is a 2.7-mile out-and-back trail, and Monkey Rock which offers 2.6 miles of a steep climb which, in our opinion, is totally worth it.
Check out our Lake Tahoe elopement, which features Monkey Rock trail and Sand Harbor!
South Lake Tahoe Elopement Locations
emerald bay state park
Really, there’s nothing like Emerald Bay and Emerald Bay Overlook. With absolutely the best view of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay is located on the California side of South Lake Tahoe and features the iconic Inspiration Point. You can even stay at Meeks Bay Resort for easy access to be married at Emerald Bay!
While we will 100% take care of any permits required, there is a lottery to get married at Emerald Bay lookout – check availability here – we recommend calling 530-542-6000 and 530-523-3505 to ensure you have the proper paperwork for this elopement site based on how many people you’d like to join you on your special day.
Did you know? Emerald Bay was designated a National Natural Landmark for its exquisite panorama of mountain-building processes and glacier-carved granite. Cascade Falls Trail, a 1.4-mile busy trail, is a must if you’re in the area. Get there early to secure a parking spot. Cascade Falls Trailhead is here, and the hike takes about 2 hours.
eagle lake trail
Eagle Lake Trail features a 2.4-mile hike on an out and back trail. After obtaining your wilderness permit at the Eagle Falls Trailhead, continue southwest on the trail for a gentle climb at first and then a steep set of stone steps leading to the fall. Keep going to get to the lake!
After reaching Eagle Lake, we recommend hiking the extra half mile to the viewpoints of Eagle Lake – it’s worth it! Pro-tip: bring slip-resistant hiking shoes with good grip. The hike takes about 3.5 hours. Cost: $10 for a Desolation Wilderness hiking pass/required permit paperwork.
d.l. bliss state park
A great option for camping, hiking, and getting hitched, D.L. Bliss State Park provides a beautiful location for your elopement adventure. Take the short, half-mile self-guided nature trail to Tahoe’s infamous Balancing Rock! Heads up: not super dog friendly, so plan to leave your pup at home.
Check out this area if you’d enjoy swimming or scuba diving in the crystal clear water of Lake Tahoe, picnicking, relaxing on the warm sand of Lester Beach or Calawee Cove, and hiking the Rubicon Trail, Lighthouse Trail, and Balancing Rock Trail.
Tallac Point is a sweet lake access point located in South Lake Tahoe. If you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon in the water, this is the spot for you. Tallac Point has a sandbar and is dog-friendly! Post-ceremony photos in the water, anyone?
logan shoals vista point
Located on the east side of the lake in Nevada, Logan Shoals Vista Point is exceptional for sunset ceremonies, post-ceremony sunset photos, enjoying the sunset with a glass of champagne…sunsets, we’re here for them. There’s a private rock enclave accessible off the trail, which is easy to get to and magical!
resorts operating under special use permit
These awesome resorts operate under a Special Use Permit with the U.S. Forest Service and provide wedding services, so you don’t have to worry about that part.
Bliss Beach – aka DL Beach/Lester Beach, is very popular, so show up early (before 11 am), or you could find yourself walking 2 miles to access the beach! Known for being the northern portal to the famous Rubicon Wall (one of the deepest portions of Lake Tahoe) and the popular Rubicon Hiking Trail.
Baldwin Beach – known for its beautiful sandy beach that stretches for about one-half mile with panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains. If you’re looking for that ‘beach with the mountains in the background’ look, this is your beach.
Kiva Beach – dogs are allowed on a leash! This beautiful, narrow beach is located at the southern portion of Lake Tahoe and is excellent for views of peaks to the North, East, and West Mountains and surrounding shoreline.
flights + airbnbs
We recommend flying into Reno, NV (Reno-Tahoe International Airport) and renting a car to get around Tahoe – it’s just under an hour to get to Tahoe from the airport. There is a shuttle you can take from the airport into Tahoe, but this will limit your ability to explore this gorgeous area! You can also fly into Sacramento and drive into Tahoe, taking Highway 80 or Highway 50. Enjoy the scenery and the descent into Tahoe once you climb into the mountains!
While there are many AirBnBs in Tahoe, we have really loved these ones:
sample elopement timeline with hiking ceremony & sailing adventure
11:00 am – We arrive at epic A-Frame Airbnb to capture you getting ready, sipping on champagne or coffee, and jamming out to your favorite tunes.
12:00 pm – Intimate first look with the couple where you see each other for the first time in their wedding clothes, and we grab all those beautiful first-look photos.
12:25 pm – Leave AirBnB, head to the trailhead.
1:00 pm – Meet at the trailhead, start hiking up, explore! We’ll be right behind you, ready to capture the little moments of you two hiking (and obviously we’ll have you stop to take some shots with Lake Tahoe in the background!
2:00 pm – You two get married!! Enjoy your special ceremony on the mountaintop with Lake Tahoe down below. Cue happy tears!
2:30 pm – Explore the ceremony site and take ‘just married’ photos.
3:00 pm – Start hiking back down; still so much adventure to be had!
3:30 pm – Arrive back at the trailhead, leave for the boat tour (yep – a boat tour in your wedding clothes!) or boat rental adventure
4:10 pm – Arrive at Wildgoose II for a boat tour.
4:30 pm – 1-hour boat tour begins. You laugh, you take a deep breath together as a married couple, you enjoy the scenery. We’ll grab those perfect on-the-water shots!
6:00 pm – Leave boat tour location
6:30 pm – Arrive at Hidden Beach/Secret Cove for sunset photos
6:30 pm – Sun starts to set behind mountains, and we’re grabbing all the great photos of you two with the sunset in the background.
6:45 pm – Alpenglow starts (spoiler alert, it’s going to be gorgeous).
7:00 pm – Light is gone, take a break for dinner, and cheers as a married couple!
8:00 pm – Star photos start. Think wide open sky, bright stars, you two cozied up in a blanket under said incredible stars.
9:00 pm – The day is done; you relax in your married bliss. Photo coverage wraps up!
Are you looking for a full-day elopement adventure? We’ve got you. Our Full Day Elopement Experience covers up to 12 hours of documentation, ensuring every minute of your elopement experience will be remembered.
things to do in lake tahoe
Tahoe Cruises – daily cruises aboard the Safari Rose to Emerald Bay and the South Shore (seasonal), including sunset cruises every evening.
Valhalla Tahoe – enjoy history, art, music, theatre, and other cultural events at one of Lake Tahoe’s most unique properties, the Heller Estate. Check out their Summer Concerts Series if you’re planning a summer elopement!
Emerald Bay State Park – from Emerald Bay Lookout Point to hiking, biking, and water sports, there is much that can be explored at Emerald Bay State Park. If SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) is your thing, you can even rent kayaks and SUPs at Baldwin Beach or Emerald Bay Beach.
There are so many great vendors in Tahoe! Below is a head start, let us know who you would recommend and we’ll add to the list!
Adventure Elopement Planner: Honeybee Weddings
Officiants: Ceremonies by Meredith
Photographer + Videographer: Honeybee Weddings
Cakes: Lake Tahoe Cakes
Flowers: Art in Bloom Floral Design
Boat Rental: Wild Goose II
Hair & Makeup: Spring Vale Farm Salon
How much does it cost to get married in Lake Tahoe?
It can cost $60-$100 to get married in Lake Tahoe if you’re just acquiring marriage licenses in CA or NV! We can help you plan exact costs given location, vendors, and everything you’re dreaming of for your Lake Tahoe elopement.
Where can I get married in Lake Tahoe?
You can get married on the beach, at a vista point, while hiking, or at a resort in Lake Tahoe. Check out Emerald Bay State Park, Hidden Beach, Donner Lake, and Baldwin Beach for some great views!
What do you need to get married in Lake Tahoe?
In most locations, a marriage license from Nevada or California is all that’s needed to get married in Lake Tahoe! Read our guide to be sure based on location.