The big leap

Unique local wedding options for adventurous couples

When my daughter was in fourth grade, she was excited to be given the opportunity to see her teacher getting married. We all stood on the dock at Sunnyside Lodge on Tahoe’s West Shore, and watched as the bride-teacher arrived glamorously in the back of a classic old wooden boat. She gave a hearty smile and a wave to her admirers on the dock, and then promptly fell into the lake. There was a loud “Oh my God” gasp from the crowd, and then, after a minute or two, the “real” bride emerged from her hiding place in the cabin of the boat to loud applause. Meanwhile, the hopefully well compensated fake bride, sloshed her way over to the dock in what turned out to be an $11 wedding dress. When I think of all the special moments at weddings I have attended over the last fifteen years, it is the bride falling into Tahoe that is the most memorable.

Many folks try to create the perfect wedding. They arrange to have the music, flowers and food prepared properly and presented at just the right time and place. They make sure that all of those classic wedding traditions are upheld and that their guests leave filled with lots of warm fuzzies caused by the obvious love of the bride and groom. And then there are folks who say: Screw that traditional stuff. I want to do something that pushes the envelope, something adventurous that people will actually remember.

Instead of a church, would you rather get married in a remote wilderness or up in the air in a helicopter? Or do you just want to add a few special touches of whimsy that will make your event special? Here are a few ideas:

Mile high club

How about getting into a helicopter, flying over Lake Tahoe, and then reciting your vows over Emerald Bay? Reno-Tahoe Helicopters will do that. Just bride, groom, minister and the pilot/witness up there in the light blue sky above the deep blue lake. If you eschew the big fancy wedding, this might be your way to escape the guest lists, but if you don’t mind sharing the occasion with friends, your in-flight ceremony can be followed by a down-to-earth reception on land.

Snow love bunnies

How about doing the deed—you know, getting married—at the top of a ski resort? Downhill skiers will produce wedding photos to die for at the top of Homewood Ski Resort or Diamond Peak. Cross-country skiers can arrange to have an on-snow wedding and mini-reception overlooking the lake at Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area. At Homewood, after the ceremony you can ski down to West Shore Café for your reception at their luxurious digs on the edge of the lake. At Diamond Peak you can either get married at the top of the mountain for the views, or set up the wedding on the lodge deck, where the bride and groom can literally ski together past the assembled crowd to the alter.

Diamond Peak/Incline Village wedding planner Susie Cheatley says they can also set you up in the summertime with a golf course wedding. Picture the bride and groom on the tee-box of the signature seventh hole on the Incline Village Championship Course. Perhaps the guests and bridal party could arrive via golf carts wearing “Caddyshack” inspired clothing.

For Homewood weddings go to:

For more information on Incline Weddings: Susie Cheatley, (775) 832-1303

Backcountry wedding

Are you a backcountry skier who would like to find a place to get married where you can have a piece of the snowy world all to yourself? Pacific Crest Snowcats takes skiers to remote little bits of powder wonderness in the area between Sugar Bowl and Squaw Valley. Bring a small group of friends and have a lovely day skiing the powder before taking a break for vows on a mountain top. The trick might be to get your powder-hound friends to be patient. They know all that time spent listening to you say “I do” is time that they are not skiing. Get the scoop at

Two clowns

If getting married and then dropping into a steep chute to ski through the powder, or taking your vows mid-air above Fanette Island is a bit too much adventure for you, what about adding just a touch of humor to make your wedding memorable? Long time Tahoe wedding officiant Ed Miller remembers when he married a juggler. When it came time to exchange the rings, the bride and groom pulled out big Frisbee-sized rings that they began juggling back and forth.

Another time, Miller was performing a more informal ceremony on a dock in Homewood. He looked out at the crowd and noticed that in the first five rows, all the guests looked very serious in dark suits. He turned around to talk to the groom and when he looked back, all those serious looking guests had donned Groucho Marx glasses, noses and bushy eyebrows. If you are looking for ideas, it seems that the wedding humor that works the best is a gentle poke at wedding traditions.

More ideas

If your spirit of adventure cannot be confined to one day, you can also find adventure the day before and after the wedding. How about taking the wedding party on a kayak trip along the shore of Tahoe with a stop for a picnic on a beach? A hike into the wilderness? Paddleboard excursion? Tahoe Trips and Trails, who perform a lot of weddings at their Cedar House Hotel in Truckee, can handle all the details and provide guides for a before or after wedding day adventure. Learn more at

A relatively new after-wedding tradition is a Trash the Dress photo session. Once the pomp and circumstance of the big day are complete, you can let your hair down, and get that beautiful white dress a little dirty, or even more fun, wet. Sure, it is a bit invigorating for the bride and groom to have their April wedding pictures taken half immersed in Lake Tahoe, but think of how cool and memorable those photos will be.

Whatever you do, remember this is your wedding. Show your spunk and personality and produce an event that a few years down the road will make your friends smile, or better yet, laugh.