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How to Elope in Lake Tahoe

Tahoe elopement

Just the two of you by the lake. Photo by Paul Meidinger.

Based on how many brides you see on the beaches of Lake Tahoe during the summer, the mountain lake has got to be one of the most popular places to get married in California, if not the country. It's a little late right now to plan for that summer wedding bash, so how about avoiding all the fuss and eloping? Lake Tahoe has some great locations and services to help couples who want a simpler wedding.

Choose a Tahoe Officient or Celebrant
How about getting married at the top of a mountain, on a couple of paddle boards or on a ski gondola? Non-denominational or multi-denominational celebrants and wedding officiants can meet you at your favorite spot and perform an intimate and romantic ceremony for a small group or just the two of you. They can also connect you with local florists, photographers and musicians for the ceremony and restaurants or resorts for your small reception or dinner.

Celebrant Rev. Christa Deane of Homewood will help you set up a simple, low-stress wedding in various locations around the lake. She has married couples at the top of Eagle Rock, on Tahoe piers and while snowshoeing. Minister Irvalene Blount will perform a religious, civil or customized ceremony at any location you choose. Lake of the Sky Weddings offers an Elopement Package that includes a minister, a wedding license and wedding certificate, photography and music for $295 at various locations around the lake.

Pick a Great Spot
For an elopement you might want to keep the event intimate. Luckily, Tahoe has some beautiful and unusual places where you can have your private ceremony. How about getting hitched on the back of a boat and then flying over the lake on a parasail? How about eloping to one of the public piers on Donner Lake? Or maybe picking the prettiest beach where you can take your shoes off? Some other great places to get married on Lake Tahoe are: Emerald Bay, Sand Harbor, High Camp at Squaw Valley and the Jake's on the Lake pier.

The Shore House in Tahoe Vista offers their Ultimate Intimate Wedding package that includes two nights lodging at the Shore House and breakfast in bed for your first morning, the minister, a lakefront, pier or garden ceremony, marriage license, a rose bouquet, champagne or wine and a wedding cake served lakeside. The cost is between $1,795-1,970 depending on the season.


Check the Marriage Regulations
To elope in Lake Tahoe, you don't need to be a resident of either state nor of the U.S., there's no waiting period, and no blood tests. You must be 18 years or older and require standard picture ID (e.g., drivers license; passport). If previously married, your divorce must be final. The price of a marriage license varies between $35 and $75 depending on the county of purchase. In Nevada, a license bought in any county is valid for a full year in all counties. If divorced, proof isn't needed, but be able to supply information on divorce location and date. In California, a license is valid for 90 days but must be purchased in the county in which you marry. If divorced within the last two years, bring proof of marriage termination.