vintage glass jar vases and pine cone table numbers
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Pretty Rustic Lake Tahoe Wedding | Patrick Pike Studios

Kirsten + Kyle
October 6, 2012
Lake Tahoe, CA

Kirsten knows a bit about weddings! She’s actually a vendor who specializes in childcare for weddings and events. Her Lake Tahoe wedding, captured by Patrick Pike is a classic Lake Tahoe wedding with a focus on easy and natural decor that compliments the beauty of the region. Kirsten and Kyle sources many of their rustic details from the land, deepening the sense of place and connection to the land at their wedding. Kirsten was also kind enough to share her Hindsight Advice as well as glowing reviews for her Lake Tahoe wedding vendors. Enjoy!!!

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Why a Mountain Wedding?

My husband and I have both spent many years living in Tahoe and enjoying the beautiful natural surroundings. We really never considered anything other than a Tahoe wedding.

Where did you find your inspiration?

We found our inspiration from everything around us, we wanted to use as many natural elements for decorations and ideas came to us by looking through magazines and especially by looking at local photographers portfolios.

Your favorite moment of the day.

Walking back down the aisle after we said our I do’s. We did a traditional ribbon tying ceremony so we were literally tied together by ribbons that our parents and family members had tied to each of our wrists. That’s when it really felt real.

Three things you’re glad you did.

  • Had a friend be our officiant. She knows us so well and her ceremony was so personal and us. It was a lot of work for her but I can’t imagine that anyone else could have given us anything even close to as amazing as her ceremony was.
  • Used a venue that had lodging on site. It was so fun to have everyone all in the same place for the whole weekend.
  • Kept the decorations and flowers really natural. We were able to collect a lot of the decoration items ourselves which saved us a lot of money and was really beautiful.

Anything you wish you had done?

Only one regret, wish we had had more time for dancing! Because the DJ was outside the venue had a strict end time and we could have danced all night!

Anything you wish you hadn’t done?

Rented the tuxes. We were trying to go easy on the grooms men and save them some money by renting tuxes. It ended up being really expensive for them and while they looked fabulous, we could have had them wear black suits and bought matching ties for a fraction of the price and they would still have looked great.

Anything you wish you hadn’t worried about?

I am really not a worrier and everything went so smoothly. I was really lucky to have a lot of help from family and friends before, during and after the wedding and it helped living only five minutes from the venue. The only big issue was the weather. For a few days they were forecasting snow around our date and I really didn’t want to have to use a tent but it ended up being beautiful day weather wise and even if it had snowed it would have been a great celebration.

How did you choose your vendors?

I got some referrals from a website that has great Tahoe Wedding information, and made lots of phone calls. I also got a lot of great suggestions from the coordinator at our venue. We were so pleased with everyone we used, they were easy to work with and really helped make the day what it was. There is also a website called which is so cool, you can submit a request with your date and location and photographers who are available contact you instead of you having to make a million different calls only to find out that someone is booked. The photographers on there are really talented and they made it so easy to find someone!

What is your very best hindsight advice?

I know everyone says this but it really is true. Try to get as much done and crossed of your list the week before the wedding so you can really enjoy spending time with your family, friends and guests. Don’t sweat the small stuff, once the day is here everything will be great and no one but you will know if something is out of place or the flowers didn’t turn out just like you had envisioned. Afterall, the day is really about you committing to spending the rest of your life with someone, not the decorations or the make up or what songs the DJ plays.

Lake Tahoe Wedding Vendors:

  • Flowers: Martha Bernyk 
    • She was so amazing. She really worked within my budget and listened when I told her what I wanted. What she came up with was even more beautiful than I imagined. She also had some great suggestions for me, she is a total pro!
  • Band and DJ: Brian Hess
    • These guys were AWESOME totally made the event! It was really cool that we could have a live three piece jazz band before during and after the ceremony and during dinner and then Brian DJ’s when everyone is ready to hit the dance floor. Brian had great suggestions for ceremony music and he did a great job reading the crowd and playing the perfect music. I only wish he could have DJ’d until dawn! One good thing to note about them is that when you hire them you don’t only get a set number of hours, they are yours for the whole evening so if you are at a venue that doesn’t have a set end time they will keep playing as long as people keep dancing!
  • Photographer: Patrick Pike 
    • He was amazing and awesome! We had actually hired and signed and contract with another photographer months before the wedding and she called two weeks before the event and said “your wedding is October 12th right?” (Our wedding was October 6th). So needless to say I was totally panicked that one of our relatives was going to be taking our wedding photos on their iphones but I put in a request on Fearless Photographers and Patrick was one of several photographers who responded. I had actually really loved his work the first time around but he works out of Yosemite so I wasn’t sure about working with someone who wasn’t familiar with the venue. When I talked to him on the phone the first time (about 3 minutes after I emailed him) I knew that this had happened for a reason and that he was the perfect match! He got to the venue early to scope it out and within minutes of his arrival he felt like an old friend. He totally got us as a couple and he took some of the most beautiful photos in locations I never would have thought of.
  • Officiant: My best friend
    • I told her she should go into the business but she politely declined after having spent hours with us and without us working on the ceremony. But it was so amazing to have someone who knows us so well perform the ceremony, if you have someone in your lives who would be willing to do that for you and is a good public speaker I highly recommend it!
  • Hair: Daniele Carrete from Bella Vita Salon
    • Danielle is my regular hair dresser and she is so awesome! It was one of the perks of getting married close to home that she could do my hair for me. We started talking styles the minute I told her I was getting married. Since she knows my hair well she knew exactly what would work and what wouldn’t and as I figured out my dress and the other pieces of the wedding it all came together. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful hairstyle or one that completed my look and the feel of the wedding in general any more perfectly. I actually cried when I saw it in the mirror for the first time.
  • Makeup- Jen Ergut from Kiss and Make Up in Tahoe City
    • Jen was super cool to work with and my make up was exactly what I wanted. She was already booked for our wedding day when I contacted her but she had done my make up for my brother’s wedding a few months before ours and had done such a great job, she figured out a way to do both weddings and was even able to squeeze in my mom and a couple bridesmaids too. She found the perfect balance for a beautiful natural look.
  • Venue: River Ranch Lodge
    • The venue was beautiful, the coordinator we worked with there (Linda Johns) was so helpful and easy to work with and the staff on the day of was awesome. We looked at several other venues but because we both have a lot of out of town family we wanted somewhere with lodging on site and we were really thrilled with everything there. The food was super delicious too.
  • Cake: Tahoe House Bakery
    • We actually didn’t have a traditional wedding cake, neither of us are big cake people so we asked our very talented friend and Chef David Lutz to make us some s’mores bars which were delish! (We also considered having real s’mores kits available at the fire pit but decided the s’mores bars would be just as yummy and easier to eat). We didn’t want to miss out on the whole cake cutting tradition though so we got a small cake from Tahoe House and the florist put some flowers on it for us and it was so beautiful. It was also really really good!

Team DIY

We did so many projects! We collected lodge pole (very small), ponderosa (a little bigger) and sugarpine (giant!) cones from the forest by our house. For the sugar pine cones we baked them in the oven at a low temp to get the sap off of them and used them in various places around the venue. We tied fishing line to the stems and hung them from the chairs on the aisle for the ceremony and also as holders for the table name cards on the tables. The ponderosa cones we used for escort cards, we cut out little tags and stamped each guests name on them and their table name and then tied them to the pine cones (yes this took FOREVER but it was super cute, thanks for all the stamping mom!). The lodge pole pine cones we put into glass hurricanes of various sizes with bright green moss and black river rock which we put around the venue mixed in with hurricanes with sand and candles in them.

We also stamped the table name cards. We used names of places from around Tahoe that are special to us for each table and stamped the names on stock paper with stamps of different kinds of leaves and pine needles and pine cones, and then stuck the bottom of the card into a sugarpine cone laying on its side as the holder.

We made our own programs. After we printed and folded them on stock paper I used the same leafy stamps from the escort cards and table name cards on the front of the program and then punched two holes and tied raffia in a little bow on each program. It took me a long time and I made WAY to many but they were a nice touch.

My husband also made a really cool sign by burning Kirsten + Kyle into in old piece of driftwood we found on the lake. We put it by the entrance to the patio with some flowers and pine cones and it was the perfect entrance to set the tone for the rest of the decorations. And now we have it in our house to remind us of our wedding day!

~Submitted through Two Bright Lights~