Lake Tahoe Elopement Guide – How to Elope Wild & Free in Lake Tahoe

Fannette Island Lake Tahoe Elopement

Lake Tahoe Elopement Guide

With it’s crystal clear blue water and the surrounding mountains, Lake Tahoe is the ultimate adventure destination – any time of year! For couples who want a wedding that’s outside the box, a Lake Tahoe elopement is the perfect way to tie the knot.

Before you lace up your hiking boots or grab your paddle board, there are a few things you’ll need to know about eloping in Lake Tahoe. This guide will tell you everything from the best places to elope to things to do and places to stay – so keep reading, and you’ll be an expert in no time.

What you’ll find in this Lake Tahoe Elopement Guide: 

  • Why you should elope in Lake Tahoe
  • The Best Places to Elope in Lake Tahoe
  • Best Time to Elope in Lake Tahoe
  • The Legal Stuff: Permits, Officiants, and Marriage Licenses 
  • What to Do
  • Where to Stay 
  • Example Timelines  
  • Alternatives to Lake Tahoe
  • The Cost of Eloping in Lake Tahoe
  • Lake Tahoe Elopement Packages – Are you ready to elope Wild & Free? 

Why You Should Elope in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe brings a lot to the table – and we guarantee you’ll find something that’s perfect for you! Here are just a few reasons why you should elope in Lake Tahoe.

The Beaches

You’ll find state parks and beaches all around the shores of Lake Tahoe. They’re perfect for relaxing in the sun, or for hopping in the water with a kayak or a paddleboard! 

The Mountains

Along with the incredible lakeside spots, in Lake Tahoe, you’ll also find some amazing mountain scenery. Surrounding the lake are snow capped peaks, lush forests, and miles of hiking trails that will bring you to overlooks over the lake!

Year Round Fun

No matter when you elope in Lake Tahoe, it’s guaranteed to be a blast! With hiking and beaches in the summer, and skiing in the winter, it’s an incredible destination, year round.

Lake Tahoe Elopement Locations – The Best Places to Elope in Lake Tahoe

One of the best things about eloping is choosing the perfect spot – the one that takes your breath away, the one where you can be surrounded by beauty and serenity as you commit to spending the rest of your life with your best friend. To help you choose, here are some of our favorite Lake Tahoe elopement locations, and the best places to elope!

North Tahoe Elopement Locations

Lake Tahoe is divided into two regions – North and South Tahoe. North Tahoe is more serene, with more mountains and wilderness and less people. This is the best place to elope if you’re looking for ski resorts, or hikes in the mountains.

Some of the best places to elope in North Tahoe include Sand Harbor, Logan Shoals, and Kings Beach.

South Tahoe Elopement Locations

South Tahoe is more populated, and it’s much more of a nightlife, party spot than North Tahoe. If you enjoy the hustle and bustle, Lake Tahoe elopement locations in this area will be close to the resorts, restaurants, and summer festivals.

Emerald Bay State Park is a gorgeous Lake Tahoe elopement location in the south, where you can hike to waterfalls and overlooks, enjoy the beach, or even hop on a boat to Fannette Island – the only island in Lake Tahoe! 

Secret Wild & Free Spots

While these Lake Tahoe elopement locations are incredible, the best spots are the ones that are lesser known! For your elopement day, finding a spot where you can say your vows in private is crucial to a serene, intimate elopement experience. But finding hidden gems and off the beaten path spots is easier said than done, but don’t worry – we’re here to help!

We’ll give you personalized recommendations for places to elope, and all of our secret Wild & Free spots to ensure your experience is the best it can be! Get in touch to learn more about our Lake Tahoe elopement locations.

The Best Time for a Lake Tahoe Elopement

One of the best things about Lake Tahoe is that it’s incredible all year! But, each season brings something new – so before you set a date for your Lake Tahoe elopement, it’s important that you know what to expect.

Winter in Lake Tahoe

Winters are cold, and they’re snowy – which is why Lake Tahoe is such a popular skiing destination! If you want to enjoy the winter wonderland or hit the slopes, you can definitely elope in the winter. But, you’ll need to be prepared with snow chains, and prepare for potential road closures or unexpected snow storms!

Spring in Lake Tahoe

Spring is a beautiful time in Lake Tahoe – but it’s a little unpredictable! Some years, late spring brings wildflowers, sunny days, and open hiking trails, but other years, ski season can last into June! Summer is the most popular time to visit Lake Tahoe, with winter being a close second, so spring can be one of the best times to avoid crowds.

Summer in Lake Tahoe

Summer is the best time to elope in Lake Tahoe if you want to hit the hiking trails, or if you want to enjoy the beaches or the water. In higher elevations, snow can stick around until about mid July, so keep that in mind if you want to hike! This is the most popular time to visit Lake Tahoe, but we’ve got some tips to help you avoid the crowds.

One thing to note about summer in Lake Tahoe is that California’s wildfire season can bring smoke and unsafe conditions to this area – especially late in the season, when everything is dry.

Fall in Lake Tahoe

Fall is one of the best times for a Lake Tahoe elopement – early in the season, a lot of the summer crowds are gone but the weather is still sunny and warm! You can spot the fall foliage in the mountains, or enjoy the last days of sunshine on the beaches. Snow usually starts accumulating in October, but some years winter starts early!

W&F Tip!

Elope on a weekday!

No matter when you elope in Lake Tahoe, we recommend tying the knot on a weekday. This will help you avoid crowds, because weekends are inevitably busier wherever you go! Eloping on a weekday makes it easier to find a secluded spot.

The Legal Stuff – Getting Legally Married in Lake Tahoe

There’s some paperwork that needs to be done to make sure you’re legally married after your elopement – so here’s what you need to know!

Lake Tahoe Wedding Permits

Lake Tahoe wedding permits can be confusing, because it’s made up of different state parks and recreation areas, which are owned and operated by different offices. Before you can get a wedding permit, you’ll need to choose your Lake Tahoe elopement location – the rules vary depending on where you tie the knot, and some places may require a permit while others don’t.

Don’t worry, we’ll help you out with this!

Lake Tahoe Marriage License

A marriage license is required to get legally married. But, Lake Tahoe is on the border of California and Nevada, so you’ll need to know where your ceremony is taking place!

You need to get the marriage license from the state where you’re getting married. If you live in the state, you can choose an office close to you – but if you’re traveling the most convenient office will be in El Dorado County if you’re tying the knot in California, and Douglas County in Nevada.

For both states, you’ll need to go to the county clerk’s office in person to get your marriage license. Bring your photos IDs and money for the license fee ($80 in El Dorado County and $85 in Douglas County), and you’ll get your marriage license the same day!

For more info on California marriage licenses, check out this guide.

Lake Tahoe Elopement Officiant

No matter which state you elope in, an elopement officiant is required to sign your marriage license to ensure you’re legally married. You can hire an officiant, but for more privacy and freedom, we’re ordained and can actually sign to legally marry you!

W&F Tip!

Consider a self uniting ceremony.

While you can hire an officiant for your elopement, a self uniting ceremony gives you more flexibility, more privacy, and more freedom on your elopement day. You can exchange vows privately, without worrying about hiring someone else. You can learn more about self uniting ceremonies here.

The signature is still required on your marriage license, but we can take care of that part for you!

What to Do When You Elope in Lake Tahoe

There are countless adventures to have in Lake Tahoe – so when you’re planning your elopement think about what would make this day truly incredible. Whether it’s something you like to do together or something new you want to try, eloping is all about the experience. Here are just a few things you can do in Lake Tahoe!

Take a Hike

Hiking in the mountains around Lake Tahoe is one of the best things to do! You’ll find everything from short trails to scenic overlooks to longer treks, so there’s guaranteed to be a perfect hike for you!

Kayak or Paddle Board

You can hang out on the beach, but you can also get in the water at Lake Tahoe! In the summer, the water is so warm and inviting, and getting to explore the lake is a super fun way to spend the day. You can kayak or paddleboard, or even take a boat tour!

Ski or Snowboard

In the winter, Lake Tahoe is one of the best destinations in the country for skiing and snowboarding. If you want to hit the slopes, elope in the winter and enjoy the snow!

Lake Tahoe Elopement Inspiration

When you’re planning your own Lake Tahoe elopement, check out this Pinterest board for inspiration! You can find ideas and pin from there, or follow along for more tips and elopement resources.

Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe

You’ll need a place to stay during your elopement, so here are a few of the best homes away from home!

A Lodge or Resort

All around Lake Tahoe, you’ll find cozy lodges and luxurious resorts that make a great place to stay!

The Landing is a great resort in South Tahoe, right next to the lake, while Edgewood Tahoe is right between the mountains and the water!

You can also rent a private cabin in Lake Tahoe, like the adorable ones at North Lake Lodges.


For a unique experience, you can also find glamping near Lake Tahoe – with everything from A frame cabins to canvas tents, you’ll be right next to the great outdoors, with all the comfortable amenities!

An Airbnb

Of course, Airbnb is always a great place to look for accommodations and places to stay! You’ll find everything from cozy cabins to big lodges where you can stay with some guests.

Sample Lake Tahoe Elopement Timelines

For your elopement, we’ll create a timeline of the day – this helps make sure everyone’s on the same page, and that you know what’s going on! To get you inspired for your own Lake Tahoe elopement, here are some sample timelines.

Emerald Bay Elopement With Family

9:00 Family breakfast at Bert’s Cafe

11:00 Drive back to Airbnb

11:30 Hair and makeup begins

1:30 Put on ceremony attire

2:00 Drive to Emerald Bay

3:00 First look and picnic lunch

4:30 Ceremony

5:00 Photos with family

6:00 Family goes back to Airbnb, couple hikes to Eagle Falls for photos and exploring!

7:30 Hike back to the trailhead

8:00 Back to Airbnb for dinner and toasts

“Just Us” Kayaking Elopement

9:00 Coffee & breakfast at Airbnb

11:00 Hair and makeup begins

1:00 Put on ceremony attire

1:30 First look & couples photos

2:30 Drive to Emerald Bay

3:30 Rent a kayak and paddle to Fannette Island

4:30 Picnic on the island

5:30 Ceremony

6:00 Couple’s photos

7:00 Paddle back to Emerald Bay

8:00 Sunset photos!

W&F Tip!

Chat up an expert

Hiring an elopement photographer is a game-changer – because they’ll guide you through the entire planning process! We make a custom elopement timeline for you, keeping in mind things like lighting – to make sure you have the most incredible day possible.

Alternatives to a Lake Tahoe Elopement

If you love Lake Tahoe but aren’t sure if it’s exactly right for you, here are some other elopement locations to consider!

Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes is located south of Lake Tahoe, also in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s another amazing spot for skiing, and in the summer you can hike the mountain trails. As an added bonus, Mammoth Lakes is close to lots of natural hot springs!

Mount Shasta

In Northern California, the Shasta Cascades are a gorgeous place to elope for mountain views similar to what you’ll find at Lake Tahoe. Mount Shasta is also popular for skiing in the winter!

Yosemite National Park

One of the most iconic elopement locations in California is Yosemite National Park. In the winter, you’ll find snow and opportunities for skiing, and in the summer, you can explore the waterfalls, glaciers, and gorgeous granite mountains!

The Cost of Eloping in Lake Tahoe

When it comes to the cost of eloping in Lake Tahoe, you’ll find the best deals in the spring and fall, when the area isn’t as popular with tourists. But, one of the best things about eloping is that you get to invest in experiences rather than things, and you get to prioritize what’s important to you!

Here are a few things that might be in your Lake Tahoe elopement budget.

  • Travel – Do you need flights or transportation?
  • Accommodations – You’ll need somewhere to come back to after your adventure so whether it’s a campground, trendy Airbnb, or an upscale resort, find something that fits your vibe!
  • Meals – Don’t forget about food! You can pack a picnic, stop at a local eatery, or even hire a private chef.
  • Marriage License – Fees vary by county, but average around $90 across the state.
  • Wedding Permit – If you need a permit, depending on the park and area will average between $200-600.
  • Wedding Attire – Dresses, suits, or whatever you’ll be wearing when you tie the knot!
  • Hair and Makeup – You can totally do your own, but hiring a professional is so worth it and helps ensure things stay put throughout your adventure – this usually ranges from $300 to $1000.
  • Florals – Add a bouquet, flower crown, boutonniere, or floral decorations to your day! A professional florist ranges from $300 to $1500.
  • Photographer – Relive your memories over and over by investing in a photographer you love! Elopement photographer packages average from $4000 – $20,000

W&F Tip!

You’ll never regret investing in good photos

Photography is a huge part of your elopement – because it’s the only reminder of the day that will really last forever!  You deserve to be able to look back at every amazing moment, so invest in an experienced photographer who will capture how the day feels, not just how it looks. 

Lake Tahoe Elopement Packages – Ready to Elope Wild & Free?

We want your day to be absolutely incredible – so that means we’ve got your back every step of the way! From being your cheerleaders as you make the brave decision to do your wedding your way, creating personalized recommendations for your elopement, and helping you plan a day that’s perfect and unique to you, to being by your side the day of, we’re ready to make sure you have the stress free, fun day you deserve! 

Lake Tahoe Elopement Packages Include:

  • Photography coverage
    • Options from 6 hours to 2-days of photography coverage with Joni, who has over 13 years of experience
    • Photographer’s travel covered to your destination
    • A fun photo experience where you’ll feel comfortable in front of the camera in no time and have all of your special moments captured
  • Location Lookbooks to show you ceremony and portrait spots for the dreamiest photos 
  • Creative timeline design to make everything flow perfectly on your day
  • Exclusive planning tools to help you design the best day
    • Our helpful magazine + a self-paced planning checklist to guide you through designing your elopement from start to finish 
    • Questionnaires for us to get to know you and your unique vision    
    • Vendor Lookbooks to build your dream team 
    • Alternative reception ideas for those looking to celebrate out-of-the-box  
    • Sustainability and Leave No Trace education for a wedding day you can feel good about 
  • Officiant signature for self-uniting ceremonies
  • Amazing photos + free downloads
    • 3-5 sneak peek images within one week of your day so you can share your gorgeous portraits with friends and family right away 
    • Your full story in hundreds of edited digital images delivered within two months to relive the entire adventure over and over again 
    • Your own personal gallery to share your images with family and friends 
    • Free high-resolution digital downloads for everyone (no paying per photo or per download!) 
    • Printing rights to all photos 
    • Access to professional quality prints, wall art, magazines, and albums conveniently available for purchase a la carte right inside your gallery

Elopement packages start at $7200

Ready to elope Wild & Free? Contact us, and let’s start crafting your wild, once in a lifetime elopement day!

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Ready to elope Wild & Free?

You deserve an elopement that throws out all the rules and focuses on what matters most.


We don't want you to have to do this alone, so it’s ok if you don’t have the details figured out yet -- we’ll help you design your day from start to finish!


Wild & Free Elopements is based in Southern California and photographs elopements all over the world.

Direct Email: [email protected]