Lake Tahoe is a stunning elopement location. However, you might have questions about the logistics of planning an intimate ceremony here. This guide is going to go over everything you need to know about Lake Tahoe, permits, Lake Tahoe elopement locations, and how to elope in Lake Tahoe.

Where is Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is between the State of California and the State of Nevada. Both sides of the lake offer different things, and is beautiful all around. The best way to get to Lake Tahoe is by flying into the Reno-Tahoe airport, and then getting a rental car. From there, it’s about a 45 minute drive to enter the lake area, and further depending on which specific location you’re headed to.

North Vs South Lake Tahoe

This is one big amazing lake. However, both sides are pretty different. They’re both incredibly beautiful, but can offer totally different things for your Lake Tahoe elopement. Both have amazing accommodations, places to eat, and gorgeous elopement locations. But there might be some differences worth considering when choosing your specific elopement location.

North Lake Tahoe

This side of the lake not only offers less tourism and traffic, but also is more mountainous of a region. You’ll likely get more privacy with an elopement location on this side of the lake. This side of the lake has more diverse terrain than the South side of Lake Tahoe.

South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe also offers great outdoor recreation and easy access to trails. However, it has much more of a bustling “nightlife” as well as more tourism. There are a lot of Casinos and tons of restaurants, shops, etc. Sometimes it feels like walking around Disney World. The outdoor recreation here can have more crowds, as well as the beaches and more traffic overall. If you’re looking to have a reception on a party boat and don’t mind crowds, this side of the lake could be an amazing choice for you

When to Elope in Lake Tahoe

Summer and Winter are both incredibly busy at Lake Tahoe. Summer attracts tourism on the lake, and Winter attracts tourism for skiing and snowboarding. The shoulder seasons such as spring and fall are going to be the best times to elope in Lake Tahoe. I recommend fall, as it can take awhile for all of the snow to go away in spring. Additionally, there are still some very warm days in early fall.

Lake Tahoe Wedding Permit

Lake Tahoe has a lot of state parks that you’re allowed to get married in. The permit system varies, as the lake is in two different states. You’ll want to research the locations you’re interested in, and then reach out to the correct branch of the forest service or on state park websites to apply for your permit. The permits are first come and first serve, so make sure to do this somewhat in advance.

Lake Tahoe elopement

How to Get a Marriage License in Lake Tahoe

Once again, this is going to depend on what side of the lake you choose to elope at, and what state it’s in. You will need to get a marriage license from a county clerks office in the state you plan to get married. For Nevada,  Washoe and Douglas are the closest to the lake and the easiest to pick up. The marriage license costs $60.00

For California, you can get your marriage license in Eldorado. There is more than one option, and you can figure out what is the most convenient based on where you’re going and where you’re coming from. The marriage license will cost $68.00

For both states, you can start the application online. Prior to your elopement, you will both need to show up in person to finish the application and get your license. Most states have a 3 day waiting period. However, you can normally call and ask to waive the waiting period to be able to use your marriage license right away.

How to Elope at Lake Tahoe

When learning how to elope in Lake Tahoe, there are a few major steps to consider, and you can read about those here on my thorough guide on how to elope. For this Lake Tahoe elopement guide, I’m going over the major things you’ll need to consider! If you want an in depth guide to California elopements in general, you can read more about that here.


This is an imperative part of the planning process for elopements. This is because some guests won’t have the hiking ability, some might not want to drive or forest roads, and some Lake Tahoe locations have restrictions on how many people can be there. Choosing a location will be much easier once you’ve determine who you’re inviting, and how many guests total you’ll have.


This might feel early in the planning process, but bear with me. Elopements don’t have wedding planners. Most elopement photographers have taken it upon themselves to help couples with some of the planning. Many actually help you find your location! And they will think of things you might not have considered, such as: lighting, elevation, difficulty in hiking in a dress, permits, and so much more.

Each elopement photographer offers something different. Personally, I send my couples a customized list of locations based on their preferences, hiking ability, who they want to invite, and what they want to see. I also help them determine lodging options, get permits, get their marriage license, recommend vendors, and create a comprehensive day of timeline, and offer unlimited guidance calls for any questions along the way.

The being said, hiring your Lake Tahoe elopement photographer early is going to take a massive amount of planning stress off of your shoulders. Wanna chat? Contact me here!


This is going to help you choose a date and location. There are rainy seasons, dry seasons, and even seasons that you THINK would be warm, but can still be snowy and cold in the mountains. So, when you’re doing that research, you’ll already want to have in mind what kind of weather you want.


Once you’ve decided on how much you’d like to hike, how many guests are coming, your ideal weather, and the landscapes you want, you’re ready to deep dive into researching Lake Tahoe elopement locations. Finding the perfect spot will be a lot simpler after considering all of your needs and logistics.

This is information I collect from my couples through a questionnaire, and then use to make a customized list of Lake Tahoe elopement location options for them.


Once you have your location, it’s time to consider if there’s anything you need vendors for. Do you need any event rentals? Do you want a friend or family to officiate, or do you want to hire an officiant? Will you go out to eat, or do you want something catered, like a meal at an Airbnb from a private chef?

Figure out what extra services you may want, and hire your vendors in advance!


You will need to get the correct permits for your elopement. These are usually “special use” permits that you apply for on the National Parks website, or National Forest/BLM website.

Personally, I get all permit information for my eloping couples that hire me. With that, all you need to do is fill out the application when it’s sent to you and pay the fee. Fee’s vary, but are usually around $150 or less.


Activities are such a fun part of an elopement. When you choose to elope, you’re opening yourself up to having a wedding day celebration that feels unique and resonates with you. Incorporate things that will elevate your elopement day experience. Here’s just a few ideas to get you brainstorming:

  • Going on a hike
  • Boating on Lake Tahoe
  • Having a bonfire
  • Having a picnic on a mountain top
  • Star-gazing or astrophotography
  • Swimming
  • Cliff jumping
  • Visiting waterfalls
  • Camping
  • Glamping
  • Hiring a private chef
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Helicopter tour (landing on glaciers, mountains, etc)
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Sightseeing
  • Scenic driving with time to stop for pictures


Making a timeline is an important part of any elopement. It strings together all of your locations, activities, and lets guests know where to be and when. Creating a well thought out timeline will help you feel relaxed during the day, instead of stressed or rush. Make sure to include drive times as well as buffer times between each “event.”

Here are the things I include in the timelines I make for my couples:

  • All addresses
  • Sunrise time
  • Sunset time
  • Drive times
  • A linke to Accuweather
  • A list of all names for group shots
  • Vendor info
  • Emergency contact info
  • A packing list

Lodging in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is very large, and there are a lot of different options for lodging. It’s important to consider where you want to have your elopement ceremony, and make sure to pick lodging that is close by so you don’t have to spend most of your day in a car.

Another thing to consider is that a lot of eloping couples use their lodging location as a place to host an intimate reception. For this, you’ll want to make sure it’s okay with either the hotel, resort, or Airbnb host. Here is a list of lodging options for your elopement in Lake Tahoe:

how to elope in Lake tahoe

How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Lake Tahoe

A marriage license is going to cost you around $60-$70 depending on what state you’re in. You’ll also likely need a permit for the location you choose. Some of the state parks can have pricey permits that cost around $400-$600. That being said, most couples spend an average of $5000-$20,000 on their elopement. This includes flights, lodging, permits, vendors, wedding attire, meals, and anything extra a couple might want.

Lake Tahoe Elopement Locations

There are many gorgeous elopement locations on both sides of Lake Tahoe. Some of them are just drive up options, while others require a hike. There’s an endless amount of options between spots on the lake, as well as in the neighboring National Forest. Some of the Lake Tahoe elopement locations can be popular, and some are on the pricier side. There are plenty more of hidden gem locations than on this list. I help my couples find the perfect spot for them, but here are some options to take a look at now:

Sand Harbor

This is an absolutely stunning Lake Tahoe elopement location. With views of the mountain and clear turquoise water. This location is on a first come first served basis. There is a $400 permit fee, and you can apply for your permit here. This location gets booked quickly!

Kings Beach

Kings beach is a beautiful elopement location on the North Shore where it’s easy to have guests, as you can actually set up chairs here for a ceremony. There’s no permit needed for this location, but you still need to reach out about having a special event.

Logan Shoals Vista Point

This overlook offers views of the lake and landscape. It feels a bit like a “pull-off” but is handicap accessible, and great for couples who want an easy access location for themselves and their guests. The site fee, with the permit included, is $695 for this Lake Tahoe elopement location. You can find more info here

Monkey Rock

Lake Tahoe elopement locations

This location is perfect for couples who want to do a short hike, and are rewarded with some privacy and beautiful above views of both the lakes and the mountains. This is a 2.6 mile hike, and would be a gorgeous ceremony location. Dogs are also welcome here!

Hidden Beach

Lake Tahoe elopement locations

Hidden beach is a unique and stunning Lake Tahoe elopement location. This can be a super popular location. Make sure to call and find out about permits for this location, as there’s currently nothing listed online. The local forest service should be able to provide answers on what’s allowed here for an elopement.

Donner Lake

Lake Tahoe elopement locations

Donner Lake is like Lake Tahoe’s little brother. While technically not a Lake Tahoe elopement location, this lake in Truckee California offers similar views of the gorgeous blue lake, mountains, with half the crowds, and is incredibly closeby.

Secret Cove

lake tahoe elopement locations

Secret Cove is one of my favorite locations in Lake Tahoe. It’s a short 0.9 mile hike round trip. Making it easy to get to, but deterring crowds. However, this is a nude beach, so be prepared for that.

Lake Tahoe Elopement Packages

Elopement photography by Emilee Setting Photo, and everything included in my packages:

  • Explore anywhere within California or Nevada, all travel fees included in the price!
  • Packages from half day elopements to multi-day elopements
  • Receive a customized location list
  • Help finding lodging that suits your needs if you’re having an intimate reception
  • Included comprehensive timeline design
  • Help obtaining your permits
  • Help obtaining your marriage license
  • A planning checklist
  • Unlimited planning and guidance calls 
  • All of your stunning photos delivered under three months
  • Day of polaroid sneak peeks

Lake Tahoe elopement packages starting at $5800. Want more information on my pricing and what’s included? Click here

Ready to Elope at Lake Tahoe?

This Lake Tahoe elopement guide is a way to get you excited about all the possibilities of what your day could look like. Although, this amount of information can be overwhelming. I’m here to help. I can answer any and all questions you have on a complimentary low pressure consultation call. If you then choose you’d like to work together, I’ll do all of this planning right by your said to alleviate any stress, and bring your Lake Tahoe elopement vision to life. We can chat here!

Don't forget your free elopement planning checklist


You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

I'm Emilee

I'm an elopement photographer who specializes in planning, crafting, and documenting untraditional weddings. I believe a wedding day should be filled with traditions that resonate with you. I'm here from start to finish to make that happen. Want to chat about your plans? Click below to set up a free consultation! 

You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

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