It seems like the "shop local" hashtag is on everyone's lips and feeds these days. As a result, an increasing number of people opt to purchase everyday items from local businesses instead of a big retailer, and we are here for it!
Small businesses are not just the backbone of a community, but they have proven critical to a town's economic makeup. Lake Tahoe is no exception. This also extends to the wedding industry that took a big hit when Covid-19 struck and had to adjust the way they do business and reach customers.
Apart from the economic factors, we wanted to find out what differentiates a local planner from a non-local planner and how their local knowledge impacts a wedding. We decided to turn to the local wedding experts for answers and found a lot more to this popular hashtag than meets the eye.
What services can you offer your couple that a non-local Tahoe vendor may not be able to offer?
"Given that I work with couples planning adventure elopements and intimate weddings (without a traditional venue), my locality is beneficial to ensure that they feel confident in their day and plans. My parents grew up in Tahoe, and I have lived here my whole life too. This has given me a lifetime of off-road exploring, camping, hiking, and adventuring experience that others may not be able to offer. This is so beneficial when helping couples choose their elopement location, planning their timeline, and knowing the accessibility of any particular area. I also know where not to go, the best seasons/dates to avoid, how to navigate traffic or weather. And of course - the relationships I have with other local vendors and businesses lead to a very empowered and community-driven experience for couples who work with all of us. If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that the Tahoe vendor community is like family. We love to provide the best experience possible for our incredible clients." - Ruthanne Z., Ruthanne Z. Photography
Can you give us an example of how your local knowledge impacted your couple's wedding?
"Just one? Kidding! Recently, I had an elopement where it was down pouring the whole morning. Unfortunately, after studying the radar extensively, it was clear that our original location for their elopement was not an option. Within 15 minutes, I evaluated the radar further to find our best chance of dodging the storm's next wave. I had an exact location selected, dropped a pin, and sent it to all of their guests. Because my life is full of everyday adventures in Tahoe, and I'm constantly scouting (even on my off days!), I could pivot alongside my couple and ensure that their experience was not compromised by the weather. It was an adventure and made for quite the story - but we stayed dry, and everything else went off without a hitch!" - Ruthanne Z., Ruthanne Z. Photography
Can you give us an example of how a non-local planner may struggle in Tahoe?
"I get messages all the time from out-of-town vendors asking me for advice. This includes navigating traffic, crowds, permits, finding vendors, weather, the best light, where to stay, wildfire smoke, you name it! Living in Lake Tahoe is not just by chance for most people - even myself - we choose to be here, and it's a lifestyle in and of itself. I think many non-local vendors can struggle to connect all of the dots of the previously mentioned items because there are so many moving parts that make up the entire experience - but they are all subjective to other pieces of that list, too. Without the day-to-day experience of what life in Tahoe is like, folks can easily forget or bypass some important elements of planning that can lead to a disjointed final experience." - Ruthanne Z., Ruthanne Z. Photography
What difference does a local vs. non-local Tahoe vendor make regarding the couple's planning and event experience?
"From my experience, when an event is supported by a vendor team that is primarily based out of the Tahoe/Truckee region, there is an enhanced sense of community created. It is difficult to describe; there is a synergy that becomes part of the essence of the wedding day. For us vendors, we attend many weddings and are a part of many special moments. When we are at a wedding among friends, it makes our jobs more enjoyable because we share the special experience with each other. And our talents are seen by our own community.
Additionally, elopements have become more amplified this past year, and I feel the growing trend is here to stay. Because of this, I have become more selective with my elopement bookings, mostly because I have less capacity to take on a planning role during a busy wedding season. Elopements require more assistance from your vendors. A wedding planner is usually not hired for elopements, nor is a venue reserved. Sometimes, I have fallen into the "planner" role because the photographer is from a different state/country and arrived in Tahoe the day before the ceremony to shoot their destination elopement. It was their first time in Tahoe. I then became the "local expert."
Though I don't mind giving tips and advice about marrying around Tahoe, the expectations of location scouting and timeline development have fallen into my lap. I am the type of professional who will go above and beyond for my clients, but in the end, I am left feeling underappreciated and undervalued. When I have the opportunity to work with a local photographer for a Tahoe elopement, especially ones who specialize in elopements, I am so much more at ease. The communication between me and my couples can stay focused on the ceremony versus on logistics. The local photographer takes the reins with location scouting, creating the timeline, they are knowledgeable about required permits, and my job stays defined as officiant. Again, I don't mind sharing suggestions for vendors, accommodations, restaurants, activities, etc. I just don't want to be the sole vendor guiding the location, let alone backup plans in case of bad weather." - Meredith Richmond, Ceremonies by Meredith
What benefits can you provide your couples that a friend of the family or even a professional officiant from outside the area could not provide?
"As a local officiant, I am familiar with the locations of all venues in the region. So if there are poor conditions due to weather, construction, or some sort of road delay, I know how to anticipate that and plan accordingly. Furthermore, I know many talented vendors in our region, and I am happy to share suggestions when couples build their vendor team." - Meredith Richmond, Ceremonies by Meredith
What are some difficulties you run into during the winter and summers with navigating weddings? (weather, traffic, etc.)
"It is so beautiful to have an outdoor ceremony during all the seasons in Tahoe. Of course, we get snow in the winter, but we also get snow in every season. Out of nowhere, a frigid storm will come in; one day, we'll have 70-degree weather and then drop to 30 degrees the next. It is always a worthy conversation to discuss what the backup plan would be. Most often, couples who choose to elope outdoors in the winter know there is a risk of having their ceremony in a blizzard. It is important to come prepared with coats, gloves, and boots for those moments.
Along with the falling snow then comes extreme road conditions. Couples who choose winter/spring to marry should have a car that drives well in the snow. Many locations in the winter are not accessible because some parks close their gates, hiking trails are too snowed in, and snowbanks take over roadside parking. This is where hiring a local photographer is so useful because they are aware of the accessible locations. Lastly, the summer months provide our busiest beach days, road construction, and traffic. If a lakeshore elopement is your vision, I suggest going midweek and early in the morning before the crowds. A great option is to have your ceremony in a more secluded place in the woods for privacy than to have a photoshoot on the beach at sunset." - Meredith Richmond, Ceremonies by Meredith
A planner's job is not region-specific, so why would the location of a planner impact their role in working with a client?
"Location is EVERYTHING! When it comes to your wedding venue, you want to make sure it A) checks all the boxes on your priority list and B) is a good fit for your budget and guests. If your planner is not local to Tahoe, he or she won't have the contacts, nor will they know all the possible venues available. After finding out a couple's budget, style preferences, and ideal date, we can quickly give them a list of venues to consider and set up tours and site visits.
Aside from finding a location, what other logistics require local knowledge?
"We are a remote destination in the mountains and not a large metropolis. With that comes an incredible backdrop and limited resources. There are no box stores nearby to run for extra supplies or even an abundance of vendors with availability year-round. We have an incredible community of businesses and vendors, but their capacity is limited, so you need to plan in advance and book the companies that make the most sense for your event. Communicating with Tahoe locals is also quite different from communicating with a company in the city. Locals here rely on relationships and appreciate conversations. You can't just email or text. Sometimes you need to show up in person. Other details play a big role in Tahoe weddings: Dates you want to avoid/common traffic catches/weather/how to communicate with local businesses/who to work with for specific event needs/what furniture and services each venue offer, etc." - Stephanie Martin, One Fine Day Events
"When planning makeup and hair services for your Lake Tahoe wedding or special event, in most cases, you will find it more efficient, less expensive, and more trouble-free to work with local Tahoe specialists. A primary consideration is financial. Hiring local will most often save you travel and lodging costs, which can be very pricey. In addition, local vendors often have valuable experience working together. A makeup artist, hairstylist, and photographer who have worked together in the past will likely offer a wonderfully complementary, coordinated, cohesive, time-efficient environment that is thoroughly enjoyed by all. Other important concerns are transportation and logistics. Working and playing in our beautiful, four-season mountain terrain can be challenging for those unfamiliar with severe, seasonal conditions. Locals are capable and equipped to drive and work in all types of extreme weather and are familiar with backroads and alternative routes, allowing them to arrive at your event on time and unfazed. Finally, hiring local supports our lakeside businesses and community, which helps keep enchanting Lake Tahoe the very special place it is." - Jennifer Holmes, Kiss & Makeup
"This immediately reminds me of a winter wedding where the getting ready location was in Alpine Meadows. I had a pretty early start time and knew I would be competing with heavy ski traffic and a road closure for avalanche control. My local knowledge helped me navigate the storm, traffic, and road conditions/closures. I made it to my location early and made it through Alpine Meadows just as the road was closing for avalanche control. I had plenty of time left over to shovel myself and my equipment to the front door. This would have NEVER been possible without my local knowledge and experience. If anyone had google maps, it would have been a disaster and a very late start, potentially making everything else run late." - Love Is In The Hair
Interested to see what Lake Tahoe has to offer? Here's a list of our talented local experts that are currently rocking the wedding industry.