Lake Tahoe is a beautiful location for weddings of all kinds. I recently had the privilege of photographing my first Muslim wedding, and it was an incredible experience! The ceremony was filled with rich traditions, beautiful symbolism, and a deep sense of community.

Lake Tahoe is a special place for this couple, and Valhalla Tahoe is a unique part of the area’s rich history. The peaceful lakeside setting made it the perfect venue for them. This wedding was expertly planned and organized by Blue Sky Events.

A couple that decided to get married at Valhalla Tahoe enjoys a peaceful sunset moment among the pine trees.
Detailed henna art and golden wedding bangles decorate a bride's hand.

Getting Ready

The couple did not want to see each other before the ceremony, so they arrived separately and at different times. The bride and groom both have children from a previous marriage. As everyone was getting ready, it was fun to document the kids being involved and getting excited about the wedding.

As is customary in many parts of Asia and the Middle East, the bride’s hands were decorated with intricate henna designs. And like most photographers, I was immediately drawn to the beautiful art.

You will see several photos here that focus on these vibrant red designs!

The bride wore jewelry that is customary for a muslim wedding. Since the groom’s daughters were familiar with the traditions, they helped her with all the details.

Trying on jewelry in the mirror, a bride is getting ready for a wedding at Valhalla.
A bride's decorated henna hands choose from a box of golden wedding bangles.

When it was time to choose bangles, the girls helped the bride try on different options and pick the best ones.

An overhead view of a bride's hands with mehndi trying on different wedding bangles.

And when it was time to put on the heavy multi-layered wedding dress, the bride’s sister stepped in to help.

Helping a bride put on her red Islamic wedding dress.
The bride wears a red Muslim wedding dress and the maid of honor wears a blue saree.
A bride wears a red Islamic wedding dress and traditional jewelry for a Muslim bride.

The level of detail in the bride’s dress was incredible. We had plenty of time before the ceremony, so I shot a few candid portraits.

The groom arrived with the boys and they all headed to the other getting ready suite at Valhalla Tahoe.

A groom and his kids get ready in the groom's suite at Valhalla Tahoe.

I loved seeing the bride and groom interacting with each other’s kids. I could tell they were already a cohesive and loving family, even before the wedding.

Muslim Ceremony

In the main room of the Grand Hall, the bride’s brother walked her down the aisle. Despite its size, the Grand Hall has a warm and inviting atmosphere thanks to the use of natural wood and soft lighting. It is a unique ceremony venue with massive timber frame construction and an old Tahoe charm.

Although I don’t shoot with flash during most ceremonies, it can help in darker venues during the procession and recession. Especially when people are walking towards the camera and motion blur can result from having to use a slower shutter speed.

A Muslim wedding ceremony in the Grand Hall at Valhalla Tahoe.

The bride and groom sat on a red velvet sofa during much of the ceremony while the imam read from scripture. Soon after, he delivered a sermon about the meaning and importance of marriage in Islam. One of the unique aspects of Muslim weddings is the outpouring of support from friends and family, their enthusiastic approval echoing through the ceremony.

The bride and groom sit on a red velvet sofa during their Muslim wedding in Lake Tahoe.

Afterwards, the couple read aloud their vows to one another.

The bride and groom exit their wedding ceremony in the Grand Hall at Valhalla Tahoe.


After the ceremony, guests joined the bride and groom for an outdoor reception on the lawn. The lawn outside Valhalla is a peaceful setting, surrounded by towering pine trees. By late afternoon the light filters through the trees, which is great for photos.

Hugs from a wedding guest at a reception on the lawn at Valhalla Tahoe.

The bride’s friends were all eager to see the beautiful Mehndi on her hands, as well as the many bracelets she wore on her wrists.

Closeup view of a bride's hands with henna Mehndi and bangles.

In addition to enjoying drinks and dinner, wedding guests played lawn games like cornhole and jenga.

Cornhole is a popular game for outdoor wedding receptions.

The bride and groom enjoyed their meal at a beautifully decorated sweetheart table. Red is an auspicious color at Muslim weddings. In addition to the bride’s dress, there were many other accents like red roses and red fabric.

The bride and groom sip non-alcoholic wedding drinks at the sweetheart table on the Valhalla Tahoe lawn.

Bride and Groom Portraits

As the sun began to set, the bride and groom joined me for couple portraits by Lake Tahoe. First, we went to the Valhalla Boathouse where floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the water.

The bride and groom share a romantic moment

The directional light was a nice setup for short lighting the bride and groom’s faces, with views of the water behind them.

Next, the couple walked out onto the pier to enjoy the sunset views across the lake. I shot from farther away so they could enjoy the moment while I captured the mountains and colorful clouds in the background.

An artistic silhouette is one way to highlight the colorful sunset, so I often try to capture at least one creative silhouette for my clients as well.

Speeches and Dancing

When we returned, everyone headed inside for speeches and dancing. The bride’s sister and the groom’s daughter presented emotional and heartfelt speeches about the couple.

Next, everyone hit the dance floor! Multicolor LED foam sticks added even more fun to the party.

So did a bubble gun, which made the rounds among all the kids.

Chris Werner Photography

Are you getting married at Valhalla Tahoe? I would love to photograph your wedding! To find out if I am available on your date, click over to my contact page. If you would like to see more examples of my work, you can explore my wedding photography portfolio.

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