This celebration is a great example of a Lake Tahoe wedding for an adventurous couple. If you are planning a wedding at Sugar Bowl Resort, you should definitely consider a Mt. Disney cocktail hour. I mean, how many people exchange vows and then celebrate with a romantic chairlift ride up a mountain?

As a photographer who loves hiking, running, and skiing here, Sugar Bowl feels like a natural extension of my backyard. I know all the best places for photos around the resort, and I truly feel at home at this venue!

Are you thinking of tying the knot in Lake Tahoe? This is one of the most scenic venues anywhere, making it one of my favorite places to photograph a wedding.

A wide angle view of a bride and groom riding the chairlift to their Mt. Disney cocktail hour.
A bride and groom walk hand-in-hand atop Mount Disney at their summer Sugar Bowl Resort wedding.

Getting Ready in the Lodge at Sugar Bowl

On the morning of the wedding, I met the bride and groom at the Lodge at Sugar Bowl. Most couples stay at this hotel the night before their wedding. So, this is where I usually photograph everyone getting ready.

I began with the bride and bridesmaids in the bridal suite on the third floor of the hotel. As the makeup and hair team put the final touches on the bride, I photographed all the details. I’m all about the natural, unscripted moments on a wedding day. But I also love making a traditional portrait or two when I see some flattering window light.

A North Lake Tahoe hair stylist sprays a bride's hair in the bridal suite at the Sugar Bowl Lodge.
An excited bride in her wedding dress in the Sugar Bowl Lodge bridal suite.

This corner of the hotel room is a great location for a bridal portrait. The wall in the background creates a nice, clean backdrop while the window creates a nice, flattering light source.

When the bride makes her grand entrance in her wedding dress, I keep my camera up and ready. This is how I capture the smiles and awe-struck expressions of bridesmaids, like this one!

A girl holding a bouquet

Next, I headed down to the ground floor to photograph the groom getting ready with his groomsmen. A few highlights include a father helping with a tie, and a mom pinning a boutonnière to a jacket lapel.

Helping the groom get ready in the Ratskeller basement area of the Sugar Bowl Lodge.
Mom pinning the groom's colorful flower boutonnière on his jacket lapel.
A special candid moment shared by the groom and his mother as he kisses on the forehead before the ceremony.

Wedding Ceremony on the Lawn

As a photographer, I love the convenient layout of weddings at Sugar Bowl. The ceremony site is right next to the lodge. So, I don’t have to spend time moving my camera equipment and setting up in new locations throughout the day. This means I can leave my camera bag in one spot and focus on capturing the action.

As the bride and groom exchanged vows, I focused on all the wonderful expressions and laughter. By moving around during the ceremony, I can find the best angles for the lighting and background.

A groom wearing a wooden bow tie waits for his bride on the lawn, the primary Sugar Bowl Resort ceremony location.
A bride walks down the aisle with her father in front of the iconic Sugar Bowl Lodge.
Wide angle view of the Sugar Bowl Resort wedding ceremony location on the lawn.

One of my favorite things about photographing this wedding was capturing these loving glances. The groom didn’t hide his feelings about his bride one bit!

I spend extra time getting to know all my clients before a wedding. This way, when the big day comes, it is rare for anyone to feel self-conscious about being photographed. Everyone can simply relax and be themselves.

A sincere moment as the groom reads hand-written vows during the ceremony.

Even after photographing hundreds of weddings, I continue to master the art of wedding photography. It is a never-ending process! While some photographers shoot using auto mode or aperture-priority mode, I use manual mode on my cameras all the time. This way, I have complete control over the highlights and shadows in every image.

In the photo above, I stopped down my shutter speed and exposed for the highlights. Since the bride’s hands and wedding ring were in direct sunlight, the contrast makes her hand and the ring stand out of the photo.

Maroon bridesmaid dresses and colorful floral bouquets during a wedding ceremony next to Disney Express chairlift.
A celebratory first kiss for the bride and groom at a Sugar Bowl Resort ceremony on the lawn.
The wedding party laughs spontaneously at a Sugar Bowl Resort group portrait location.

Mt. Disney Cocktail Hour

At Sugar Bowl Resort wedding, there are two popular locations for your cocktail hour. The first option is at the base of the mountain, at the Lodge. For an additional fee, you can host your cocktail hour at the top of Mt. Disney. This requires a chairlift ride on the Disney Express, straight up to the top of the mountain.

At a small hut with a wraparound deck, your wedding guests can enjoy beverages, champagne, hors d’oeuvres. Not to mention, 360 degree views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is also a great location for some creative, mountaintop portraits of you and your new spouse!

A candid moment of guests laughing during cocktail hour on Mount Disney.
The bride and groom walk together while guests enjoy cocktails atop Mount Disney.
Wedding guests enjoy views of Donner Lake, Van Norden Meadow, and the surrounding landscape during a cocktail hour on Mt. Disney.
The bride and groom enjoy a romantic walk atop Mt. Disney with Crow's Nest Peak in the background.

Outdoor Wedding Reception at the Lodge

As the sun set on the surrounding mountain peaks, the bride and groom made their grand entrance at the Lodge. They went straight into their first dance as newlyweds. Then each of them enjoyed a quick celebratory dance with a traditional parent dance.

Sunset light on an outdoor wedding reception on the deck at Sugar Bowl Lodge.
A joyful entrance for the bride and groom at their reception on the Sugar Bowl Lodge deck.
First dance as husband and wife at the historic Lodge.
An exciting dip and kiss on the dance floor concludes the bride and groom's first dance.
Guests enjoy outdoor dining at the Sugar Bowl Lodge during a warm summer evening.

By the time speeches from the wedding party began, the party was well underway!

Champagne toast by the maid of honor at an outdoor reception on the Sugar Bowl Lodge deck.
The bride and groom react to a funny champagne toast at their outdoor ski resort wedding.

I love capturing the moments between the moments. In the photo below, I continued to shoot, even though the speech was formally over. By keeping my camera up, I grabbed this sweet photo of the bride hugging the maid of honor.

After a hilarious speech by the best man, everyone celebrated with a shot from a shot ski!

The bride, groom, and bridesmaids enjoy a drink from two different types of shotskis.
Wedding reception dance party at twilight on the open-air deck at Sugar Bowl.

For photographers, an outdoor reception under the stars poses unique challenges. Namely, the lack of light! String lights create a nice ambiance, but offer minimal light for photography.

To illuminate the dance floor and capture the action, I use flash units on light stands. I trigger these lights remotely from my camera, every time I press the shutter button. My professional Canon cameras feature state-of-the-art focusing technology, which makes a huge difference when I am photographing weddings that take place outdoors at night or in poorly-lit venues.

Wedding guests create a fun wedding game for the dance floor- limbo using a long scarf!
Wedding guests lift the bride and groom on their shoulders for a memorable wedding kiss.

Wedding Photography Packages

This bride and groom hired me for start-to-finish wedding photography coverage. I love this approach because it allows me to capture a wedding story in its entirety. The problem with time-limited packages is that your photographer often arrives after the action begins, or leaves before it finishes.

Are you planning a wedding at Sugar Bowl Resort? I would love to photograph your big day! Use my contact page to shoot me a message and find out if I am available on your date. You can see more Sugar Bowl wedding photography here. And you can explore my wedding photography portfolio here.

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