I’m all about hidden venues in stunning locations. This spot is quickly becoming more popular, so it’s not exactly a secret anymore! But still, I was super excited to photograph this Dancing Pines wedding. The setting feels very remote, and the afternoon light is perfect for photos.
This venue is twenty minutes north of Truckee and does not offer accommodations. So, most couples that get married at Dancing Pines opt to stay in Truckee or somewhere else in the Lake Tahoe area. At this wedding, I photographed the wedding party getting ready at a vacation home in Tahoe Donner.
After hair and makeup, the wedding party drove 20 minutes to the venue. At Dancing Pines, there is a small tent cabin available for final touches like putting on the wedding dress. The space is small, but the ambiance is welcoming and cozy!
While getting ready, things can feel a little chaotic! I like to capture “behind the scenes” moments like this, which freeze the action. This helps you remember all the details that fly by on a wedding day.
I captured the moment above by shooting the bride’s reflection in a mirror.
Bridesmaids’ expressions when seeing the bride is often one of my favorite photos. Layering multiple expressions into a single image requires a good eye.
In addition to candid photos, I like to photograph a few traditional portraits of the couple. With the right lighting and background, these portraits are great for the wedding album. Parents love copies of these photos so they can put them in a frame.
Once the bride was ready, her dad stopped by for a First Look with his daughter. I knew I wanted to capture his emotional reaction, so I chose my position carefully and shot from behind the bride. This vantage point allowed me to include all of the bridesmaids, which I believe tells an important and more complete story of this beautiful moment.
As the excitement built, the bride and her bridal party gathered in the tent cabin for a final sip of champagne and well-wishes.
Ceremony by the River
As guests arrived and began to take their seats, the groom and his groomsmen waited in the reception area.
The ceremony site at Dancing Pines is a peaceful, natural setting on the banks of the Little Truckee River.
The wide-angle photo below shows the proximity to the river, surrounded by pine trees.
During the ceremony, I use a variety of lenses and focal lengths to capture the setting, the expressions, and all the details.
After the ceremony, we gathered the entire wedding party for a few fun group portraits. After that, I photographed a few candid portraits of just the bride and groom.
The secluded twenty-acre property at Dancing Pines includes a 1,000 square-foot field stone patio that connects the ceremony site with the reception area. Before sitting down for dinner, wedding guests enjoyed cocktails among the towering trees.
The bride and groom made their grand entrance to the applause of all their friends and family!
While everyone enjoyed cocktails, the father of the bride gave a welcome speech congratulating the happy couple and thanking everyone for coming to the wedding.
As the catering staff made final dinner preparations, the couple walked around the reception to greet guests and hug friends. The filtered light coming through the trees at Dancing Pines makes it one of my favorite venues in the Lake Tahoe area for a wedding in the woods!
Couple Portraits at Sunset
By early evening, the light at this venue softens and is perfect for sunset couple portraits. When I shoot these kinds of photos, my primary goal is to make it easy for the couple while still getting beautiful, natural-looking photos.
In order to avoid the awkwardness of posing, I like to make a couple recommendations and share a helpful tip or two. Since I have worked with so many different couples over the years, I know how to connect with just about anyone. We always get some photos that capture emotion, love, and the excitement of getting married!
The celebration kicked off with speeches and champagne toasts from the wedding party. After hanging out with everyone all day, I knew who was who and what to look for. More than just photographing someone with a microphone, I look for the expressions and in-between-moments that capture these important relationships and make this part of the day special.
After speeches came the special first dances! First, the groom danced with his mom. Then, the bride danced with her dad. Finally, the bride and groom took the dance floor to show off a few of the moves they practiced.
We all know our parents won’t be around forever. So I use these moments to document the love between a couple and their family, keeping an eye out for authentic and emotional expressions.
Dancing Pines is one of the best places in Lake Tahoe for an outdoor wedding in the woods. Since it is so secluded, you really feel like you and your guests have the entire forest to yourselves.
As the stars came out, the DJ turned up the music and everyone hit the dance floor!
Chris Werner Photography
To see another wedding at this cool venue, check out this outdoor forest summer wedding at Dancing Pines!