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.

A couple takes a moment to enjoy sunset photos at their Dancing Pines wedding.

Getting Ready

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.

Hair and makeup for a bride getting married at Dancing Pines.
Hair salon for a bride getting married in the Lake Tahoe area.

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!

Bride getting ready in the small white tent cabin at Dancing Pines.

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.

Mirror reflection of a wedding dress with spaghetti straps and lacy overlay.

I captured the moment above by shooting the bride’s reflection in a mirror.

Sky blue bridesmaid dresses at a Dancing Pines wedding.

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.

An emotional First Look with a bride and her dad.

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 Little Truckee River

As guests arrived and began to take their seats, the groom and his groomsmen waited in the reception area.

A groom wearing a grey blue suit that is perfect for a summer wedding in Lake Tahoe.

The ceremony site at Dancing Pines is a peaceful, natural setting on the banks of the Little Truckee River.

Sunlight on a bride and groom at their Dancing Pines ceremony.

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.

A ceremony by the river for a couple that chose to get married at Dancing Pines.

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.

Candid afternoon portrait of a bride and groom at their Dancing Pines wedding.

Cocktail Hour on the Patio

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.

Towering pine trees surround the outdoor cocktail and reception areas.
The bride and groom enter an outdoor reception space with astroturf.

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.

Greeting wedding guests at a secluded, forest wedding venue in the Lake Tahoe area.

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!

Greeting guests with cocktails on the 7,000 square foot lawn.

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!

Sunset couple portraits in the woods with string lights in the background.


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.

Beautiful lighting for a champagne toast at this wedding reception at Dancing Pines.
Making a champagne toast with Bud Light.
A bridesmaid makes a funny speech at an outdoor wedding reception.

First Dances

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.

There is plenty of room for a dance floor at the large outdoor reception lawn.
The bride and groom's first dance at their Dancing Pines reception.

Dance Party

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!

Creative lighting for a DJ at an outdoor wedding in Tahoe.
Bride wearing a black leather jacket over her wedding dress.
A black leather jacket for an outdoor summer wedding reception.
Wide angle view of the outdoor reception space at Dancing Pines with string lights.

Chris Werner Photography

Are you getting married at Dancing Pines? I would love to photograph your wedding! Shoot me a message on my contact page, or check out more of my photos on my wedding portfolio page.

To see another wedding at this cool venue, check out this outdoor forest summer wedding at Dancing Pines!

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