Nestled on the quiet west shore of Lake Tahoe, Sugar Pine Point State Park offers a ceremony venue unlike any other. Majestic trees frame breathtaking views of the water, creating a secluded and peaceful ambiance. The Hellman-Ehrmann mansion adds a bit of local history to your venue and is a charming backdrop for photos.

This couple planned their destination wedding from afar, but one of their priorities was natural-looking photos that captured the joy of their day. After we discussed their wedding timeline, they opted for my 4-hour photography package which is a popular choice for intimate weddings here in Lake Tahoe.

A couple who decided to get married at Ed Z'Berg Sugar Pine Point State Park enjoy a romantic moment on the dock with a sailboat in the background.
Guests mingle outside the Hellman Ehrman at a Sugar Pine Point wedding.

A Historic Gem for Your Wedding

Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point is a state park in a natural setting. The park occupies roughly two miles of shoreline and nearly 2,500 acres of forest. As you explore the area, you will find historic buildings and wandering trails that lead to peaceful beaches where you can relax, swim, and take in the views.

Built in 1903, the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion is a must-see for history buffs and anyone who enjoys a glimpse into a bygone era. During the summer months, the Sierra State Parks Foundation offers tours of this granite estate, once known as “Pine Lodge.” You can explore the mansion, boathouses, and caretakers’ cottages, and imagine the lives of Tahoe’s wealthy San Francisco elite who summered here in the decades that followed.

During winter, the park remains open for camping, hiking, and snowshoeing. Cool fact: the 1906 Winter Olympics (held in Olympic Valley) used Sugar Pine Point for its biathlon events. To this day, the park maintains up to 11 miles of groomed trails for your cross-country skiing adventures.

Because of the shady forest, this spot might be the only one at lake level where snow persists through winter. Having experienced it myself, I can tell you – snowshoeing or skiing right on the shore of Lake Tahoe is an unforgettable experience!

Getting Ready in the Bridal Suite

When I arrived, I met the bride and her maid of honor in the Butler’s Cabin. This historic cabin houses the Bridal Suite. There is also a Groom’s Suite in the same cabin.

Getting ready in the bridal suite at Sugar Pine Point State Park.

The window light was perfect for a few natural light portraits of the bride in her wedding dress.

Across the lawn, the groom’s smiling teary-eyed mom pinned his boutonniere to his jacket lapel. This was one of my favorite moments of the day.

Once the bride and groom were ready, guests began to arrive and everyone headed down to the lakefront ceremony site.

Walking to the lakefront ceremony location.

Lakefront Ceremony

This lakefront location offers a peaceful setting for your ceremony. Sugar Pine Point State Park allows up to 100 guests at this location as well as 100 guests at the main event site next to the mansion.

The lighting here tends to be a bit dappled due to surrounding trees. This can create a beautiful, natural effect, but it might not be ideal for everyone. I recommend choosing a time when you will be standing in the sun, matching the exposure of the lake behind you.

Since the park is open to the public during the day, wedding ceremonies usually begin at 5pm or later. This couple opted for a ceremony at 4:00pm in early June. If you’re considering this location, I highly recommend checking the lighting at the exact time of day you’re planning your ceremony. This will help ensure the perfect balance of light and ambiance on your wedding day.

Dappled sunlight on the ceremony location at Sugar Pine Point.

As guests took their seats, the bride waited behind the mansion. When she emerged, she followed a grassy path down the hill to the water’s edge.

I specialize in capturing authentic, candid moments. So, I always keep my camera up for moments like the one below, when the father of the bride shook the groom’s hand.

Shaking hands with the father of the groom at a wedding ceremony with Helmann-Ehrman Mansion visible in the background.

The next photo is one of my favorites from the day. Hands are a very expressive part of the human body! I love the body language here.

Close up view of the bride and groom's hands during their wedding ceremony.

The couple’s friend officiated, standing in front of one of the best backdrops in town!

An officiant performs a wedding ceremony at Sugar Pine Point.

Next, two close friends serenaded the couple with an a cappella singing performance.

Reading vows at the lakefront ceremony location.
Placing a wedding ring on the bride's finger during the ceremony.

As the ceremony ended, I faced an important decision. Which background would I choose for the photo of their first kiss? Views of the lake usually take precedence. But sometimes, guests in the background make a great photo as well.

With the lighting as it was, I knew that a lake backdrop would be overexposed. So, I chose the second option.

Using my 35mm lens, I framed the couple with guests on either side. I wanted to include as many faces as possible. You can see the mansion on the right and the Butler Suite on the left.

First kiss as a married couple at a Sugar Pine Point wedding ceremony with Hellman-Ehrman Mansion visible in the background.
Newlyweds walk towards Hellman-Ehrman Mansion after getting married next to Lake Tahoe.

Here is a wonderful, spontaneous moment with the bride’s mom.

An emotional hug between the bride and her mother, captured by Lake Tahoe wedding photographer Chris Werner.

Reception by the Gazebo

The reception site at Sugar Pine Point state park is the flat, grassy area on the north corner of the mansion. The rustic, wooden gazebo is a unique accent to this outdoor space. It’s a beautiful place to relax enjoy a glass of wine and admire the granite stonework of Pine Lodge..

Cocktail hour next to the gazebo at Hellman-Ehrman Mansion.

This couple met while living abroad in Japan. So, they decorated their wedding cake with a Torii Gate cake topper. In Japan, this structure stands at the entranceway to most shrines. It marks the boundary between the sacred and secular worlds.

Cutting a wedding cake with a Japanese Torii Gate cake topper.

Couple Portraits

Sugar Pine Point State Park is a unique and diverse setting with sunlit pine forests, groves of Quaking Aspen trees, and of course, the shoreline of Lake Tahoe.

The bride and groom wanted some quick photos by the water, so we headed down the hill to the water’s edge. I could spend hours photographing couple portraits with this kind of gorgeous backlight.

We headed straight for the pier. During one of our phone calls before the wedding, the groom admitted that he felt a bit self-conscious whenever being photographed. So, I leaned on my photojournalistic approach, a few helpful tips, and captured some portraits of them that they loved. In a Google review, the bride wrote,

“My husband was initially not comfortable with the idea of being photographed, but with Chris’ discreet photo-journalistic approach we honestly almost forgot he was there on our wedding day, and yet he managed to capture all the joyous moments of the day with our family and friends in such a natural and authentic way… we don’t know how he did it!”

A bride and groom share a romantic moment during couple photos on the pier at Sugar Pine Point.

In the next photo, the couple stood in a warm ray of sunshine with nothing but Lake Tahoe, blue sky, and mountains behind them.

Wedding day couple portraits with Lake Tahoe in the background.

Wedding Photography at Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park

If you are planning a wedding at Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park, I’d love to hear from you! Get in touch to let me know your wedding date and find out if I am available.

You can get more information about my approach to weddings here, and you can see more of my work on my wedding portfolio page.

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