Brrr! A February morning in Tahoe can be cold. Especially when there is a breeze blowing. At their Valentine’s Day elopement on Donner Summit, this couple exchanged vows as the moon set and the rising sun warmed us all.

I provided a custom package of hourly coverage. This meant I arrived in the pre-dawn darkness and photographed the couple until shortly after sunrise. Since they do not live in the Lake Tahoe area, I helped out where I could. I also provided location recommendations and logistical support to help them plan this special morning.

A bride and groom eloping on a mountaintop in Lake Tahoe on Valentine's Day at sunrise.

Arrival at Donner Lake Overlook

With the moon still shining, I reached the Donner Lake Overlook in pre-dawn light at 6:15am. I wanted to arrive before the couple, in order to quickly scout the area one more time. Even though it was mid-winter, the snow cover was relatively thin. It was cold and clear!

The last big snowstorm was several weeks prior. So, instead of powder snow, the snow was firm and easy to walk on. There were also many areas of exposed granite in the area, providing areas of dry rock on which to stand.

Soon after I arrived, the groom and the bride’s sister pulled in to the parking area. They walked across the frozen, crunchy snow and took their positions on an area of exposed granite they had chosen the day before for their ceremony.

Moments later, the bride and her brother-in-law arrived. Determined to capture the entire journey, I positioned myself to photograph her the moment she emerged from the car, ready to document her walk towards the ceremony.

A bride walks across snow to her winter elopement in Tahoe with mountains visible in the background.

Ceremony at Sunrise

This couple planned their winter Lake Tahoe elopement all the way from the East Coast. Even though they live in Massachusetts, they always dreamed of being in Lake Tahoe during the snowy season.

A small adventure wedding like this requires far less planning than a big wedding, so it didn’t take long for us to work out all the details. Most importantly, they wanted something personal and intimate. And, if possible, they wanted to meet one another on a mountaintop at sunrise.

Living in Lake Tahoe for years has given me access to countless unique elopement locations – hidden gems most wouldn’t know about! If you are willing to embrace your adventurous spirit – there are countless ways to ditch the crowds and have the peaks practically to yourselves.

Lake Tahoe elopement at dawn with Truckee visible in the background.

Despite the sub-freezing temperatures (the rest of us bundled up in jackets!), the bride braved the elements in a stunning, lace wedding dress. Her sister and brother-in-law officiated the short-but-elegant ceremony, making the whole thing even more special.

Close-up view of a long-sleeve lacy wedding dress for a winter wedding.
Exchanging vows at a mountaintop elopement in Lake Tahoe.

Surrounded by mountain peaks and the cold winter air, the bride and groom then took turns exchanging their hand-written vows.

A couple that decided to have an intimate elopement on Donner Summit exchanges vows with mountains in the background.

I focused on capturing their every expression, ensuring these precious moments would be forever preserved for them to revisit (both in their memories and their wedding album).

Exchanging vows during a wedding in Lake Tahoe on top of a mountain.

When the ring box came out, I zoomed in to capture the wedding bands. The exchanging of rings is an especially important part of intimate ceremonies like this, so I make sure I capture these little details.

Getting married in the snow in Lake Tahoe during winter.

I have photographed ceremonies at scenic wedding venues in Lake Tahoe for many years. But this was an especially gorgeous backdrop for a first kiss!

Eloping on a mountain in Lake Tahoe during winter with snow in the background.

Wedding Portraits on Donner Summit

A brief intermission after the ceremony allowed everyone to warm up in their cars – myself included! Once circulation returned to our fingers, we ventured out to explore the breathtaking scenery.

My goal was to capture stunning photos that reflected the incredible mountain environment and would forever be a cherished reminder of this beautiful morning in the mountains.

A couple watches the sunrise during their Lake Tahoe elopement photoshoot.
A couple explores the snowy mountain landscape at a winter elopement in Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe Elopement Packages

Are you planning a Lake Tahoe elopement? I would love to be there! I offer both all-day coverage as well as hourly packages. Whether it is a destination wedding, or if you live locally, I am happy to make recommendations and guide your towards the best locations and timing.

To get the process started, head over to my contact page to check availability. Be sure to let me know what you have in mind, and whether you already have a specific location in mind for your elopement.

To see more of my work, check out my elopement portfolio. You can also see examples of my wedding photography on my weddings portfolio page.

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