Thunderbird Lodge is one of the most unique places to get married in Lake Tahoe. For starters, this is a stunning location right next to the water. On top of that, this venue and George Whittell’s Tudor Revival style mansion is full of character and history.

One of my favorite things about photographing this intimate wedding was all the candid, joy-filled moments. By joining the wedding party aboard the famous Thunderbird Yacht, I could document this romantic cruise after the ceremony.

View from the water of the historic Thunderbird Lodge on Lake Tahoe's eastern shore.
Silhouette portrait of bride and groom aboard the Thunderbird Yacht.

Bridal Preparations

Shortly after arriving, I joined the bride, her bridesmaids, and the moms to photograph some of the special getting ready moments. At Thunderbird Lodge, most brides get ready in a large room in the newer wing of the lodge. This room has large windows and overlooks the lake and ceremony area.

Lots of window light means I can capture fleeting moments without using flash or high ISO camera settings. Below are a few photos of the bride before the ceremony. Among these photos, I particulary love the photo of her dad’s smile before he walks her down the aisle.

A joyful, candid portrait of the bride at a Thunderbird Lodge wedding.

Wedding Ceremony on the Lawn

The ceremony site at George Whittell’s Thunderbird Lodge is one of Lake Tahoe’s most scenic wedding venues. This flat, grassy lawn is incredibly close to the water. You can actually hear the waves lapping against the rocks as you exchange your vows. Since this was a destination wedding for the couple, they chose a smaller, more intimate wedding with a shorter guest list.

As with every wedding I photograph, I used a keen eye to anticipate the tears, smiles, and laughter. I know how special these moments are! With respect for your ceremony and guests, I move quietly and carefully from one strategic location to another.

In the photo below, the groomsmen and groom arrive and take a moment to enjoy the views of the Thunderbird Lodge ceremony site.

The landscaping of the lawn is perfect for a lakeside wedding. The bride and groom can stand on the small peninsula that extends out over Lake Tahoe.

Wide angle view of the ceremony location at Thunderbird Lodge.

The bride and groom wrote their own vows, which they read aloud during the ceremony. The exchange of vows can be a beautiful, emotional part of the day.

When the tears begin to flow, I keep my camera ready to capture the wedding party’s reactions as well.

Low angle view of the bride placing a wedding ring on the groom's finger with Lake Tahoe in the background.
First kiss for a couple that decided to get married at Thunderbird Lodge.

Romantic Wedding Cruise on the Thunderbird Yacht

The Thunderbird Yacht is a 55 foot long speedboat and a unique piece of history. This “Queen of Lake Tahoe” has entertained some of Tahoe’s most famous visitors. The list includes Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Liza Minelli, and many others.

If you are getting married at Thunderbird Lodge, a wedding cruise along Lake Tahoe East Shore is an unforgettable experience. Enjoy champagne and hors d’oeuvres while you take in the views. Be sure to save a spot for your photographer!

A wedding day cruise on the Thunderbird Yacht.
A bride and groom aboard the Thunderbird Yacht wave to wedding guests on the lawn.
A bride and groom enjoy a romantic boat ride on Lake Tahoe after their wedding.

On their wedding day, the bride and groom wore handmade friendship bracelets with colorful beads. These held a special significance for them. So, I made an effort to include them in several frames.

Wedding Reception

If the weather forecast looks clear, your vendor team can convert the ceremony site into an outdoor reception and dining area. At this wedding, the clouds and sunset created beautiful lighting during the evening. The couple and their wedding guests enjoyed a dance party on the outdoor patio. Rainbow-colored LED foam party sticks lit up the dance floor as the sun set behind the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

During toasts, speeches, and special dances, my relaxed, candid approach helps me blend into the crowd. By capturing everyone simply being themselves, you will have an authentic, joy-filled record of your wedding day.

Three tier wedding cake on a table with Lake Tahoe in the background.
The outdoor patio is a popular location for a Thunderbird Lodge wedding reception.
LED foam sticks light up a bride and groom at their outdoor wedding reception.
LED foam party sticks frame a couple's exit from their wedding reception.

Chris Werner Photography

Are you thinking about a Thunderbird Lodge wedding? I would love to photograph your big day at this amazing venue! To find out if I am available, send me a message via my contact page. To see more examples of my wedding photography, visit my main wedding portfolio page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *