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couple eloping in a meadow

Autumn is, by far, my favorite season and one of the best times to elope! Lake Tahoe has some of the richest fall colors in California and mid-October is when it reaches its peak vibrancy. Amalia and Chris wanted to showcase the colors and so the location of their ceremony and portraits were top priority.

One of my favorite parts of being an elopement photographer is, without a doubt, location scouting. There are a number of things are important to keep in mind when looking for the perfect. In my opinion, the most essential are light, ease or difficulty in physically getting there, and privacy. While most of the very well known locations are absolutely beautiful in Tahoe, unless you want a host of on-lookers while you exchange your vows, finding a secluded backdrop for your ceremony is a must. I think we nailed it – there wasn’t a single car that passed by and we had the whole meadow to ourselves.

After the ceremony, The Hytch had a wonderful sweetheart table set up for the newlyweds to enjoy some cake and snacks before heading off to portraits. We found a vibrant birch grove to shoot under as the sun set behind the mountain. The biggest surprise was when we noticed the grove had orange moss – which was completely new to me and really made their portraits feel even more immersed in fall.

Chris and Amalia’s autumn elopement in South Lake Tahoe was truly one for the books! We couldn’t have asked for better weather or fall colors. If you’re looking for the perfect time to elope in Tahoe, October is it!



Amazing Vendor Team:

Photography – Vanessa Lynne Photography

Officiant – Ceremonies by Meredith

Rentals + Design – The Hytch

Hair and Makeup – Luna Belle Beauty

Dress – Dreamers and Lovers

Florals – Galena Forest Flowers

Hat – Gigipip

Bohemian wedding dress hanging in a autumn tree
bride getting ready in tahoe
lake tahoe autumn elopement
autumn elopement in south lake tahoe

ceremony in lake tahoe
bride walking up to ceremony
autumn elopement in lake tahoe
fall elopement in south lake tahoe
exchanging vows in tahoe
private vows in lake tahoe
ring exchange in lake tahoe
first kiss in south lake tahoe
sweetheart table for bride and groom
cheers to the married couple
portraits of the bride and groom
dream fall wedding portraits
autumn elopement in tahoe
portrait of bride and groom in tahoe
vibrant fall colors elopement

Amalia + Chris // Autumn Elopement in South Lake Tahoe

As professionals in the wedding industry, it’s safe to say that this is a first for ALL of us. With the start of the wedding season upon us and the current epidemic situation, we know that so many brides are having to think about potentially postponing their big day. We’re all collectively holding our breath, hoping this will blow over sooner than later, but if that’s not the case, let’s start looking at our options. (And of course if you’ve hired a wedding planner, he/she is the best person to consult with!)

Over here at Vanessa Lynne Photography and Courtney Lawhon Events, we are the first to admit that we are not medical experts nor can we predict the future. Despite those facts, we believe that being proactive is one of the very best ways we can spend our time right now. We aren’t here to tell you exactly what choices to make because everyone handles things (life!) differently and above all this is YOUR day.

We are here to be your friends; your sounding board for your thoughts (they matter) and to share with you the options that you do have. After working through 3 wedding postponements together for spring couples, we thought it would be helpful to share our process with you.

It’s okay to be frustrated over the things you can’t control. Let’s take a look at what we *can* control.


Grab a cocktail, sit down with your fiance, and work out what your number one priority is.

Perhaps your date is super special to you and it’s far enough away that some restrictions could potentially be lifted. If that’s the case and there are strong feelings behind honoring the date, have you considered an elopement style ceremony? Exchanging vows in such an intimate way and then celebrating with your friends and family on a later date (+ a small vow renewal?) sounds like the best of both worlds to us. Heck! You might even opt for a wardrobe change with this plan!

If you’re down with the idea of doing an elopement style ceremony but want to include your family in this plan, why not get creative with a live stream vow exchange? A cocktail hour is still possible! You can really have fun with this. Glass half full friends, glass half full!

Maybe the date is flexible for you, but your non-negotiable is having all of your family and friends by your side to celebrate with you. If that’s the case, let’s start looking at a more feasible date where Grandma Dorothy can travel by plane in order to attend.

If the location is the most important detail to you, is there another date that’s available? Are there additional fees associated with making a change? We have found that, overall, venue managers have been very understanding and realize that this isn’t a position you expected to find yourself in. Inquire what other dates they have available. Would you consider a weekday?!  Venues often have more weekday openings and may even offer a discounted rate. We’ve done a few Thursday weddings and they were fantastic!


So, now what?

Re-visit your contracts and familiarize yourself with them. If you’re leaning towards looking at a new date, hop on a call with your vendors to get the conversation going and a feel for their availability. Nothing replaces good and thorough communication. We personally have never been so proud of our “friendors” in the industry and how everyone has been so accommodating and considerate of clients during this time. We are confident that hearing their voice and their recommendations will bring you peace and guide you towards making a decision.

Decide on a specific date when you and your fiance would like to make the final call. Keep in mind that if you are seriously leaning towards postponement, making that call sooner than later will take some weight off your shoulders and make it possible for more of your vendor team to reschedule with you.

We really hope you don’t have to make the choice to postpone, but if it does come down to that, here are what brides who’ve already made this difficult decision are saying:

“It’s safe to say my wedding process hasn’t gone anything like I imagined. The hardest part was just deciding whether or not to postpone. There was so much stress with the unknown. Once I made the decision I instantly felt excited. All guests were understanding and thanked us for even considering to postpone because it put them at ease.

Vendors have been beyond flexible. Every one of my vendors put 100% of what was paid towards a new date if we had to reschedule. To anyone that is looking for vendors in the Monterey/Bay Area I cannot recommend them all enough:

Venue: Hyatt Highlands Inn, Carmel CA (generously allowed to reschedule up to 18 months out)

Photographer: Vanessa Lynne (if you haven’t booked her yet, do this immediately!)

Hair & Makeup: Blush

DJ: DJ Ayci by Ready Steady Pose

Officiant: Brian Borgia

I was glad I decided sooner than later to book the best possible date/vendor availability. Take your time to decide, but if in the end you feel in your heart it’s right to postpone too, have a good cry, a glass of wine or 3, and just do it. It’s not what you envisioned originally, but I promise you’ll feel so much better once it’s just decided and you might even love your new date more!”



“I talked to my planner when we were starting to think about postponing and was instantly calmed; I have a superhero on my side. When I came back to her after the decision was made, we went over all of our different options. Shoutout to you guys for raising awareness and having a blog post about it demystifies the scary and unfamiliar. Personally, I feel like at times like this, there’s no use in fretting over stuff you can’t change and can’t control. People can still get the day they have always wanted!! The fact that I have my planner, my venue, and my photographer on my team is such a relief. I literally just feel like we hit pause for a month while the world chills for a hot minute and I’m really happy with the decision and the process!”



We’re truly facing uncommon times and if you are planning a wedding in the middle of it we know just how stressful it can feel. Take a deep breath and remember that you’re not alone. Pause for a moment (cause we all have the time!) to reflect and appreciate the love that brought you to the planning process in the first place. And most importantly, if you have your health be extra thankful. From our hearts and homes to yours ~

Sincerely (your friends),

Vanessa & Court

Insight into your 2020 Wedding


This weddings, guys. Where do I even begin? When Mary first got engaged last year (while in Maui), we booked hers and Jaime’s engagement session right away (you can find their engagement session blog post here). We opted to do their shoot in the mountains in the fal since they had a pretty good idea they were doing a tropical wedding. They woke up at the butt crack of dawn (2:30 am) and met me hours before sunrise to catch the first light in one of my favorite spots. Nothing says “we trust your vision” like waking up in the middle of the night for an adventurous engagement sesh.

Fast forward to their wedding day and the warmth of Maui literally couldn’t have been more of a contrast to their chilly and mountainous engagement session (thank you, Jesus!). They said their vows surrounded by their family and closest friends, then ran off with me for some portraits out on the jetty. As is pretty typical for Maui, the most spectacular sun began to set and so began the onslaught of many happy dances.

They wrapped up their evening with the kindest words and, *cough*, roasts from others and boogied the night away on the dance floor. My most sincere congratulations, Mary and Jaime! What an honor to photograph your PERFECT day.
















































Venue: Olowalu Plantation House

Wedding Planning and Coordination: Tropical Maui Weddings

Wedding Dress: Lulus

Videographer: Ryan Flinn

Mary + Jaime: Olowalu Plantation, Maui


Katie and Bryan’s wedding tucked away in the redwoods was one for the books! I had been looking forward to this wedding for quite some time because, let’s be honest: After meeting Katie once (with many email exchanges), I knew how FUN their wedding was going to be. And secondly, my most favorite friendors were also going to be there. A real win-win, if you ask me!

Katie and her gals had the entire lodge to get ready in (with the AC blasting, I might add), while Bryan and his groomsmen had their pick of the many onsite A-Frame cabins to choose from. I remember walking in and thinking how relaxed Katie was, enjoying the morning with her bridesmaids.

The couple chose their ceremony spot – an open expanse with the redwoods as their backdrop, just a few minutes walk up from the lodge. Guests were shuttled in and were encouraged to grab a drink in anticipation of the ceremony starting. The reception was back at the lodge, which was transformed to the open dance floor, with cocktail hour and dinner located outside under the trees and twinkling market lights. <3

Biggest congratulations to one amazing couple. We love you, Katie and Bryan!

**All vendors and their respective websites listed at the bottom of blog post.

SIDE NOTE: As a photographer I have to say that one of the most memorable parts of the day is that before ceremony began, the officiant stood before the guests, acknowledged that we were all here to witness Katie’s and Brian’s vows, but requested vows of the guests themselves. He had the guests repeat after him that at no point throughout the rest of the ceremony would the guests take out their cellphones or cameras. They vowed that they would keep them stowed away and be present during the ceremony. And wouldn’t you believe….They followed through! I didn’t see any guests try to sneak any shots! This, my friends, is GOLD! I’ve been to *many* weddings and this cellphone free request was completely requested! Just a note for brides who want an unplugged wedding but aren’t sure how to make it happen. 🙂


Photography: Vanessa Lynne Photography

Event Planning and Design: Alluring Events + Design

Florals: The Blonde Bouquet

Videography: Sean Kenney Films

Dress: Miosa Bride

Hair: Bridget Jasper of lovealways_bk

Makeup: Susie Castilone

Mobile Bar: The Whiskey Chaser Bar

Catering: Savory Events

Venue: Waterfall Lodge and Retreat

DJ: Dj Rufio

Katie + Bryan: Waterfall Lodge + Retreat


When Chelsea first described how she envisioned her elopement to be with Jesse, she really emphasized that she wanted the day to be about the two of them and not about having all of the “extras” that so many wedding seem to come with. There is truly something to be said about simply spending your wedding day with the one you love. Call me crazy, but I think they are on to something! 😉

Chelsea and Jesse chose to say their vows and exchange their rings on a secluded beach in Trinidad, Ca, where they could be free of onlookers and quietly enjoy their ceremony. After a quick champagne toast that immediately followed the ceremony, we ventured to the redwoods where they saw the giants for the very first time. We explored the park (my favorite national park!), stopping only to take in the beauty of it all. It was truly a perfect day!

A few days after the wedding, Chelsea surprised me with this:

Vanessa, you are FABULOUS! You made our day EXTRA enjoyable, perfect fit, can’t imagine how the day would have gone with anyone else. Felt like we were a trio the moment I dropped my robe and hopped in the bath. I LOVED that you GOT him from first dad joke. I know that made it way more fun for him to have 2 people to pick on instead of only 1.
Professionally you gave good, subtle direction. Never made us feel awkward. Created and kept the timeline with no stressing or rushing. Handled communication with the officiant. Cool with last minute ideas. Had Kacey Musgraves ready to go. Totally willing to hold the go-pro even though the battery was dead. Also willing to get down n dirty all up in the wispy bushes. Brought an extra sweater ‘with tags on’ cause you knew I was gonna freeze my ass off. Offered to keep going even though we tapped out. Dealt with 107493874 questions before we even met…

The first look mishap, almost running out of gas, and forgetting the rental car made the experience an adventure. Wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”

CONGRATS, YOU TOO! Your day was so special to me and I’m beyond grateful to have been a part of it <3


Chelsea + Jesse: Redwood NP Elopement