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Email Author: Ellen Hopkins
Story Posted: 3/5/2002 06:28 pm

Picture Perfect

Picture perfect weddings start with a dream. From a formal church affair for 200 to rose garden nuptials, with only your closest friends in attendance, you'll find the ideal setting for your dream wedding in Reno/Lake Tahoe.

The rest takes solid planning. Start as early as possible. Sit down with your fiancé and create a realistic budget. Then go with your basic "who, what, when, where." (You already know the why!)

Favorite months for weddings are June through October. In Reno/Tahoe, the "busy season" runs from July 4th to Labor Day weekend. If you will marry then, book everything well in advance. Up to a year is not unusual. June and October can be gorgeous or cool, even snowy. If you choose an outdoor venue, have an indoor backup available.

November through May, you will probably want an indoor wedding, unless your vision is a chairlift ride to a mountaintop to say, "I do." Don't laugh. Many people marry "on the mountain." In fact, one local ski resort will snowcat your wedding party to a back country location, then carve tables from snow for your five-course champagne reception.

Most couples opt for Saturday weddings. In warm weather, popular locations - not to mention caterers, photographers and officiates - often book solid on Saturdays. A Friday evening or Sunday afternoon ceremony increases your options. Mid-week, even in summer, the possibilities are endless.

Reno/Tahoe churches span the spectrum, from ornate cathedrals on the Truckee River to historic community churches to outdoor amphitheaters in the heart of the forest. Some churches restrict photography and alcohol, so be sure to check both rules and availability. Other indoor options include chapels, conference centers and hotel/casinos, many of which offer beautiful rooms for weddings.

If you dream of an outdoor wedding, again consider your budget. Country clubs offer exquisite decks, gazebos and halls. Site fees, which include tables, chairs, linens, centerpieces, crystal, china, silver, dance floors, etc., range from $500 to $3,000, depending on the venue, day of the week and time of the year. Catering is extra. Ski resorts offer unparalleled views for about the same price, but access at the top of the mountain is limited. The rose garden at Reno's Idyllwild Park is beautiful, if not as remote, and only $75 for two hours.

Forego formality in favor of "horse drawn" on a working ranch near Gardnerville, where a gazebo or arbor ceremony, plus barn for dancing run $900 for the afternoon. "Old West" settings can also be found in historic Virginia City. Options range from exquisitely appointed churches to a lovely Gold Hill gazebo, overlooking the Carson Valley.

Or go waterfront. Oft-chosen Tahoe locations include Sugar Pine Point State Park and Valhalla, a stunning mansion on Emerald Bay, which can only be reached by boat or by walking down (and back up) a one-mile stretch of asphalt. Both facilities run about $1,000. You also might choose a secluded public beach, where your wedding party only will have to pay a day use fee.

Perhaps you've always wanted to marry "at sea." Tahoe paddlewheelers, sailboats and party boats are happy to oblige. Since you'll share the boat with the public, this can be an affordable option. (Plus, you get the built-in party for no extra charge!) In Zephyr Cove, there's a wedding pavilion right on the beach. Get married ashore, then take your reception out on the M.S. Dixie.

Once you've settled on the date and location, order the invitations, announcements and thank you notes. Contact the local Chamber of Commerce for accommodation information for out-of-town guests. Select your attendants, ushers and officiate and decide formal wear. Book your photographer, keeping in mind many charge for travel time. Find one, in your price range, close to where the ceremony will take place.

Flowers can be ordered at any Teleflora florist. They will help with your selections, then coordinate with florists in this area to make everything just as you envision it. And don't worry about roses or orchids in January. Local florists can make it happen.

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