‘Let’s run away’: more couples swap traditional weddings for outdoor affairs
On a sunny July morning last summer, Victoria and Cody Blue strapped their backpacks and trekked 10 miles to Aloha Lake in Desolation Wilderness to tie the knot with just two friends and a wedding photographer.
After setting up camp, Victoria put on her wedding dress, put on makeup and hair, and crouched behind the tent awaiting her first look with Cody in his costume. The group made their way to a flat granite cliff overlooking the Alpine lake where their friend ordered the wedding ceremony. Then they opened cans of champagne and made tacos with homemade salsa and guacamole.
“The flowers were blooming then, and I had never been to Lake Aloha when it was so green and lush. It was more beautiful than I remembered, ”recalls Victoria. “The Milky Way erupted that night. It was a magical experience. It was the best wedding I would have ever thought of.
The Blues’ decision to forgo traditional marriage in favor of a more intimate affair is a trend that Elopement photographer and Truckee native, Ruthanne Zouboukos, has started to notice, especially after her own wedding – a small sunrise ceremony. sun on top of a nearby mountain with 13 family members. .
“Flight used to mean running away. Go to Vegas. Secret disapproval just the two of you. The term has changed to really mean bringing it down to what matters most and bringing it back to a place where your wedding day only concerns the two of you, even if there are more people present, ”Zouboukos explains.
After struggling to find vendors in the area to work with his own small-scale wedding, Zouboukos turned his existing photography business into one that involved helping couples escape around Lake Tahoe. Besides capturing the day, she searches for new locations for all of her clients, helps coordinate logistics, and even hosts a podcast to guide couples through the process.
“Runaways have been on the rise for the past five to seven years. They are growing in popularity as the younger generations get closer to building their lives, and they realize that they have the option that matches the expectations of previous generations or to buy a home, ”explains Zouboukos. “We don’t want to choose marriage.”
When COVID hit, Zouboukos was unsure of what his business would look like with closures and home orders.
“Previously, most of my clients were from out of state, over 1,000 kilometers away. My requests started to skyrocket, and I received an insane number of requests from people, mostly locals in California, who were looking to have an incredible wedding experience within driving distance, ”says Zouboukos. “From early August to early November, I photographed and planned 18 runaways, which is pretty much my entire season condensed into three months. It was crazy.”
A bride wore the ball gown she planned to don at her formal wedding in Austin, Texas with hiking boots, a puffy skirt in her arms, for a 3-mile hike to a cliff overlooking Lake Tahoe. Another couple said their vows aboard a sailboat on the lake. On a particularly magical summit getaway, the group watched a rainstorm sweep across the basin, but completely missed their small rocky outcrop.
“In this day and age, COVID has provided the opportunity to have the wedding day that people want without family pressure or guilt that they would otherwise feel, and that’s a very interesting point that has been brought to light over the past year, ”Zouboukos adds.
It’s a silver lining that Stephanie Martin, founder of online wedding resource Tahoe Unveiled, also noted.
“Everyone in this industry has figured out how to cut fat, not necessarily their job, but how to simplify their business and see how they can survive,” says Martin.
And surviving meant learning how to serve much smaller parties that normally wouldn’t have worked out with their pricing structure and services. Tahoe Unveiled even launched an online tool that allows couples to book vendors, from flowers to food, for their getaway or “microwedding”.
“For all the couples who just wanted a smaller, more intimate celebration, they can do it now, and there are all these providers who came together and decided that we were going to serve these small groups that we’ve always turned down before. », Declares Martin.
While larger ceremonies will no doubt return in the coming months, Martin doesn’t see the desire for small-scale weddings going away anytime soon. Zouboukos agrees.
“I am optimistic that when we return to normal life, people will have the power to continue to choose what they want for their marriage and not what expectations tell them they should have,” Zouboukos adds.
Editor’s Note: This story appears in the Summer 2021 edition of Tahoe Magazine.