The West Shore and the East Shore of Lake Tahoe each have a special allure that draws visitors to their sunny beaches – some sand and some rock.  They also both have a wealthy history dating back to the 18th century thanks to the aristocratic families that weaved their legacy with Tahoe lore. At Merrily Wed® we have found these shores to be memorable locations to hold your destination Lake Tahoe wedding.

George Whittel built a fabulous summer home that he named Thunderbird Lodge.  It sits in isolation on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe.  This section of the lake is rugged and pristine, in contrast to much of the rest of Lake Tahoe’s shoreline.  His failure to allow development on the 27 miles of shoreline that he bought more likely was a result of wanting privacy than being a nature conservationist.  Regardless, it has kept this section of the lake from being developed with hotels, homes and shops.

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Thunderbird Lodge – photo courtesy of Catherine Hall Studios

Visitors to Lake Tahoe often may not be aware of historical attractions such as Thunderbird Lodge and two other mansions on the western shore that tell a tale of how the fabulously wealthy spent their summers at Tahoe back in the first half of the 1900’s.  All three homes are open to tours every summer and two of the three are beautiful venues to host your destination Lake Tahoe wedding.

Landscaping at the Thunderbird Lodge includes waterfalls, pools and streams connected by winding stone pathways and flourishes such as a stone shamrock and other whimsical designs.  One tunnel leads to the infamous Card House where Whittel indulged his passion for late night card games and alcohol.

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Thunderbird Lodge – photo courtesy of Catherine Hall Studios

Your wedding guests may even be able to see the Card House on a tour of the famous Thunderbird property during your wedding.  A tower was added to the original lodge after Whittel’s death by investor Jack Dreyfus Jr, where today the space is now used for weddings and special events.  The Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society manages the proceeds from tours and events to help maintain and restore the property and the 55-ft Thunderbird mahogany yacht.

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Thunderbird Lodge – photo courtesy of Catherine Hall Studios

The Hellman-Ehrman Mansion on the west shore is the largest of these three mansions consisting of 11,703 square feet and three stories.  Hellman and his descendants used Pine Lodge from 1903 until 1965 when Hellman’s granddaughter sold it to the state of California.  It is now part of Sugar Pine State Park and commonly known as the Ehrman Mansion.  Weddings are held on the lawn by the lake and receptions are commonly located on the hilltop closer to the Pine Lodge/Ehrman Mansion.

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Ehrman Mansion – photo courtesy of Brian MacStay Photography

The third historic mansion rich in history and wealth is Vikingsholm just a little farther down the west shore from Hellman-Ehrman Mansion.  This was Lora J Knight’s summer retreat whose estimated wealth at that time was $43 million, built in 1929, and sits at the head of Emerald Bay, arguably Lake Tahoe’s most scenic spot.  She wanted the mansion to look Scandinavian as the bay reminded her of fjords in Norway.

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Vikingsholm – photo courtesy of Vikingsholm.com

She also owned tiny Fannette Island which sits in the middle of Emerald Bay.  A small stone teahouse that she built sits on its crest.  She rarely used it because of the difficulty in accessing it.  For the same reason Vikingsholm, despite its intriguing beauty, is not an ideal wedding location due to the narrow path one must hike to reach it.

Whether selecting the West Shore or the East Shore, incorporating one or more of these locations would be a great idea for visiting guests to see more of Lake Tahoe’s rich history.  And if you are lucky, one historic site may be host to your wedding itself!

Tahoe Signature of Style,

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