A wedding planner’s stunning wedding in Lake Tahoe
How does a wedding planner say “I do”? Just ask Danielle Tolleson from Elise Events. For her wedding to Blake Williams, she went to her fiancé’s favorite venue, hired her favorite salespeople for work, and said “yes” to stunning lace jumpsuits. Of course, she worked with her own team to ultimately host a guest-centric celebration at Martis Camp in Truckee, California. She and Blake invited 65 of their closest friends and family members for the day, including three wedding cakes, a band and a DJ, and a huge welcome basket of their favorite goodies. It all took place near Lake Tahoe, a special place for Blake, who had grown up to the lake from his hometown in Reno, Nevada most weekends.
“When looking for a venue, we wanted to make sure we had the sleek feel of Tahoe while incorporating relaxed and organic components for us and our guests,” says Blake. “The dinner and dancing in the midst of beautifully lit trees was more than spectacular.”
One of the many unique features is that the couple’s salespeople were all wedding industry professionals who loved working with Danielle at previous events. “It was more like having more friends than employed professionals at our wedding,” adds the groom. “It was amazing to see how it all came about and how Danielle’s design came to life.”
Read on for full details of the couple’s Northern California wedding, planned by Elise Events and photographed by Joel Serrato.
Danielle says she really enjoyed working with The Idea Emporium to create custom stationery, including the invitations and event branding. “Carey helped us set the first tone of our wedding to really nod Tahoe and us,” she says of Carey Lowe of the company. The invitation suite included a five-layer topographic map of Lake Tahoe with hand-colored and laser-cut pieces.
Upon arrival, guests were given a ceramic box containing the couple’s snacks such as fattened chocolate bars, RX bars, boxed water, and Dardiman’s dried fruits.
Each guest also received a personal note and a small bag of petals to throw at the ceremony.
Danielle broke up with her mother and sister-in-law. She describes the wedding celebration as “small but mighty” as it consisted of only three people: her brother, her sister-in-law and Blake’s cousin.
Danielle decided on a classic and timeless wedding dress by designer Tara LaTour, which she wore with a pair of mother-of-pearl needles from Oscar de la Renta, her grandmother’s diamond ring and a romantic bouquet of garden roses, smoky bush and miniature plums.
Danielle locked her favorite flowers, hellebore, in the boutonnieres along with eaten leaves.
Blake opened a groom’s present – an old typewriter – before the ceremony. “Blake has a strong love for all things ancient and he loves metal materials,” says Danielle of the inspiration behind the present. “I was hoping that we would have an article to record our adventures and milestones for years to come.”
Blake wore a textured green cardigan and brown pants as a wedding suit, a creation he designed with Tailors’ Keep in San Francisco. He added a brown Ermenegildo Zegna tie and his father’s gold Gucci watch to get the complete look.
Guests were greeted with refreshments prior to the ceremony, which took place on the lawn overlooking the rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
Danielle and Blake count autumn as their favorite time of year, so they wanted rich autumn colors that are worked into a light and romantic atmosphere for the June event. The chuppah was covered in a dreamy, dark bush of smoke, offset by the evergreen tones of the background landscape, and the guests were seated in dusty, pink modern chairs.
There was a small bag of flower petals on each seat that could be thrown during the recession.
Danielle wanted to nod the family during the ceremony, and one option was to use her grandfather’s tallit on the chuppah. They also both entered alongside their parents.
We wanted the day to feel intimate, surrounded by our family and dearest friends.
“From the moment we started the planning process, Blake and I both knew what our day should look like and feel like,” says Danielle. “We wanted the day to feel intimate, surrounded by our family and dearest friends.”
Danielle’s uncle served as the officer for the ceremony full of Jewish traditions, and the three members of the couple’s wedding reception watched alongside the chuppah.
Adding specific anecdotes lets our family and guests flow a little more into our lives. Making Danielle laugh and cry was such a fond memory that I will cherish her forever.
One of the couple’s best memories of that day was reciting their own personal vows. “Adding specific anecdotes lets our families and guests into our lives a little bit more,” says Blake of the vows. “Making Danielle laugh and cry was such a fond memory that I will cherish her forever.”
“Blake blew my mind with his vows,” adds Danielle. “They were romantic, funny, beautiful, and silly all rolled into one.”
“After breaking the glass and kissing, the guests tossed us flowers when we came back down the aisle as husband and wife,” says Danielle as she walked up the aisle amid a flower shower.
I gained a whole new level of respect and love for her throughout the planning process.
“I gained a whole new level of respect and love for her throughout the planning process,” says Blake, seeing up close his new wife’s professional skills in organizing the wedding.
During the cocktail hour, various lounge areas were set up for the guests around the camp.
Typical drinks included custom ice cubes with the couple’s wedding logo and linen napkins embroidered with the logo.
The companion cards were attached to lavender-scented votive candles and displayed next to custom matchboxes with lyrics from the first dance song. “Candles are a favorite in our household, and we couldn’t think of anything more appropriate than sending our favorite people home with one,” says Danielle.
To reflect fall in the reception decor, Danielle used rich colors like purple, dusty rose, and rust on the wooden tabletops alongside earthy colored flowers and textured candles.
To brighten up the look, the guests sat in white wishbone chairs and white porcelain ceramics on the table landscape.
Natasha Kolenko Design’s centerpieces included ceramic vases with garden roses, textured candles – another nod to the couple’s love for candles – and bowls of fresh fruit.
Danielle loved the place settings designed by The Idea Emporium. Each included a letterpress menu and a custom napkin printed with each guest’s name.
With “the little ones being just as important,” Danielle and Carey Lowe of The Idea Emporium developed a handcrafted wooden game that could be included in the children’s table settings. They featured engraved drawings of Lake Tahoe-inspired elements and the couple’s wedding logo.
The evening menu was particularly meaningful to Danielle and Blake. They worked closely with the Martis Camp culinary team to create dishes that represented their relationship, including recreating their favorite arugula and fennel and citrus salad.
“Don’t lose sight of what’s most important: each other,” says Danielle. “Enjoy every minute.”
After dinner, Danielle put on a second look, a lace and silk jumpsuit by Rime Arodaky. “I’ve followed Rime for a while and love how modern and edgy their pieces are,” says Danielle. “It was fun, playful, and sexy – the perfect attire for the party part of the day.”
Granted, Blake has a sweet tooth, so desserts were a big deal. Instead of one wedding cake, the couple had three.
There were also cookies and French macarons, all of which were on display on modern glass shelves next to the dance floor.
Danielle’s favorite DJ from Truckee kept the guests on the dance floor, including for the Hora. After the wedding, the couple went on a honeymoon in London to explore a place neither of them had ever been to. “We fell in love with the British way of life – the palaces, the subway, the theater – and cherished it every day,” says Danielle.