This is a wedding that I blogged before, but it unfortunately got lost in the transition to my new website. That being said, I’m overjoyed to revisit this beautiful and classic Thunderbird Lodge wedding from 2018. Laura and Ryan were surrounded by an incredible group of people and they planned a perfectly hosted evening: with a long, languid cocktail hour, a seated family style dinner, and a rockin’ dance floor (no lie – mostly led by her dad). For Laura, it was incredibly important to honor her late mother, who loved entertaining. As such, their cocktail hour menu consisted of her favorite hors d’oeuvre: a bacon wrapped water chestnut, accompanied by oysters, naturally.
Thunderbird Lodge is an incredibly special place: it’s located on the north east side of Lake Tahoe, near Incline Village. It’s one of the oldest estates on the lake and the original owner was eccentric, to put it mildly. The estate is one of a kind, both in story and physical presence. Not everyone gets to attend a beautiful wedding here, but luckily, in non-covid times, you can tour the lodge with a docent. You will need to make a reservation ahead of time for this. My favorite way to tour it is via vintage boat cruise from Zephyr Cove to the lodge. Lunch is included and adult beverages are available. You learn about the history of this wonderous estate and stories from its owner, George Whittell JR, who is single handedly responsible for conserving much of the land in Lake Tahoe!
The most incredible part of Laura and Ryan’s Thunderbird Lodge wedding was a huge surprise arranged by their Uncle, if I remember correctly. He set up a post ceremony ride for the wedding party in the Thunderbird Yacht, which may be one of the world’s most recognizable (and fastest) vintage wooden speedboats. The boat was originally commissioned by Whittell in the late 1930’s and it cost $87,000. It was designed by famed naval architect John L Hacker and the hull and cockpit are designed to resemble the fuselage of a DC-2 aircraft that Whittell also owned (also named the Thunderbird). Made with mahogany and steel, the Thunderbird is a vision to behold. Its two twin V-12 550 hp engines allowed it to go 60 knots across Lake Tahoe!
I absolutely adore photographing weddings at such memorable and historical estates and a Thunderbird Lodge wedding is especially unique and special – esp when you get to ride on the Thunderbird itself! Spoiler – we did not go 60 knots! I can’t wait to go back there when weddings one day resume but until then, here’s some of my favorite images from Laura and Ryan’s Thunderbird Lodge wedding.