Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Lake Tahoe Emerges as Wedding Capital

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Lake Tahoe Emerges as Wedding Capital

Article excerpt

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. -- Much like any other adoring couple, the bride and groom smiled and locked arms, eager to start their new life together.

Then they disappeared beneath the surface of chilly Lake Tahoe.

The minister plunged, too. And the witnesses. All carried scuba- diving equipment. And hand cards. At the appropriate depth, the reverend held up a placard on which the questions of the moment were posed. The dearly beloved responded by hoisting cards that read, "I do." The preacher glugged an affirmation. And they all swam happily ever after. Don't dare suggest this marriage was all wet from the beginning. Or that another ceremony occurring high above the water in a balloon basket was filled with too much hot air. It's part of the everyday routine by the lake. Some travelers relish gambling or watching big-time entertainment in this area's casinos. Others prefer hiking and biking in the mountains, skiing in winter and golfing in summer. Still others simply pause at any time of year to savor the beauty of one of America's grandest bodies of water. But the region surrounding Lake Tahoe -- shared by Nevada and California -- also boasts a self-proclaimed distinction as the world's fastest-growing wedding capital. Sure, Las Vegas offers its Elvis chapels. But only here, overlooking the lake's North Shore, can couples get hitched at the Church of the Ponderosa on a ranch where Bonanza television episodes were filmed. Even if Ben, Hoss, Little Joe and Adam are long gone, most newlyweds' first stop is the Cartwright Ranch House. Nearby, at the Cal-Neva Resort on King's Beach, couples have been known to straddle the state line as they exchanged vows. Presumably they lean toward the state in which their license is valid. Weddings can be easily arranged, too, on ski slopes, in snowy meadows or during sleigh rides in winter or hayrides in summer. The pace is especially frenetic in casinos (all in Nevada) and on paddle- wheel boats along the South Shore, an area where 15,000 weddings took place last year, resulting in an $83 million economic impact. …

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