C California Style

The bride beams in a Nicole Miller gown while the groom wears J.Crew. PHOTO: Jose Villa.
First kiss as husband and wife. PHOTO: Jose Villa.
A curving aisle weaves through the meadow. PHOTO: Jose Villa.
A trio of fairylike flower girls. PHOTO: Jose Villa.
The raised reception area, where celebrations went long into the evening. PHOTO: Jose Villa.
In keeping with the natural theme, woven place mats and birch-bark vases adorn the tables. PHOTO: Jose Villa.
The cake, laden with summer fruits. PHOTO: Jose Villa.
Keri’s bouquet features cream-colored roses. PHOTO: Jose Villa.
PHOTO: Jose Villa.
Illuminated pathways and a glowing tent welcome guests for dinner and dancing. PHOTO: Jose Villa.
The blanket of wildflowers sets a romantic scene. PHOTO: Jose Villa.

Field of Dreams

by C California Style

A pristine mountain meadow proves to be the ultimate venue for Keri Nielsen and George Rhodes.

Lake Tahoe has always been a special place for me,” says Keri Nielsen. “My family used to spend summers on the lake and the winters in the mountains.” So when planning her August nuptials to George Rhodes, her longtime love, it was the obvious locale to consider. “An outdoor wedding was our No. 1 requirement,” she explains, but finding a destination that could accommodate 175 guests was harder than expected. It was George to the rescue with the online discovery of Mitchells Mountain Meadows, 80 acres of unspoiled wilderness just a 45-minute drive north of Lake Tahoe.

“Jenna, our beloved wedding planner, drove us out there to meet the owners, Pam and Fred. They gave us a tour, and we knew it’d be perfect,” Keri says. The couple chose one of the property’s three meadows, which offers sweeping vistas and an abundance of wildflowers. “Jenna took a blank space in the middle of the woods and made it our dream location,” she adds. “We had one design meeting and that was it. I’m in awe of how she pulled off such extravagance with nothing to start with but land!

After a night together at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe (“We’re not superstitious,” jokes Keri), George went hiking with his groomsmen while the bridal party, friends since grade school, got ready in the hotel suite. A shuttle brought everyone up to the venue for pre-ceremony photos, then Keri and her father waited, out of sight of arriving guests, in the cabin. “We couldn’t look at each other without crying, so we stood on the deck holding each other. Once we hit the aisle he started cracking jokes, so I was laughing and smiling the whole way down. I loved that walk,” she recalls. Waiting at the altar were Keri’s brother, who officiated the ceremony, and George. “My most favorite people in the world—it was so special.”

After the ceremony, the couple retreated for a few private moments before family photos. Then it was time for cocktails, speeches, a meal of either braised short ribs, roast salmon or vegetable quinoa pilaf and, of course, dancing, which went until 2 a.m., though the bride and groom snuck away around midnight. “Throughout the evening, we would stand back and watch our guests dance and laugh. We tried to take it all in and I feel like we did a pretty good job,” Keri says. “I just wish we could relive it because it was absolutely our dream wedding.” They also enjoyed their dream honeymoon: two blissful weeks in Bali and Fiji. 

Venue Mitchells Mountain Meadows Planner and Florist Jenna Lam Events Catering and Cake The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe Cocktail Service Camper Cocktail Company Wine Dean & Deluca Entertainment Chuck Wansley Band, Chris Clouse Rentals Zephyr Tents, Hartmann Studios, Classic Party Rentals Videography The Cana Family Dress Nicole Miller Veil Sara Gabriel Veiling & Headpieces Suit J.Crew Rings Turgeon-Raine Jewelers Bridesmaid Dresses Amsale Stationery Ink by Kymberli Parker Calligrapher Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls Hair and Makeup Anne Ueda and Elizabeth Harris

By Maile Pingel.
Photographed by Jose Villa.