Diana & Alex’s Playful Mountaintop Lake Tahoe Elopement

General, Real Elopements,
7 min read Sep 9, 2020

After the coronavirus cancelled Diana and Alex’s wedding plans, the couple feared that they wouldn’t be able to have the wedding they had always dreamt of. Instead of feeling down, the pair made lemonade out of lemons and decided that, instead of simply honeymooning in the Lake Tahoe area, they’d extend their trip and get married there first! On August 5, 2020, Diana, Alex, and their parents stood atop a mountain at Emerald Bay State Park Lookout as the couple recited their vows, and celebrated by popping bubbly of two kinds (both champagne and real bubbles!) after they were officially pronounced husband and wife. Read all about their love story, and how COVID-19 couldn’t stop them from saying yes to forever!

How did you meet? What was your first impression of one another?

Alex: I met Diana at work. I was her kickboxing instructor and I kept it professional, even though I thought she was attractive. She seemed fun and easygoing when I would talk to her in class and one day, we sat down and talked for an hour before I had to get back to work.

Diana: During the Summer of 2016 I joined a martial arts gym. I went by myself and didn’t know anyone there, so I spent time before and after classes introducing myself to teachers and other students. Alex was there most days that l went, and I found myself gravitating towards him. I really appreciated his calm presence, professionalism on the mat, and silliness off of it.

When did you first fall in love? How did you know?

Alex: Diana and I went through a lot of big events early in our relationship, and those are some of the things that really brought us closer together. We’ve pushed each other to better ourselves and we’ve grown to be a really good team. Though, there was one specific date where she gave me a look. It’s hard to explain, but the eye contact and smile that she gave me has always sat with me. I had never felt such a connection with anyone and I knew she was the one that night.

Diana: Historically speaking, “falling in love” has not yielded lasting outcomes for me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more intentional in my connections and opt to “grow in love” instead. We encountered a few stressful situations as a new couple – the 2016 election, loss of loved ones, international travel, and employment transitions. When we were able to successfully navigate these situations as a team and come out stronger, I knew this could be something great.

How did you propose or accept the proposal?

Alex: I had been planning to propose for a few months at the time. It was Christmas of 2018 and she had given me a book explaining all the reasons she loved me. This is when I knew I had to propose that day. I took her to a reservoir that had a nice view and proposed to her there.

Diana: Alex has a terrible poker face! I knew it was coming because he had asked my parents for their permission the year prior, and I had sent him a few ring suggestions! On Christmas Day, after opening presents, Alex asked if I wanted to go on a hike. In that moment, I knew what was happening. Who in their right mind wants to go on a hike on a cold winter day, especially when we had plans to visit family? I texted a few people that “it’s happening” and did my best to play it cool when he was driving. Once we got to the reservoir we walked to a few different spots, and he eventually took me to a more secluded area in the woods overlooking the waterfall and proposed. Of course I said yes!

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What do you love about your partner?

Alex: Diana brings out the best in me and she makes me want to become a better person. She’s a passionate, caring, good person. We complement each other well. I can count on her to be here for me.

Diana: Alex is a team player and is willing to go the extra mile for others. He is thoughtful, courteous, strong and humble. I feel truly seen by him without judgment, and he inspires me to be more carefree and vulnerable with others. He also makes really good coffee.

What is the greatest strength of your relationship?

Alex: I would say it’s our communication. I had never had someone who had challenged me in a way that made me learn to communicate well, and it’s gotten us through a lot … it has helped us grow.

Diana: I believe we have quite a few. As Alex said, we’ve worked (and continue to work) on having really effective communication. Our personalities complement each other well. Most importantly, I feel that we completely accept each other as-is while continuing to support each other becoming the people we want to grow to be.

Why did you decide to elope? 

COVID-19 came around and shut down our first wedding date which was supposed to be in April 2020. We postponed until August and had to cancel again due to health concerns, and we didn’t think we’d be able to have the wedding we wanted with COVID-19. We wanted to still go on our honeymoon in Lake Tahoe/Napa (we deserved a vacation at this point), so we extended our trip and got married at the beginning of it. We were lucky enough to have our parents join us for the first few days. Such a wonderful experience came out of an unprecedented situation.

How did you find Simply Eloped?

I searched the internet for officiants and photographers in the Lake Tahoe area. The idea of them coming as a packaged deal was perfect!

How did you know Simply Eloped was the right fit for you?

After all the planning and then cancelling of our traditional wedding, postponing, and then cancelling again, it was such a relief to work with Simply Eloped. I can honestly say that by the time we had decided to elope, the wedding planning portion of my brain was fried. I knew that this was the right fit for us because we were able to make a few basic decisions like location and photography package, and the rest was all taken care of.

What attracted you to the venue you eloped at? 

We had actually decided on eloping in Lake Tahoe before finding Simply Eloped, and it was such a happy coincidence. I had spent a week by the lake the same summer I had met Alex to celebrate finishing graduate school. Although we are both children of beach people, Alex and I are both very much lake and mountain people. He had never been to California before, and I was so excited to show him the most breathtaking place I have ever been. The Lake Tahoe area really has it all, and is a site to consider any time of the year for both scenery and activities. There’s really no bad choice for a ceremony site in the area, and the Simply Eloped team offered great advice on what each location offered.

What activities did you do before the wedding? How did you prepare? How did you feel leading up to the moments of your elopement? 

Alex: I was able to take it fairly easy. Myself, my dad, and my father-in-law went on a drive to Jakes on the Lake so I could convince the staff to get Diana some fish tacos for dinner – and it worked! When we got back to the house we all had a glass of bourbon and relaxed before getting ready. It was a nice calm day and everyone made it so I didn’t see Diana until our real first look down at Emerald Bay. I couldn’t stop smiling to myself the whole way down.

Diana: Alex and I got to sleep in, which was much appreciated! There was some hustle and bustle, but luckily I was able to spend some nice quiet moments on the back deck of the house in the woods with my tea and thoughts. My mother-in-law helped me with my make-up and she did a fantastic job. The day flew by and before we knew it we were standing together on that rock. It was a very special moment for us, filled with excitement, gratitude, and relief!

Tell us about your experience with Simply Eloped leading up to and on your big day!

They offered guidance on getting our marriage license coming in from out of state, created a day-of timeline, and connected us with vendors that we had complete confidence in. We were lucky enough to work with Blake & Irina in the Tahoe area as our officiant and photographer. They communicated with us leading up to the ceremony, including getting our feedback to personalize the officiant’s speech and locations for the best pictures (ditch the heels for those hikes). Our Simply Eloped team let us know that parking was very limited at our location (100% accurate), so we opted to use a car service. Because Alex sat at the front and I was in the back, and with the help of our Simply Eloped team, we were able to have our “first look” at the ceremony site.

How did you celebrate after?

We went to Jake’s on the Lake in Tahoe City and had our wedding dinner with our parents by our side. It was a beautiful sunset dinner right on the water. The next day, we got our marriage certificate and drove to Napa Valley to start our honeymoon.

What words of encouragement do you have for those considering eloping?

For those seeking an intimate experience in a beautiful space, it’s definitely the way to go. There’s less of the “all eyes on me” feeling enabled us to be fully present with each other. Working with Simply Eloped took all of the guesswork out of the process and made it a stress-free event. Ultimately your ceremony is a very personal decision so I would encourage couples to do what they want to do – especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic when it may not be safe to continue a wedding as previously planned.

Planning: Simply Eloped
Officiant: Blake Weyland
Photographer: Irina Alexandrova

General Real Elopements
Written by Karen Norian

Karen Norian is an elopement photographer and has photographed over a hundred elopements. Karen has also worked as an elopement planner for Simply Eloped. She's been quoted in the New York Times, Brides, Hello Giggles, Bustle, Yahoo, and more.