It’s a little known fact to many that I’ve worked in weddings since I was fourteen years old- literally half my life. From catering to being an assistant wedding planner and finally falling in love being a wedding photographer, I feel like I can say that I know weddings quite intimately.
Almost a year ago, one of my couples came to me in search of a venue for their wedding, touching on the one part of weddings that I was only partially versed in, and only to the degree of knowing what was available in general terms. After much brainstorming and with the help of some friends who had gone through the ringer to find a venue themselves, I decided to start digging deeper into the huge variety of venues available around the Lake Tahoe area.
From as South as Gardnerville to North as Graeagle and including the entirety of Lake Tahoe, there are more than 100 venues available. Each of them is unique in their own way, and I believe that each is a perfect match for a lucky couple. The Venue Series will highlight both the well known and the hard to find locations to better help brides and grooms plan their perfect day.
Two Rivers Soccer Camp, Graeagle, California.
Yep. That says “Soccer Camp” but don’t let the title ward you off by any means. I found Two Rivers on a list of wedding venues, and was immediately intrigued since their website has only minimal reference to the events that they host, and it took me a few moments of digging to verify that they do indeed facilitate weddings.
I reached out with a list of questions about their venue and had an almost immediate response from Lynda, who runs the camp and property. We arranged a date and time for me to come take a tour, and upon arrival I was literally blown away with the beauty of it.
Two Rivers Road could have been quite easily missed, and the lack of cell service in the area made me quite happy that I had loaded the address into my phone prior to starting the hour ish scenic drive from North Lake Tahoe. The road slopes down steeply and turns into dirt, winding through the trees to a parking lot next to the train trestle. My mother, my ever-present co-pilot in my adventures, looked at me and asked me if I was sure we were in the right place, as not much can be seen from the parking lot.
We walked through the tunnel under the train trestle and found the sign for the camp waiting for us. Across the private bridge and up the drive we walked until we reached the little sign for the office. One of the camp counselors saw us and ran off to go get Lynda as we peered around the camp happenings. Lynda came down to greet us and asked us to wait one moment while she went and got her car so we could tour the property in style. She came back driving a four-seater off road vehicle, and away we went.
As we started driving around the office and past the first few soccer fields, Lynda gave us a little history of the gorgeous grounds that we were on. The facility was designed and built by the Robert Oxnard Family starting in 1929 as a fashionable, rustic private resort-retreat for his family and friends. The only access to the property has always been via a trestle beneath the adjoining railroad track and over a bridge across the Feather River, where we had parked earlier. Lynda explained that most brides favor having their guests walk in to the property to take in all of the sights that we were experiencing- and as we had our mouths open wide staring, it’s easy to understand why. In 1974, Lynda’s family (the Schwendinger family) purchased the property. It had changed hands several times after Mr. Oxnard initially sold it, and had been sitting vacant for a period of time when the Schwendinger’s stumbled upon the pristine 43 acres.
The property gets its name from the unique location where it sits- the intersection of the Jamison Creek and the Feather River. As Lynda drove us up towards the main lodge, the river views from the hillside made us understand exactly why one would want to have a private retreat here. She explained how their property had a flow about it and that each part of the wedding took place in a different location, allowing a distinctive feeling of space. We parked below the lodge and walked out to the terrace overlooking the river, where cocktails usually take place in anticipation of dinner. A short walk up the hill and we arrived at the ceremony site itself; a stepped terrace sloping down the hill to a small deck where the wedding party would stand. At the top stands a small cabin that is available for rental to the bridal party for getting ready, and I can only imagine the thrill that both the bride and groom have when the wedding bell is rung to announce for the guests to rise for the bride’s entrance. The ceremony site has a special arrangement- it can either be free seating for the more casual couple (as it is set up almost as an amphitheater) or it can have chairs arranged along the tiers. It certainly seems as if there isn’t a bad seat in the house, either way.
Walking up from the ceremony site to the backside of the main lodge, the early 30’s construction and (actual) rustic style is even more apparent. The vast amounts of wood used in the architecture, as well as the way that the lodge flows into the hillside and is surrounded by trees paints the perfect picture of a rustic lodge. The picnic tables for the campers were set up with cabin names, and Lynda explained that they have banquet tables and linens provided for each wedding. Bare bulb lights hang from the trees outlining the dance floor, and from the deck up are terraced grass landings and a small stone path leading to an upper deck that overlooks the entire back of the lodge.
Stepping into the lodge gives the sense of a time warp; warm wood graces the floors with a beautiful pine banquet table and buffet set up in front of a large brick fireplace that gets lit during the reception. The main room has light spilling in from a full wall of windows and glass doors that lead out onto the deck, with inviting red adirondack chairs overlooking the Jamison Creek and terrace where guests have cocktail hour. With the trees towering all around, no cell service and the knowledge that there are no neighbors for miles, the rivers are all you can hear and I can imagine that it’s a DJ’s dream to not have to be told to turn the music down.
While Two Rivers does not offer accommodation to either the wedding party or guests, when rented for an event it is completely private to that party. Guests can wander down to the Recreation Room, full of foosball and located next to the life-size chess set, a game of volleyball or ping pong would not be out of place, and the trails that lead between each aspect of the property lend to the extraordinary vibe that is felt everywhere on the grounds.
From the questions that I had initially reached out to Lynda with, her answers are ones that brides love to hear.
Two Rivers can host anywhere from 75 (required minimum) to 350 guests.
Their pricing is the same for midweek or weekends.
Pricing varies depending on a variety of factors, all of which Lynda will gladly answer with an inquiry to their email, email@example.com.
They have quaint log cabins for the bride and groom to gather and get ready in, provided at an additional cost.
Rental of the facility grants you 5 hours with overtime priced by the hour (not to exceed 12:00 am).
Most of the venue is suited for outdoor use but in the rare case of questionable weather (which has never happened yet), the dining area can be tented, with the cost to be covered by bride and groom.
Lynda herself acts as the onsite wedding coordinator and assists with all pre-wedding plans as well as day of logistics.
Included in the rental of the Two Rivers facility are all of the appropriate event items; tables, chairs, linens (white with option of color at an extra charge) dishes, flatware, glassware and all banquet equipment.
Catering is provided by Two Rivers and all of their delicious custom dinners are served buffet style. By keeping the catering in-house, they pride themselves in being able to create specialty menus and accommodate dietary restrictions with ease.
Their alcohol license allows beer and wine only.
Once the site is rented, its is exclusive to your group. All 43 acres are devoted to your private and special occasion.
And again, they do not allow overnight guests but are happy to assist with local accommodation rentals within the Graeagle area, as well as potential transportation.
I can truly say that this venue is one that I will refer wholeheartedly. It gave me many jaw-drop moments, and the simple, rustic beauty of the lodge and location make it both unique and quintessential to both the Sierra Nevada’s and Northern California. Below are some of Two Rivers own pictures, and you can find more information about their amazing soccer camp here at tworiverssoccer.com.
Lynda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.