We opted to do the ceremony in the forest area behind Harmony Ridge Lodge. The air was clear, the lighting was just right and it felt like the trees were hugging all of us. There was something that felt truly special about getting married under the canopies of Tahoe National Forest trees.

Any Special Dances? If so, what were they and to what song(s)?

Our band did a Let’s Dance/More Than a Woman remix to start the dance party!

Any vendor(s) you’d like to rave about?

They were all outstanding, but top mentions for Danielle Alysse Photography for the timeless images she captured, and the flowers provided and designed by Molly with Dinner Bell Farms.

While planning the wedding, was there anything in particular you knew you wanted for the day? Did you have expectations?

Our goal was for the space and the entire weekend to feel loving, happy and light. It was a privilege to have friends and family travel from across the country and abroad to watch us get married, so we wanted to make sure they had a great overall experience. Guests raved about the venue, the food and the band at the end of the weekend so positive feelings were reiterated all around and we’re very grateful. Getting married to each other was the objective, everything else was the cherry on top!

How did the planning go? Favorite time? Worst moment?

We actually found wedding planning pretty easy and straightforward. We had about 16 months from our engagement to the wedding date so that gave us plenty of time to make decisions and revisions as we went. Nothing felt rushed, a lot of good vendors were still available and we were able to book a venue within our budget. One of our favorite weekends during the wedding planning process was when we drove to Nevada City and Grass Valley to “test run” the wedding weekend experience from the point of view of the guests. We stayed in the lodging where we booked the hotel block, we tried local restaurants, cocktail bars, hiking trails to recommend, we also did the tasting of our wedding menu with the catering chef. Another bonus was the band we hired played a show in Nevada City so we even got to see them live before the wedding!

Special Cultural Touches

The night before the wedding, before we hosted a welcome dinner/Mehndi fusion. We dressed in traditional Pakistani outfits, served some really delicious South Asian cuisine (courtesy of Indian Oven in Grass Valley) and had a henna artist on site. The evening was vibrant and colorful and a great way for our families and friends to get introduced and mingle with one another before the big day.

What was the best part of your day?

Yousef: For me, it was when we exchanged our vows. We’re nature lovers and live for breathtaking views, so it felt right to do our first look at a mountainside vista nearby. That part of the day is etched in my brain forever. It was an overwhelming, emotional and profound experience getting to share my sincerest thoughts about our love and my commitment. The rest of the day felt like a breeze after that!

Des: My heart felt really full seeing our worlds collide so organically. I think it really hit me during dinner when people from different chapters of our lives were passing around food, feasting and laughing together. It was a beautiful moment!

Advice from the couple:

Give yourself plenty of time to divide & conquer. Wedding planning should be a fun way to showcase your relationship and individualities. Don’t let the overwhelming noise of wedding trends and Pinterest pages steer you away from what’s authentic to you.