July 4, 2015. Lake Tahoe, CA.
Tony and I checked an item (several months early) off Martha Stewart’s Wedding Planning Timeline this past weekend… THE CAKE TASTING!!!!! If you know me, you know this is one of the most important elements of our wedding. I am a cake connoisseur. A lover of cake. I consider cake a food group, a meal and, on a particularly rough day, a close friend. We’re doing “Cake in a Jar” as our wedding favor (more on that later).
Every year, my family spends the 4th in Lake Tahoe at Snowman’s house with a big group of my parents’ friends and their kids (and eventually, their kids’ kids… I think that sentence just gave Snowman and my dad a heart attack). Since Tony and I were planning to take the annual pilgrimage to fireworks, burgers and boats on the lake, we figured we should take advantage of being up there to get some planning done and make the appointment for our cake tasting the Saturday after the 4th. We already knew exactly where we were getting our cake from. When Tony proposed, he had a red velvet cake from Tahoe’s Sugar Pine Cakery waiting and it was so delicious, we knew we had to have them bake our wedding cake, too!
Proposal cake on the lake!
Hopped up on sugar-free Red Bull and Sour Patch Kids, we rolled into my parents’ cabin in Tahoe around 3:30am on Friday the 4th, riding high on the dogs’ (and Tony’s) farts, and the fact that we beat traffic, an inescapable nightmare on the busiest weekend of the year at the lake. I’ve never been so happy to see this sign:
(Snowman’s Christmas gift to my dad.)
My parents met us with their two dogs at a more reasonable hour later that morning, and we kicked off the weekend by heading straight down to Snowman’s place, “The Big House,” right on the lake. This weekend had extra special meaning, as it was the first time coming back since Tony proposed there, and the first time being there knowing we would actually, definitely be able to get married there! Dreams do come true!
The lawn where we’ll get married!
Tahoe is my favorite place in the world, and this weekend did not disappoint. We had unlimited access to the snack table in the Big House kitchen:
It was Maggie’s first trip to the lake:
Where she learned to swim:
And also got to go on a daily 2-hour “hike” (slow-paced stroll on flat ground) through the mountains with me and my parents.
My dad, the dog whisperer.
Tony didn’t go on our daily “hike,” because he was too busy running a 13 mile loop up, then back down, the mountain. Every. Day. (The last day, two of the hungover dads went with him. Both fell. Hard. Everyone blamed Tony for tricking them into “jogging” with him.)
One night we asked my dad to take a picture of us. He’d had a few glasses of wine. This is how it turned out. I don’t know what he did. #nofilter
Tony and I also took the boat out every day. Last year, my dad turned 60 and, to celebrate his late-life crisis, he and Snowman decided to go in on a boat together. (Those two do everything together. They are truly Superbad: The Golden Years.) It was the best decision my dad has ever made (besides marrying my mom).
The only problem is, you have to figure out a way to get to the boat. You could take the row boat out, but that’s a time-wasting hassle in my book. It’s much easier to make Tony swim to the boat (in the freezing cold water), and fetch me and our bag of snacks from the dock. (We’d load up on candy and some organic knock-off Cheetos that, because they’re organic, made me feel okay about eating Cheetos daily.)
Tony’s long, arctic swim.
We’d drive the boat to Emerald Bay, where there is an island with a castle that some lady used to make her servants row her out to so she could have tea:
(At least, that’s the story my mom told me when I was a kid.)
Then, we’d park the boat by this rock that Tony likes to jump off. Tony would swim, and I would read wedding magazines and eat more Cheetos.
Tony’s diving rock.
Happy place, photo shoot.
We carried on the annual 4th of July tradition of sparklers on the patio, (legal) “fireworks” in the outdoor fireplace, and watching real fireworks from the dock. We always drag the seat cushions off the patio furniture to sit on, wrap ourselves in blankets and listen to the crackly old radio show, which plays 50% static, 30% bizarre Top 40 hits, and 20% on-theme America/4th of July-related music. Then, when the show is over, everyone lies back and looks for shooting stars. It is perfection.
The next night, we played a rousing (drunken) game of Name That Tune, boys against girls. The girls won, despite our tie-breaking guess of The Looking Glass’ song being called “Bandy.” We earned bragging rights, and a bag of M&M’s. Then, we had an epic dance party.
My mom, rocking out.
Tony’s dance off with one of the moms, Susan.
And the last night, we roasted s’mores, my mom’s favorite dessert and a Tahoe staple. My mom feels the same way about s’mores as I do cake, and thus far has suggested we send a bag of them for our Save the Dates, have a s’mores roasting party the night before the wedding, and serve them at our engagement party, rehearsal dinner, wedding and post-wedding brunch. And ask the bakery if they can make s’mores Cake in a Jar’s for our wedding favors. (Full disclosure: I am on board with all of this.)
Tony made me this s’more, so I didn’t have to get off my butt and stop drinking wine for one minute.
However, the highlight of our trip was the cake tasting. I know it was (way) early to book that, but it was really important to me that my mom and dad got to be a part of the fun, too. (And, even more important that another bride doesn’t book our bakery before we got the chance.) We thought it would be special to have the same bakery that baked our engagement cake make the wedding cake, too. Not to mention the fact that Allison, the magic behind the Sugar Pine Cakery, makes the best red velvet cake I’ve ever tasted.
The four of us piled into the car on Saturday and realized, when the drive took nearly 2 hours instead of 30 minutes, we’d made a wise choice in not picking July 4 next year for our wedding date. The traffic was so bad, we could have walked there almost as quickly.
Where the magic happens.
The bakery is on an adorable side street just off the lake, and has such an amazing list of flavors, it was hard to pick our favorites… But, we settled on salted caramel with sea salt, coconut, lemon, strawberry with cream cheese frosting, yellow cake with chocolate frosting, pineapple upside down cake, peanut butter chocolate, chocolate chocolate, and red velvet for the tasting, and Allison sweetly (no pun intended) made us a box of mini cupcakes.
We decided to do our tasting back at my parents’ cabin. Tony and my dad got lemon bars for the road (their favorite treat. We also decided to serve those at the wedding, they were so good.)
Caught in the act.
At home, with the dogs as our audience, we split the cupcakes and got down to business. It was such a tough call, as they were all so delicious, but the group consensus was that red velvet, chocolate peanut butter, and strawberry cream cheese were the favorites.
Can we have cake, too?
Groom’s cakes are a southern tradition and I inherited my love for all things chocolate and peanut butter from my dad’s Texan father, so we’re going with a chocolate peanut butter groom’s cake. And how could we not do red velvet for our wedding cake? It’s the cake Tony proposed with, and Allison makes the very best. Maybe we’ll do strawberry cream cheese and s’mores flavored Cake in a Jars? Who knows, I have over a year to decide (again, I was really stoked to make that cake tasting happen ASAP.)
Practicing for the wedding!
If it’s even possible, I’m even more excited for our wedding. I’ve loved our 4th of July trips to Tahoe since I was a kid, but this one was even more special because this time I got to spend it with Tony, envisioning our wedding there. With cake.
I can’t believe we get to get married here.