Wedding bells out of tune lately |

Wedding bells out of tune lately

Rick Chandler

Getting hitched? The Lake Tahoe Wedding and Honeymoon Association would like to invite you to tie the knot in beautiful Lake Tahoe … please?

“The wedding industry as a whole is declining, and Lake Tahoe has not been immune to that,” said Suzanne Nielsen of Lake Tahoe Wedding Photography. “Every month I see the numbers going down. The question now is what to do about that.”

Nielsen was one of 15 representatives of the wedding industry which met on Wednesday at the association’s monthly get-together to discuss ways to give their businesses a boost. Chief among the topics was a proposal to attach a $5 fee to wedding licenses in El Dorado and Douglas counties – money that would be used for promotion.

Any proposal to attach a promotional fee to wedding licenses (which typically costs $45 or so) would have to be approved by the Lake Tahoe Wedding and Honeymoon Association by a vote of its 35 members, then presented to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors for their approval. After that hurdle, the ballot measure would be put before the voters in a special election.

But here’s the problem the Wedding Association faces: mounting such an effort would cost in excess of $10,000 – money they can ill afford to part with these days.

“I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be smarter to tackle this in a different way,” said Wedding Association President Jeff Kaufer, owner of Music Magic. “Why can’t we tax ourselves (the wedding industry)? I think we could come up with our own funds to promote our businesses, then everyone would benefit and we wouldn’t take the financial risk of an election.”

The Wedding Association couldn’t come to any form of an agreement on Wednesday, and decided to table the promotional fee idea until next month’s meeting.

The wedding industry is indeed in decline in the South Lake Tahoe area, with numbers dropping by an average of 5 percent every year since 1994. The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority reported 12,866 marriages in the South Shore/Stateline areas in 1997, compared to 13,750 in 1996.

By comparison, marriages in Las Vegas rose 70 percent over the same period (100,000 to 170,000).

“We should look at what other areas are doing and see what is working,” said Dave Anderson of the Wedding Chapel at Caesars. “I think it’s just a question of people knowing that Tahoe is an option. We have to get the word out beyond this mountain range that this is a great place for a wedding or a honeymoon.”

Any promotional fee measure could not be put on the ballot until the fall of 1999 at the earliest – and that’s on the California side of the border.

The Nevada Legislature meets only once every two years, and a measure for Douglas County could not be proposed there until the fall of 2000.

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