When a group of lifelong friends gather in a cactus grove and let their creativity run wild, magic happens. At least that is the case for today’s sustainably stylized inspiration shoot!
As a little girl, Elise of Elise Aileen Photography, fell head first into a cactus, resulting in a trip to the hospital and, many years later, the idea behind the creation of this cactus crown shoot came to life. When Elise asked our friend, Mack Floral Design, to collaborate, she was enthusiastic but unsure of how to pull something like that off. Cactus, it turns out, isn’t her go-to for crown making materials. Still, she was inspired by the varying shades of green, the richness in texture and the simple fact that she had never seen one before. After scouting for months to find the perfect Northern California wine country location, she discovered a giant cactus grove on the side of the road, coupled with an abandoned house. It was perfect.
The shoot features blooms in caramel, indigo, burgundy and blush pink tones, and is accessorized with cherished décor, sustainably sourced from their travels, thrift stores and even their families’ heirloom china cabinets! The heart of the shoot rests in the subtle personal details and in the stories of the women who brought it to life. The table is anchored with a treasured keepsake – a Fulani blanket picked up from a local craftsman in Nigeria where Mack Floral volunteered for the Rafiki Foundation (an organization that she continue to support from afar which serves orphans and widows in ten different countries in Africa). The vintage Nicaraguan cigar box pays homage to the place Elise met and married her husband, and where she continually returns to volunteer for eye care clinics. One of the models serves as an ambassador for Save the Storks, an organization that partners with local pregnancy centers to increase training, tools and resources for expecting mothers. The passion fruit cake was specially crafted by Hollie Fortkamp of Beloved Bakery and features a glass-globed terrarium with a protea perched inside. Afterward the cake was enjoyed by the San Francisco Perspectives Class, an organization that educates and empowers people to serve the global community. The flowers were repurposed (de-prickled!) and spread color and cheer at a local hospice center.
For all the creative couples looking for inspiration for their big day, we charge you: Be bold! There is beauty in abandoned places, in prickly materials, in creating your vision with the people that matter most – the ones you’ve grown up with, who understand you. Select vendors who share your values, who source sustainable products and design with purpose. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different materials and to incorporate unconventional things. At the end of the day, the flowers were beautiful, the cake delicious, and the pictures perfect, but the real joy was in the camaraderie we felt and the opportunity to share our labors of love long after the shoot was over.