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Cactus Inspired Sustainable Stylized Shoot: Northern California

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! MF-164 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. MF-119 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. MF-17 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. MF-54 MF-89  MF-112  MF-120 MF-123 MF-130 MF-49MF-131 MF-144 MF-149 MF-151 MF-162  MF-191 MF-193 MF-195 MF-199 Vendor List: Photography: Elise Aileen Photography | Floral Design: Mack Floral Design | Cake: Beloved Bakery | Hair: Ali Pedersen | MUA: Cristina Lopez | Model: Claire Dwyer | Model: Trista Ann Marie Eazell

Weddings that Give Back: Sally & Susannah- Sequoia Retreat Center, CA

This week BSB will be sharing ONLY national park weddings and various park wedding round up’s, in honor of National Park Week (4/15-4/23)!
(Refer to the bottom of this post for ways to get involved this week)
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Truly in love with this couple’s passion and connection with sequoias and how they incorporated these magnificent trees into their wedding day vision! See what they had to share below!
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‘Redwoods are special. We each developed an appreciation for nature and forests early in our lives thanks to hours and weeks of family time spent hiking and camping in the woods of Texas, Colorado, New Hampshire, and many other beautiful and sacred spaces.
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Susannah’s first job out of college, as part of her Greencorps Fellowship, landed her in the California Sierras, running a campaign to protect California’s old growth Redwoods – one of our greatest assets in the fight against climate change. The aim was to stop Sierra Pacific Industries, a company that owns 1.7 million acres of the most Redwood dense land in the west, from clear-cutting, an unsustainable logging practice that along with taking down our big carbon defenders has and continues to destroy the economic centerpiece of communities throughout the Sierras- communities built on a foundation of sustainable logging. The campaign was not won nor has it been this many years later, but it was these trees – the same ones that we’ll stand tall above and around us on our wedding day – that Susannah made her long-term commitment to the work.
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We knew it was the spot the first moment we stepped foot on the grounds of the Sequoia Retreat Center.
The Sequoia Retreat Center is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains deep within a forest of redwood trees. The land has been held sacred since 1949. This is a place where much love has been experienced and a place where the deepest meaning of life may be explored in an atmosphere of quiet and beauty.’
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Photographer: Carmen Alvarez Photography | Venue: Sequoia Retreat Center | Coordinator: Samar Hattar-Blissful Events | Officiant: Jerusaha, Susannah’s sister | Caterer/Cake: Sequoia Retreat Center | DJ: Santa Cruz DJ Company | Florist: Laughing Gal Floral
____________________________ WAYS TO GET INVOLVED DURING NATIONAL PARK WEEK! Did you know that the National Park Services has over 12 billion dollars of outstanding repairs and needs across the 2000 parks and forests they maintain? Go grab your annual NPS Pass today and help support the future of our planet for generations to come! April 15-16 and April 22-23 : Free Admission to any National Park in the United States Buy a National Park (Forest) Pass (for $80). There are also FREE Passes available for active military, and students in the 4th grade, as well as discounted passes for Seniors. Learn more HERE. Find the closest park to you and volunteer or support their fundraising initiatives!

National Park Wedding: Lauren & Andrew- Joshua Tree, CA

Watch out for the cacti, because from 4/15-4/23 BSB will be sharing ONLY park weddings and various park wedding round up’s, in honor of National Parks Week and today we’re heading to the desert! (Refer to the bottom of this post for ways to get involved this week) Westlund_Photography-2504 Lauren & Andrew traveled from their native New Zealand to marry in America, with the glorious vistas of Joshua Tree as their backdrop. They started their day getting ready at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, and then they road tripped to Joshua Tree National Park for their intimate and heartfelt ceremony. It was a windy, frigid day in the desert, but you can’t even tell in these photos. Maybe their love kept them warm? They celebrated with California sparkling wine and cupcakes from a local bakery. This gorgeous elopement was put together and photographed by the incredibly talented Moxie Bright Events and Westlund Photography. Westlund_Photography-3859 Westlund_Photography-6119 Westlund_Photography-6930 Westlund_Photography-8920 Westlund_Photography-10444 Westlund_Photography-19749 (1) Westlund_Photography-20451 Westlund_Photography-23331 Westlund_Photography-25539 Westlund_Photography-27612 Westlund_Photography-31430 Westlund_Photography-33155 Westlund_Photography-33705 Westlund_Photography-34439 Westlund_Photography-34803 Westlund_Photography-35148 Westlund_Photography-35344 Westlund_Photography-35723 Westlund_Photography-36212 National Park: Joshua Tree | Wedding Planning: Moxie Bright Events | Photographer: Westlund Photography  | Cupcakes: Over The Rainbow Bakery | Local Wine: J Winery | Accomodations: Ace Hotel Palm Springs | Hair & Makeup: Chelsea Nicole | Officiant: Reverend Joe ____________________________ WAYS TO GET INVOLVED DURING NATIONAL PARK WEEK! Did you know that the National Park Services has over 12 billion dollars of outstanding repairs and needs across the 2000 parks and forests they maintain? Go grab your annual NPS Pass today and help support the future of our planet for generations to come! April 15-16 and April 22-23 : Free Admission to any National Park in the United States Buy a National Park Pass (for $80). There are also FREE Passes available for active military, and students in the 4th grade, as well as discounted passes for Seniors. Learn more HERE. Find the closest park to you and volunteer or support their fund raising initiatives!

Engagements with Purpose: Gabrielle and Chris, Southern California

 We love it when our very own Black Sheep Bride vendors get engaged and use their personal wedding stories to do good, alongside their wedding businesses! Thanks to our very own California-based BSB vendor, Gabrielle from ‘Cause We Can Events for sharing her Engagement with Purpose Story with us! We also love how they used South Coast Botanic Garden , as the main backdrop for their magical engagement photos,  since it is a non-profit botanical garden… well done guys!
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How we met: Well as much as we were a little embarrassed to say this at first, we are now totally embracing the fact that we met on Tinder! Almost 3 years ago, I was living in Manhattan Beach, CA in a 300 square feet garage and Chris was living in Thousand Oaks, CA which is some 50 miles away (our Tinder radius only went to 25 miles!) so how we actually connected is a bit of a mystery. Our first date was a hike in Malibu State Park which was great! 3 months later, I asked him to come to my family reunion in Pennsylvania (he actually agreed) and everyone loved him of course.
He proposed 2 years later at a cute little winery that we stumbled upon (definitely not planned!) on our way up to the Big Basin Redwoods in Northern California where we were going to camp for a few days!
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How we give back: Chris is the ultimate craftsman. He’s a woodworker, a welder and a creator of all things upcycled. Last year we did a Glampling Wedding in Utah and after the wedding was done, the client took apart the stage they made and Chris asked if we could take the wood home and repurpose it. A few weeks later, he made this awesome wooden bar! He rents it out to clients but he also lets the local nonprofit botanic garden borrow it at no cost for their fundraising events.
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With my Wedding Planning business, I donate 10% of proceeds or my own time to some of my favorite non profits like the Red Bucket Horse Rescue! I also encourage my wedding clients to look for green alternatives when they can and offer a few ideas for post event sustainability like donating leftover flowers to senior homes.
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Our wedding: We’re only at the beginning stages of our wedding planning and our only requirement is that we want to have as much natural beauty as possible. We want to limit decor, skip the favors and focus on quality food and good times with friends and family. As we’re searching for venues, we tend to lean towards the idea of tall trees for our ceremony and some sort of water feature (waterfall, lake) for our celebration backdrop. We also want our guests to bring their dogs!
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 Photographer: Chloe Moore Photography | Venue: South Coast Botanic Garden (non profit/botanical garden) | Hair/Makeup: Nicol Artistry | Styling: Circa Vibes  | Dress: Sugarcloth USA