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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

9 Helpful Tips to Responsible Wedding Day Foraging, via Runaway Romance

9 Helpful Tips to Responsible Wedding Day Foraging   Written By : Runaway Romance | Photography by: Page & Holmes Photography em Mother Nature has so much to offer and if you look closely there is an endless supply of inspiration and small wedding day décor to be found in her. This said, we all know how seeing nature as an ‘endless supply’ can devastate landscapes and the delicate balance of fauna and flora… so here are a few of my own tips inspired by my “foraged” Modern African elopement with its locally found bouquet, flower crown and table decor. em-490 1. Don’t repeatedly forage in the same place. Or from the same plant. It takes time for the life cycle of plants to come full circle so make sure you aren’t cutting out any stage of that regeneration by not giving the plant or patch of nature time to restore itself. em-522em-575 2. Try not take the entire plant or all the flowers or seeds from a plant. That delicate lifecycle we were talking about needs adult plants, flowers for pollination and seeds to be spread. If you take all of them not only do you interfere with its next generation, there are tons of little creepy crawlies, bees and birds that could be affected by the lack of pollen, fruits or seeds. em-574 em-517 3. Try foraging things that have already fallen. It’s always better to try and forage things that have already fallen vs still growing. This is especially true for fruits or edibles (It’s amazing to save something from waste rather than pick something that could later be eaten) The up side to this is that once a leaf, seed or branch has fallen it is normally at its peak of interesting’ness or beauty and you can get some amazing textures and colours that are just so much more exciting than green. (I say this like green isn’t interesting but you know what I mean) em-548 em-549 em-550 4. Sometimes foraging is Illegal. In South Africa it is illegal to pick wild flowers and foliage form parks, reserves and/or open public spaces. So make sure wherever you are looking to forage you have permission and aren’t breaking any laws. Also don’t use ‘foraging’ as a nice way of stealing! If its food, crops or flowers that actually do belong to someone else do the right thing – ask them first… em-523 5. If it’s someone’s home leave it alone no matter how pretty it is. Possession is nine-tenths of the law (or so I’ve heard in movies) so if that ‘oh so stunning’ something is some creature’s home admit defeat and move on… there is plenty of pretty to go around without needing to demolish a little critters home.  em-533 em-535 6. Some things are poisonous.  So this is more for you than nature… but unless you know more than a thing or two about nature it’s always better to err on the side of caution. There are a number of plants, leaves, fruits and mushrooms that shouldn’t be touched never mind used for table decor. Very, very basic rule of thumb – if you are in a wild area and the fruit tree or tasty looking treat you want to include in your shoot has not been touched by a bird or insect you probably shouldn’t touch it either. em-568 7. Know what to wash and paint and what to keep raw. Finding your natural treasures is only the first step. The second step is knowing how to use and display them in a way that showcases the best of their natural, raw and probably rough beauty. I know it’s tempting to foil, dip and spray everything to fit into your colour scheme…but instead try make your décor set up or creative direction work around your found treasure not the other way around. em-551 8. Always try to eat, or donate, the food you use in shoots or décor. Hunger is a real thing and beauty without purpose or thought is a luxury we no longer have. Being able to eat it after you use it will also mean knowing if it is poisonous, not spraying it or painting it… This can be (very) difficult to do when you have time constraints, when you have been on site all day and are exhausted and stuffing everything into the rubbish bin seems a lot easier than separating out edibles and recyclables…but again see it as a challenge. Do it as often as you can and don’t quit because you caved once. em-580 em-581 em-521 9. When getting rid of seeds, leaves or other foraged goodness try compost them in a neutral place or return them to where they came from. Again this may seem like more effort than it’s worth especially when it’s been a long day/week/month. But spreading seeds that aren’t local or from that area can introduce invaders. These invaders can destroy eco systems and full landscapes! Just ask Australia or any other history book that shows the repercussions of introducing animals or plants to a place they don’t belong. I know these steps can sound like a lot of effort or a bunch of ‘hippy’ rules and nobody likes rules… but we are coming into a time when going slowly and thinking before we take or consume is important if not critical to ourselves and planet. SO do what you can, tell other people about what you learn and don’t underestimate the bigness of your small actions (…and also ENJOY some of our favorite highlight images from this gorgeously sustainable elopement) em-520    em-526      em-543 em-544   em-564   em-572   em-576     em-586 em-592 Participating Vendors:

Guest Post: The Earth Friendly Floral Process

Earth Friendly Florals | Written by: Amanda Lankford of Amanda Jewel Floral + Design | Photography by: Katey P Photography  A few months ago, we had the pleasure of inviting a fellow Black Sheep Bride vendor into our studio to help us tell the visual story of floral design. Katey Penton, owner of Katey Penton Photography, brought her camera and shot our methods for two days.   At Amanda Jewel Floral + Design, we strive to be as green as possible when it comes to creating beautiful designs for each event. We would like to offer you a little insider view of how we work in our studio. Step One | Pick up the flowers Believe it or not, flowers don’t arrive in beautiful packages. They come in plain cardboard boxes with a lot of packing material.  Luckily, we don’t mind because we reuse most of it to pack for events. Whatever is left over we recycle.   Amanda Jewel BSB-13 Step Two | Processing the flowers This is one of the longer steps when it comes to floral design, and if done correctly is a key ingredient to lasting freshness. Each flower comes in a bundle and must be shed of its cellophane, rubber bands, and then trimmed and pruned.  This part of the process leads to a lot of plant waste, which we use as an opportunity to add to our compost bin. We always have a lawn bag nearby for clippings and excess leaves that come off of each stem.  This never goes in the trash. Amanda Jewel BSB-56 Amanda Jewel BSB-35 Amanda Jewel BSB-65 Step Three | Design Day Once our flower processing is complete, we begin designing – this is the fun part! And if you thought processing the flowers led to a lot of waste, this makes even more! Amanda Jewel BSB-86  Amanda Jewel BSB-89Amanda Jewel BSB-111 Amanda Jewel BSB-119 Step Four | Compost Once our bag is full of clippings, we dump it in our homemade compost bin.  This compost is then used in our cut flower bed right outside the studio.  We like to keep our garden full of a variety of things which we can incorporate into our designs. Amanda Jewel BSB-76 Amanda Jewel BSB-83 Step Five | Event Day Surprisingly, we can reuse things on an event day instead of simply throwing them in the trash. We always try to recycle/reuse any ribbon, boxes, packaging materials, and any other hard goods that some might throw away.  We turn the flower boxes into a vessel to carry bouquets and arrangements. We use these as many times as we can before they get recycled.   Amanda Jewel BSB-127 Amanda Jewel BSB-131 Step Six | After an Event This is always the hardest part. We put so much love and care into the entire flower process that it sometimes seems like events end so quickly that the flowers have not fulfilled their entire purpose.  At this point, we refuse to throw any stem away. In our consultations with brides, we offer a couple of options of what we can do with the flowers after their event. They can either take them home to enjoy, or allow us to donate them to local nursing homes, friends in the community, etc. This brings joy not only to us, but also to those who receive a fresh flower arrangement from us here at Amanda Jewel. We hope this little insider view of the way we work inspires you to be earth friendly in everything you do. There are many aspects of weddings that are wasteful, and these are a few of the ways we strive to meet the needs of our clients without compromising the ability of future generations to enjoy the beauty of flowers.  To find out more information about Amanda Jewel Floral + Design visit their website here.