Updated: Nov 23, 2021
Forest bathing and what inspires me
Have you heard of forest bathing? The activity called shinrin-yoku came from Japan in the 1980s, and was introduced as a physiological + psychological exercise. It's essentially bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through your senses. After some time, researchers saw the (obvious) benefits of time spent in nature. This form of ecotherapy is all about the importance of our connection with the natural world.
Ya'll, I've been forest bathing for quite some time now. Who else?
I grew up on this beautiful property in Pleasant Prairie, Wisc., long before it was built up with big box stores. Our house was (and still is) situated on a wooded property with a large wetland in the back. I'm telling you right now, there were endless explorations. I would slip out in the mornings, and wait for my Mom's call at night - all while creating fairy houses out of moss, forts with firewood piles and scaling a big oak.
Cue the transition from a little girl obsessed with nature, to a Mom nurturing her kids' relationship with the outdoors. It's always been there for me.
If it's above 30 degrees out, you can find my babies + I outside exploring trails, passing around slugs or collecting leaves. The Great Mother is great to us, and we're happiest outside.
This 'nature-inspired' business is cute and all, but what do I really mean?
My dear friend Chelsea gave me a bouquet of dried flowers last night. While I was arranging it in a vase, a cattail fell apart in my hands. The gentlest touch caused it to fragment + sail away.
These are the moments that I'm talking about. These nuanced encounters with nature - be them grand or scanty (as this instance was) - are the seeds of my being 'nature-inspired.'
Right as the cattail was crumbling down my hand and into my sink, I saw the colors. The palette stopped me. At first, it read all cream. Nothing significant, right? And then the innards descended down + opened up, revealing colors like ash, burnt sugar, taupe, clay, oat and sand. The neutral-iest color palette there ever was! Four clients of mine came to mind instantly; and thoughts continued to spin with ideas on pulling out their color palettes more, and exploring these textures.
In any case of inspiration, you literally can't mess up. If you're inspired by something, and you explore it in your craft...can you fail? Look at how many colors can be pulled out of this pile of rocks. If I saw these individual colors, separated out, I'm not sure I would fit them together. Clearly they're melodious, though! Nature proves it. She's almost never wrong.
As a nature-inspired wedding planner, I'm of course strongly dependent on florists to execute my client's vision. I don't just say it to get all the florists in my corner...they really are magicians. Keeping flowers alive is a triumph in and of itself. To top that, florists are processing, assembling, arranging and executing incredible designs with nature herself. Manipulating nature while keeping its integrity + beauty is a true art form.
Oftentimes, I find that my nature-inspired wedding approach is just the kind of advocacy my clients need. Creative reassurance, if you will.
Tony + Katie were getting married at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, and taking advantage of their raptor program. Not to mention, Katie worked at a nature center growing up; and they wanted to infuse some quirky Harry Potter nods into their big day (yaas, Hedwig!). So when we were exploring their floral budget + options within that, a nest came to mind right away.
Wedding planning can be intimidating, and when couples bring new, nontraditional or unconventional ideas to the table - it's easy for them to feel uneasy. It takes confidence to bust out a new, bad ass idea...like a winter love nest wreath suspended from the ceiling. The nest idea was always there...my clients just needed the creative reassurance to go for it! This nature hoe will always have your back!
It's music to my nature-loving ears when my clients want to build off of the existing beauty in the environment surrounding their wedding. Megan and Brian were getting married at Camp Wandawega, and wanted their wedding flowers subtle and wild - just adding to the existing whimsy of those historical Elkhorn woods.
I found this print of Wisconsin wildflowers, and it's almost exactly the color palette chosen for Meg + Brian's wedding day.
It doesn't hurt when the florist is a flower farmer, and grows her own Wisconsin product - aligning magically with the vision for this wedding flora.
Nora + Matt had a Covid-19 pivot micro wedding in Door County. We forest bathed during this wedding! Amazing, right? If you listened carefully during their vow exchange, you could also hear an osprey perch on an enormous tree, squirrels rustling about + the tiny swaying sounds from the fern meadow. Building upon the natural world out there was easy as pie.
To compliment all of the beautiful floral arrangements that I encounter at work, I like to showcase any local food, flora and fauna that I can.
Surely, cherries are the highlight of any farm stand in Door County, so I sourced some Montmorency Cherries for the table. Details like this further pull nature and its purity into wedding day experiences. I love it!
Are you suddenly compelled to be inspired by nature as well?! Nature is a force. And just because we're all tech savvy + virtual these days, we're not as disconnected as you've been made to believe.
If you're looking to draw inspiration, but aren't sure where to begin, (this is going to sound very nerdy, but stick with) I suggest starting with the 12 elements in nature: earth, water, wind, fire, thunder, ice, force, time, flower, shadow, light and moon. Which speaks to you and your partner?
If that's too broad or challenging, think about the hobbies you enjoy together. Which include nature? Why do you enjoy those hobbies? Maybe you enjoy hikes along Lake Michigan because you two collect weathered glass. Whoa, there's a color palette in there! There are textures to play with!
When my family and I went on vacation last year, we strolled the Carolina beachfront + collected oyster shells. I have a client who loves oysters - she and I have been reeling on ways to incorporate oysters into her wedding day + design. I'm pulling textures from the shells, colors from the interior + exterior of the mollusca, and (of course) working towards featuring them on the wedding menu! You can follow this nature trail right back to its source...the client!
My website says 'nature and love-inspired.' I'm inspired by my clients - their interests, personalities, relationships; and by the natural world around me. And it only grows stronger by the day, baby.