How Traveling to Japan Inspired Me as a Wedding Planner: Part 1

They aren't lying when they say, "Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer."  Travel can invigorate and inspire and my recent trip to Japan did exactly that. Thank you all for understanding as I was a little more offline than normal - this trip was all I could have asked for in terms of inspiration, but also a vacation.

I will not parse out every detail of my trip, if for no other reason than it would take me hours to write.  I would rather talk about the amazing ideas and inspiration that came from this trip.

Beautiful Cherry Blossoms at Saihoji Kokedera (Moss Temple)

Beautiful Cherry Blossoms at Saihoji Kokedera (Moss Temple)

How stunning are those cherry blossoms?  I was so glad to have been in Japan at the right time to catch them blooming.  You all know by now what a flower lover I am, but seeing them in such volumes was incredible.  I was so inspired by the contrast and colors all over Japan.  I feel as though many people are afraid to be too bold when they are picking colors, and this view, along with many others, reminded me of how inspiring bright colors are.  If you love pink and green (or any other color combination), don't be afraid to go for it!

As you can imagine, the cultural experience of visiting Japan was incredible.  The above picture on the left is in the Nishiki Market in Kyoto.  Its this long and narrow indoor/outdoor market that runs five blocks and is lined with over 100 shops and restaurants.  You will see anything from fresh-caught tuna and squid to Japanese sweets and pickled vegetables.  I was so busy looking at the culinary delights that I almost forgot to look up, but thank goodness I did!  The lanterns and colored glass skylight above were stunning! Not far from Nishiki Market I wondered into the most beautiful stationery store.  And by stationery, I mean handmade paper, calligraphy brushes and the most gorgeous hand-painted  cards.  The card in the photo on the top right was one of my favorites.  I must have brought home over 100 hand-painted cards.  Talk about inspiration!  I need to do a blog post just on those cards.  In addition to flowers, I LOVE stationery.  If I weren't a wedding planner, I would love to have my own stationery boutique.

Now I could talk about the various inspirations I picked up from the Japanese culture, of which there were many, but as a wedding planner, the main thing that jumped out at me was that where you come from plays such a huge role in who you are.  This felt to me like another of many reasons to remind my brides that your wedding should represent you.  In the same way that I would never want to force a bride from Japan to conform to the American traditions, I think it is hugely important that each bride spends time incorporating who she is into her wedding (and of course, the same applies to the groom).

Lounge at Amanemu in Shima-she-Mie

Lounge at Amanemu in Shima-she-Mie

This beautiful lounge in our hotel overlooking the Ago Bay was so simply designed and I was so captivated by the lanterns hanging above the bar. What being in this beautiful space triggered in me is the importance of lighting. Those lanterns are so stunning, but what is even more incredible about this space is the natural light.  What you don't see in this picture is the water that this room looks out over - the Ago Bay.  The natural light that floods the space and the view of the water makes it feel like you are a part of the landscape.  Inside flows outside and it creates the most serene look and feel.  I have mentioned the importance of lighting before in a #MollyMondays post on Instagram.  It is so important for the ambience and experience of a space and especially an event. So don't make me say it again: Brides, don't be stingy with your lighting budget!

Matcha Tea Latte at Ritz Carlton Kyoto

Matcha Tea Latte at Ritz Carlton Kyoto

So I use to be a big coffee drinker until I had my second daughter.  Somehow I lost the taste for coffee entirely after she was born.  But I didn't lose the need for caffeine in the morning.  I can't remember exactly how is started, but somehow I got hooked on the green tea latte at Starbucks, which is made with matcha powder.  I order a venti green tea latte every single morning.  I swear the thing must have 500 calories in it - it is so good!  Starbucks seems to be the only place you can find this drink in the US.  In Japan, its everywhere.  Boy, was I in heaven!  One afternoon we decided to do traditional Japanese tea with our daughters.  So many delicious sweets and plenty of choices for tea or coffee.  Obviously I had to order a green tea latte.  The above picture is what it looked like - gorgeous!

Of course, when you are in a foreign country you have to be willing to try new things if you are going to take advantage of the full experience and really immerse yourself.  How does this apply to being a wedding planner?  As a bride, you should be ready for new experiences, etc., but to me, the most applicable version of my culinary adventures while in Japan is that as a wedding planner, it is important for me to be willing to adjust and accommodate what is most appropriate for my clients.  There are some wedding planners who are specialists at one type of wedding, whether it be destination, ballroom or barn wedding, they excel at the one type that is in their wheelhouse.  I think, much like trying new foods while in a new country, one of the greatest joys of being a wedding planner is that I have the opportunity to be a bit of a chameleon and adjust to each client.  And this reminded me what a luxury that is!

Wedding dresses at the Isetan bridal salon.

Wedding dresses at the Isetan bridal salon.

Okay - wedding dresses!  In writing up this post, I was reminded of the fact that some things are universal.  That the moments shared between bride and groom at the altar, no matter if you are in a white dress or kimono, are transcendant.  That no matter whether its filet mignon or traditional Japanese cuisine, the point of the reception is to bring friends and families together to celebrate.  Walking through the bridal salon in a Japanese department store was amazing because of the beautiful dresses, as it would have been in the US as well.  But that reminder of the continuity of love and celebration across continents was far more important.

Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto 

Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto 

This final photo seemed important to share a) because I could not get enough of the beautiful cherry blossoms everywhere we went, but b) because walking into our beautiful hotels, or around our various attractions each day, this trip reminded me every day, over and over, to slow down and appreciate what I was seeing.  We often get so caught up in our day to day that we don't appreciate how lucky we are.  I think this happens a lot to my brides - they get so caught up in trying to make sure every part of their wedding is perfect that they don't remember to look around and appreciate how in love they are and how everything about wedding planning is supposed to be a celebration.  Like the cherry blossoms above, if I had been stressed and texting, I might have walked right past it!  And what a shame that would have been for a flower lover like me. 

If you want to see more shots from this trip, check out my Instagram. I've already posted a few and there will definitely be more to come!