Wildbride Retreat | Oregon Coast

Oregon beach boudoir

It's been a long and crazy trip but we are back from our 6 week long west coast Wildbride Retreat tour!  I am so excited to start sharing peeks into the retreats.  Our first retreat was back in January on the Oregon Coast in Manzanita, Oregon, a gorgeous and quaint little seaside village perched beside the expansive Pacific Ocean.  We stayed in the most cozy and refreshing home, a beachy cottage with natural shingle exterior, the most heavenly beds, and a beautiful open kitchen and living space where everyone could hang out together.  We loved spending the weekend relaxing in such a rejuvenating space.  

On Friday night all four of our Wildbrides showed up: Lauren, Amy, Christy, and Haley.  Amy was from Tacoma, Lauren from the Portland area, and Christy and Haley, sisters, flew in all the way from Georgia!  We all gathered around the kitchen table and Kristina served us Old Fashioneds and wine while whipping up a delicious dinner.  It was so wonderful sitting around a table with everyone, getting to know new friends, laughing, and communing with kindred spirits.  

After dinner we gathered together for, well, what we like to call "woowy awesome shit."  This first night is for stripping away the stresses and anxieties of our "real" lives, setting intentions for the weekend, and entering a safe vulnerable space with one another.  With our faces lit only by candle light we shared our hearts, released the things that were weighing us down, and stepped into our wild natures.

We headed to bed with a big day ahead of us!  Saturday morning we got up, Kristina led us in some super gentle morning-wake-up yoga breathing sequences, and then we chowed down on a delicious, filling breakfast.  Oh and coffee.  Lots of coffee.  And mimosas.  The weather was looking to be not our friend later in the day when the photo shoot was scheduled: rain rain rain. So we quickly shifted the day's plan and everyone got ready for the photo shoot after breakfast.  Everyone piled into our Winnebago Brave and we took the short drive down to the waterfront to begin Wildbride shoots!  

Being January, it was pretty chilly, so we cranked the heater in the Brave and each girl took turns doing shorter sets with me, then warmed up for a bit while the other gals did their sessions.  The weather moved through super quick and it seemed like each Wildbride got her own weather system!  Haley got beautiful even, cloudy light, Christy got the most incredible flash rain and wind storm, Lauren got bright sparkly sun, and Amy got moody dark skies.  It was kind of crazy.  And the women were brave enough to get in the water!  We didn't go all the way in, but talk about some strong women getting in the Pacific Ocean in Oregon in January.  Damn, ladies!  I think we burned through an entire tank of propane that day with the heat blasting in the Brave.

We weren't done yet, though!  After our shoot on the beach we headed to the woods and stripped down to nothing and got intimate with nature.  It was so amazing seeing each woman celebrating her beauty and strength as we shot her images, but I'll let them speak for themselves...

During the photo session - walking along the shore in the rain, I felt more beautiful and powerful than I’ve ever felt and Liz perfectly captured that moment. It’s such a different sensation when you finally feel confident in yourself not because of what anyone else may think of you. I consider myself very lucky to have been one of the very first Wildbrides. Traveling across the country was totally worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
I felt empowered and so comfortable in my body. Looking at the photos after the shoot gave me a new appreciate for how beautiful my body is and how incredibly powerful I am to be that vulnerable in front of the camera (and to get in the freezing ocean half naked). It made me realize how I can be so nervous and anxious about things that challenge me, but they ultimately result in something incredible and nourish my personal growth.

We came home soaked, hearts full, and exhausted.  Lunch, Nap time, and then Kristina began cooking dinner as rested and hungry Wildbrides emerged from their bedrooms.  We all inhaled the most incredible homemade vegan chili with cornbread and laughed over the day's experience.  I know why they call it soul food.

After dinner we busted out the craft supplies and everyone sat on the floor surrounded in paint, magazine clippings, patterned paper, stickers, feathers, mod podge, and markers.  This is, well besides shooting photos, my favorite time.  Sitting together and creating intention/vision boards, engaging our creative souls, curating a focus for the future... it's good stuff.  And holy cow, every one's vision boards were so beautiful and inspiring.  Every single one was so different, but so amazing.  

Needless to say, we all hit the hay pretty hard.  Well, except me.  I edited every session from that day that night so that I could share each Wildbride's images with them the following morning.

Morning came, and we happily scarfed down Kristina's amazing, poofy oven pancakes while oohing and ahhing over our new friends' gorgeous faces as we sat and watched everyone's Wildbride slideshow.  There's nothing quite like five other women telling you how stunning you are as you look through brand new photos of yourself.  Trust me, if you have a photo shoot done, this is the way to do the reveal.  Seeing each woman's eyes light up as their friends lavished love on them was truly magical. 

Other than hanging out with a bunch of hilarious and awesome women, the photo shoot was my favorite part. It was something I was nervous about since the day I booked my trip. Having such vulnerable pictures taken of myself was a transformative experience. I began the day terrified, and all up in my head about what could go wrong or look weird, and once I was in front of the camera, every worry melted away. I felt so whole and beautiful, and having that captured in that exact moment is something I will cherish forever.

After breakfast and photo viewing we once again gathered together and shared one last soul melding moment with one another before parting ways.  Parting ways as new friends, sisters, Wildbrides.

When Liz first shared the Wildbride retreats and the meaning behind them - it really spoke to me. The Wildbride “belongs to no one, no one owns her but herself, she is betrothed to the wild within her, she’s made vows to the wild woman in her soul alone, to her creativity, to her mental and spiritual health.” I felt like this fit me and really explained where I was in life - I’ve always loved being in nature and I was just now really learning how to love and embrace my natural self. So my sister and I flew from Georgia all the way to the Oregon Coast to meet Liz + Kristina and 2 other Wildbrides. Being surrounded by stunning forests and cliffs with these powerful women for the weekend was so refreshing. We ate together, shared our hopes and fears, and really embraced the whole experience.
The wildbride retreat was nothing short of incredible. I was really nervous for it at first, but Liz and Kristy made everything comfortable and welcoming. There’s really something special about women coming together with no other agenda than to just be, and be one with each other and nature. There’s such a rush in being connected to the land with absolutely no barriers, and the Wildbride Retreat helps people achieve that. This is a beautiful thing happening.

We cannot wait to share images and stories the other retreats and introduce the beautiful Wildbride women we became friends with along the way.  We're working on plans for more retreats next year so stay tuned!