The Unexpected Benefits of Marrying in Nature: 9 Reasons Why Marrying While Immersed in Nature Can Forge a Healthier, More Intimate Bond
March 17, 2019 , PLANNING RESOURCES
It’s no secret that being in nature is an integral part of what it is to be human. We intuitively know that nature must be good for our physical and mental well-being, our health and our happiness. And there is now ample scientific evidence to back up this intuition. Research suggests that nature makes us happier, healthier, and even more creative. We also now know that exposure to nature can promote healing, decrease depression, and improve overall psychological wellbeing.
There are several circulating theories as to why nature has such a positive influence on both our emotional and physical health (i.e., Psychoevolutionary Theory, Attention Restoration Theory, and the theory that seems straight out of a sci-fi movie implicating a bacterium present in the soil). As an eclectic Psychology PhD, I genuinely believe that all of these theories (and probably many more) account for some of the positive benefits gained from time spent in wild places.
However, as someone who photographs romantic relationships for a living, I have to ask one question that seems to be glaringly absent from the conversation. How might time in nature help us to forge and maintain a strong bond with our romantic partner? We are social animals and we evolved in natural spaces with other social animals. Nature must play a role in our socio-emotional lives and, specifically, in our romantic relationships. After all, a happier, healthier human is also more likely to be a better social partner. So, in the spirit of answering this question, I’ve compiled a list of nine ways that being in nature can create the very best wedding day and strongest emotional footing possible when commencing life with your chosen person.
1. Nature reduces stress and anxiety. – Simply viewing natural scenes has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. However, getting out there in the thick of it has additional benefits. Think about how you feel after binge watching that new Netflix original. A little dazed? Perhaps, disoriented? Anything but connected. Now think back to how you feel after a day spent in the forest, or kayaking on a body of water. Rejuvenated, clear-minded, recharged, right?
Though you dodge quite a bit of stress and anxiety by ditching the traditional wedding scene, life itself is a source of stress and anxiety. Do yourself a favor and reduce those on your wedding day by taking your love outdoors. And while you’re there, soak in all that beauty.
2. Nature facilitates trust, cooperation, and generosity. – Natural environments, by their very nature, may provide unexpected challenges. Coping with these challenges necessitate both communication and cooperation. And successfully meeting these challenges increase feelings of connectedness and our sense of trust. All of these elements are important in a healthy union and the strengthening of the social bond. In a way, nature helps us prepare for the challenges that inevitably occur in a marital relationship.
3. Nature increases closeness. – Nature increases positive emotions that are necessary for feelings of closeness, reducing the boundaries between self and other. Breaking down our emotional barriers allows us to let others in to share experiences more fully.
4. Nature slows time down and places us in the moment by heightening the senses. – Nature increases our calm alert state bringing us more fully into the moment. When we are in nature, we are engaging senses that are underused in our more modern, urban environments. While we do still engage the visual sense, we become more aware of sound and touch as well. For instance, we become cognizant of the sound of wind rustling through the trees and, at the same time, we can feel it lightly touch our faces.
While these underused senses are engaged, the frontal lobe is deactivated. This deactivation allows for a kind of reset to take place. Our batteries recharge, and the attentive processes that are depleted in a complex urban environment are restored. Alpha waves increase that contribute to this calm, alert state.
Essentially, nature makes us feel zen. Distractions are removed, giving us a chance to focus on each other and reconnect in a mindful way.
5. Nature increases our feelings of connection to a broader reality. – It’s harder to sweat the small stuff, the tiny hurts and emotional slights, when we’re taking in something so much bigger and more comprehensive than ourselves. We’ve all been there. Gazed at a distant mountain range and have felt that we are but a small part of something larger.
6. Nature influences the very, well, nature of our memories. – Having an experience in the outdoors makes for richer memories, exactly what you want for your wedding day. As a species, we now spend so much time inside that being outdoors has become a novelty, resulting in the creation of stronger memories. These rich memories correlate with more enduring love. How might being in nature increase memory? Immersing oneself in nature decreases cortisol levels which are known enemies to memory capacity.
7. Being in nature results in faster emotional processing. – Our modern urban environments are filled with distractions that eat up our attention. We’re constantly receiving phone calls, fielding emails, and being bombarded by stimuli from all directions. Our brains have to deal with this and to do so, they start to filter out very subtle cues, even in important social relationships.
Nature has a remedy already hinted at above. A natural environment has far fewer distractions and allows us to reenter a state of calm, bringing us back into the moment. All those tiny signals that our partners give us and that we send to them are more easily picked up on and interpreted in a natural environment. This, in turn, increases feelings of connectedness. Basically, you feel that you’re on the same wavelength.
Emotional situations become that much more emotional and meaningful when you feel seen, heard, and understood so thoroughly. The perfect scenario for your wedding day.
8. Nature as love potion number nine? – The soil contains a bacterium called Mycobacterium vaccae, which in mice (and probably humans, too) results in the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter known to play a role in maintaining a positive mood and warding off depression.
In nature we are also exposed to terpenes, the aroma emitting component of essential oils created by plants, flowers, and even some insects. Two major terpenes are limonene (a chemical found in citrus fruits) and linalools (found in flowers and spice plants and the primary compound responsible for scent in lavender). These natural fragrances can relax us and enhance mood, or *cough* put us in the mood.
9. Spending time in green spaces is as good for nature as it is for us. – When we develop a love for the outdoors, we are more invested in protecting these natural and wild pieces of the earth. If we have children, we share this love with them and they grow up invested in protecting these same places. Regardless, we are more likely to take care of our planet if we truly experience it.
It’s not surprising that there are so many benefits from experiencing nature. For most of our ancestral heritage, we were living there, right smack dab in the middle of it. The myriad of natural experiences that influenced us in our ancestral past have shaped our psychological world and, in turn, our ability to cultivate connections with other social beings. So get back to nature and take your intimacy to the next level.
Think a wedding in nature might be your cup of tea? Schedule a call (it’s absolutely free!). I would love to help you plan and to document your wild love in a wild place!