Stephanie & Alec: Walking Down Memory Lane at McMaster University

 Stephanie and Alec met me at McMaster university on a warm summer evening for their engagement session.  We went back to the place where their love story began, standing in line at the registrar’s office, where Alec saw Stephanie for the first time and made sure to be standing close to her.  The usually long wait time passed quickly in conversation together, and as they say, the rest is history!  I love heading back to the places where a couple first met, or started dating.  It’s the perfect way to dive into that romantic nostalgia, reminisce together, and have some fun taking engagement photographs that will be meaningful to you for years to come!

We toured through their favorite old haunts on campus before heading down to the Hamilton waterfront for some sunset photographs.  For anybody who doesn’t know me, shooting by the water at sunset is my happy place!  There’s no better way to get those glow-y, bright, romantic photographs.  Add in Stephanie’s beautiful bright smile and Alec’s loving gaze and you have the perfect recipe for a set of timeless, classic engagement photographs!

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Abby & Matt: A Modern Rooftop Wedding at Toronto's Lavelle Restaurant

A Modern Toronto Rooftop Wedding with the Perfect Classic Touch 

Abby and Matt were married at Lavelle Restaurant.  Perched on top of the city, with long elegant swimming pools, and bright blue cabanas lining the deck, this new wedding venue restaurant has 360 degree views of Toronto, and you can see the CN tower from almost any angle.  The food is fantastic, the décor is so much fun to photograph, and the mixed indoor/outdoor space is perfect for summer weddings!  Abby and Matt thought the restaurant suited them perfectly on their hunt for a great wedding venue, so theirs was the first wedding ever held up on this gorgeous rooftop. I’m so excited to see what other events are hosted here in the future!  I also can’t wait for you to see some of the sunset photographs we took together from the rooftop. The sky turned a beautiful salmon colour all around, lights began to come on across the city, and the CN tower stood tall the background.  Toronto has the best rooftops for sunset photographs!

Working with an awesome new Toronto event planning team, ‘Riley and Dallas’, Abby and Matt created the perfectly stylish and fashionable Toronto urban wedding.  The trendy and modern décor of the venue (picture Miami beach meets Toronto skyline) contrasted perfectly with the more classic and elegant wedding touches they added, including classic white and green floral arrangements that spiralled up the pillars of the chuppah, and long harvest tables decorated with fluffy floral centerpieces and calligraphy cards.  They had both a modern dancefloor made of clear plexiglass covering one of the pools (awesome), and a nostalgic vintage cake topper that made it’s first appearance at their grandparents’ wedding! They truly spanned the best of both worlds designing a wedding that was so perfectly classic and modern at the same time.

The venue normally operates as a restaurant, so the food was spectacular, arriving on loaded family-style sharing platters as the sun set over the city, turning everything in the restaurant to gold.  Champagne flowed all through the evening, and Abby and Matt were the perfect hosts, visiting tables and making sure that, above all else, everyone was having a great time.

Personally, my favourite moment of the day was their first look.  I can’t wait for you to see the incredible excitement on both of their faces getting to see one another!  Their happy, wiggly, doodle puppy arrived shortly after to join the photographs, and was just as excited as they were about his own furry first look. 

The amount of individual style included in this wedding is inspiring.  Take a scroll through to see Abby’s gorgeous long gown, and the pop of red incorporated into the groomsmen’s shoes and jackets, reminiscent of something straight out of a film noire cast.  I could have spent twice as long taking photographs of their fashionable guests just to remember all the amazing outfits!

Truly though, as you scroll through this gallery you’ll be struck by only one thing, the immense happiness of Abby and Matt to be together.  From their joyful first look moment, to a beautiful Jewish ceremony under a windswept chuppah where they both couldn’t stop smiling, to the dance floor at the end of the night where they danced the night away under a gorgeous cityscape lit up all across the horizon, these two are perfectly and joyously happy. Plus, their cake cutting photographs are some of my favorite yet, they had so much fun with this iconic wedding day moment!

Shout out to the awesome vendors who worked on creating this wedding together!

Planners: Riley & Dallas
Flowers: Fuscia Designs
Table & chair rentals: Gervais Rentals
Linens: Simply Beautiful Décor
Photo booth: MiMir photo
Veil: Jeffrey Bridal by Merike
Acoustic music: Jesse Gold
DJ: BelloSound
Plexi glass pool cover flooring: EventSing

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Melody & Edmond's Elegant Engagement at Queen's University, Kingston

Melody & Edmond traveled from Hong Kong to meet me in Kingston where they first met, on the campus of Queen's University.  We explored their their old stomping grounds and favorite haunts around campus, including the library where they spent hour after hour sitting and studying across from each other, before heading into Kingston.  In town we explored the cutest cobbled streets, open squares lined with gorgeous parliament buildings and restaurants, and visited Melody's favorite buildings (I was amazed by how European Kingston can feel!).  We walked past the go-to restaurants of their university days and reminisced, before finishing our shoot together at the waterfront on Lake Ontario.  I love taking a walk down memory lane together with my clients during their engagement sessions, and it was an added treat to be guided around Kingston together with these two!

I can't wait for you to scroll through and see how sweet these two are together, and I guarantee you're going to fall in love with each of Melody's stunning custom dresses.  She even had some of her talented friends come along to do her hair, makeup, and floral crown during the shoot! 

Jess & Harry's Colombian Wedding in Downtown Toronto

Jess and Harry created a beautiful, colourful Colombian themed wedding at a downtown Toronto restaurant.  The Pilot in Toronto's Hazelton Lanes is a family connected business that played a key role in their lives together, and was a clear choice to host their lively wedding celebration! 

I absolutely love small restaurant weddings, and this was no exception.  Gorgeous colourful floral installations, beautiful summery foods, and guests in all manner of colourful dress filled the WWII era aeronautical themed restaurant.  My favorite part of the wedding by far though was the reception, when Jess's side of the family brought their Colombian heritage into the day and began the 'hora loca' to kick off the celebrations.  Guests donned masks, hats, glasses, and just about anything sparkly, bright, feathered, and flowy to dance the night away.  I don't usually cite the reception as my favorite photographs of the day, but this one was such a blast to photograph!

Travel: February in Europe

In February B and I took a few weeks off to travel around Europe visiting family and friends, and taking time to see some new places for the year before our busy spring and summer seasons began.  We ate our way through London, took trains and wandered the hills in Scotland, bought chocolate in Brussels, walked street art tours in Berlin, and wished we were students again in Oxford. 

Somehow we were lucky to have nothing but gorgeous weather for the weeks we were there, and managed to come home from a trip through Europe in February with sun tans.

I only travel with a film camera these days, as I find I take fewer and more meaningful photographs like this.  So everything was shot on my beast of a Pentax 645 and developed by Canadian Film Lab.  Trying to practice what I preach, I'm working on getting a small album or print set made of photographs from our trip, in the meantime I thought I'd post a bit on the blog.  Does it even happen if it doesn't go on social media these days? :P

xo
- c

Erica & Simon's Country Engagement Session

Erica and Simon hosted me at their property just outside of Toronto for their engagement session.  I knew we would get along well right away when they told me that they would like to include their big beautiful dog in the photographs.  We spent the afternoon lounging in their terracotta tiled sunroom that Erica has filled with plants, and walking the many trails and fields they explore together on long dog walks and hikes.  It was the most simple at-home engagement session, and so much fun to capture with such a wonderful and welcoming couple.  Engagement sessions get me so excited for the real wedding coming up soon!

Anthea & Andrew's Toronto Reference Library Wedding

Anthea and Andrew created a wedding that incorporated Chinese, Korean, and Canadian wedding traditions into their day seamlessly.  We started out at a beautiful air B&B in a century Toronto home where the couple got ready.  They hosted a side-splittingly fun set of door games and a beautiful Chinese tea ceremony, before moving on to an elegant ceremony in a vaulted cathedral of Grace Church on the Hill.  Their close friends played music, and family sat proudly in the front rows as light from the high church windows fell across the pews.

The Toronto Reference Library provided a beautiful backdrop for the photographs and reception, as well as a Korean tea ceremony performed in colourful and ornate traditional clothing.   We explored the winding staircases of the library, and finished the evening with sunset photographs on the balcony as Anthea’s family presented her with gold jewellery as per the Chinese custom.

These two took me back to the university town where they met for their engagement photographs, and spent so much time laughing that I couldn’t wait to photograph them again at their wedding.  Despite the rain we encountered for their photographs, they were full of laughter and fun throughout the whole day, entertained their reception with heartfelt speeches, table toasts, and a rap rhyming kissing game that kept everyone on their toes. 

I absolutely love it when couples have some fun with their wedding day, and Anthea and Andrew made sure to keep their guests entertained and enjoying a fantastic time!

Helping your Photographer Capture Beautiful Getting Ready Photographs

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 The getting ready portion of your wedding day is often when some of the most intimate moments occur between you and your best friends and family who are there with you.  Your photographer can capture these beautiful moments no matter where you are, but it helps to put a little bit of time and effort into making sure that your ‘getting ready’ spaces will look just as good as the rest of your wedding photographs.

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Clean Up

Cleaning up the rooms you’re getting ready in will go a long way in helping your photographer create gorgeous photographs of the morning leading up to your wedding.  It helps to ask your bridesmaids and groomsmen to keep their bags and clothing stored in a separate room where you won’t be taking photographs,  request that your hair and makeup team keep a tidy workspace, and generally remove any clutter that’s housed in the room you’ll be getting ready in.   As a photographer I absolutely don’t mind doing a bit of tidying and re-organizing, but the more time we spend doing this the less time we’ll spend capturing candid moments.  A clean background brings an emotional photograph from touching to visually stunning. 

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Choose a Bright Location

People often spend so much time selecting a beautiful ceremony and reception space, but don’t think about where they will be getting ready.  I often spend several hours photographing the getting ready portion of the day with couples, and usually shoot important photographs during this time such as bridal and bridesmaid portraits, detail shots, and father/daughter reveals.  Make sure to do these photographs justice by choosing a location that has as much natural light as possible.  The brighter and airier the better!  Don’t count artificial lighting such as floor lamps and pot lights when considering how bright a location is.  These lighting options create a yellow/green skin tone and cast awkward shadows, so your photographer will likely turn them off to shoot anyways.

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Set Up Close to a Window

No matter where you choose to get ready, the best light for your photographer to work with will almost always be next to a window.  See if your hair and makeup team can set up close to a window with the natural light falling across your getting ready scene.  Try to clear a space close to a window or in a well-lit room for photographs such as putting your dress on, and spending some time with your wedding party and family members. 

Create Time and Space for Moments to Unfold

The best way to create great photographs from your wedding morning is to allow yourself to enjoy the time without feeling rushed.  You’ve picked a beautiful space to get ready in and cleaned it up; now make sure you create time to spend there with your favourite people.  If it’s important to capture some meaningful portraits with your grandmother, invite her to sit and chat with you for a while.  If you want to capture images with your mother, ask her to get dressed early so she has time to help your into your dress.  Don’t worry about the camera being there, don’t hold back on hugs, and make sure everybody there knows how important they are to you.  

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Georgie & Ray's Engagement on the Barbados Coast

I flew down to Barbados over Christmas to capture Georgie & Ray’s wedding, and we booked their engagement session a few days after I arrived so we could spend some time visiting and chatting about their upcoming big day.   I normally spend some time planning engagement sessions with the couples I shoot, but Georgie & Ray planned their own shoot and it was a complete surprise for me.  After taking a walk around the wedding location, we piled into their old Subaru and set off across the island to  a surprise collection of Ray’s favourite surf locations and Georgie’s favourite hiking spots.

We drove over the island on narrow roads snaking through sugar cane fields, bumped across grass tracks traversing pastures of grazing cows, and invariably ended up at cliff edges overlooking the ocean.  We explored the cliff sides and sea shores, got covered in salt spray from blow holes and crashing waves, and I learned more about the life they were building together in picturesque Barbados. If I wasn’t sold on the concept of island life already, I would have been an easy convert after exploring around with these two talking about sunrise surf sessions and sunset cliff hikes. 

To finish of our shoot, they took me to the new home they had just finished building up on a hill with views over half the island.  They can sit on the balcony of their sweet yellow house and watch the sun go down over the ocean every night.  The garden was filled with young plants Ray had been growing, and the inside of the house was filled decorated with art created by Georgie and her family. 

I wish I could photograph this engagement session over and over again.  Enjoy. :)

Meghan & Curtis' Relaxed Collingwood Waterfront Wedding

Meghan and Curtis are dedicated cottagers, and were married on the best cottage weekend of the year last summer on the Georgian Bay waterfront at Thornbury’s Lora Bay. 

At our first shoot together, they described themselves as active surfers, skiers, and general outdoor enthusiasts, they were about to move from Toronto to Collingwood together to step into the active outdoor lifestyle the area allows, and I knew we would have a great time working together immediately!  They were looking for very relaxed, candid shots of their wedding day, with a focus on time spent with all their guests who they valued immensely, and their wonderful family who were all present for the day. 

It was evident from the moment I met the bridesmaids and groomsmen in the morning that it was going to be a fun day, and I would have an easy job photographing everybody having a great time.  Meghan and Curtis were the perfect relaxed bride and groom, making sure their loved ones were appreciated all day, ensuring they showed everyone the best time possible, and valuing every moment they got to spend with family and friends from all over the world.  They are a true reminder of what a wedding day can be all about, and I was lucky to spend the day photographing the genuine joy and love they had overflowing for everyone present.

Take a look through the photographs below for the sweetest canine groomsman in a bow tie, a gorgeous ceremony backdrop overlooking Georgian Bay, and a bride and groom thoroughly enjoying and living every minute of their wedding day together.

Xo
- c

Vendors:
Venue: Lora Bay
Makeup: Makeup By Lee
Hair: The Parlour by Stephanie
Florals: Ashley Elaine Florals
 

How to Plan Your First Look

If you’re hoping to have some great first look photographs taken on your wedding day, it’s worth chatting about ideas with your photographer in advance and creating a plan together.  First looks are such individual moments to each couple and wedding day, and there’s no magic formula to create the best photo-ready first look together.  Here are just a few things to consider when planning the big reveal. 

1.     Is the lighting good for photographs?
If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you’ll know that good lighting is a key proponent for your photographer to create magical photographs.  If your first look will be indoors, try to choose a bright location with lots of natural light.  If you will be outdoors, try to avoid direct overhead light.  This usually means choosing an area that is shaded by trees, buildings, or overhangs.

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2.     What will your approach be?
Take time to discuss the approach and angles with your photographer before the moment unfolds.  Don’t feel stuck in the more traditional route of the bride tapping the groom’s shoulder if that doesn’t feel like you.  Make it your own, plan a reveal at the same moment, slip in a butt grab if that's more like you, open the door as a surprise….anything goes, just chat with your photographer before to make sure everyone is prepared for the plan.

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3.     Will your moment be private or part of a group?
Think about whether you want to have a moment with just the two of you, or if you feel it’s important for any family or loved ones to be present with you.  It helps to decide this beforehand, as many people will want to be there for your first look if you haven’t already established a plan!

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4.     How will you make it your own?
The originality that each couple brings to their wedding day is why I love this creative job so much.  Don’t be afraid to bring elements of yourselves into your first look, whether that’s emotional, funny, or flirty.  This moment can be anything from a long hug, to a moment to share songs, letters, gifts, or funny surprises.  Again, just let your photographer know what to expect so you can be sure to have the memory beautifully captured in photographs. 

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Overall, don’t worry you can’t screw it up!  The main point is to get to see your loved one, take a deep breath, and relax together before the ceremony.  It’s a great chance to catch some beautiful and memorable photographs, but remember that it’s not about the camera.  It’s about you getting to spend some private time together on your wedding day, the photographs are just a bonus.

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Kate & Adrian's Sunrise Adventure Session in Tobermory

Kate and Adrian met me before dawn last July at our campsite in Tobermory for their Adventure Session, an idea I was testing out last summer to create fun, adventurous, and outdoorsy photography sessions.  I’m so lucky that I got these two amazing people to work with that morning, because they truly embodied what I was looking for in my ideal adventure session couple! 

Driving down the dirt logging road to our location I had scouted the day before, the car’s headlights illuminated a freshly fallen tree blocking the road.  Despite being beautifully dressed and prepared with hair curled and makeup on for the early morning session, they were more than game to hop out of the car and help me slowly heave the tree, inch by inch, across the road to clear enough space for the truck to squeeze by. 

We spent the next two hours traversing the beautiful Georgian Bay shoreline and taking photographs as the sun was coming up.  We hiked through beautiful rock formations, tested the water and deciding it was too cold, climbed rocky plateaus, and had a great time exploring such a beautiful natural area and taking photographs together while we were there. 

This idea was born from my combined passions for photography and spending time outdoors.   I love spending time with people while outside and being active, and would love to get more people outdoors to places they haven’t visited before, all while taking photographs of couples together in beautiful locations, looking natural, and feeling genuinely relaxed, happy, and free spirited together in front of the camera.

Last season’s trial adventure sessions were such a success that I will be offering scheduled adventure session dates throughout the year, available for anybody who is looking to have photographs taken while outdoors doing something they love.  I will be choosing different locations around Southern Ontario and planning a range of activities for people to take part in, from hiking, to camping, canoeing, to surfing, and anything else people are passionate about and want to do together! 

Keep your eyes peeled for announcements for adventure session dates throughout the year, and feel free to email me with suggestions or requests for activities and locations.  I hope to see some of you outside and in front of the lens with me one day soon!

3 Tips to Include your Dog in your Wedding Photographs

I clearly come across as a massive dog-lover on social media (and rightly so!), because so many amazing couples I get to photograph ask me about how we can somehow include their dogs in either their wedding or engagement photographs.  It’s always easy to include dogs in engagement photographs, whether it’s at home or on a hike, we usually end up planning an activity that’s dog friendly and perfect for taking photographs with the whole family.  It takes a bit more planning to include your pup in the wedding day photographs, but with the right preparation it’s easy to make sure everyone is included and no dresses get ripped in the process!

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1.     Hire or appoint a dog handler
It’s key that your dog can be present and included in the wedding photographs without either of you having to worry about keeping them calm and under control.  You’ll have enough to carry with bouquets or drinks in hand, not to mention wearing heels and tight suits, making it difficult to manage your potentially very excited and very distracted pup! 

If you have a dog walker, I often find the best option is to hire them in advance to help make sure your wedding clothes don’t get ripped or dirty, keep your pup from running in excited circles, and make sure they’re perfectly behaved with treats held behind the camera in all the photographs.  Your dog walker can either spend the day with you if you want your dog to be part of the whole event, or can arrange for your dog to be brought to the venue for photographs and returned home when we’re finished.

If you don’t have a dog walker, consider hiring a handler for the day, or appointing a family member or friend who loves your pup and will be able to do a good job of keeping them calmly in check for the photographs.

2.     Set realistic expectations
It isn’t difficult to create great wedding photographs with your dog included, but make sure you aren’t planning anything too extravagant and outside of their usual wheelhouse.  Try not to ask them to do anything new for the photographs such as being picked up, or walking on a busy street without a lead.  Be patient if they’re a little overexcited and not listening like a champ immediately.  Most importantly, make sure to schedule plenty of extra time to create these photographs, it’s helpful to give everyone a chance to slow down and get in the swing of things together!

3.     Make sure your dog has a good day
Help your pup be successful in front of the camera by making sure they get well exercised in the morning, and have plenty of treats and water on hand.  If you’re planning on having your dog spend the whole day with you, make sure they always have someone with them (dogs tied up at the side tend to howl pitifully during ceremonies), and consider whether they’ll do well with situations that are crowded, loud, quiet, and anything in between!  If you’re not sure, you can always get your dog walker to bring the pup home later in the day so you can dance the night away without worrying,

Finally, and I’m sure this goes without saying, don’t surprise your photographer with this the day before the wedding!  If you think you might want to include your dog in the wedding photographs, try to make sure you find a photographer who likes dogs, and will be relaxed and comfortable with this added element of excitement in the photographs.  When you plan it out properly, there’s no reason why you can’t have wedding photographs with your whole family, furry members included!

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