Annie & Colin's Toronto Waterfront Wedding at The Henley Room

Annie and Colin just make my heart happy.  They hosted a wedding with fabulous unique and retro flair, at a gorgeous waterfront venue in Toronto, that was absolutely jam packed with as much good music, food, and dancing to Abba as anyone could possibly ask for.  For anyone who knows me personally, you’ll understand how much I adore these guys already.

            Annie wore one of my favourite dresses of all time, designed by the talented Gabby of Truvelle Bridal, a stunning bridal design line out of Vancouver.  She paired it with some seriously shit kicker heels, a romantic up do, and a smile that truly lit the room.  Colin is a musician, by trade and talent, so I was already pumped to see what they described as the ‘cabaret’ that would be taking place during their cocktail hour, hosted by a number of their musically talented guests from Colin’s various performances and choirs.  Guys, if you’re ever invited to a wedding with a ‘cabaret’ go.  Do it.

            By far the most memorable moment however took place during their waterfront ceremony on the docks of The Henley Room.  Colin’s choir was arranged to sing a number of pieces throughout the ceremony, but he surprised Annie shortly after saying their vows by walking over to the choir, who proceeded to sing backup for him as he serenaded her with a song about growing old together.  I’ve never seen an entire audience start to cry before at a wedding, I was absolutely sobbing behind my camera, and Annie, true to form, stood smiling as absolutely massively as her face would allow, enjoying the heck out of the entire experience.  Have I mentioned that I adore these two?

            The rest of the evening passed in a beautiful, twinkle lit reception of good food, a gorgeous cake made by one of Annie’s talented friends, a shoe game played by the bride and groom that had the room in stitches, and a night of dancing the time away to Abba.  If you already love Annie and Colin as much as I do, make sure you checkout their Beaches engagement session from earlier this year, and take a page from Annie’s book if you want to plan your wedding day to really feel like ‘you’!

Vendors:
Floral: Quince Flowers
Dress: Sash and Bustle , Truvelle
Venue: The Henley Room, Argonauts Rowing Club
Hair: McManus and Campbell

Emma & Neal's Fall Wedding at St George's Golf Club, Toronto

Emma & Neal were married at St George’s Golf Club in Toronto last fall, and I am way too excited to finally share photographs from their intimate, meaningful, and spectacularly beautiful Sunday lunch wedding. 

            Fall is a drop dead gorgeous season for weddings anywhere in Toronto, but St George’s Golf club is truly something special.  As the leaves begin to turn, Ivy stands out across the turrets and elegant lines of the old building, tall pampas grass turns golden and leads you around the property, and colourful leaves swirl past gabled windows with every gust of wind.  Inside the golf club feels like a castle, and is the perfectly cozy location for a fall wedding, with a spectacular fireplace in the rotunda, and an elegant, classic luncheon room with big windows looking out over the golf course.

            Emma has a deep appreciation of all things art and beauty, and along with Neal, is one of the most stylish people I know.  So, it was no surprise that every detail of their wedding was incredibly beautiful and sophisticated, and created the perfect complimentary contrast to the relaxed lunch reception they held for their closest friends and family.  

            Take a scroll through for infinite bride and groom style inspiration, the cutest furry wedding guests dressed for the occasion, and a lunch reception that will make you re-think your whole wedding timeline!  I love love loved getting to work with Emma and Neal to document their day, and cannot wait to share some of the beauty that came out of it.

Vendors:

Florist: Apricot Flowers
Calligraphy/Stationary: Paula Lee Calligraphy & Sally Choi
Hair: Bridal Hair Collective
Decor: The Day Cor
Decor: Vintage Bash
Dress: Lovers Land
Cheese: The Cheese Boutique
Venue: St George’s Golf and Country Club
Music: The Jazz Collective
Coordinator: All Event Videos
Chuppah: Chuppah.ca 
Ketubah: ketubah.com

Alicja & Grant Get Married - A Downtown Toronto Berkeley Wedding

Alicja and Grant were high school sweethearts.  Full stop.  Let’s bask in the cuteness already.  Truly though, these two are so freeking sweet, absolutely stunning together, and have the best taste in food and desserts.  I knew we would be perfect working together when they wanted to have our first meeting at Ricarda’s, if you don’t know yet, good food steals my heart and seals the deal.  Next up, for their engagement session, they continued with the theme of amazing food in downtown Toronto, and planned to visit the St Laurence market for a picnic and some great coffee.  Finally, it came out at their wedding that the dream is to open a specialty donut shop together in Toronto one day.  Guys, I’ll be the first one there when you do it!

Aside from the food though, Alicja and Grant envisioned a beautiful, summery, outdoor wedding at the Berkley Fieldhouse in downtown Toronto, and pulled it off beautifully despite temperatures in the city hitting record highs that day.  They got ready at The Grand Hotel, and while Alicja put the finishing touches on her blush coloured bridal look (you’re going to fall in LOVE with her dress) the guys headed up to the rooftop for their first look overlooking the Toronto skyline.  I have to pause here and send a major shout out to the guys, who ended up getting trapped on the roof in the sweltering heat, because the elevator broke down as we headed up to their first look.  By the time we made it to the rooftop, the groom and groomsmen had been boiling up there for way too long, but were still game to pose for some wedding party photographs with smiles on their faces.  You.guys.rock.

The rest of the day was filled with so many happy tears, chilled Moscow mules to temper the heat, a live band entertaining the guests, and a sweet ukulele performance by the maid of honour that melted all of us into puddles of emotion.  The sunset light streamed in though the big windows of the Berkley Fieldhouse while guests happily enjoyed their air conditioned dinner, and the evening finished by finally heading back outside for their first dances after the temperatures had cooled down. 

Alicja and Grant, you two are so endlessly sweet together, have the best taste in food, and are some of the most relaxed, easygoing, and happy people I have had the joy of working with.  Thank you for being so wonderful.

Xo

-c

Vendors:

Planning: Claudia Cole Events
Officiant: Aleksandar Rajak
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Berkeley Field House
Hair & Makeup: The Beauty Movement
DJ: Imperial Sound DJ Service
Ceremony and Reception Entertainment: Intentions Band
Décor: Hello Midge
Florals : Wild North
Guest Favours: Delysees

Brownstones and Bagels, an East-Village New York Engagement Session.

I met Emily and Kaegan in New York for their urban engagement shoot, downtown in the East Village neighborhood where Kaegan was living at the time.  It could not have been a more perfect location for such a jet-setting, adventurous, and well-traveled couple.  Their love story began when they first met in university, completing their degrees in architecture, and they have since lived and worked all over the world, pursuing their careers as international architects. 

Throughout their relationship they’ve lived and worked, together and separately, from New York, to Japan, to North Bay, to Toronto, and beyond.  I was lucky to catch up with them early one morning outside of Kaegan’s flat in the East Village, when Emily and I both flew down for a visit.  They were game to get up ungodly early to spend some time exploring their neighborhood before everything got too busy (major brownie points for being so game guys!).  New York might be known as the city that never sleeps, but we didn’t run into too many people at 5:30 in the morning!  The next few hours were spent wandering classic brownstone-lined streets, visiting their favorite neighborhood haunts, and watching the city (and it’s many dog residents) come alive to start their day.   When we finally waved goodbye, they were off to get a bagel for breakfast, and Kaegan was musing about what kind of pizza he wanted to have later that day.  It could not have been any more classic New York. 

I first met Emily at The White Squirrel Coffee shop in Toronto, and knew we would get along right away when she told me she would be coming straight over from having brunch with friends.  I had no idea how awesome the two of them are together though until we started shooting together.  I should have known that they were going to be a tonne of fun by how game they were to arrange our early morning engagement session in New York, but I was still blown away by their creative and free spirited natures that came out to shine on their wedding day.  I’m still working on editing all of their wedding photographs from a few weekends ago, but I can’t wait to share photographs from our sunset session, you’re going to be so inspired by what down to earth and relaxed people they are, even tromping through the muddy woods on their wedding day!

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!

A Romantic Winter Wedding in Downtown Toronto

I was lucky to spend a short time photographing Rachel and Jens' civil ceremony with some of their close family members at the Toronto City Hall in March.  Their ceremony was filled with emotion, love, and celebration, followed by the most fun set of Facetime calls from family members who were not able to make it to Toronto for the day. 

After the ceremony we had a few minutes to take some wedding photographs together in Nathan Phillips Square as the snow started to fall softly.  Toronto at dusk is one of the most gorgeous locations for urban wedding photographs.  The lights in all the surrounding buildings come on, the streets begin to clear out, and the square with it's Iconic 'Toronto' sign is a perfect location to see some of the beautiful architecture of downtown Toronto in the background.  The whole scene lent a perfect air of celebration to send the couple off hand in hand for the rest of their evening at a downtown dinner party. 

8 Tips to Nail your Engagement Photos

Chances are, when you’re looking to hire a wedding photographer, you’ll also be deciding whether or not you want to have engagement photographs taken.  Aside from the obvious positives (you’ll have some nice new photographs for your guest book) and negatives (you/your fiancée hates having their photograph taken), one reason I advise couples to take advantage of the engagement session option is that it’s a great chance to spend some time getting to know your photographer.  As a wedding photographer I’ll likely be spending the full day with you on your wedding day, and am there throughout some of the most important, private, and intimate moments.  It’s important that everybody feel comfortable, and engagement sessions are a way to get to know who you are together, how you like to interact, what your sense of humour is like, and all the other little details that will help me do the best possible job on your actual wedding day.

After photographing countless engagement sessions, I can hopefully provide some tips and tricks to make the most of our time together and keep the session fun and pain-free! (I get t-rex arms when you try to take my photograph, anybody else?)

toronto_wedding_photographer_engagement_photography_tips-21.jpg

1.    Pick an activity or location that’s comfortable to you.

The point of the engagement session is to spend some time getting to know each other, and capturing great photographs of you and your fiancée having fun together.  It’s basically a photographer date, and the images we create along the way should really resonate with who you are together at this point in your lives.  The activities you choose can be anything that you enjoy together, maybe this means starting the session off at your favourite Saturday morning café for lattes and croissants; or if a nice glass of wine is more your thing, let’s skip the coffee and head to the best wine bar in the neighbourhood where you had your first date together.  It can be as active as going surfing (any surfers out there looking for a wedding photographer?), or as quiet as making Sunday morning brunch together in your apartment and snuggling in with a book and your cats.  If you’re at all unsure about an activity or are having trouble coming up with ideas, feel free to ask your photographer for a quick engagement session brainstorm! 

2.    Get Creative

If you’re having trouble picturing your favourite activities together as ‘photo-shoot-worthy’, start making a list either together or with your photographer of ways you can jazz it up but still feel like you!  Perhaps nothing makes you happier than a Friday night movie or Netflix marathon; turn it into a drive-in movie date instead, complete with a sunset Frisbee game before the movie starts, a trip to the confectionary to load up on popcorn and twizzlers, and pyjamas and duvets in the back of your car with the hatch open.  Maybe Sunday brunch is your ritual but you’re not in love with the dark apartment you’re currently renting, let’s start the day with a trip to the farmers market to buy ingredients together, make an easy brunch on your biggest cutting board, and enjoy it out on your balcony or with candles lit around the table.  The goal is to tell the story of who you are, and everybody has a photo-worthy story. 

3.    Make it into a date.

Treat your engagement session like a date and put yourself into the mindset to relax, have fun, and feel more romantic than your average Tuesday.  Take the afternoon off together to do something fun before your engagement session, spend some time getting dressed up without the rush and stress of having to be somewhere quickly after work.  Maybe finish the evening off by making reservations for a later dinner post photo-shoot at that restaurant you’ve been wanting to try for ages.  Turning your shoot into an experience will make it something to look forward to, and something to remember as that great date night you actually made time to plan together.

4.     Dress to feel like yourself

‘What do I wear’ is one of the most common questions I'm asked before an engagement shoot.  There are so many options it’s hard to come up with an easy overall answer!  The best advice I can offer is to dress comfortably for yourself, while also keeping in mind your chosen engagement session activities.  If you’ve decided to go hiking in the fall, wear your favorite hiking outfit complete with big woolly sweaters and your well worn hiking boots with the red laces.  If cocktail hour at the classy bar downtown is your thing, maybe it’s a good chance to pull out that silky dress you bought for a Christmas party and haven’t worn yet.  If you’re at all unsure about a chosen outfit, pattern, or colour, you can always ask your photographer.  The final piece of outfit advice I can offer is to dress to the same level.  Try to style yourselves together as a couple, rather than picking your outfits separately and hoping they work together.  I don’t mean matching white turtlenecks 90’s style, but if you’re planning on dressing for a nice night out together, avoid the couple combo of high heels and hockey jerseys.  Unless that’s really your thing, you do you. 

5.    Let your photographer get to know you

Very few people come into their engagement sessions with hours of childhood modeling experience for the Sears catalogue in their back pocket, and having your photo taken together can be daunting.  It’s easiest to have something to do that you enjoy.  Talk, laugh, be weird when you’re feeling weird, high five if you’re high fivers, and throughout your session help your photographer get to know who you are as a couple.  If you’re set up to cuddle on the couch, but really you’re much more loving when making sarcastic jokes while sipping your coffee in separate chairs, then tell your photographer that you’re not really couch snugglers. This is a practice session for the wedding day, so if you never exchange forehead kisses, don’t let us take tonnes of forehead kissing photographs on your engagement session and wedding day, these will never be your favorite shots. 

6.    Don’t take it too seriously

Seriously.  We’ve already established that having your photo taken can feel awkward, so if you’re feeling weird then let it show!  Don’t be afraid to be silly, and trust that your photographer will capture the best photographs that represent you together.  If you think you’re trying to gaze lovingly at each other while the sun is setting, but are just barely stifling a laugh, let it out!  Snort if you have to.   Chances are you’ll appreciate the photo of you two howling with laughter together at your inside jokes more than any cinematic romantic sunset shot down the road anyways.  

7.    Make it seasonally appropriate

This might be a more location-specific suggestion, but make sure that the activity you’ve planned and the locations you’ve chosen fit well with the weather.  A little bit of rain never hurt anybody while taking photographs, but if you really want to wear that beautiful long dress you love, try to wait until it’s warm enough to wear it rather than dashing back and forth between putting your coat on to warm up.  If you’re keen on a winter engagement session, plan indoor breaks to warm up again so you don’t end up with a pink nose in all your photographs, wearing a miserable expression as you lose feeling in your fingers.  Remember, this is supposed to be fun!

8.    Communicate with your photographer

Keeping in touch with your photographer about your engagement session plans is key.  Ask for ideas if you’re having trouble thinking of something fun to do, talk about the best time of day to take photographs for what your planning, and toss ideas around to find the right outfits together.  It’s all about getting to know you, so the more conversations we get to have the better!  Also, keeping your photographer updated on the locations you want to visit is important to make sure you have the right permits, call ahead to make sure it’s okay to take photographs at that time of day, and generally make sure there are no unwanted photography surprises messing with your plans. 

An Intimate Elegant Wedding at Toronto's Great Hall

Jess and Arie’s wedding suited them perfectly.  Together they created a celebration that beautifully blended their impeccable style with important family values, and even included their treasured rescue dogs into the day’s celebrations with enviable ease and elegance. 

Following a sweet first look complete with dogs in hand, we went to The Great Hall in the west end of downtown Toronto to take photographs in the light and airy spaces that both Jess and I fell in love with.  A beautiful and emotional wedding ceremony was held at their neighbourhood family shul down the street, followed by an intimate backyard reception for their closest family and friends.  The majority of the day allowed for the dogs who are such a big part of their lives to take part in the festivities, and an at-home reception kept things simple and allowed guests to comfortably move back and forth between the indoor and outdoor food and drink stations as it softly began to rain in the evening.

Their beautiful and personal style as a couple shone through in all the little details they thoughtfully added to the day.  Jess sported her favourite relaxed moccasins along with a stunning beaded dress harking back to the 1920’s that complimented Arie’s stylish and classic dark navy blazer.  The dogs were dressed up in simple green and white floral garlands, which matched the bride’s classic elegant bouquet of white flowers and flowing greenery.  Jess absolutely transformed the interior of their shul by envisioning a beautiful minimalist Plexiglas chuppah, clear modernist chairs, and elegant candle displays that opened up the space while maintaining a cosy family feeling.  I’m always a fan of intimate backyard receptions, and theirs was no exception.  Edison lights criss-crossed the backyard, lighting and warming up the space outdoor space throughout the evening.  Food stations offered a variety of dishes for family to enjoy standing around high tops or settled into the living room, and the cutting of the challah was fittingly held with family gathered close together together in the kitchen. 

I absolutely loved getting to work with some of my favourite Toronto vendors again for this wedding.  It’s always a treat to shoot at The Great Hall, and I’ll never tire of elegant bridal chignons styled by Amy at Bridal Hair Collective!  All the other wonderful vendors I was introduced to at this wedding are listed below.  I hope you enjoy!

-       c

Make up: Janine Bowen
Hair: Bridal Hair Collective
Wedding Dress: White Toronto / Jenny Packham
Flowers: Botany Floral Studio
Food: Applause Catering
Venue: The Family Shul / The Great Hall