When Jenny and Deklon first approached us to photograph their wedding it was clear to me what they had in mind for their special day. Deklon being an entertainer by nature and Jenny being the outgoing free-spirited person she is, I had no doubt that the wedding was going to be a real celebration, a legitimate party where they’d be surrounded by all their family and closest friends to bare witness to their expression of love to one another.
Something that strikes me when I’m documenting a larger wedding is the union between these two large families and collective of friends. An ever-lasting bond amongst them all for generations to come. There’s something captivating about that element of a wedding that I sometimes overlook but this day was a kind reminder of the importance of family.
The entire wedding was a beautifully orchestrated day of entertainment and joy for their friends and family. Caricature artists drew personal portraits for the guests during cocktail hour, a presentation of capoeira (a beautiful dancing art-form that combines element of martial arts and dance) was performed during the reception, not to mention a parody of the movie Mr and Ms. Smith featuring the bride and groom themselves as an introduction to their first dance together as husband and wife. An intimate ambiance amongst a sea of delicate and unpredictable moments like the Bride wiping tears away from her father during their dance together or the groom sharing funny and beautiful candid moments with his mother throughout the wedding day.
The vintage vibe of Liberty Grand’s authentic old-Toronto architecture and design was the ideal location for such a showcase of love and fun. To match, the Gladstone’s beautifully artistic interior and incredible bridal suite was the perfect atmosphere to capture the essence of Jenny and Deklon.
Song of the day
Hypnotize - The Notorious B.I.G.
The main element of Heather and Diptesh’s country wedding wasn’t the beautiful authentic country vintage details, it wasn’t the incredible countryside views of rural Ontario, but it was the incredible unison of family and culture brought together by their love for one another.
This wasn’t their first go around as a bride and groom. With Diptesh’s family being in India, they hosted an incredible Indian wedding for Heather and Diptesh along with their families from the U.S. and Canada. After having such a large celebration back in India, they decided to host a second wedding ceremony in Mono Ontario, Heather’s hometown a short drive from Toronto and the GTA, to gather friends and family from all over North-America to come together and celebrate their union.
It was a truly incredible experience that brought together a beautiful sense of inclusiveness all the while honouring both Heather and Diptesh’s individual heritages. Heather’s understated vintage dress and look complimented her henna tattoos so eloquently Diptesh’s stylish cowboy boots was a great nod to their current lives in Houston, Texas.
The ceremony was done in Heather’s parents’ backyard beneath a large willow tree, a perfect setting to encompass Heather’s childhood and to announce their surprise pregnancy to their friends and family in attendance.
Not far off from the home, we ventured with their wedding party to an overlook that Heather and her sisters used to climb as young children. The sight of canola fields and beautiful pine trees surrounding us created an incredible moment of tranquility, where we all stood in silence admiring the beautiful summer day and taking in the subtle breeze.
The ceremony was followed by an intimate and casual reception at the Mono Cliffs Inn, a genuinely vintage country-town pub and restaurant setting the perfect atmosphere for friends and family to mingle and celebrate. The night was topped off with fantastic food and drinks, and of course, a few traditional Punjabi dances, included one from both the bride and groom.
Weddings like this are an amazing reminder that working as a photographer here in Toronto allows me incredibly unique opportunities to meet and interact with people from very different walks of life than my own, and opportunity for me to both grow as a person and as a photographer through experience. I couldn’t have asked for more from this day - vintage aesthetic, beautiful country-town and country side scenery, kinda hearted genuine people, and a unique metamorphosis between two cultures. These are the moments and events that transcend time and place, and I’m always humbled to be so included in something so special and beautifully human.
Song of the day
Indonesia - Divorce Court
Spending your first wedding of the summer within the beautiful grounds of High Park is without a doubt a great experience. Despite being a huge urban city, Toronto has its fair share of fantastic outdoor venues. Being West-Enders who love the outdoors, Rochelle and Jason chose to hold the first part of their wedding day at Colborne Lodge, a beautiful rustic venue hidden within High Park. Another factor I’m sure that played a role in their decision was that the venue and grounds are dog friendly, so their beautiful rescue dog Betsy was allowed to be in attendance and escort the bride and groom down the aisle and watch over them throughout the entire ceremony. The beautiful pup provided more than a few amazing candid moments, outside of the stunning Bride, Betsy got her fair share of attention, hugs and kisses (and hot dog treats of course!).
It was a beautifully eclectic melange of old and new traditions. Upholding their traditional Chinese values, Rochelle and Jason started their wedding celebration with the traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony inside the rustic lodge, followed by a beautiful outdoor ceremony among the trees behind the Colborne Lodge Museum. The vintage elements and aesthetics were naturally at the forefront due to the Colborne Lodge’s authentic setting. The first half of the wedding day was intentionally private and intimate, with immediate family exclusively being present to witness Jason and Rochelle commit their love to one another. It was special to be part of such an exclusive and small wedding ceremony. To be among such important people (and animal) in the couple’s lives isn’t something lost on me and it’s something that’s always really sunk on for me within the moment.
To cap things off, they had their closest friends and family unite at the George Restaurant on Queen Street East in Downtown Toronto, a well kept secret in the heart of the city. The hidden and secluded outdoor back patio made for the perfect atmosphere for Jason and Rochelle to mingle with their friends and family prior to their outstanding dinner.
I really admired how both Jason and Rochelle structured their entire wedding day. It goes to show that you can get married in Toronto and still keep things intimate and modern without completely letting go and abandoning who you are and the culture you grew up with, sometime I can personally relate to coming from a European immigrant family myself. A small intimate wedding within High Park’s forest, what more is there to say?
Song of the day
Another Good Morning - Breakup Shoes
It’s that time of year where warm weather is frustratingly close, but the longer days and frequent sunshine create this unwavering ability to help me see an intrinsic beauty in every day life. Spring is without a doubt my favourite time of year. The congruence of the death with new life, the plain brown colour palette of the world slowly transitioning to bright greens, it all brings together a larger picture while playing close attention to finer details that are otherwise overlooked.
As a creative individual, I’m always looking to creative industries outside of my own to learn something new and find creative inspiration I can use in my own new and unique ways. Meeting Clarissa and Peter was a gift since they are both incredible architects with a beautiful creative eye for modern, minimalist design. They designed and built their home together, and were kind enough to have me over to photograph them over the course of a morning and afternoon. (Check out the beautiful in-home session we did together here)
The entire wedding had a nearly methodical planning that directly and indirectly related to their lives as architects.
Their first look location at the Bay-Adelaide was an homage to Clarissa’s career in architecture. She worked for the firm responsible for the building’s design and watching her take the long walk from end of the building to the other was truly a special moment.
It goes without saying that their venues were in themselves a love story to the art of architecture. St. Michael’s Cathedral in downtown Toronto, followed by The Chase Restaurant in the Financial District showcased an extraordinary polarity between the classic and modern takes on architecture and design. Clarissa played on this dichotomy and had two wedding dresses for each venue. A traditional, modern and minimal gown for the church ceremony, and a more modern lace cocktail style wedding dress for the ceremony that elegantly harmonized with her urban surrounding.
A great bonus for me, outside of the most amazing food I’ve had at a wedding, was the opportunity to shoot some 120 and 35mm film. The Hasselblad 501 c/m and Leica M4-P were fed Kodak Tri-X and Portra generously throughout the day. It was the perfect opportunity for this since I got to share in the wedding day shooting experience with my very talented friend Erich Deleeuw. His approach to art and photography is one I truly respect. His approach to fine-art documentary photography is very similar to mine, so it was a natural partnership.
Classic, vintage, modern, fine art, minimalist and urban all mixed into one. Leave it to a pair of architects to flawlessly execute such a naturally eclectic combination with unexcelled results.
Downtown Toronto vibes written all over this one.
Song of the day
Kendrick Lamar - LOVE, Feat - Zacari
Living in Canada, I welcome spending an entire week in the middle of January in 25 degree weather. It didn’t take much convincing on Alexx and Jason’s part to get us on board with the idea of taking off to sun-soaked days by the beach and west-coast light. Their wedding was a stark contrast to our last encounter, a low-key hike in Banff Alberta in the dead of winter.
I first met Jason back when photographing Tara and Devin’s beautiful wedding at Madsen’s Gardens. That wedding provided me with a great introduction to the tight-knit group that is more family than friends. Although I came from Toronto to shoot the wedding, it was the furthest thing from a destination wedding experience.
These two are cool. Like, spitting hip-hop lyrics on the dance floor flawlessly without skipping a beat kind of cool , so I wasn’t surprised when they told me they were having their wedding on the rooftop of a private Beach Club, away from the chaos of the resorts and cruise ships in the distant view.
Since we were in Cabo, we were a stone’s throw away from beautiful desert landscapes, we caught the sunset and golden light at just the right time and took full advantage of the beauty that inspired them to have their wedding here in the first place. The palm trees, cacti, stunning rolling mountain landscape, dripping light; everything went entirely hand in hand with Alexx and Jason’s vintage bohemian desert paradise look. A timeless aesthetic that was a dream for me to experience and capture simultaneously. The sunset painted the sky various hues or red, pink, purple and yellow, adding a heightened and almost romanticized emotional experience pulled out from every feel good set in the 80’s. It was like an editorial scene from Vice City in ’85 and it sucked me in.
The only thing to trump the beauty of the landscape was the great candid moments between the group throughout the day. The sort of candid emotion that only really comes out when people are comfortable and at ease because they are surrounded by their closest friends and loved ones. The people who have been there through thick and thin and shared in those special moments in your life with you. From best friends making surprise appearances on the wedding day, to the emotional vows exchanged on the rooftop overlooking the infinite ocean, there were plenty of moments that incited tears of happiness and laughter.
That all being said, for being such a sentimental bunch, they sure party hard. The dance floor was slammed up until the very last second until they were asked (had to) leave. If not, I don’t doubt for a second that the party would’ve lasted for nearly another 12 hours. Instead, we opted for a house after-party followed by drinks and good conversation along the beach.
It’s always particularly special photographing a wedding that has layers of personal connections… and it doesn’t hurt when it’s in such a beautiful place like Cabo San Lucas, Baja California.
I came back with a tan and an abundance of memories that I’ll never forget.
Song(s) of the day
1) Drake - God’s Plan
2) Len - Steal My Sunshine (only because it played on the radio while I was there and it’s sooo bad it’s kinda good)