Food is love. This simple thought completely encompasses my experience photographing Gary and Cheryl’s beautiful vintage wedding on Niagara on the Lake.
I’ll start by saying this - the food at this wedding was out of control, legitimately some of the best I’ve ever had, not just at a wedding, but ever. Leading up to the wedding both the bride and groom emphasized how the wedding was meant to be a beautiful celebration of their long-lasting love for one another, with the key ingredient being food, something both Gary and Cheryl value highly, and I’ll be the first to say, that the food did not disappoint. Outside of the wedding I’ve photographed at the Chase in downtown Toronto, I’ve never had a meal at a wedding stick with me in this way before.
Gary and Cheryl have been together for a long time, and the wedding was filled with highly personal touches and many avenues of nostalgia. To start, the entire wedding was held in Port Dalhousie, Cheryl’s hometown that has as much character and Canadiana as any place I’ve ever been to in Ontario. The groom got ready in a beautiful country home along with his two sons, providing beautiful candid moments between the three of them, offering a unique family experience and bonding moments as they anxiously prepared for the day ahead. The bride opted to get ready in her childhood home. A place filled with fragments of Cheryl’s youth, her family’s history, vintage old photographs, and of course, one of the coolest, most authentically retro basements I’ve ever had the privilege of stepping foot in. When I say this basement was retro and vintage, I genuinely mean that it was an actual time capsule back into the 1960’s. The furniture in perfect condition, seemingly modern at this point, red and orange lights create the ultimate mood for anyone hoping to relax and take a moment. The walls were covered with images of Cheryl, her parents, family members, trophies and vintage artwork. I was utterly obsessed with the space and was so excited that both the bride and groom (and the bride’s father) were so willing to let me capture portraits that were downright strange and thematic to something out of a Stanley Kubrick flick.
The personal touch of being in Cheryl’s parents vintage home didn’t go unnoticed, and it truly added to the depth and detail of the entire first part of the wedding day.
The backyard is home to a beautiful cherry tree, a monument within Cheryl’s family and their lives. The perfect place for a candid and emotional first look between the bride and groom.
The first part of the day was concluded with the bride and groom celebrating with their immediate family, toasting to the celebration ahead.
St. Catherine’s rowing club was the perfect venue to hold an intimate outdoor ceremony among trees, and the perfect vintage venue to hold all of the bride and groom’s friends and families for an incredible dining experience. With the help of a cartwheeling flower girl and a young ukulele musician and vocalist, the very excited and joyous bride made her way down the aisle, captivating the entire audience as her father escorted her to the groom.
As the night went on Gary and Cheryl decided to take in the beautiful pink sunset for some golden hour and blue hour portraits by the lake. The stunning scene and natural beauty of our surroundings made for the ultimate quiet moment for the bride and groom to cherish and enjoy together. To highlight the importance of the organic, locally sourced meal we were about to have, Cheryl made a small speech about the food we were about to eat and highlight the elevated level of work done by Treadwell, the restaurant who catered the event, which allowed everyone to have a deep understanding and appreciation for the complex and beautiful meal they were about to enjoy. The tomato water soup was unforgettable, the whitefish and beef short-rib were just as incredible. A complete dining experience that left people in awe and with their stomachs full.
While people took in the incredible meal both the bride and groom shared some beautiful speeches. The groom actually read an old letter he had written to the bride in the earlier stages of their relationship, providing a deep and heartfelt look into the intimate part of their relationship. The nostalgia wasn’t lost on anyone in the room, as nearly every single guest was forced to wipe tears from their eyes and the groom choked up reading back through his thick book of letters that kindly reminded him , and everyone in attendance, that their love for each other, and their love for their family, was present since the start.
The night progressed, wine was drank, Gary and Cheryl enjoyed a beautiful first dance both inside and outside the venue below the stars and string-light, friends and family mingled and laughed the night away. Dances were shared, moments were cherished, and I couldn’t help but smile when I caught the bride’s mother and father share in a deeply intimate moment as they shared the dance floor together. Love was definitely present that day, felt by all, highly contagious and unavoidable.
Food is love, and that night, nobody went home hungry.
Song of the day
Orange Sky - Alexi Murdoch