St. Lawrence Market is a staple of downtown Toronto. I never had the opportunity to photograph a wedding there, so when the Sara-Christine and Kevin mentioned they’d be hosting an intimate and small wedding at the St.Lawrence Market Kitchen, I was excited for all the possibilities that came along with that for their wedding photography.
The bride and groom crossed paths with me and my photography on a generous recommendation from former colleagues of mine from my days as a photojournalist here in Toronto. Sara-Christine being a journalist herself, I felt a good sort of pressure to tackle this wedding day like a photojournalistic or documentary assignment, so that the images can have an air of authenticity that truly represents the bride and groom’s relationship and their individual personalities. I will admit however, that they made my task very easy, letting go of their reservations and truly trusting my presence, allowing themselves to interact with one another naturally and embracing the fleeting moments throughout the wedding day. I know the term documentary wedding photographer and photojournalistic wedding photography are often used as buzz-words in the wedding photography industry, but this time around, I sincerely felt my approach called for that photojournalism mentality.
Being in an old and historic building, St.Lawrence market provides a beautiful setting for weddings. The bride and groom opted for a casual family style dinner with some incredible food options, including liquid nitrogen popcorn (seriously, you read that right, liquid nitrogen popcorn), and with St.Lawrence Market shutting down for the evening, we had the entire place to ourselves. Their friends and family travelled from all over Canada, the U.S. and beyond to witness their intimate wedding and to experience some incredible food and lasting memories.
The entire wedding was held in the upstairs in the St.Lawrence Market Kitchen, which provides a beautiful and modern open concept space that was perfect for the family style dinner they had planned for the evening. The ceremony took place in front of beautiful floor to ceiling windows and with a breathtaking view of the Toronto skyline, the sun began to set as the bride and groom exchanged vows, rings and shared their first kiss as husband and wife. The ceremony was highly sentimental as the bride and groom read their personally written vows to one another, infusing their personalities into the wedding ceremony in the most beautiful of ways.
Being in such a vibrant part of downtown Toronto led us to exploring a few alleyways and making the most of the authentic old Toronto architecture for their portraits. The vibe of the entire day was relaxed and laid back, full of great conversations and stories about the well-travelled bride and groom. Weddings in the city can in fact be intimate, the urban jungle isn’t always overwhelmingly chaotic as we’re made out believe, yes, even in downtown Toronto of all places.
After getting to know Sara-Christine and Kevin, it was without question that the choice of St.Lawrence market for their intimate wedding, was absolutely perfect. They’ve both travelled all-over the world and are extremely well cultured, so naturally hosting their wedding in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, and in one of the most eclectic and culturally rich market places in Toronto, it all made so much sense to me, and it was authentically them through and through.
Few places in Toronto are like the St.Lawrence market, and even fewer wedding venues come close to the authentic and intimate atmosphere the St. Lawrence market provides.
I couldn’t feel any luckier to have been part of the select few people who got to experience Sara-Christine and Kevin’s love culminate to this current pinnacle. It was truly an unforgettable experience for me as a wedding photographer, and the memory of this experience will begin and end with the two fantastic people I had the pleasure of capturing and documenting.
Song of the Day
It’s Real - Real Estate
A wedding at Elora Mills in the spring is music to any Toronto based wedding photographer. The opportunity to leave the chaos of the city and enjoy some small-town charm is a welcome change, not to mention the town of Elora has incredible green spaces and outdoor photo locations that I was eager to explore with the bride and groom. For the first spring wedding of 2019, we lucked out and only got a bit of rain, but luckily, Elora Mill is full of character and charm of its own, so we had no shortage of great shooting locations.
The rustic charm of Elora Mill could be found in every corner of the grounds, including the spacious bedrooms where the Bride and Groom got ready before their first look surrounded by stone walls and old-time charm.
Chelsey and Justing wanted to take the opportunity to read their personal vows to each other in private, so that they could be openly express their emotions and love for one another with all focus being present in that very moment. We snuck down to a cave-like room where the bride and groom exchanged an emotional set of words as we could hear the rain slowly tapping on the windows. It was an incredibly beautiful moment, atmospheric and genuine. It was a kind reminder that it’s so important to take a few moments throughout the wedding day to actually share a sentimental moments with the person you love, because most of the day is incredibly fleeting you’ll thank yourself for absorbing a shared moment in time on the wedding day.
Elora, a quaint town that has so much character in addition to the stunning greenery and local landscapes, including the Elora Gorge, where the bride and groom opted for wedding photos, was unlike any place I’ve photographed for a wedding. The bride packed her trusty Blundstones and was equipped and ready for our short hike down to the gorge and waterfall. Adventures on your wedding day will always result in fantastic wedding photos, it’s almost a guarantee.
I was pretty excited to get such a breathtaking location (within Ontario!) to set the scene for some natural and beautiful portraits. On our hike down to the Elora Gorge, Justin was telling us about some childhood and teenage memories he had with his siblings playing in the water and by the waterfall, and how returning here for his wedding photos was incredibly surreal and amazing at the same time. I had no idea that the groom had this deep and authentic sentimental attachment to the location, which just added a new layer of depth to the images that can’t ever be seen or understood by anyone outside of their circle. The nostalgia added a new cinematic and moody element to the bride and groom portraits, as it was obvious through Chelsey and Justin’s interactions with one another, that this place really meant something to them and they felt like they could really be themselves in that moment.
The wedding ceremony was held at Elora Mill and was beautifully and elegantly staged with blooming florals and greenery, creating a romantic mood that balanced out the funny in-between moments between the bride and groom as they exchanged rings and their first kiss in front of their closest friends and family.
The wedding reception at Elora Mill had rustic and vintage vibes, incredible food, hilarious speeches (that included a guest appearance by Chelsey’s lifelong teddybear) and a painter, who was creating a dynamic and unique work of art influenced by the wedding day itself. Seeing the painter create this incredible custom artwork in that very moment was unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed at a wedding before. The final piece is a portrait of the bride and groom dancing, surrounded by an abstract representation of Elora Mill and the reception space. It’s an unbelievably unique and creative element that Chelsey and Justin added to their wedding day, and they have a lifelong keepsake as a result.
A wedding at Elora Mill in the spring, sure it might rain, but if you’re anything like Chelsey and Justin, you’ll make the most of it and live through an incredible wedding day experience.
Song of the Day
Golden Haze - Wild Nothing
Some of my favourite experiences as a Toronto wedding photographer has been to photograph the various elopements I’ve been lucky to be a part of over the past few years.
I’ve been part of some extremely memorable city hall elopements at Toronto City Hall, including a surprise elopement , a sunrise elopement, a sunset elopement and a beautiful fall elopement to name a few of my all-time favourites.
What’s incredibly special about eloping in Toronto is that you can truly have an intimate and unique elopement since the city is so culturally rich and beautiful in many different ways.
Denisa and Adam opted for a fall elopement at Toronto City Hall, but not before spending some time together exploring the beauty around Queen Street and Riverdale Park. The surrounding neighbourhoods have some of the most character-rich and authentically Toronto locations. Combined with the being surrounded by nature at the absolute peak time of the metamorphosis of colours, Denisa and Adam’s elopement was sincerely beautiful and naturally them.
The bride’s modern yet untraditional wedding dress mimicked art as it flowed through the red leaves and those slowly turning brown as we walked through the Riverdale neighbourhood, strolling through alleys, taking in the sunset at the park and finally stopping for some coffee in a nearby Art Gallery. At times, the bride and groom reminded me of the Bob Dylan album cover for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Similar to that album art, Denisa and Adam seemingly had an entire city to themselves, strolling through the streets while enjoying the in-between moments they shared with one another. My only job was to be there and capture them as they were in that moment in time and to experience the atmosphere of our surroundings in hopes of materializing them in my images.
As the sun set we made our way over to Toronto City Hall where they officially eloped in front of their immediate families. The ceremony had a sense of calmness to it, and the handful of people present, myself included, could really feel the energy between the two high school sweethearts. As the officiant pronounced them husband and wife for the first time, Denisa and Adam, overwhelmed with emotion, hugged one another in a moment that seemed to freeze in time.
I really learned something through my experience of photographing Denisa & Adam’s City Hall elopement ; It really doesn’t matter if a wedding or elopement is happening in a familiar place, it’s truly the people who are part of the experience that shape the atmosphere and environment. Although the experience of shooting wedding photos at City Hall isn’t new to me, working with Denisa & Adam was new to me, and they really allowed me to see my very own neighbourhood and Toronto city hall in new ways through new experiences with different people.
Album of the Day
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan
A winter wedding in one of Liberty Village’s best restaurants / bars? Yup.
Mike and Amanda’s wedding at the Craft Brasserie & Grille was one of my absolute favourite winter weddings to date. It was very cool to be a part of the first wedding ever hosted at the Craft. The Toronto neighbourhood of Liberty Village offers so much variety for photographs and wedding options that I was beyond excited to have this wedding on the books so early on in the year.
I was fortune enough to cross paths with the bride and groom after I photographed Caitlin and Jon’s wedding (insert link to their blog post, and within a few months of their February wedding in Liberty Village, we met up at the Craft to have a variety of craft beers and check out the space before it was transformed for their winter wedding.
There was so much to love about the entire wedding day, including the weather. Although we’ve been treated with a cold winter this year, Mike and Amanda got one of their milder days which gave us so much flexibility for the photos.
Liberty Village has that old Toronto charm in various alleys and back streets, so naturally we took advantage of the vintage aesthetic for their first look, the bridal party photos and their portraits. The beautiful red bricks of the old buildings really contrasted with the white and grey that the winter provided.
The first look was set in the middle of Liberty Village and it felt like we had the entire area to ourselves and we sort if did. I vividly remember their first look and how excited Amanda was and how she was unable to contain her happiness and curiosity, peeking around the corner to see her soon to be husband standing in the middle of the street. It was a cute, genuine and inspiring moment where their love revealed itself in a subtle form.
Amanda looked incredible in her minimal and subtle modern bridal look, sheer elegance with a bit of flair thanks to a beautiful shawl. The entire aesthetic and vibe of the wedding was 100% Mike and Amanda : low-key fun with a bit of quirkiness. I mean, if you’re getting married in a restaurant that serves with 120 craft beers on tap, you probably appreciate good times in a good atmosphere with your closest friends and family, and that’s exactly what this wedding was.
Of course, we took advantage of the beautiful space and MASSIVE keg room for some unique and off-the-cuff portraits, I actually think it was colder in the keg fridge than it was outside, but the bride and groom didn’t flinch, probably thanks to a few of those craft beers keeping the blood warm. I never expected to get a romantic vibe from a keg room / beer fridge, but Mike and Amanda took the time to get away from their friends and family to enjoy a second together, alone, and take in the quiet moment as they the feelings of their entire wedding day washed over them.
With the sun setting early, the mood quickly turned to a lively vibe where guests were mingling, dancing, and tasting all 120 craft beers available to them as they chowed down on some incredible BBQ dinner. The night was filled was laughs, and no bigger laugh came then the moment the bride attempted to pour a pint of beer for herself and her groom, only to quickly fill the glass with head and spilling the excess beer on her wedding dress! It was a hilarious moment that I’m sure none of us will forget.
It was a beautiful day, and although I hate the cold, it was without a doubt worth standing outside to witness the natural and candid moments unfold between these two incredibly genuine people on their wedding day.
A winter wedding in Liberty Village Toronto, done right.
Song of the Day
Sanctuary - Ruby Haunt
The 2019 wedding season kicked off with some familiar faces in a familiar place, the Broadview Hotel, in the heart of my former neighbourhood of Riverside, Toronto’s not so hidden gem anymore in the East end of downtown which played host to Seana and Bryce’s winter wedding.
I met both Seana and Bryce a few years ago when I photographed her sister Danielle’s wedding at Boehmer restaurant. At the time we joked that if I did a good enough job that sometime in the near future I’d likely get to be photograph Seana’s wedding, and here we are, a few years later at the Broadview Hotel fulfilling the prophesy. After my first experience wit their families I knew wholeheartedly that this wedding was going beyond enjoyable and relaxing.
It’s also cool for me to get the insight on family traditions and habits including Seana’s grandmother wearing her vintage dress that she wore to her own daughter’s wedding and Danielle’s wedding a few years ago, was a moment I was personally looking forward to. I was also excited to potentially unconsciously capture re-created moments like the bride’s grandfather taking a portrait of her much like he did years ago with his other granddaughter. In all facets of my work, I’m always habitually drawn to photographs that I’ve taken of familiar people, I’m given an unconstrained perspective of who people really are at times which gives me a personal feeling of nostalgia that can’t quite be explained but somehow comes through when looking at the images. A unique and rare opportunity as a wedding photographer, so I wanted to make the most of it as much as I possibly could.
Winter weddings are somewhat rare here in Toronto, but anytime I get the privilege to capture one, I often wonder why they aren’t more popular. The Broadview Hotel was the perfect place for their winter wedding as a matter of fact. The rustic and modern interior of the hotel provided limitless opportunities for us to capture artistic images, the glass rooftop made for a romantic setting for the first look and portraits. The ceremony was also held on the glass rooftop, and being treated with a sunny winter day, the entire ceremony space was filled with pale light through all the windows as the sun began to slowly set. The entire ambiance of the day was vivid and an homage to people who appreciate a retro-modern industrial vibe that truly represents the current feeling of living in Toronto.
Of course, the neon Broadview Hotel made an appearance at the end of the evening, providing the vintage aesthetic to bring the entire day together as the bride and groom enjoyed a moment alone to appreciate the ephemeral nature of their thoughts, emotions and the entire day leading up to that point.
I wanted to represent this feeling as much as possible, the help of analog film played a huge role on this day for that very purpose. Shooting rolls of Super 8mm film to accompany some 35mm film helped me capture a tangible feeling that could only be truly experienced in the present moment otherwise. I grew up watching Super 8 footage of my family and always remember getting extremely sentimental watching the films, no matter how old I was or how many times I’ve re-watched the same reels, I was always brought back to a moment and place in time that would be otherwise fleeting, I could still somehow live in that moment over and over again through those sentimental emotions.
I wanted to do my very best to give Seana and Bryce the opportunity to look back on their beautiful wedding day and feel that way about their memories. We’ll always somewhat forget the mundane details, but we rarely forget how we felt.
If you’d like to feel a bit of that nostalgia, the Super 8mm highlight clip is at the end of this blog post.
Song/Album of the Day
White Horses - Tyler Burkhart - 2012-2016 (Album)
Once in a while I cross paths with people who truly understand me and the intention behind the work I create. I find it often difficult to articulate a lot of what’s going on in my mind and heart when I’m taking photographs. Wedding photography had put me in a weird place and I was at a crossroads, writing an elegy in my mind when I had initially met Karl & Emeiko at the Wedding Co. Market the year of their wedding.
We probably spoke for a solid hour at the event, going through albums, discussing various facts about ourselves which led to Emeiko explaining her father’s career as a photographer and how analog photography “just made sense” for her wedding. After seeing her father’s work, I felt the pressure, but I was so excited to be using analog film to tell their story all the while paying homage to an important element of her relationship with her father. It’s something I can deeply relate to and made me feel sentimental and nostalgic throughout their wedding day, and those are two feelings I often try to hone in my own personal work so to have it carry over to a wedding was special to me.
I always find these little things about people that I like to dig into as a photographer to help elevate my ability to photograph someone’s true self. I can’t entirely say for certain, but there was something about these two that made me feel at ease. Maybe it’s because Emeiko reminds me so much of my older sister, and maybe it’s because Karl has that French-Canadian charm I was became so accustomed to back in Ottawa throughout my childhood and teens while attending French school. I can’t say for certain what it was that drew me in, but it was sincere.
Leading up to the wedding I got to hangout with them at Toronto Island, where we walked the flooded Island that we had to ourselves and took the late night ferry back to the city as we came down from a midnight wish, staring at the clouds as we felt the wind at our backs. It was one of those hyper-real experiences that you only share with people close to you and people who have no hesitation of letting go and living in a moment within your presence.
Having gone through that I had high hopes for Karl & Emeiko’s two part wedding day that they had set out, with part 1 setting the stage with their Toronto City Hall elopement in the morning. With the Broadview Hotel playing host to both their getting ready’s and their first look.
They played the first part of the day as casually as you can think, starting off bright and early with the groom making a pit stop at the flower shop to pick up his soon-to-be bride’s first bouquet of the day.
The bride and groom decided to get ready together for the first part of the day providing candid moments like Emeiko helping Karl with his tie only to have him return the favour in helping her put the final touches on her white jumpsuit. It was both beautiful and intimate to see them both nervously anticipate what was to come, yet being able to comfort each other through laughter and kind gestures along the way. I’m glad they saved their first look for the second ceremony since I got a unique experience and insight into their relationship and the transition from two people in love, to two people bonded by commitment.
The Broadview hotel provided a great atmosphere with quirks and sophistication. A vinyl record player in the room adding to the ambiance and allowing Karl and his mom to bond over Tycho’s album “Hours” and discussing how to pronounce the band’s name - we settle of “ ’pti chaud” (small-hot translated from French to English).
Emeiko looked stunning. A walking editorial ad. A bride that jumped right out of the pages of Aritzia’s lookbook, with utter confidence and stunning beauty making the white jumpsuit seem like the natural choice for any modern bride getting eloped in the city.
After snapping some shots on 35mm film and 120 medium format film around the hotel - we jetted off to Toronto’s City Hall for their elopement in the presence of their immediate family… and us. An intimate elopement if I’ve ever seen one.
Part 1 of the day was capped off with lunch at the Broadview Hotel’s retro bar - where the bride and groom indulged in some fantastic burgers and good conversation.
There’s a lot more I can say about this day, and these two, but maybe I’ll save that for part 2. If you think part 1 was good, part 2 is without a doubt worth waiting for.
Song/Album of the Day
Elegy - Tycho - Hours (album)