This isn’t my first go around photographing a wedding at Graydon Hall in Toronto. The beautiful manor and landscape has an incredibly authentic vintage aesthetic and mood to it. A real gem of a wedding venue to have as a playground for photographing a wedding, especially somewhere so central within Toronto.
Coincidentally, both times I’ve shot a wedding at Graydon Hall it’s rained, and if you ask me, that’s not really a bad thing since 1) it usually only rains for about 20 minutes in Toronto and 2) it create a beautiful atmosphere and mood that Mark and Jenn got to take advantage of to create an ethereal wedding experience for themselves and their closest friends and family. The combination was the perfect storm in order for me to use put some classic Kodak black and white medium format film through my 6x7 camera. There was something utterly timeless by the entire event that was just screaming to be photographed on analog film, so I trusted my instincts and couldn’t be happier that I did. Wedding photos at Graydon Hall have that potential for timelessness, so a shooting a wedding on film was the natural choice (but I say that a lot I’m sure).
I felt a bit of pressure to exceed my own expectations at this wedding for a few reasons. Mark and Jenn work at the Canadian Olympic Committee here in Toronto, and I’ve personally photographed a few projects for the COC over the years, so naturally I wanted to put my best foot forward to uphold my reputation, but most importantly, I was highly recommended by a close friend of mine who works with both Jenn and Mark at the COC and I wanted to be sure to live up to the honour of being recommended. Although I say I was a bit worried, I really quickly got over it since both Jenn and Mark are some of the most down to earth and easy to get along people I’ve ever met, making the entire process seamless and genuinely enjoyable for me as a wedding photographer.
Rain or shine the wedding was full of love and genuine exchanges between everyone involved in the wedding day, from the bridal party to invited guests, everyone was so quick to share a prolonged and deliberate hug, a soft smile, a gentle kiss on their partner’s cheek as a kind reminder of the love in the room and no one was afraid to show their deeply rooted love through the form of tears, and there were many.
Although the rain moved us inside the beautiful space of Graydon Hall, it wasn’t a downgrade in any way, shape or form. The ceremony space was intimate, everyone completely involved and present throughout the entire process and the proximity added a level of energy that couldn’t be achieved in the large outdoor space on the Graydon Hall grounds.
Like I said before, rain doesn’t last long here in Toronto, and by the time the dinner and reception began the rain had ceased and slowly morphed into a light mist and eventually settled into a delicate fog, creating an undercurrent of ambiance that was seemingly otherworldly, and Mark and Jenn had a front row seat beneath the clear tent to watch it all unfold and the blood orange sun began to sink behind the horizon as they toasted to their new chapter.
What followed was truly special. Watching the bride and groom engulfed in fog share their first dance on the grounds of Graydon Hall while all their guests held sparklers and sang along to Coldplay’s “Green Eyes”, was one of the most naturally beautiful collective acts of love I’ve ever witnessed at a wedding.
The party continued with high energy and dancing, but not before having almost everyone checking in on Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals where the hometown Toronto Raptors captured the W to propel them to their first ever NBA Finals appearance. The serendipitous events led to a larger than life celebration with the bride and groom at the core and people danced the night away as Mark and Jenn snuck off to make the most of the foggy evening sunset.
As they stood in the foggy distance, I saw this haunting beauty that was a combination of the atmosphere but mostly because I was witnessing a pivotal and instantly memorable moment in the wedding day. I think the bride and groom felt it too as they took a few extra minutes to embrace and share in an intimate and quiet moment to take in each other’s energy and feel one another’s heartbeat.
The day was special and memorable on its own, but ultimately having that personal connection with Mark & Jenn is what really brought the experience of creating images to life for me. It’s insane that I can personally get sentimental and nostalgic over someone else’s wedding photos but somehow I can, and am as I write this journal entry out. It’s amazing how much you can learn from other people when you take the time to observe them in highly emotional situations, but Jenn and Mark really let us in and by doing so, I understood them, their relationship and I was allowed to feel the incredible passion and the potency of the love they had for each other and every single person in their lives.
I’ll be thinking about this one for a very long time to come.
Song of the Day
Green Eyes - Coldplay
B-Side track of the day
Put You First - Tyler Burkhart