As a wedding photographer living in Toronto, the opportunity to shoot a wedding in the West Coast among mountains is truly special. We get to travel to Alberta frequently, seeing as Ryanne is originally from Calgary, we take any chance we can get to visit her hometown and surrounding areas like Banff and Canmore.
When we met Melanie and Michael at the Wedding Co. Market last year we instantly hit it off, we connected on numerous levels including our deep connections to Ottawa, Toronto and Calgary, all places that both Ryanne and I are personally connected to and all places Mike and Mel lived in together. Like Ryanne and I, Melanie and Michael’s love blossomed through athletics, we truly understood the type of relationship they had and we really connected with them on a personal level which made travelling to Canmore much more meaningful to us than just shooting beautiful mountains for our portfolios.
That being said, shooting within the mountains of Canmore is any Canadian wedding photographer’s dream, the scenic views are endless and the energy of being within the pure landscape of Canadiana is highly inspirational. The bride and groom both got ready at the Fire Mountain Lodge, providing us with a background of beautiful mountains and distant fog. Mel and Mike opted to have a first look among trees in a forest, combined with the overcast weather the first look happened within a cinematic and ethereal atmosphere which likely heightened both the bride and groom’s emotions as they couldn’t be contain once they laid eyes on one another. Mel and Mike embraced in what seemed like a moment suspended in time, with a sliver of light beaming through the trees they held one another in one of the most sincere and candid emotional moments of the entire wedding day.
The wedding ceremony took place at the Canmore Ranch, an incredible location that provided the bride and groom’s guest with a scenic views of mountains as a backdrop for the I do’s and vows being exchanged. This wedding wasn’t without emotions, from both ends of the spectrum. In what might be the most memorable and hilarious wedding moment I’ve EVER witnessed, the groom’s nephew stole the spotlight for a moment when he decided it was good idea to run all over the bride’s dress during the exchange of vows. Everyone got a huge laugh out of that moment, maybe except Michael’s brother who looked on in terror as things unfolded.
Before heading back to the Cornerstone Theatre we took an adventure with the bridal party to Grassy Lakes Park and Bow River where we made the most of unique locations like the Engine Bridge and the flowing glacier water of the river and lakes. The Bride and groom enjoyed some quiet moments as we did their portraits within the subtle mist and fog brought on by the unusually wet summer that Alberta faced this year. The unique and rare lush Alberta weather really enhanced the ambiance and brought on a subtly dark and romantic vibe to the entire portrait session. With the mountains making their presence felt in the background and the misty fog rolling in, it was all really about the connection that the bride and groom had and it was clear being surrounded by forests and mountains really made them feel right at home and at ease in each other’s embrace.
The reception was held within the rustic setting of the Cornerstone Theatre right in the heart of Canmore. The event kicked off with a beautifully intimate first dance between the bride and groom followed by a teary-eyed mother daughter dance. It was abundantly clear that the relationship that Mel and her mother have is deeply rooted and no one was able to contain their tears as they watched on, even bride and her mom had to clean up a few tears of their own providing us with a truly special and memorable moment.
We’re so privileged as wedding photographers to collaborate with such incredible individuals on an incredibly intimate moment in their lives. We consider people like Melanie and Michael our friends and meeting up for drinks with them whenever we’re in Ottawa will definitely be a reoccurring event that we look forward to. At the end of the day, the forests, the beautiful mountains of Alberta etc. are all minor details when looking back at this wedding day. It was really about the people, the connection and the love of bringing people together from all over Canada to celebrate two incredible people about to take the next step in their journey together. It was a beautiful wedding that I won’t soon forget and I could never thank Melanie and Michael enough for trusting our creative vision enough to fly us over to Alberta to be part of the monumental occasion.
Song of the Day
Push - Fog Lake
Michelle and Finbarr held a beautiful wedding at Junction Craft Brewing in Toronto that provided an authentic rustic ambiance within a modern brewery setting.
I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle and Finbarr through the Wedding Co Market this last winter so I knew that we would be like minded in our vision for the wedding photos, creating a natural connection to allow them both to be themselves throughout the entire process.
The day began with the bride and her family getting ready in a quaint AirBnB in the west end, while the groom and his pack got ready at the vintage Old Mill Spa. The easy-going tone for the wedding day was set and both parties made their way to Junction Craft Brewery for the wedding day celebrations.
The rustic and wooden architecture of Junction Craft Brewing is seriously understated. You’d never guess from the modern exterior that there is this incredible space the beautifully melds a vintage aesthetic to a modern industrial vibe. It was the perfect setting for Finbarr to first see Michelle as she walked down the aisle with her father. The entire moment was enhanced by the beautiful sun rays beaming through the large skylight above. Although I was setup pretty high up, I could vividly see Finbarr’s smile as he first saw Michelle.
Once the bride and groom said their I do’s, their friends and family gathered around the brewery for some craft beer and laughs, which gave us the opportunity to head over to James Garden for a few bridal portraits. James Garden was beautiful and we arrived at the perfect time as the sun was begin to slowly descend into the late afternoon. Michelle and Finbarr got to explore the beautiful park and enjoy a few quiet moments together now as husband and wife.
The reception featured some of the absolute best vegan food I’ve ever gotten to eat, great beer (again) and a few tears and laughs as family and friends reminisce over the good old days. Wedding speeches are usually focused on memories of the past, naturally, but what really struck me about Michelle and Finbarr was their ability to really live in the now, and appreciate the moments that were currently manifesting into new memories. I wasn’t completely surprised by that though seeing as how down to earth they both really are.
Once golden hour struck, the bride and groom went to chase the final few moments of light, providing me with some candid emotion now that the party was on the brink of beginning.
Although I love Junction Brewery beer and beautiful weddings in breweries, it’s definitely the people I remember most, and Michelle and Finbarr are an unforgettable pair.
Song of the Day
Imagine - John Lennon
Amen and Joe’s wedding was fraught with undercurrents and symbolism that elevated it beyond simply being a beautiful and modern wedding at The Chase Toronto. Throughout the wedding day there were numerous elements that represented a piece of both the bride and groom as individuals , the nuances of their partnership and the evolution of their relationship. Combine that authenticity with the beauty of the Campbell House Museum and Osgood Hall, and you’ve got the makings of something truly remarkable in the realm of wedding photography.
When we first grabbed drinks with Amen and Joe at Boxcar Social in our old neighbourhood of Riverside, I vividly remember Amen’s idea of doing the bride and groom portraits at the Campbell House Museum in downtown Toronto. She explained how Ryanne’s editorial shoot at the Campbell House inspired her to the point that she specifically carved out the wedding timeline to guarantee we had the opportunity to use the beautiful and vintage aesthetic the Campbell House has to offer. Knowing we’d be using one of the most authentic and vintage photo locations in Toronto, shooting 35mm and 120 film was the natural choice for this wedding day. The timeless aesthetic and slow methodical process of shooting analog film was ideal to create wedding photos that went beyond our initial visions and went into the realm of nostalgic. It was also the perfect tool to capture the bride and groom as we explored the grounds of Osgood Hall before heading over to The Chase for the wedding ceremony and reception.
Before heading out to the Campbell House, the groom got dressed in their apartment back in Riverside , right across the street from where Ryanne and I used to live. In the meantime, the bride used the beautiful rustic and vintage space of the Kimpton Saint George Hotel to prepare for the wedding day. It goes without saying, but we were unbelievably spoiled that day as photographers. Shooting film in both the Kimpton Saint George Hotel AND the historical home of the Campbell House Museum in downtown Toronto, we were given every single opportunity to capture timeless portraits of the bride and groom while still remaining true to themselves.
The atmosphere and ambience were set by the Campbell House, and the first look presented a cinematic moment as Amen slowly descended the vintage staircase to her awaiting groom, who was awestruck by the modern vintage elegance the bride was showcasing. They couldn’t hold back the emotions or smiles, incapable of resisting temptation and kissing each other in-between candids moments of flaunting their wedding day style.
Once the first look was done we had ample time to explore the beautiful vintage Campbell House, using the natural mood and aesthetic of the environment that so perfectly matched the bride and groom. The editorial flare of the images is almost unintentional, Amen and Joe just have a natural modesty and seriousness to themselves that creates the perfect character for portraits within the Campbell House. It was also a happy coincidence that The Campbell House was hosting a Contact Photography Festival Exhibition by photographer Ayana V. Jackson titled “Fissure”, which added a poignant and beautifully unique context to work within for the wedding photos and portraits.
The wedding ceremony and reception were held on both floors of The Chase, with cocktail hour expanding to the outdoor rooftop patio, giving friends and family a beautiful view of the sunset over the Toronto skyline. The ceremony was full of laughs and tears as Amen and Joe exchanged vows in front of their closest friends and family who travelled from all corners of the world (literally) to see their bond unite and evolve to its next stage, including Amen’s father who came to Toronto from Nigeria to walk his daughter down the aisle.
The dinner was one of the best I’ve ever had. The Chase Toronto has some of the best food I’ve eaten at not only a wedding, but throughout my time living in Toronto. To match the food, the view from the dining room where immediate family were gathered for speeches, provided a stunning view of the golden hour and blue hour light spreading through the rifts and mazes of the buildings in downtown Toronto. As the bride and groom stood to speak to their guests, and to one another, there was an ethereal element of that early summer sunset light breaking through the windows and surrounding them as they spoke.
Amen and Joe are two of the most intelligent and sensible people I’ve ever met. Listening to their speech to one another opened my eyes to a level of sincerity that I have not ever seen from a bride and groom on their wedding day. Their understanding of the hard work involved in a relationship, their ability to push one another to be the best version of themselves, these two unhypocritically inspire one another, and in turn, evidently have a strong bond and it was apparent in every gaze, every considerate movement and every compassionate whisper or smile. As a wedding photographer, those are the minuscule human elements of connection that I look for when taking a photo, and Amen and Joe’s ability to be vulnerable with one another created a window into their spirit that is rare to experience.
The wedding was as much about the bride and groom, as it was also about their families, their heritage and personal cultures. With Amen’s Nigerian background and Joe’s Ukrainian roots, there was a beautiful blend of both culture’s traditional wedding practices, including various dances to honour the bride and groom’s new journey together. From there the party started and energy levels were sky high as everyone partied, danced and grubbed on late night snacks provided by the Chase.
I spoke to Amen on Instagram recently as I provided a sneak peek of the film scans I was doing of their wedding day. With my recent travels to Los Angeles and Canmore to photograph some weddings, I mentioned to Amen that the analog film and edits took longer than I had hoped and I apologized about it, to which she responded “Don’t apologize, the longer the better, seriously!”. I guess that’s part of the beauty of shooting film, it’s that you HAVE TO wait, you got no choice to live through the experience, walk way from it and let the memories sink in and develop naturally. By the time the film scans and edits are complete, you’ll have the images to fill in the gaps and reignite the deep rooted emotion and memory tied to every candid moment, every portrait and every detail.
I’m still blown away at how lucky Ryanne and I are to work with such like-minded individuals, it’s truly a privilege. With the pair moving to the U.K. in a few week where Amen will be completing her Doctorate, I’m heart-warmed that I have these photos and this experience to forever connect us.
Hopefully it was worth the wait.
Song of the Day
Dark and Handsome- Blood Orange ft. Toro Y Moi
Having grown up in Ottawa I’m always excited to get the opportunity to head back to my hometown to photograph a wedding, especially a beautiful cottage elopement in nearby Chelsea, Quebec. Driving through my old hometown, listening to the soundtrack of my teenage and young adult years, I felt a certain level of calm driving over to Quebec from Ottawa, remembering the endless trips I’ve made in the past with old friends as the setting afternoon sun gave me a glimpse of what was to come. Somehow, unintentionally, I was put in a documentary wedding photography mindset, hoping to tether my past life and emotional experiences growing up in Ottawa to this incredible cottage wedding I was about to photograph and document.
Galen & Elisha wanted to keep things simple and beautiful, hosting a private ceremony and dinner for themselves, a couple of close friends and immediate family only. The entire afternoon and early evening was laid back and the epitome of a low-key and intimate cottage wedding. Their wedding was a total collaborative effort between both families with everyone doing a little something to make it all come together. Galen’s father was BBQing some of the best homemade duck I’ve ever seen (likely prepared by multiple individuals), Elisha’s mother along with Galen’s sister helped the bride prepare her wedding dress, while everyone did a little something to help set the atmosphere and ambiance through minimalist and thoughtful decor to enhance the mood within and surrounding the grounds of the stunning cottage.
The bride and groom exchanged vows in the backyard of the cottage at the edge of a wooden balcony while standing on a beautiful rug, overlooking the forest and landscape of beautiful Chelsea Quebec. As the sun began to slowly set in the horizon it provided a cast of glowing light as their families gathered nearby to embrace the sentiment and major milestone in Galen and Elisha’s lives. There was something so incredibly honest and deeply beautiful about the ceremony and I think it mostly had to do with the little connections happening between everyone in attendance ; a soulful glance, a sincere smile, holding the person next to them as they fight back emotions and tears, it was this powerful energy that resonated throughout the cottage and surrounding forest. Elisha and Galen were intertwined as their eyes locked to one another’s throughout the entire wedding ceremony, taking in every single word and moment as the fleeting nature of the wedding wasn’t lost on them. After their first kiss they held each other briefly for a moment in what was a sincerely genuine and candid moment.
That nostalgic feeling I got while driving to the wedding was bursting through me like a patch of wildflowers in a heart of a forest as I got to spend the last few moments of golden hour alongside Galen and Elisha to take some beautiful, natural and editorial style wedding portraits on analog film around the forest and cottage.
There was something about their connection, something in their eyes as they looked at one another for a brief moment before collapsing into each other’s arms due to an overwhelming spectrum of emotions washing over them like a subtle rainfall in the middle of spring. Their ability to be completely connected to one another was incredible, their souls were aligned and they were essentially in their own world during that suspended moment in time. It was that deeply rooted and spirited connection with poignant elements of the coyness of young-love that connected with me. It was as if they were falling in love with one another over and over again, appreciating every gentle touch, spontaneous kiss and embrace in silence as they embraced one another’s energy. As the wedding photographer, and somewhat sensitive human being, I was engulfed in these emotions myself by sheer proxy, bringing me back to my youthful days when falling in love or being in love wasn’t so blasé and we enthusiastically cherished every single moment in that very feeling.
These two gave me everything I could ever ask for as a wedding photographer; they let go and lived in the moment, at that point, I simply had to be a documentary photographer, pushing the button at the moment everything comes together.
Add this intimate elopement to the list of amazing wedding photography experiences in 2019.
Song of the Day
Lessons For Later- Slow Hollows