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