Kelly and Tyler’s East Room wedding in downtown Toronto was the perfect mix of old and new, it’s only fitting that two extreme horror movie buffs would pull off such a modern industrial wedding with cinematic flair.
There were a few amazing coincidences that really brought out a natural and heightened creative perception in me when I was documenting Kelly and Tyler’s wedding at the East Room. First, I’m a huge cinema fan, horror especially. I think the week leading up to the wedding I watched the following movies - “Mandy”, “Beyond the Black Rainbow”, “Drive” and “Only God Forgives”. For those unfamiliar with those films, let’s just say they are highly visual films with unusually beautiful visual aesthetic.
Second, a lot of my personal photography projects revolve around photographing and documenting anachronistic scenes reminiscing of my childhood and many other nostalgic factors, the majority being old vintage cars.
As you’ll see further throughout the blog post, Kelly and Tyler unknowingly set up the ultimate locations and scenarios for me to create some of my all-time favourite portraits of a bride and groom on their wedding day.
To honour both the bride and groom’s appreciation for the cinematic, along with my creative subconscious pulling me into a specific direction, I photographed several frames throughout the day in 16:9 format to truly encompass that cinematic an documentary feeling of the wedding day. It only makes sense to pay homage to that by showcasing those images exclusively in this blog post.
Grab the popcorn.
The day kicked-off with the bride and groom having an intimate and candid moment together with a first look in front of a genuine vintage poster, followed by some bridal party photos outside of the East Room. On any normal day, the vintage and rustic vibe of the East Room’s red brick and industrial setting would be more than enough to capture some great images. The bride and groom really kicked things up a notch when they got (tricked?) one of their wedding guests to let us use his vintage Chrysler. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make Tyler and his brothers look like the new leads in a remake of Reservoir Dogs.
To continue with the trend of cinematic mood, the bride and groom made the most of the East Room’s interior vintage industrial space to capture some candid moments together and ultimately enjoy some time alone before the whirlwind ahead.
Aesthetically, I think the whole neon vibe was subconsciously present, something which the East Room delivers with their beautiful neon artwork staggered around the building, providing Kelly and Tyler some incredibly dark and moody locations to have a little bit of their appreciation for the dark and gloomy come through in their portraits.
Although the first part of the day seemed like being on a movie set, or like an editorial photoshoot, it didn’t feel that way at all. Kelly and Tyler naturally gravitate to these elements and I’m glad their authentic selves and their genuine personalities came through in those moments.
The ceremony and reception were held inside the East Room’s main area, providing an incredible environment that showcased old Toronto aesthetic with their brick walls and industrial elements, the vintage leather couches and chairs popped in contrast to the beautiful reclaimed wood furniture. That modern-cool 70’s aesthetic was alive and well, and it couldn’t of been more exact to the entire vibe and mood of Kelly and Tyler’s wedding day.
Just because the day naturally played out in cinematic fashion doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of genuine and emotional moments, quite the opposite in fact. The bride’s sister / maid of honour, with the help of the live band, kicked off the reception with a professionally executed parody of The Dixie Chicks “Goodbye Earl” in which the lyrics tell a story of Tyler and his creepy horror movie memorabilia collection that foreshadowed Kelly’s impending doom. Roasting Tyler about this aspect of his life was an ongoing theme throughout the evening’s speeches. I will admit however, that for a guy who’s so into blood and guts, he did manage to provide me with one of the cutest moments (sorry Tyler) I’ve ever captured at a wedding when I caught him wiping away his bride’s tears with his tie.
With good drinks and amazing food by Grand Electric, a homestyle BBQ serving of fried chicken and ribs, the stage was set for an evening of letting loose and creating memories with their loved ones.
For the first time as a documentary wedding photographer in Toronto, I was spoiled with literally having every single element of my creative influences come together in one moment in time. The East Room’s industrial vintage modern 70’s aesthetic, the vintage car, neons signs and vintage movie posters / records, it all had the essence of Kelly and Tyler, and that’s what really came through in the images and I’m grateful to have been included in such a naturally cinematic moment in their lives.
Song of the day
Night Drive - Part Time
Elisha and Matt’s intimate wedding at Dowswell Farm in Beaverton Ontario was nothing short of spectacular. The authentic and rustic vibe of Dowswell Farm created the ultimate atmosphere for the the bride and groom to showcase vintage details, but most importantly, to officially unite their family. The spirit and essence of family was a large reoccurring theme throughout the wedding day, with numerous elements paying homage to their current families, but most importantly, the wedding day was an official right-of passage for the Bride and Groom to unite their own family, in the presence of their young baby boy Maddox.
The morning of the wedding was one of the foggiest days I’ve ever seen and having a moment to take in the fog roll in over Lake Ontario near the hotel where Elisha and her bridesmaids got ready was an incredible way to get my creative vision rolling. With her friends and family gathered within the confines of the hotel room, Elisha couldn’t contain her excitement as everyone got their hair and makeup ready, looking forward to showing off her beautiful modern vintage bridal look to her closest. A large part of her excitement was the mere fact she was able to get her wedding vision complete by having her wedding held at Dowswell Barn in the first place, something she worked very hard to accomplish, and it was totally worthwhile.
With the beautiful summer morning light coming through the room, the stage was set for beautiful and genuine candid moments between the bride and those in her presence that morning. With Elisha’s mother and one of her bff’s giving Elisha a hand to put on her custom gown, the bride’s mother was unable to contain her emotion as the beautiful bride revealed her completed look.
Before the wedding day itself I knew how important family was to Elisha so it didn’t surprise me to see minor details paying homage to that even within her modern-vintage bride look. An incredible detail she included was wearing a pendant that contain the ashes of her grandfather. A beautiful touch to have someone significant in her life remain close to her heart in a monumental and important event.
As the bride and her crew wrapped up getting ready and rushed off to Dowswell Farm for the wedding celebration, Matt and Maddox got dressed back at the groom’s parents house in Georgina. Seeing the bond between Matt and his son as they got ready together was memorable. Maddox’s mini suit and shoes were beyond adorable if I can admit.
The wedding ceremony symbolized and manifested both the bride and groom’s family and heritage. Maddox playing the role of ring-bearer, refusing to walk down the aisle without the assistance of his dad was equally as cute and memorable as Matt’s grandmother playing the role of flower girl, also walking down the aisle with the assistance of the groom. On the flip side, to honour Elisha’s aboriginal heritage and family, there was a traditional blanket ceremony performed by the aid of one of the bride’s cousins. The ceremony brought forth a sense of calm and spirituality that I haven’t ever witnessed during a wedding ceremony. It was utterly beautiful and impactful, something that resonated with everyone in attendance, including the bride and groom.
Once the Dowswell Barn wedding ceremony finished up, the bride and groom along with their bridal party made the most of the rustic environment that Dowswell farm has to offer, allowing us to capture and document intimate and candid portraits within a cornfield around the farm’s numerous barns and locations. We were treated with the summer’s most beautiful and poignant sunsets. The clouds had a hue of pink and shades of purple as the bride and groom appreciated every second of it as they spend some quiet time alone together before dinner. A big bonus of having your wedding on a farm is that you have few distractions and limitations when it comes to witnessing the beautiful sunsets that nature has to offer. A far cry from the usual chaos and distractions that come from photographing weddings in Toronto!
As the light began to dwindle and seep through the cracks of Dowswell Barn, the bride and groom took a moment to share in an intimate moment and dance together in the middle of the barn, creating a surreal and cinematic moment that was purely instinctive and natural, chasing the light and making the most of every moment, allowing me to capture it purely as a documentary wedding photographer, allowing my photojournalistic approach to take over and providing the bride and groom a moment of quiet intimacy to gather their thoughts and emotions.
Something I absolutely loved about Dowswell farm’s barn was how authentically rustic and vintage it was, providing slivers of light to seep through from all directions, providing beautiful natural light in every corner for every moment, truly breathtaking.
Once the light faded dinner began to be served as we were treated to authentic smoked BBQ, copious amounts of wine, and genuine speeches by close members of the bride and groom’s family. Something that was truly beautiful and natural about the entire wedding reception was Elisha and Matt’s unwavering attention and inclusion of their son Maddox. They subconsciously included him in every joyous moment, every tear shed and every detail of the wedding day. It was equally about their union to each other as it was a commitment to their son and their immediate family.
Despite being beyond full from the amazing BBQ dinner served at the wedding reception, Matt and Elisha had a few late night surprises in store for their guests. I remember hearing a faded tune in the distance along with some faded neon lights approaching. I was caught in a weird moment in-between nostalgia and surrealism, as an ice-cream truck slowly began to approach the barn, I was able to capture that moment and feeling that resonated “Stranger Things” vibes and offered up a weird and cool moment in the wedding day.
Of course, with the addition of the ice-cream truck, the bride and groom couldn’t neglect to have street-meat on offer, as there were gourmet hot-dogs for the late-night munchies from all the partying and dancing that was had, effectively tackling the usual midnight munchies problem through and through.
Beneath the moon and stars above Dowswell Barn, the bride and groom indulged and shared a blue slurpee with one another before we took some night time portraits to cap off the already incredible wedding day.
An authentic wedding with vintage aesthetic and vibes, only to be surpassed by the authentic presence of love and family. An unforgettable day and evening at Dowswell Farm with a beautiful bride, a down-to-earth groom, and their adorable baby boy.
Song of the day
I Love It [(Freaky Girl) Edit] - Kanye West ft. Lil Pump
I’ve probably said this before, but it’s always worth mentioning, part of what I love about being a Toronto based wedding photographer is the ample opportunities I get to embrace different cultures, lifestyles and people from all walks of life. It’s rarely the same experience, regardless of where or what I’m shooting.
Rajni and Aron’s wedding days were the epitome of this perspective and new experiences for me as a wedding photographer.
Their wedding celebrations were a beautiful experience of culture and diversity. So much so, they couldn’t just hold a 1 day celebration, but they had a two-day wedding celebration to ensure that that both elements of their cultures and lives can be celebrated and experienced by all their friends and families.
To add to my immersion on the wedding day, I had the privilege of using analog film, both 35mm and 120 formats to capture the contrast and beauty of both wedding celebrations. Aron is an avid film photographer himself, and including my analog film package was a no-brainer for him. His excitement for the bridal portraits to be taken on medium format film had me looking forward to the wedding day as much as them both.
With my Hasselblad and Leica in hand, I felt like a true documentary photographer on the first wedding day. The Sikh and Indian traditions were unfamiliar to me and I was absolutely captivated by the influence of colours, the vibrancy of the traditional garments and accessories, but most of all, I was engrossed in the candid showcase of emotions and family values.
Seeing Aron being completely thrown into Rajni’s culture and tradition was in itself a showcase of love and beauty between the two families being bond together through a traditional wedding ceremony. Once the ceremony was done and everyone returned to Rajni’s parents home, I was unprepared for the level of emotion about to reveal itself. After we captured some beautiful portraits or Rajni in her traditional Indian bride dress and Aron in his sultan-esque garments, which I will add, were absolutely stunning and the colours were made to be photograph with analog film, the bride and groom return into the home for Rajni’s send off.
The tradition of sending off a bride was new to me and I wasn’t ready for how emotionally powerful it would be, especially since Rajni is the only girl in her immediate family, with four older brothers, there were many hugs and tears shared between her and the members of her family. An absolutely beautiful display of the love they had for one another. It was a cinematic and passionate ending to day 1.
Day 2 followed Aron’s cultural traditions, with a church ceremony and reception in Hamilton Ontario. We got the opportunity to explore Dundurn Castle for a few portraits of the bride and groom along with their bridal party. What was particularly great detail about Rajni on day 2, was how she kept her Henna tattoos intact along with her jewelry from her previous wedding dress, an immediate and impactful display of cultures intertwining paving the path for their own traditions while still holding on to who they are.
The day continued with great food, emotional speeches, a slideshow of old analog film photos of the bride and groom as children and teens, an incredible recipe for a timeless gathering of friends and family.
We capped the day off with a quiet moment during blue hour at sunset, letting the wave of emotion of two wedding days sink in for one last time, giving me the perfect setting to finish my rolls of film and shared experience with the bride and groom on their wedding day. I look forward to hearing from Aron and Rajni in 20+ years when they stumble upon their negatives and slide, reminiscing over the now vintage film of their wedding day, something they can actually hold and show future generations.
Looking back on days like Rajni and Aron’s wedding(s) , I’m reminded that not all weddings need this obvious alternative twist to them, sometimes, holding on to your traditions and blending them with your own, is equally as beautiful and meaningful. This wedding had emotion, it was intimate, it was genuine, that is the real recipe to timeless weddings.
Song of the day
Saint - Blood Orange
Since moving to Toronto nearly a decade ago my summers have always been highlighted by adventures to Toronto Island. The relaxing ferry ride across the lake provides a fleeting view of Toronto’s skyline, providing a rare and beautiful quiet moment within the chaos of the city.
This very mood was analogous to Chris and Andrea’s aura and personalities.
The Toronto Island Cafe was practically tailor made for their wedding day aspirations and inspirations. Authentic, unpretentious vintage ambiance and atmosphere, the vibrancy and sincerity found in these characteristics were echoed in the bride and groom’s wedding and all its details.
Their appreciation for vintage aesthetic and meaningful creation enforced their no-brainer decision to have us photograph their wedding on analog film. The bride and groom’s appreciate for cinema film pushed me to use a unique 35mm and 120 film created and based on Kodak's Vision 3 5219 motion picture cinema film, something I knew Chris ( who is a technician for ARRI Cinema cameras ) would find deeply meaningful and personal.
With my Leica in hand and some black and white film, I was mesmerized by my surroundings capturing the candid elements of the wedding day with my documentary photography approach. With some medium format cameras in hand with slide film and colour negative film, we captured Chris and Andrea’s true selves and all the intimate subtleties of their partnership. It’s always a deeply meaningful experience for me as a wedding photographer when I’m completely entrusted to capture timeless memories on analog film, and to do so for people who have such a deep understanding and appreciation for the cinematic flair found within art, is truly a privilege.
I’m not lying when I say I remember every single frame I shoot when I shoot a roll of 35mm or 120 film. I lose myself within the experience and process of photography, knowing that each individual frame will be held, touched and looked at for generations to come. These negatives will outlive me and the significance of that isn’t something I ever overlook.
Elegance in simplicity, the bride and groom’s timeless style was exceptionally fitting with every element and surrounding detail of the venue and mood of the wedding day. The combination of film and fleeting candid moments fostered an atmosphere of creative inspiration. Analog film brought out the palpable emotion in the seemingly unnoticed moments, creating scenes I can only compare to some of my favourite album art from bands and musicians I constantly listen to at home.
The Toronto Island Clubhouse allowed for both an intimate outdoor ceremony and a beautiful vintage clubhouse that oozed with character for their reception. The stage was set for a finger-licking good BBQ catered by the Island Cafe followed by emotional speeches full of laughs, tears and sincere gratitude. The whole day would not have been enjoyed without the company of their cute terrier, Otto, who witnessed everything from the ceremony to the first dance.
By the the time the sun began to set behind Toronto’s skyline, Andrea became the barefoot bride seemingly carefree and lost within the excitement and intimacy of the wedding day. The warm sunset light is every photographer’s dream, and sunset’s like the one we experienced was one any Toronto wedding photographer would hope for on a summer's night.
With the moonlight shining through the windows and the string lights above, the bride and groom joined their friends and family to dance the night away before catching the final ferry ride back to Toronto. A bitter-sweet return to our lives in the city as the glow of the Toronto Island Cafe’s clubhouse dims and we leave behind another delicate and deepening human experience.
You never know what you’re leaving behind until you leave behind.
I look forward to grabbing a beer with them again in their neighbourhood of Vegandale… I mean, Parkdale :) and reminiscing about the beautiful forgotten moments and deeply impactful subtleties of that summer's evening.
Song of the day
Leave Behind - Eddie the Wheel