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
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)