Fairy tales are real, people! This Casa Loma Pavilion wedding was everything. Samantha and Adam created the most beautiful, stylish, heart-felt occasion, and I was so glad to be a part of it.
Sam and Adam are my favourite type of people. They value photography and were amazing collaborators when developing a vision for their day. Yet at the same time, they were so easy to work with. They’re just genuinely kind.
It’s so clear how much you both love each other, and how much everyone around you loves you both.
A photographer couldn’t ask for much more than a Casa Loma pavilion wedding. It’s an actual castle, right here in Toronto.
The natural light streams into the glassed-in reception area all evening long, casting a warm summer glow on everyone inside. And if people feel like venturing ouside, they can walk the gardens, and have a look at the views of both the city and the castle.
If a fairytale is what you’re after, this is the spot.
Everything at this wedding was classic to its core. From the flowers to the dress to the stationary, it was well thought out. With blacks, whites, crisp lines, and simple florals, this wedding will look as stylish 30 years from now as it does in 2018.
Many soon-to-be-wed brides and grooms have dreamed of their big day since they were barely old enough to say “I do”. On the other hand, there are a LOT of people who would rather jump off a bridge than plan a wedding. But you don’t have to fly to the jungles on Indonesia to skip the whole wedding thing. There are many beautiful elopement locations near Toronto that you’ll love.
Sure, some people might get a bit miffed. But it’s your wedding, and they’ll get over it. Just do you, and if an elopement is your thing, then go for it!
Top 5 Elopement Locations Near Toronto
Niagara on the Lake
For a more upscale winery wedding, head to Niagara on the Lake, an ideal place for an intimate wedding. Although not far from Niagara Falls, NOTL offers rural landscapes with orchards and vineyards, that are dotted with charming hotels and bed and breakfasts. Whether you would like to get married in stone inn or barn, NOTL is just a little under three hours from Toronto, so is an easy trip.
And the falls are just down the road!
Prince Edward County
Hop into the car and take the 401 on a scenic drive along Lake Ontario until you get to Prince Edward County, which has a variety of attractions for you and anyone who may be coming along to witness your ceremony. For foodies, the County is known as top culinary destination with top-notch restaurants. Sport enthusiasts will like the water activities, while naturalists will enjoy the birdwatching. And of course there’s the wine! The County has exploded in recent years with beautiful, scenic and elopement-ready wineries and breweries.
Head west to Stratford, a town with the motto “Arts Inspire Our Town.” As befits its name, Stratford has a Shakespeare Festival, as well as numerous art galleries and antique shops. There are plenty of culinary options, as well as distilleries. A variety of romantic hotels, B&Bs, and heritage inns offer lots of options for an elopement venue once you’re done with the sights. If arts and culture are your thing, this is the spot.
For those willing to take a short flight (or a 7 hour train ride) to experience the romance that only a French culture can provide, Quebec City is perfect. It really is the closest thing to Europe while still being in Canada. It’s rich in culture, one of the oldest cities in North America, and is world renowned for its architectural beauty. In fact, its historic district been designated a UNESCO Heritage site. But Quebec City is not for the spontaneous, as marriage licenses must be obtained nine weeks in advance. But eloping to La Belle Province would be the romantic adventure of a lifetime and well worth some planning.
New York City
Okay, so this isn’t that close by. But hey, NYC always deserves a mention as the “greatest city in the world”. New York City Hall, a national historic landmark, worked for Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso, so the downtown Manhattan location should be on your elopement destination short list. Under New York law, you and your fiancé have to appear in person at the Clerk’s Office 24 hours before the wedding to obtain a marriage license. Bring your passport and $35 and you should be all set.
So hop on the next Porter flight and spend a few days in the city that never sleeps.
Don’t Forget to Capture the Memories
A wedding, whether in front of one witness or 1,000 guests, is an event of a lifetime. Even if you elope, don’t forget the photographer (ahem…me). All of your friends will be more willing to forgive you slipping away to get married if you come back with images that capture the magic of the moment. If you are thinking of eloping to one these top 5 elopement locations near Toronto, I would love to work with you to make sure that your special day is recorded as you envision. Let’s talk!
I actually teared up while writing this post, straight up. Laura and David’s stunningly, ridiculously beautiful tented Graydon Hall wedding was everything. The perfect day could not have been granted to a nicer couple.
I don’t often get emotional at weddings, I have a job to do! But something about how warm the couple was, along with their friends and family, made me feel extra invested in this day.
Laura and David met at university in Ottawa nearly a decade ago while they were living in the same house! They’ve been lovebirds ever since.
They are kind, generous and very much in love.
It’s clear from how excited and thrilled their family members and friends were, it was a match made in heaven. . .or at least at a student house somewhere in the nation’s capital.
The Venue – Graydon Hall
Anyone who follows my work knows I love this place, but this day was extra gorgeous.
The entire team, led by Rebecca, did an amazing job at making sure Laura and David had the tented wedding of their dreams. The food, the service, the decor was exceptional as always. And that tent! What a way to make sure a wedding can be enjoyed on the terrace, under the trees.
Believe it or not, this wedding had a ton of DIY elements. It’s hard to tell by how professional everything looked.
David became the laser cutting king, making every one of the names for place settings. And his father custom built the arbour for the ceremony.
The faded pastels, the vintage glassware, the SHOES, and everything else was so perfectly curated. Laura looked 100% in her two piece gown.
And you may have notices a Robot and Rabbits theme. Yep! It was something to do with nicknames? Or something like that? I’m not quite sure. But it was super cute.
Summer sounds like the perfect time to have your wedding. You have plenty of gorgeous options right here in Toronto, from hip downtown locations to romantic estates on the outskirts of the city–not to mention the fact that when you and your spouse head off on your honeymoon, you’ll have your choice of amazing, warm locations. As you plan your summer wedding, however, there are several summer wedding planning tips you shouldn’t forget.
Summer Wedding Planning Tips
1. Vendors get picked over fast
From your photographer to the bakery making your cake, vendors disappear fast during the summer months. If you want to secure the vendors you really want, it’s important to secure your vendors as early as possible. A last-minute summer wedding can be the hardest to prepare! Make sure to confirm your deposits and your dates with your vendors early so that you get your faves.
2. Evaluate the heat
When you walked over your outdoor venue in May, it was beautiful. The sun was shining on the grounds, and the temperature was perfect! Unfortunately, a venue that is comfortably warm in spring may be stifling in the summer. Take the time to consider the temperature in your area and plan accordingly. If you’re inviting elderly guests, an indoor wedding and reception might help keep them safer. Tents with fans can also help stave off the heat. Remember the bridal party, too: you don’t want your makeup running or your hair going flat in the middle of the pictures! You should also consider the chairs you’ve chosen for the wedding or reception: metal chairs may need to be covered in order to prevent guests from ending up with burnt legs.
3. Photo timing is EVERYTHING
The bright light outside in the middle of a summer day won’t provide the soft, romantic look you want for your wedding pictures. Opting for a wedding time that will allow you to take your photos closer to sunset, on the other hand, will provide a the perfect light for all of your photos. Make sure you take those photos–and the heat–into consideration as you plan all the details of your wedding. You may also want to limit the amount of time you spend taking photos outside before the wedding to keep your hair, makeup, and clothes looking sharp instead of sweaty.
4. Consider your guests
During the summer, many people plan vacations–and they may plan them early. Send out save the date cards well ahead of the wedding day to help decrease the odds that you’ll miss some of your most important visitors or choose a wedding date that’s less likely to interfere with guests’ plans.
5. Flower power
Real flowers quickly get droopy in the summer heat, especially if your wedding is a long event. If you want real flowers, opt for blooms that thrive in the summer heat or consider having backup flowers on hand for items like the groom’s boutonniere.
6. Offer lots of drinks
No, not just the alcoholic kind, which can lead to dehydration in the hot sun! Make sure there’s plenty of water and other drinks available for your guests–and your wedding party–so that you’ll all be able to stay nice and cool.
7. Choose your clothing with care
If you’re getting married in the summer heat, you need to be even more careful with your clothing choices! Carefully consider whether black is really the right choice for the groom and his groomsmen. Make sure that bridesmaids’ dresses are lightweight and in a colour that’s less likely to absorb the heat, especially if you’re having an outdoor wedding. Nothing ruins a ceremony quite so fast as someone fainting in the middle of the vows!
Summer is a gorgeous time to have a wedding, but it does bring with it several important concerns. By carefully evaluating your needs before you dive into your special day, you can increase the odds of successfully having the wedding of your dreams no matter how hot it is outside.
That feeling when I look at the back of my camera half way through a shoot and do a little happy dance inside? That was this session over and over. Gabriella and Brandon’s cherry blossom engagement shoot at Trinity Bellwoods in Toronto was everything. Literally everything. Flower crowns, macarons,
I first met Gabriella when she came by the Wedding Co. Show in February. Like many other brides that day, she entered her name to win an engagement session by yours truly. “I new I was going to win,” she told me. Three months later, here we are!
I was even more excited to shoot with Gabriella and Brandon when I found out she’s no stranger to photoshoots. As the purveyor of the oh-so-beautful Pastels and Pastries lifestyle blog, I knew we would click. Anyone who has a sense of style, attention to detail, and likes to plan GORGEOUS photoshoots in my kinda lady.
Brandon, you know how to rock it too 😉 You were both relaxed, and up to have a little fun!
Not only is the Trinity Bellwoods one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Toronto, it’s also a beautiful location to do your engagement shoot. The park has all the nature you could want, and it’s right in the middle of gorgeous streetscapes with pretty cafes and alleyways. Plus, after you’re done the session, you can go to any number of the best eateries.
What do you get when you combine a gorgeous spring day, a perfect view, fancy donuts, and the most chill couple ever? An incredibly beautiful spring wedding at Canoe Restaurant in downtown Toronto.
After weeks upon weeks of prolonged winter, Clare and Nathan got hitched on that most perfect first day of real spring. The sun was out, the city was alive, and those final heaps of snow melted away.
The light poured into their suite at the Royal York as they got ready. And as we made the short walk from the hotel to Canoe Restaurant at rush hour on a Friday, the office goers cheered and offered their congratulations on the busy streets.
Not sure you can be more relaxed than these two.
They decided to get ready together at the hotel, which made for a really great atmosphere. My favourite part came when Nathan popped is head out of the bathroom to ask Clare to pass him is pants. Upon seeing her in her wedding dress, he simply said, “Oh! You look great.” Talk about the most uncontrived first look ever.
Clare was all smiles, all day. You could see her joy radiating into the room. They laughed, and cried a few tiny tears of joy.
There were so many lovely little touches.
Clare hand stamped all her place cards to look like school cards (which must have taken forever). The flowers by Hunt and Gather were sooooooo pretty, and the cake and donuts by The Rolling Pin were exceptional.
Even though the University of Toronto takes up a massive chunk of the downtown core, most people skirt around it instead of venturing through campus. Hopefully this UofT engagement session will inspire you to seek out one of the most beautiful locations in the city.
Before I picked up a camera, and way before I photographed my first wedding, I was a political science major and student journalist at this lovely school. I loved (almost) every minute of it. Nothing gave me greater joy that walking through its archways and past its stone columns, in between Parliamentary Democracy and European Union Policy classes, books in hand.
So I was thrilled when Queenie and Sonny requested that they do their engagement session at my own alma mater. And it helps when you know all the best spots.
There’s really no shortage of places to shoot if you’re doing a UofT engagement session. We started at the iconic Hart House, which has beautiful stone hallway interiors, and gothic exteriors.
Then we ventured over to University College that has the most beautiful courtyard, and to Knox College which has the oh-so-pretty ribbed vaults which make for great engagement photos, or any photos really.
And no UofT engagement session would be complete without a trip over to Victoria College, for the archway.
“Don’t worry, we’re a super PDA kinda couple,” they said to me.
I didn’t have to do much to get these two to be affectionate. A few little posing tips, and they just went with it. It makes my job easy when couples leave any sort of embarrassment or shyness at the door, and just have fun with their engagement shoot. You only get to do it once, so you may as well enjoy yourselves!
The location made sense, as they live just around the corner, and are both highly educated.
There’s no doubt Queenie and Sonny are super in love! I mean c’mon, look at these photos.
You’re engaged! You’re happy, excited, and eager, and you want to capture this moment with pictures that reflect how you’re feeling. You want your engagement pictures to be spectacular. But, with so many engagement session locations in Toronto to choose from, there’s a lot to think about!
Toronto has many impressive locations for engagement shoots, but some are better than others. Here are my faves.
The 10 Most Beautiful Engagement Session Locations in Toronto
1. High Park
High Park is stunning, especially in late April and early May when the cherry trees are in blossom. Its outstanding splendour makes it a popular choice for engagement pictures.
There are so many different views in High Park to capture. The lakefront makes a dazzling background, the cherry trees are amorous, and the diverse vegetation can result in beautiful engagement pictures.
And when the fall leaves start to turn? This is your spot.
Keep an eye on their website to see when the cherry blossoms hit their peak. But if you do decide to capture the sakura, it’s best to go very early in the mourning to avoid the hundreds of people who also want to bask in their splendour. There’s nothing like tourists with selfie sticks to ruin a good engagement session.
2. Trinity Bellwoods/Queen West/Ossington
Both the park and the surrounding neighbourhoods are fantastic places to take your engagement photographs.
You get a oh-so-green look if you go venturing through the park. And of course, there’s the iconic gate.
The possibilities for pictures in the neighbourhood are infinite. You could take pictures in front of various super cool coffee shops or while walking through the neighbourhood streets.
The first few weeks of summer are by far the most popular, when the park is littered with people enjoying a picnic, playing frisbee, and various other random activities. And although it’s one my personal favourite spots to enjoy an afternoon, it’s probably a little too packed for photos at this time.
The Financial District is a remarkable place to take formal, and at the same time romantic, photos. If you’re seeking a modern look for your engagement photos, this is definitely a place you should consider.
In the Financial District, you can have a stylish engagement session with sleek buildings, skyscrapers, busy streets, and modern, crisp backgrounds.
We were all sitting around the table for my mother’s 65th birthday. I remember looking at her and thinking to myself, “If I have her vitality and energy at that age, I’ll be doing alright.”
One week later, I got a call from her that she had found a lump.
My mother has been on stage as a singer/performer since she was a little girl. She has a BIG personality. She radiates life. She’s charismatic, loud (sorry mom), and pretty bad-ass. She built one of the most sought after voice coaching studios in Canada from the basement of my childhood home.
SHE’S MY PERSONAL GIRLBOSS INSPIRATION.
I can’t possibly speak to what it’s like to be the one bearing the disease. I can only speak to my experience as someone who had a loved one go through it.
It came six weeks after one of the happiest days of my life; the day I got engaged. But cancer doesn’t care that it destroys your joy. It doesn’t care that your engagement party is coming up next Saturday. It doesn’t care how special of a time it is in your life. Cancer has a total shit sense of timing.
It’s the strangest feeling to know that the woman who gave you life is having her own threatened. It’s like having an anchor you didn’t even know was holding you down ripped out of the water.
I never felt like I was doing enough, ever.
Cancer is a dark cloud that covers everything. You laugh at a joke, but in the back of your mind you hear “but my mom has cancer”. You go wedding dress shopping, “but my mom has cancer”. You accomplish something awesome at work, “but my mom has cancer”. It sucks the joy out of every corner of your life.
But as time went on, I learned that I may not have the power to exorcise the cancer from my mom’s body, but I do have the power to shut it out of my own mind. You can prevent it from stealing your joy. It’s okay to laugh fully at your favourite show and relish in happinesses, even as cancer runs its course through your life.
And by doing so, you put yourself in a position to be stronger and more positive for the person you love.
So I intentionally adopted the “make things feel normal for my mom” role. I couldn’t be around everyday to help (thank god for my step-father), and I certainly couldn’t do anything medically, but I could be a reminder that there is life and a whole world outside of cancer. We went to lunch, we talked about wedding plans, discussed our favourite shows, and commiserated over Trump-era politics. We also got annoyed at each other and bickered. You know, normal life stuff.
Was this the right approach? Hell if I know.
NEARLY A YEAR LATER, SHE DOESN’T HAVE CANCER ANYMORE.
She really is one of the lucky ones, and I’m forever grateful.
So here she is. My charismatic, loud, bad-ass mother, Elaine Overholt, who can now add cancer survivor to her long list of accolades.
But first, let’s all put two big middle fingers up in the air to cancer. I never want to hear from you again.
If you’re like me, flowers are a bit of a mystery. I can barely tell a ranunculus from an anemone from a hydrangea (I had to look up the spelling for all three). So instead, I turned to Cool Green and Shady to shed some sunlight on the flower world.
Cool Green and Shady supplies beautiful blooms for dozens upon dozens of weddings each season in Toronto. Amber, their lead gal, knows it all.
I’ve seen their work many times, and trust them so much that I hired them to do my own wedding this fall. What I love most about Cool, Green and Shady is that they consider wedding flower trends each season, but always stay true to the timeless and classic – which as you know, I’m a big fan of.
But enough out of me, I’ll turn it over to Amber to explain everything bloom related.
1. What 2017 flower trends are out the door?
“I’m seeing the large oversized bouquets from 2017 being scaled down in 2018 to textured medium sized bouquets that still have lots of variety of flowers and greenery, but aim not to hide the bride in her gorgeous dress.”
2. What are brides requesting from Cool Green and Shady for their 2018 weddings?
“Getting lots of requests for garlands of greens designed down long tables with oodles of candlelight. If long tables are not an option, brides still are loving the simple greenery wreaths to wrap around clusters of low hurricanes of candles.
Brides are also exploring hanging installs of greens and flowers as a focal for their receptions. This is a beautiful alternative to chandeliers.”
3. Anything you could suggest for brides who want to think a bit outside the box?
“It’s a daunting task to attempt to come up with decor or styles that are cutting edge. I feel the easiest way to think outside of the box for your wedding flowers is to ensure the wedding reflects you as a couple. Bring in elements that tell your story, and that will make your wedding unique and different from any others your guests have seen. It’s these collections of details that will make your wedding memorable.”