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Real life is this beautiful.


Madison & Martin's Kew Gardens Engagement Session

Since they live out of town, my first in-person meeting with Madison and Martin was at their Kew Gardens engagement session in Toronto's beautiful Beach neighbourhood. I pulled out all of my best tips and tricks to get these two talking and laughing together, since it was our first meeting, and I know people are usually nervous for a photo shoot, at the best of times.... And it was awesome. 

Here's a little peek:


It was late summer. We walked through the flower gardens of Kew Gardens park, and down to the beach boardwalk for some shots in the setting sun. These lovebirds were so sweet and funny. Madison's friendly, positive attitude shone through and brought out tons of great laughs from Martin.

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I'm so happy for Martin & Madison, and I can't wait to spend their wedding day having even more fun!

Are you loving Flowery Garden Engagement Photos? Here are a few more engagement photo locations you might like:
Gacia & Alex at Kew Gardens
Elizabeth F. Gamble Gardens in California

Do you love being down by the sea? Apparently I do too! Here are a handful of beach engagement photos to check out:
Lisa & Rich at Scarborough Bluffs
Lelania & Mike in Tiny Beaches, Ontario
Vanessa & Mark's autumn Beach photos, Toronto
Sahrah & Aaron at Ashbridges Bay

Courtney & Joe's Rockway Vineyards Wedding, Niagara

Joe and Courtney had a beautiful outdoor wedding at Rockway Vineyards Golf Course in St. Catharine's. It was the perfect day for a vineyard wedding. After getting ready at the Haven of Hope llama farm across the street (yes, you heard that right!) the ladies drove themselves to the altar on golf carts, where family and friends were waiting.

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Surrounded by summer flowers and under the afternoon sky, Joe saw his bride for the first time as she walked down the aisle with both her parents. Although I witnessed the joyfulness between these two, during their engagement session, I'll never forget the look on Courtney's face as she walked – she was beaming with happiness!


The ceremony was followed by a gorgeous outdoor cocktail hour, while the newlyweds enjoyed strolling through the vines in the setting sun. Golden hour. 


One of my favourite moments was when we decided to move locations for newlywed photos. As a shortcut, Joe lifted Courtney up and carried her over some shrubbery, like it was perfectly normal to transport other humans that way. 


That's what I truly love about this couple. They take things lightly, and are always having a laugh. During the wedding reception, Courtney described her search for Joe before they met. Her friends told her she was being too picky, but she held out. She said she just wanted a giant who was hilarious, and then she met Joe and was just like, yes. (He is 6'8"!) 


Recently I photographed Courtney and Joe for their two year wedding anniversary, and I had the great pleasure of meeting their brand new little baby. Joe & Courtney, it's been such a fantastic time getting to know you and your families. I'm so happy for you, and can't wait to see you all again!

Check out Courtney & Joe's downtown Toronto engagement photos here.

Thank you to the creative team!
Photographers: Kate O'Connor and Rudo Vacula

Accommodations: Haven of Hope Farm, AirBnB
DJ: Ted Chamberlain
Décor: Fat Raccoon Port Rowan
Venue & Catering: Rockway Vineyards Golf Course

Sign up for the Sweetheart Empire Newsletter - the Empire Citizen!
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Hello friends,

I wanted to give you a heads up that I've started a newsletter! Yes, indeed, I have lots to say. :) If you're curious about the content, here's a link to past issues, here's a link to subscribe, and below are my reasons for this endeavour: 

There are two phrases I constantly hear in my work:

“The whole wedding day went by in a flash – I can’t even remember it!”

“Kids grow up so fast – I can’t believe they started school this year!”

Both of these express the same concern: being present and experiencing life as it’s happening.

I created the newsletter with tips to help you Be in the moment during life's big (and small) moments, and not miss out.

Whether you’re worried about being too stressed to enjoy your wedding, or shocked that your child isn’t a baby anymore, I got you. Using simple techniques of reflection, gratitude, breathing, and photography, you can be there to appreciate all the stages of life. 

Subscribers to the newsletter also get exclusive access to printed gifts and promotions, as well as first rights to popular session dates throughout the year. Pretty awesome, right? If you're thinking, "Yes – I'm into this!" then here's what to expect...

Two short letters per month with:

  • Right of first refusal to popular weekend sessions
  • Concise tips on mindfulness & emotional presence
  • Exclusive package offerings, printed gifts & promotions
  • A link to new work or a few photos to brighten your day...

The laws of the land: 

  • Only 2 emails each month
  • I will never share your contact info
  • Opt-out any time by clicking unsubscribe

Judgment-Free Territory

If you no longer want to be a "citizen" of Sweetheart Empire, just unsubscribe. I'll still think of you as a citizen of though, because that's just how I roll. Also, I don't judge because inboxes are cray-cray so only say yes to what brings you Joy (at least for newsletters).

Gratitude Lists: I am grateful for not getting eaten by a Lion.

In 2009 I lived on a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. For three months, I slept alone in a safari tent and every night a pride of lions gathered outside my tent and roared. I was lonely and scared. I made sure not to drink any fluids with dinner, so I wouldn’t have to walk to the bathroom hut after dark.

Last week I published my first official newsletter, and the topic was Gratitude. It’s Thanksgiving, so I thought I’d take the chance to expand on that a bit.

But first...

A pride of lions at sunset, waiting to see what mom brings home for dinner... I hope it's not me!

A pride of lions at sunset, waiting to see what mom brings home for dinner... I hope it's not me!


After a month of sleepless nights, the lions moved on and my terror subsided... Until one day I had to take a trip to Nairobi, by myself, on public transit. For non-getting-eaten-by-lion reasons, people traveling between cities didn’t move around after dark: car-jacking at gunpoint. An actual, for-real threat. Crazy, right? Again, I was scared. I left in the early morning; took my trip and was greeted at my destination by a friendly face. All went well, and at the end of my third month, I came home to Toronto. 

What does this have to do with Gratitude? 

Sometimes, when my mind is racing with the to-do list, current events, irritations, or worries about the future, I get out my journal and do a simple activity: I write five things I’m grateful for, and five things I appreciate about myself. 

Ten things is a lot, and sometimes I run out of ideas. And it’s in that moment, I find myself writing, “I am grateful for living in a safe city where I can move around freely, without threat.” Even though it’s something I hardly ever think about, when it comes up on my list, the feeling in my heart is an overwhelming WOW. I am so lucky. 

So what does gratitude have to do with weddings & family photography? 

Getting there! You see, it has to do with life. In my attempt to be proactive about emotional health, I got into this little gratitude ritual and discovered that it actually works! It’s great for any time… But if nothing else, times of stress are when it’s most helpful. And let’s be real: holidays, family time, and big life changes and events (i.e. weddings) are both WONDERFUL and STRESSFUL.

Try This Out: 

  • Grab a piece of paper and write 1-10 things you’re grateful for

  • If you can think of 1, 3, 5 or 15, that’s okay

  • Try this at night right before you sleep.

Looking across the savannah, at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. One of the most challenging and transformative three months of my life. 

Looking across the savannah, at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. One of the most challenging and transformative three months of my life. 


I am forever grateful for the opportunity to go to Kenya. Despite the fear and loneliness, I learned what I was made of that summer. My eyes were opened to issues ranging from global poverty, cutting edge environmental and community development projects, to what it means to have white privilege. At the same time, I made interesting friends and had indescribable adventures exploring the savannah.


Click Connect below to let me know what you think and read a description of my newsletter offerings right here. 

Sneak Peek of a First Look - McLean House Wedding, Estates of Sunnybrook

To look or not to look... Take a peek at these two and then decide. 

Congratulations Molly & Yifei on a day FULL of sweet moments. These are happy times. 

Molly & Yifei got married on Saturday, at McLean House, Estates of Sunnybrook. They were blessed with GORGEOUS weather, and an intimate, joyful celebration of close friends, happy tears, lots of laughing, sunshine, and bliss. Truly, one couldn't ask for a better day. 

Congratulations my beautiful friends!

Thank you to Jodi of Simply Perfect Weddings, and all the creative folks who contributed to the magic.