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ALL THE THINGS

Real life is this beautiful.

 

Gacia & Alex's Wedding at Eagles Nest Golf Club
 

I was so excited to photograph Gacia & Alex's early spring wedding at Eagles Nest Golf Club. I knew it would be a great day because we had done not one, but two separate engagement sessions: one at Kew Gardens and the Beach in Toronto, and one at Boxcar Social coffee shop. They were just completely in the moment together. Extra sessions give us all a fantastic way of getting to know one another, and so by the time the wedding day arrived, everyone was good to go.

It was a sunshiny day, and we couldn't have asked for more perfect everything. The highlight of the morning might have been when the maid of honour stuck her face in the bride's décolletage... also not-so-delicately known as "motorboating". Surprise to me (and the bride), but everyone involved seemed happy! You've gotta love best friends who know how to break up the wedding-morning butterflies. 

The groomsmen on the other hand were well absorbed looking up "how to tie a tie", as per many a wedding morning. I was impressed, however, with the specific reference; any man who wants to look like Don Draper has got my stamp of approval. 

 
 

Gacia and Alex decided to see one another before the ceremony, so they could get their photos finished and enjoy the rest of the day on their own timeline. Both of them got nervous and excited before seeing each other, and when Gacia told Alex to turn around, well... I don't know if I've ever seen two people beam so brightly at one another.

We strolled around the Eagles Nest pond past some beautiful golden fields, and they stole a few quiet moments together before the ceremony. 

 
 

Alex and Gacia could NOT have asked for better weather, for an early spring ceremony. The sun was warm and the sky was bright blue. Everyone wanted a great photo of the beautiful bride and her fabulous father (whose name was chanted several times throughout the night, btw) descending the staircase towards the altar. 

First, though, have you ever SEEN a cuter flower girl and a cooler little ring bearer? The look of concentration on her face gets me every time!

 
 

As the newlyweds took time to greet their guests, people milled around, laughing and mingling and looking fabulous. Remind me to buy a really great red dress!

 
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The reception hall at Eagles Nest just glowed. As the sun set over the golf course outside, light streamed in the windows and illuminated the tables. As guests wandered in, children – drawn to their natural habitat of the dance floor – started frolicking and getting down. I often wonder what kids think when adults finally let loose at weddings... probably something like, "Ah – finally the grownups are starting to normalize!"

And let loose they did. After speeches and laughing and crying and a heavenly meal, the shots began to flow and the lights went down low... We could tell as we slipped out into the dark that the party would be going late into the night. 

 
 

Photographers Kate O'Connor & Lelania Little

Click here to read Gacia & Alex's wedding photography review. 

 
Ariel & Thanh's Destination Wedding in Jamaica
 

Ariel & Thanh had an intimate destination wedding at the Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I flew down for the last weekend of their trip, to document this happy day.

Getting married on the beach at sunset, followed by dinner with the sound of the ocean waves crashing just a few feet away... It was the perfect way to celebrate.

As everyone stumbled out of the tent, to dance by a bonfire on the beach, we all gasped at the full moon shining down on the Caribbean Sea. 

 
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Gratitude. An excerpt from The Empire Citizen
  • I am so grateful to live in the same city as my family.
  • I am grateful that, even though my parents are divorced, we all still get together on holidays.
  • I am grateful for our universal appreciation of dorky puns.
  • I am grateful for my niece’s big, round eyes when I try to surprise her with silly questions, before she realizes I'm joking and starts to giggle.
  • I’m so grateful she loves holding hands for no reason.
  • I am grateful that (when you’re four years old) one of the most exciting things in life, is simply to run as fast as you can.
  • I am grateful to share these moments with my sister. We exchange a look and know we’re both smiling about the same observation.
  • I am grateful to see my parents being nana & papa – to see how much joy that brings them.



Upon meeting her first drag queen, my niece's natural reaction was to show off her party dress (makes sense).

I'm so grateful I caught this funny little moment on film.



 

Take 20 Seconds & Try This Out:

  • Take a deep, loud breath, like a big sigh
  • Finish this sentence: “I am grateful for…"
  • Close your eyes & picture what you’re grateful for
  • FEEL the gratitude in your body – breathe deeply into that feeling
  • Now open your eyes.

Go ahead.  How was that?  Were you able to think of something? 

Was it coffee? Your comfy bed? Your parents’ health? The sound of your kids laughing? Pizza? Your good taste and sense of humour?  As you prepare for the rest of your day, take these 20 seconds for yourself.

If you're feeling grateful for this oasis in your day, sign-up for my newsletter! You'll receive my take on mindfulness for moms (and dads), self-care for brides (and grooms), and happy, healthy lifestyle tips for starseeds, lovers, seekers, and kitchen-dance-party aficionados alike. Plus, you'll receive first-dibs on popular photo dates, holiday promos, and anything else I can think of to serve you joy. Sign Up Here!

Check out more on gratitude lists in this post, where I reflect on not getting killed on my trip to Kenya. 

Learn more about what's included in my exciting and awesome newsletter right here!

PS  When you took your 20 seconds, was there a drag queen on your list?
Consider one for your session. Just kidding... Nope, actually I'm not kidding at all. 

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