Every now and then, a couple comes along that you know is as excited to work with you as much as you're excited to work with them. Paola and Oliver were, from the start one of those couples.
Laid back and united, they immediately gave me an impression of knowing where they stood on most issues as they organized the details of our collaboration from their home in Calgary. I was to shoot their big day here in Toronto, where Paola's family is from, and then head over to Calgary the following week to shoot the reception they would hold there for Oliver's relatives, and for their friends. I'd never been to Calgary before, so that was exciting.
And so a few weeks ago the adventure began, with me meeting Paola, her sisters and family at their home in Etobicoke, while my second shooter Andrew went over to meet the boys at the Fairmont Royal York Toronto, where their Toronto wedding reception would take place later that day. In a few hours with Paola and her gang, everything fell into place as I got comfortable with everyone and she got ready for the big moment. Everything went smoothly, including collaborating with the incredible Lisa Mark, a photographer with whom I had common friends, but had never worked with. We worked so well as a team, helping each other throughout the day, which is incredible given how hard it is to actually stay out of each others' way on a big wedding day like Paola & Oliver's. But Lisa and her team were incredible wedding photographers to work with [insert approval stamp sound here ;) ].
Then it was off to St. Basil's Church on the University of Toronto campus. I had never been there before, so I was absolutely in awe, being an architecture aficionado, when I saw the incredible ceiling of the church, and the incredibly photographer and cinematographer-friendly light and layout of the space. It would be so easy to shoot there. And it was. And so over a beautiful, flawless ceremony for which they actually walked in together (that was a first for me, and I liked it!), Paola and Oliver officially became Mr. and Mrs. H.
By the time they became official, we already knew their bridal party pretty well, so the photo shoot at Osgoode Hall went by in a breeze and in good spirits. We pitted the boys and girls against each other in a walk-off (the boys won, by the way), and captured many laughs and smiles before splitting from the party and bringing P & O to one of TO's quintessential landmarks: Nathan Phillips Square, just in front of the Toronto City Hall. I guess Lisa and I figured we might show the good people of Calgary what the Toronto weddings scene (ry) is all about too! ;)
Last stop for their Toronto Wedding: the Fairmont Royal York. Wow! I've shot in lots of beautiful spaces in the city (including many at this same hotel), but the moment I walked into the ballroom where their party was to be held, I was amazed: it was so richly decorated, and what gorgeous lighting! I knew the images were going to be special right away. And they were: the bokeh (for you photo geeks) was incredible. And beyond the 'I love the space' stuff, many super unique moments happened, from the expertly choreographed first dance to the beautiful get-together spirit of the crowd as the couple showed a musical video Oliver (and his groomsmen) prepared as a surprise for Paola (you can see her initial reaction in the getting ready section of the highlights film).
The night came to an end, but it was only 'partie remise' as we say in French. We were to resume the festivities the next week in Calgary at the Regency Palace Restaurant. But that's another story...
For now, please allow me to share with you the story of a wonderful woman who moved to Calgary to further her career and went from knowing one person only (her sister) to finding that one person. The story of P & O's first date at Phil & Sebastian's that was cut short because neither of them realized it closed kind of early. The story of how they liked their date anyway. And how they came to love each other.
Paola & Oliver, to me your story isn't about extravagance or big gestures, but about effortless serendipity, things falling into place. As per your card, Oliver, I wish you to cherish this as a record of little precious things, of stolen glances and candid smiles, of imperfections that make life unpredictable of beautiful. A record of how meeting each other, and of how allowing me to look at your wedding from the outside, will ultimately have made lifetime memories. As per your card...
This is the edit that was shown at their Calgary Reception (full highlights edit in a few weeks!)
(vendors list at the bottom of the post)
Wedding Professionals List -
Planner: Kate at Devoted To You
Photography: Lisa Mark Photography
Décor: Creations by Gitta
DJ: Impact DJ
Limousine: A Celebrity Limousine
Cake: DT Bistro
Make-Up: Na-na Hong
Ceremony: St. Basil's Church
Photoshoot: Osgoode Hall, Nathan Phillips Square
Reception: Fairmont Royal York Toronto