Simon + Matt | Waterloo City Hall Wedding

Simon + Matt had such a sweet, simple ceremony this past July on a steamy Monday afternoon. Their loving collection of friends and family all gathered to celebrate along with them, a series of fateful off-days and vacation time combining to bring everyone together at just the right moment.

So I know you are already thinking, “Mandy, you said this was a city hall wedding. This doesn’t look like any city hall I’ve seen!” Well that’s because the City of Waterloo allows you to choose the place you have your wedding (within reason) - it doesn’t necessarily need to be in chambers! I had worked with the team there before so I knew this little secret and I also knew of a little green space nearby that happens to be city property, so we made the short walk to this sun-soaked lot for Simon + Matt to say their vows. It was even more perfect because there was one spot where the sun was creating a bit of a spotlight effect, and Simon, being a performer was not shy to step into the natural shine.

After a short ceremony, the plan was for us all to head to Waterloo Park for some photos and down time before everyone headed to the grooms’ favourite restaurant later in the evening to continue the party. What the guys didn’t know was that their friends had secretly put together a mini reception in a gazebo, complete with food and drink and delicious individual cheesecake cups. Matt + Simon were genuinely shocked and delighted and it was such a nice way to spend a couple of hours socializing and enjoying the newlywed glow.

We blew bubbles and played giant badminton and did our best to pretend we all weren’t melting in the July heat and it was worth every single second.

Thank you Simon + Matt for trusting me with your day, it was truly an honour to bear witness to the love you share.

M xo

Noelle + Diego | Guelph Backyard Wedding

Noelle + Diego had the most perfect last-minute backyard wedding in Guelph this past July and I was so thrilled to be there to photograph it all! Home to visit from their work overseas as teachers and in the process of relocating to China within days of their wedding, their family and friends pulled together to help make their big day happen in just a couple of weeks. I love the fact that weddings that are sort of short-notice always have an even more laid-back feel than most, since the time to stress and fuss over the minor details just doesn’t exist and overwhelming gratitude that the wedding is just happening is what pervades the day. Don’t get me wrong, I love a day that has had tons of planning and prepping too, it’s just that these DIY, super simple shindigs have their own kind of magic.

We met at the church where the bride’s mom works to see them married in a heartfelt ceremony in the small chapel near the sanctuary, with their nearest and dearest all crying along with them as they said their vows and braided their wedding knot, smiling so widely I was sure one of their faces might split. The bride looked absolutely radiant in the same dress her mother had worn over 20 years before, altered to fit the new bride perfectly.

After the ceremony we made our way to the grounds of the University of Guelph and the gorgeous greenhouse to do some family and couple portraits before finding our way to the bride’s uncle’s home and backyard for the reception. It was so special that the very same day was in fact her uncle’s birthday as well, and everyone sang him happy birthday and the bride presented him with a cake and gift as a thank you for not only sharing the day but for offering his lush garden backyard as the venue.

Another touching moment came when the bride’s grandmother presented the couple with a bell, the same bell that her grandfather, also a teacher, had used and cherished. Cleaned and polished to shiny perfection, the bride and groom were not surprisingly stunned and moved to have this family heirloom to take with them as they continued on their life journey as teachers and partners.

There were so many cool little touches and details that made the day so uniquely personal and that reflected the lives of the couple, too many to list, but you will see in the images below just how much work went into making this day amazing for them.

Thank you to Noelle + Diego (and their wonderful family and friends) for your warm and welcoming invitation to be a part of this really fab day!

M xo

Srusht + Shazan | Guelph Lake Conservation Area Wedding

When Shazan's sister called me to tell me about the small, personal ceremony that was being planned for Srusht + Shazan, I could just tell it was going to be fun.  They did not disappoint! 

We convened on a bright but overcast day on a slope overlooking Guelph Lake, where a handful of family members and friends waited for them to take their vows.  Srusht beamed as his bride made her way toward him down the aisle, with shouts of encouragement and happiness from all in attendance.  Once her father gave her hand to Srusht, Shazan looked happily at her groom as her junior bridesmaids gently laid down her train. 

As the ceremony progressed, things quickly relaxed, with the bridal party and guests moving about freely to take photos and video of the ceremony - it was fun to see how close everybody was willing to get for just the right shot!  I was dying laughing when one bridesmaid starting taking selfies at the end of the line of girls - everyone was so awesome! It felt a wee bit like a media scrum, as the best man loudly translated the vows, which the couple faithfully repeated in both their native language and English as required, and I jostled with the crowd to get the best angle for myself!  Honestly, I know a lot of photographers may have been frustrated or annoyed by the melee but it was vibrant and exciting and an experience I won't ever forget.

The vows made and rings exchanged, they signed the paperwork before making their way back down the aisle, with everyone following them in joyful song, dance and hollering.  For as small of a group as we were, no one failed to make up for it in volume.  My talk loudly voice was for once appreciated and fit right in with this family!

A few portraits and bridal party shenanigans before I left them to finish celebrating the day, as they headed toward the beach, intent on dipping their toes.

All in all, it was one of the most dynamic, fast-paced two hours I have ever spent at a wedding and I loved every minute of it. It was a really, really good day.

Thanks Srusht + Shazan (and Jwan!) for trusting me to photograph this day!

M xo

Michelle + Gareth | Hacienda Sarria Wedding | Kitchener Wedding Photographer

Gareth + Michelle got married on a sunny, chilly Friday in March.  The Hacienda Sarria was a warm and welcoming place to celebrate, with the winter sun streaming through the windows.  My awesome second photographer Hannah Yoon and I hung out with the super-chill couple and their attendants as they readied for the day.

Once the bow tie was secured and the veil steamed, Gareth went down to see his bride, waiting as her mom helped her into her gorgeous vintage dress, which was lovingly refurbished and looked like new. Gareth's mom met him for her own little "first look" and a hug before Michelle made her entrance and took everyone's breath away.

Once they decided between them that they were both free that day and agreed that getting married was a good way to fill the calendar, we sneaked around the building for some portraits.  When we finished, a family pizza party saw garbage bag bibs passed around and happily full stomachs ready for the real fun to begin.

After the guests arrived for the evening ceremony, the lights were dimmed and the fantastic lighting design became evident, with mood-inspiring up-lights and a spotlight for the VIPS on the raised stage.  Michelle came down the aisle with her dad, sharing a dance with him before she joined Gareth onstage. Between the Welsh sticks and the Scottish whiskey toast, talented friends and family sharing their vocal talents and plenty of memories conveyed through speeches, the ceremony was steeped in tradition and love.   As they sealed it with a kiss, the crowd cheered and they raised their arms in victory. 

After a break for some food and drink, the newlyweds asked for some crowd-participation during their speech, soliciting people to add them both as Facebook friends, to reach the required arbitrarily-chosen number that they discussed as a joke years ago, celebrating as they made their marriage official (because we all know Facebook is the only real official).  Gareth then surprised/horrified Michelle by claiming he was going to serenade her, before he let the pros take over and escorted her to the dance floor.  They looked happy and beautiful and the night was complete.  Except for the party.  And it sure as hell got started.

Thank you Michelle + Gareth not only for choosing me to celebrate with you, but for always welcoming me as family.  You know I love your whole damn clan. 

M xo