Here at Weddingbells, we believe it's absolutely crucial to enlist a great photographer to capture your special day. Your photos will be one of the few things left of your day long after it's over, and you'll want them to accurately portray every single moment. While you and your groom are concentrated in saying your vows during your ceremony, your photographer might also be snapping your guests tearing up or the looks of love on your parents' faces.
These are the emotions that veteran wedding photographer Scarlet O'Neill aims to highlight in her third annual Love (Actually) photo exhibit at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. "After being witness to more than just a few weddings, and having been a bride myself, I’ve come to understand the value and beauty of a real moment," she shares.
The 2019 Love (Actually) exhibit has its opening night on Feb. 7 and runs until Feb. 24, showcasing some seriously emotional wedding-day moments shot by wedding photographers across Canada. "The wedding community is so vivacious and full of artistic, professional, and heartfelt individuals. There has been a lovely transition from seeing one another as colleagues instead of competitors," O'Neill explains. "We refer each other to clients who are the right fit, and even curate functions that bring everyone together with the aim of bettering our community. There exists support, trust, and even friendship."
Fiona Chiu, one of the photographers in the exhibit, agrees that capturing the heart of what wedding photography is is important. "The show focuses on everything I believe wedding photography should be about. In a time and age where it’s not uncommon to do things for the ‘gram, we often lose track of what’s important versus what’s perfect and pretty," she says. "I love how the exhibition shows that wedding photos can be so much more than 'just a pretty photo.'"
We've rounded up ten of our favourite photos from the exhibit that have us feeling all the feels—and the love you can only feel on your wedding day. You can see these photos and more in-person at the Love (Actually) exhibit at the Gladstone Hotel.
Photographer: Laura Ayala of Luna Weddings
From Laura: "When Paulina first saw her fiancé, she hid behind the bushes as she was overcome with emotions and could not contain her happiness and joy during her special day. I'm sure it is a moment neither her or her fiancé will forget."
Photographer: Ryan Bolton
From Ryan: "I love capturing first looks. It's such a surreal and personal moment between two people that you're privy to. That you're there to capture. I love the anticipation. The nerves. The magic. This was shot just as Aren turned around to see his gorgeous bride, Tara. Aren's reaction still makes me smile ear-to-ear. It's honest. It's real. It's love."
Photographer: Fiona Chiu Photography
From Fiona: "This moment captures the epitome of female friendship. Best friends will be by your side on your special day, wiping the tears from your eyes, and sharing laughter like none other. After 20 years of friendship, this matron of honour lived up to her duties, holding both her own and the bride's bouquets. BUt she soon realized that she wasn't able to wipe her own tears. Luckily, the best girlfriends were right by her side able to lend a hand."
Photographer: Hugh Whitaker
From Hugh: "Mary, the mother of the bride, and the bride's grandfather share a moment as they wait for Lauren to walk down the aisle. It's the family that always makes a wedding so special to me. My family were so important at my own wedding, so I always pay extra close attention to the little interactions and moments shared between different family members throughout the day. It's these moments that the couple don't often get to witness, but can look back on an enjoy through their photos."
Photographer: Jennifer See Studios
From Jennifer: "Steph and Liz both got ready the morning of their wedding day with their separate bridal parties. Neither had any idea what the other was going to be wearing. As they rounded the large tree outside the carriage house to see each other for the first time, both their jaws instantly dropped. Their first look was ADORABLE and one of my favourites yet!"
Photographer: Jennifer Van Son
From Jennifer: "Parent first looks are becoming increasingly popular and I'm so glad they are! Anna and her dad Jerry are especially close—they're truly best friends. When she told me that having a special moment with him was a priority for her wedding day I knew it would be extra sweet. He's a self-proclaimed 'emotional guy' and I so appreciated how open he was with those emotions throughout the day. When Jerry walked into Anna's room and saw her in her dress for the first time they both let all the tears they'd been holding back fall. There wasn't a dry eye in the room!"
Photographer: Nick Parry of Nautical Studios
From Nick: "Having cans of tuna show up in unexpected places has been a long-running inside joke between Sarah and Luke. So on their wedding day, Sarah made sure to surprise Luke with a can of tuna!"
Photography: Jessica Lee Photography
From Jessica: "On a sunny July day in Toronto’s Distillery District, Frida was all smiles as she watched her granddaughter, Maddi, marry the love of her life, Francisco. Following the ceremony, Maddi wasted no time as she ran to her grandmother to express how much she loved her and how happy she was that she was there. A few months later, I received this message from Maddi: '..I’m sad to say my grandma passed away in November but my heart is full because she made it to our wedding and you captured this precious moment that I will be forever grateful for. Just want you to know how much it means to me...' This image is dedicated to Frida. A wonderful woman and beloved grandmother."
Photographer: Corynn Fowler Photography
From Corynn: "This photograph speaks to how love and human emotion transcend the barriers of language and culture. Much of this wedding day was conducted in Mandarin, a language I do not speak, which made it challenging to understand what was happening at times. As soon as Wenney stood up to make her speech though, it was clear that she was speaking to her beloved grandmother who couldn't be there on her wedding day. I marvelled at how we all laughed and cried along with her, as she recounted stories in Mandarin about her grandmother. Without even speaking the same language, everyone in the audience understood what the bride was feeling in that moment as she threw her head back to laugh about a fond memory they had shared together, with tears still running down her cheeks from the sadness of recognizing this deep loss just a moment before."
Photographer: Steve Stemmler of Tara Lily Photography
From Steve: "Three years ago I hid in the bushes to capture Jesse proposing to Andrew. It meant so much to capture the joy they shared in that moment, and get to witness it again on their wedding day. We left to do some portraits at sunset and before I could give them direction, they began cuddling and interacting in ways I could never direct. It was apparent that they loved having a few minutes alone to relish in all of the emotions of the day, and to connect with each other. The fact that the light was perfect was just a bonus!"
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