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These 2020 Real Wedding Photos Truly Capture The Power Of Love

  |  By Alison McGill

Photography by Charity Citron Photography.

Planning a wedding these days is hard, executing can be even harder as couples who married in 2020 well know. This is the reality of getting married in the era of COVID-19, but as we have said so often, we have been continuously inspired and wowed by couples who made their days happen and so beautifully.

Toronto photographer Scarlet O’Neill knows this very well too and for the fifth year running she has curated the annual Love Actually Collection photo exhibit which has just launched online. For past shows, O’Neill has hosted a live installation at the Gladstone Hotel, but this year of course she had to take things virtual, but this means more people get take in this incredible collection of Canadian real wedding photographs.

“I've shifted the show to virtual format and have created a brand-new website where the entire collection will go live on February 1,” O’Neill says. “The images will also be on Instagram as they are each year as well. This year all of the photographs carried with them this feeling of love as usual, but what was a little special was  each photo really emphasized the story of resilience. While there was so much loss and grieving in the world in the year 2020, people were able to carry so much love in their hearts. There was a shift in the depth of emotions at weddings and I think a lot of the photos in the collection really emphasize the silver lining in such a wild year.”

The Love Actually Collection includes 52 photographs. Here we are highlighting 19 (along with some thoughts on each image from the photographer) that gave us all the feels.

Bryan & Emily’s Wedding (pictured above)
Photography by Charity Citron Photography

“This is the story of Bryan and Emily, couple who didn’t let COVID stand in their way! Their vineyard wedding was as relaxed and easy going as the couple are themselves. Everything was picture perfect on their incredible day, but it was their love that got us here today.”

Larissa & Brinna’s Wedding
Photography by Aleisha Boyd Photography

“This very emotional moment was captured during Larissa and Brinna’s beautiful lakeside ceremony at their family’s cottage. Larissa had prepared a surprise gift for Brinna that was to happen during their ceremony. She had learnt her vows to Brinna in sign language to honour Brinna’s grandmother, who was present for their ceremony and is hearing impaired. Halfway through Larissa was overcome by her emotions sharing her beautiful vows with Brinna.”

Glynnis & Alan’s Wedding
Photography by Boakview Photography

“Glynnis and Alan planned for a small intimate wedding downtown Toronto, with only about 40 guests in attendance. It seemed like the perfect, intimate wedding even after COVID hit. Alas, as we all know, by early October things were starting to look a little dire. In light of the circumstances, Alan and Glynnis made the decision to go ahead with their wedding but in a very different way. Instead of 40 guests, they narrowed their list to five: themselves, their officiant, one witness (Glynnis’ dad), and me, their photographer (and other witness!) and it was beautiful. A late afternoon ceremony was followed by some intimate golden hour & early evening photos on the streets of Toronto. Glynnis & Alan’s energy, as well as their edgy urban vibe (she wore a custom-made white jumpsuit!) was perfect. They laughed and cuddled through the whole session—it was magical!”

Miranda & Cam’s Wedding
Photography by by Alyssa Wodabek

“Miranda and Cam had planned to have a large wedding with family from all over the globe. COVID weddings have made for such an interesting pivot in 2020. They made a last-minute decision to get married in Miranda’s parents’ backyard and were surrounded by 25 of their closest family, with others joining them online. Family and friends came together to DIY their decor, cake and florals. Regardless of the original plan, it was the most beautiful and emotional day, filled with so much love.”

Kristen & Shane’s Wedding
Photography by Ashlea MacAulay

“Kristen’s parents were overcome with emotion as they watched from a distance while Kristen read a love letter from Shane before the ceremony. Her dad held her mom close as she wiped away tears and then broke out in laughter. It’s the raw and real moments like this one that fill my heart.”

Jaimie & Roey’s Wedding
Photography by Barb Simkova

“One of the things I loved about shooting 2020 weddings was capturing couples at home. Jaimie and Roey were meant to marry in Israel and had their plans thwarted by COVID. Instead, they gathered their closest family and friends and married at Roey's family home. This image happened when, in lieu of a dancefloor, guests started a socially distant soul train that featured everything from cartwheels to the worm, to a few shirtless cannonballs into the pool. The bride and groom, Jaimie and Roey were the last to join, ending their turn in a kiss that was cheered by all their loving guests. What I love about this moment is how much it epitomizes 2020 weddings—the intimacy of a wedding at home, the distance between loved ones and the palpable, undeniable joy that celebrating love gave to all those who were lucky enough to witness it during the struggle of the pandemic.”

Bianka & Rudy’s Wedding
Photography by Bryn’s Photography

“I just love this photography because of the intense emotional impact. Bianka walking down the aisle during the ceremony and you can see the emotion in her eyes as she glanced over towards her mom.”

Rhea & Tony’s Wedding
Photography by Chelsea Green Photography

“Embracing the changes this year brought for their July wedding, Rhea and Tony’s loved ones safely gather outside of the church. In this photo, they rejoice as they are greeted and celebrated with a drive by receiving line. A magical moment!”

Kayla & Andrew’s Wedding
Photography by Corynn Fowler Photography

“Kayla and Andrew hosted a beautiful, intimate and utterly perfect 2020 wedding in their family backyard. As with many couples this past year, they were forced to reduce their guest count until they were surrounded with only a core group of loved ones. This only served to make their interactions and moments that much more meaningful throughout the day. Rather than focusing on what was missing, they threw all their heart and energy into loving the people who were there with them, which their friends and family returned in spades. The speeches that were given and the words that were said about these two were amplified by how closely knit their group was. Everyone there loved them fiercely and will undoubtedly be there to support them through all the years together.”

Erika & Geoff’s Wedding
Photography by Pure & Lovely Photography

“Geoff and Erika had to plan tirelessly over and over again and fight to make their 2020 wedding happen. Ultimately, it ended up being so special as the wedding took place on Erika’s parents’ property with 50 guests in attendance (all who had been meticulously selected, thought about and chosen with intention). I know 2020 weddings were really hard for many because of that, but I loved the intimacy and beauty in these weddings. I think the intimate feel is something I will always hold onto as special in my heart. I’m grateful for this day and the laughs and moments and tears that were shed for these two sweet souls. This is the moment where your siblings are sparing no expense in roasting you during speeches and there is nowhere to hide but behind your hands!”

Kelsey & Carl’s Wedding
Photography by Danielle Meredith Photography

“Kelsey and Carl jumped through some crazy hoops to host their wedding. There were a lot of obstacles to overcome during a pandemic, including numerous venues, guest list and date changes. They got their very special first dance after thinking they wouldn’t be able to have a wedding at all. They made it work and it was SO amazing.”

Kristina & Justin’s Wedding
Photography by Giulia Moltisanti Photography

"Justin and Kristina were engaged when Justin’s grandfather fell ill. The doctors said he might not make it much longer, so Justin and Kristina flew from Toronto to Regina to spend some time with him. They visited him, and reminisced about his life. Justin's grandfather was disappointed he wasn’t going to make it to his grandson’s wedding, so Justin and Kristina changed planes and decided to organize their wedding quickly so he could be a part of it. Sadly he died just four days before the wedding so Justin’s grandmother attended the wedding without her husband of 66 years.  Undoubtedly, Justin’s grandmother had mixed emotions of joy and sadness. Here, she shared a moment with Kristina, welcoming her to the family, one woman ending a long and beautiful marriage, the other just starting her married life."

Daniela & Tyler’s Wedding
Photography by Elizabeth Lear of Elizabeth In Love

“An extremely emotional and proud moment for Daniela's parents as they walked their daughter down the aisle. Daniela's father came to Canada as a refugee and the family were separated for three long years. With tears in their eyes, they held on to one another for what felt like the extra moments they had lost while they waited to be reunited.”

Mark & Lindsay’s Wedding
Photography by Carlyn Rettie of Lenny and Hume

“Mark and Lindsay were to get married in May 2020 but due to the pandemic those plans were postponed. They knew they wanted to be married but needed time to figure out how and what it would look like. They decided on a family elopement on Mark’s parents land in Muskoka, where they’ve spent many summers growing together. They wed on the point surrounded by family. To date, this is the most candid, natural, love filled wedding I have witnessed. The day was full of laughter and two families becoming one, locking eyes and telling tales as they celebrated each other. Mark and Lindsay canoed out to the island to have a moment to themselves. Lindsay got up from where she was sitting with Mark sipping champagne and started walking towards the other end of the island. She was swaying in pure bliss soaking in the last light of the day. Mark joined her, they dance, explored each other, sipped champagne and immersed themselves in the euphoria of the day. This moment in this photo: the last light of the day was disappearing over the tree line, the last drop of champagne had been drunk, barefoot and free these two sauntered back to their family cottage for a night of celebration.”

Josh & Christina’s Wedding
Photography by Kendra Ruth Photography

“Josh and Christina had to scale back their guest list by quite a bit, but they made sure to live stream their ceremony for all the guests who weren’t able to be there in person. After it was complete, they took a few minutes to greet and thank everyone for virtually joining them and showed off their new bling for the camera. An image like this captures exactly what weddings in 2020 were all about. Making the best of the situation that couples were handed and finding a way to celebrate their love no matter what!”

Alora & Danielle’s Wedding
Photography by Lydia Ivy Photography

“Alora and Danielle had to change their weddings plans multiple times. They ended up exchanging vows in a clearing in the woods surrounded by their closest family members. As Alora and Danielle walked down the aisle, they were surprised with a shower of heart shaped confetti punched out of leaves from the forest. The best part: the hearts stayed on everyone's clothes and even ended up in Alora's hair!”

Chelsey & Devin’s Wedding
Photography by Maria Giuliana Photography

“This image encapsulates the love this little family had for each other. Chelsey and Devin decided to have a surprise wedding on the date of their 10-year anniversary. Their son Charlie had yet to see them since the night before the big day. He felt some pretty big emotions seeing them for the first time. This moment captured was a sweet moment of Chelsey and Devin comforting their son between family portraits.”

Kaitlyn & Jesse’s Wedding
Photography by Megan Ernst

“Kaitlyn and Jesse always wanted to have a big wedding where friends and family could eat great food, drink and dance! When COVID-19 ruined their plans for a big wedding, they came up with another way to make their wedding day special and a day for everyone to remember. They had invited their family and a handful of closest friends over for a BBQ to celebrate what would have been their wedding day. They even set up a Zoom call for their other friends and family that couldn't be there to “toast” with them. The zoom went live for the toast and SURPRISE they're getting married!”

Adina & Dustin’s Wedding
Photography by Whim & Willow Phototography

“To us, this is just one of those perfectly timed and hilarious candid moments! We were packing up our gear and getting ready to drive Adina and Dustin back home when we realized how much more incredible the sunset was! With one camera still available, we quickly got them to embrace for one last shot when a sea of migrating geese started flying overhead! We were laughing so hard because none of us wanted to get pooped on—we actually had a “TAKE COVER” moment! It honestly looked like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.”

This article was originally published on Feb 01, 2021

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