There are so many factors to take into consideration when having a vintage-style wedding. Depending on what era you are working on replicating, the theme, dress, decorations and details are what really sets the mood. Maggie and Dan’s celebration was truly an authentic vintage wedding. They went all out to make it such an amazing experience for everyone. For example, the little chapel in Kitchener was the ideal location for their ceremony. Additionally, Maggie’s dress and hair piece perfectly coordinated with the 1950’s theme. Dan had also selected his suit, shoes and an awesome hat that fit in perfectly.
Did I forget to mention the vintage ’57 Chevrolet that drove them around for the day as well? The wedding reception was on the unique, one of a kind NithRidge Estate in Ayr. This location is truly amazing! It tied in to the authentic vintage theme so easily. To fully complete this vintage wedding, Maggie and Dan created the perfect photo booth location that had a upscale old-fashioned feel to it. We set up here for part of the cocktail reception so that we could take some fun photos of their wedding guests.
Some of the small details around the reception also helped cultivate the old-fashioned theme. The centrepieces on the tables were all uniquely different from the other, with a china teapot holding it’s own unique bouquet of flowers, delicately positioned on a vintage doily. Guests were served their meals on mismatched china and served tea in assorted china tea cups. As well, for vintage-style wedding favours, they had all kinds of homemade jams perfectly packaged into a cute bundle of kindness.
How I met Maggie before they planned their vintage wedding
A truly unique story is how Maggie and I first met! Back in 2019 at the Cambridge Wedding Ring show, Maggie was visiting to get inspiration and ideas for her daughter Michaela’s wedding. At that time they were looking for Michaela’s wedding photographer. However, Maggie and I instantly connected over my photojournalistic-style album. We were so passionate over our mutual love for the emotions that these photos portray, that we got chatting for over 20 minutes at the show.
If you’ve ever been to one of these shows, you know how fast paced they can be. There is often a quick turnaround time between meeting with new clients. Knowing this, you might understand that this may seem like a long time to talk with one particular bridal party. However, this is not the case for me! I felt that we have shared the same values and visions of the ideal wedding days. I was happy to talk even more!
Michaela was happy with the outcome from our conversation and my work. She contacted me immediately after the show to inquire about my availability for her wedding day. Sadly, I was already booked and was scheduled to work at another couple’s wedding on her date.
What is meant for you, will find you
To continue to assist her however I could, I reached out to my associated photographers I knew at the time to see if someone was available for her date. Thankfully, she also had other options for her Plan B. Michaela is a wedding make-up artist who is familiar with this industry. She meets numerous wedding professionals and had many other chances to find another perfect match for her wedding day.
Fast forward to one year later. This past winter I amazingly met Maggie and Michaela again; this time at the Kitchener Wedding show. I remembered them right away and asked if they need any further help with Michaela’s wedding. I was pleasantly surprised when Maggie told me that she was working on her own vintage wedding plans this time.
Maggie was thrilled to find me and wanted to book me for her wedding. However, the dates that Maggie was looking at were already taken. Not to be discouraged, she asked me which dates I had available. She was determined to have me as her wedding photographer and I couldn’t have been more flattered. We found one that worked for us both and that is how the true planning began.
Planning a vintage wedding during the Covid-19 pandemic
I had a chance to meet with Maggie and her fiancé Dan to decide what photography they needed for their day. Then, we created the perfect wedding itinerary schedule. But then the year 2020 began to reveal all of its surprises! Here comes COVID-19 for you and you will need to plan, replan and then revise your replanned plan again to create a temporary plan that may change again. The fact that Maggie and Dan were planning a more intimate wedding made it a little bit easier for them. They were not planning a wedding with 300-500 guests. However, it still meant that they needed to look at their wedding plan and revise it where necessary.
I have to say that the day was so well planned and the execution was nothing but perfect for their day. They also had a secret weapon. Karima from Event Depot helped them to organize and re-plan their wedding. I have witnessed first-hand how experienced and professional wedding experts can help to ease the stress that COVID-19 has added to many wedding couples in the 2020-21 wedding season.
Starting the day with the church ceremony
Usually, I start the wedding day coverage with images of the preparations of the bride and groom. After my chat with Maggie and Dan, we pinpointed their priorities they had for the day. Instead of getting ready photos, they were more interested in focusing more on images of their family and the celebration. Maggie and Dan wanted to focus on the most important thing to them: their blended family of kids and grandkids. They were sharing their wedding day with those they loved. This meant I was there to capture and freeze those moments into beautiful memories.
All decorated and well-lit, Doon Wedding Chapel was so charming! Because of COVID-19, many guests were not able to be physically present for their wedding ceremony. They desparately wanted all of their friends (local and far away) to be a part of their day so they had a live-streaming set up with Thunderstorm Productions for this part of the day. Arriving earlier to the chapel, I set up my lighting and got ready for this special day.
Pulling up to the wedding in a ’57 Chevrolet
I was under the impression that only Maggie and Dan would be dressing according to their 50’s vintage wedding theme. I was pleasantly surprised to see most of the arriving guests had also dressed to keep with the ’50’s theme. Michaela was here with her fiancé, Raz wearing a beautiful red hat with a polka dot dress. Her fiancé had a newsboy hat with suspensors and funky socks and shoes.
And there was Maggie arriving in a black Chevy ’57! A friend of hers who owns the vintage car was driving her. There are no words to express how happy and delighted she looked. She was positively radiant. Honestly, you can see her glowing expression in the photos, but in person it was twice as brilliant. She had no signs of stress or discomfort at all. I jumped in to make sure there were many documentary-style photos of her getting out of the car and preparing for the wedding ceremony.
Vintage Wedding ceremony
Maggie and Dan knew the Pastor well, Reverend Joe Amaral. Previously, Joe had organized a tour to Israel. Maggie had booked that expedition and asked Dan to come along with her just weeks before departure. This is where their love began. Now, it was time for their friend and Pastor to guide them through another lifetime milestone: their wedding ceremony. The ceremony was full with emotions and happy moments.
I know how much they both value candid photos. Because of this, I was constantly on a look out for those hidden and fast paced moments. While preparing for the wedding, I was planning to really raise the amount of documentary coverage for this couple. Not an easy feat, but I believe that I truly exceeded my expectations with these wedding photos. As well, I know that I did the same for Maggie, Dan and their family and friends.
Once the ceremony was complete, we did the grand exit out of the church to where the ’57 Chevy was waiting. As planned, we did a big group photo of all the wedding guests at the front of the church. The chapel was a perfect background but we wanted something a little more too. The front of the old house that was opposite the chapel was even more appropriate. So, of course, we took a set of pictures there as well!
Car photos at the gas station
After the group photos, we set out for the garage with a vintage gas station. Amazingly, it was just a few feet down the road. Once we arrived, I was so pleased to see the photo opportunities we had. However, I had been here before. Incredibly, when I photographed a family session here 6 years ago, I had noted that this would be the perfect location for wedding photos too. Maggie and I totally had the same vision!
I felt like a kid in a candy store. It was so difficult to choose where to start working first. In addition, Maggie and Dan were so cute together. I love that there was no need to pose them as they were already doing it themselves. Over the next 20 minutes, I took photos that truly represent both of them and who they are and what they feel for each other.
I mentioned to Maggie how at ease they were with me and my camera. Without an engagement session to get them more comfortable with the camera, I was unsure of how they would behave in front of the camera. I was originally a bit nervous, but totally should not have been! Maggie and Dan were one of my best couples and the camera caught only the best stuff.
NithRidge Estate vintage wedding venue
While scouting their wedding venue prior to the day, I was really happy to see what we would be working with. However, I was completely amazed once I actually saw the location in person! I cannot believe that a location such as this exists in Ontario, never mind that it is only 30 minutes away from my home photo studio.
Here, we started working on my last photos with the car. Then, we continued with the immediate family photos. Having the kids from both families and their children around them was the greatest joy for Dan and Maggie. Words cannot describe how happy they looked. I am truly honoured to have had the opportunity to be a part of it all. Working with each family’s own little bubble, I was able to get some group photos of the kids and their children together. At this point, I had a chance to work with Michaela and her fiancé too. I wanted to give them some memories from me, even though I wasn’t available for their own wedding day.
As a side note, Michaela was also her mother’s make-up artist for the wedding day. She did an amazing job and her work totally complimented her mother’s features, the dresses and style of wedding day too. I also must mention the amazing work of the hair artist, Elida Castellani of Elida C. Hair. She did a phenomenal job recreating the pin curls of the 50’s and transforming Maggie’s whole look to be authentically vintage.
Vintage photo backdrop set up
I first discovered Maggie and Dan’s unique vintage booth idea during the initial planning stages. They wanted to create a vintage set where their guests could be photographed on the day of the wedding. These photos would be a gift to the guests from the wedding couple.
The set-up was gorgeous! They had put three doors together as a backdrop with some tree stumps in front for people to sit on. The distressed wood on the doors were the perfect match to the day’s theme. I started to use them right away with Dan’s kids and their children. Once the set-up was established, the guests started building a line as they cued up for their own turn at the booth. At this time, my 2nd photographer Rosanna took over for me. Meanwhile, Maggie, Dan and I went to explore NithRidge Estate for some unique and intimate photos.
Horses, columns, amphitheatre stairs, barn, and more
I cannot say enough about how breathtaking the estate is! On one side, there are stairs that overlook the Grand River that resemble Greek-Roman amphitheatre architecture. This is the ideal location for setting up wedding ceremonies. We did a few unique photos and then went to the open stables. While I was a bit reserved around the animals, Maggie was very comfortable. She explained that she grew up with horses and could handle them.
The two horses in the pasture were enormous! My guess is that they were over 2 meters tall. Like huge giants, they started to come towards us once we entered their enclosure. It was so endearing to see them begin to snuggle into the experience of Maggie’s hands. Without saying anything, I started taking some candid photos. I didn’t want to disturb anyone during this moment. Not the horses, or my couple.
Once finished, we stopped by the barn doors for a few images and with the ivy leaves covering the walls.
Casual cocktail hour
Satisfied that we took the best photos for them to cherish for a lifetime, Maggie and Dan went to join their guests for cocktails and some finger food. I said to Maggie that now they could go enjoy. I was then free to take some candid photos around the celebration. “Yay!” Maggie said, “Those are my favourites!”
The wedding cocktail celebration and atmosphere impeccable. People were taking professional photos at the vintage backdrop with my 2nd photographer Rosanna. Others were drinking smooth cocktails and seated around the swimming pool and in the gardens. The kids were enjoying themselves as well. They were lining up with the balloon artist, Dang Nhap waiting for their turn to tell him what they wanted. Maggie even received a ladybug balloon animal for her wrist. I have a great photo of her proudly showing it off.
At one point, I noticed that Maggie and Dan were taking photos with a group of their friends at the vintage booth. I couldn’t but notice how much fun they were having. I positioned myself to take a few photos of the excitement from behind Rosanna who was there to capture their images.
Tent wedding reception
The reception was held under a huge tent. Nicely positioned to overlook the Nith River, everything was set up so beautifully. The details of an old typewriter, some delicate teacups, photos of their parents weddings as well as some other vintage items really made their reception unique and authentic.
As I was finishing taking photos of the setup, it occurred to me that it may be sunset when they arrive to their table. With this location, that wasn’t going to be an issue at all! The main table was positioned to on the west side of the tent. Literally, they could remain seated and I would still be able to capture some images with the sunset behind them.
Preparing for a grand entrance
With my next set of photos planned, Maggie and Dan were ready to move the celebration from the cocktail hour to the reception tent. I noticed that they were getting ready to get into the cart Karima was driving. I signalled to Dan that it would be better if they walked toward the tent, they did just that and it was gorgeous! They looked radiant approaching their guests from the venue towards the tent. The complimentary light of the golden hour illuminated the walkway. The two horse statues perfectly framed the couple during their walk. It was such an impactful and highly unique grand entrance!
They arrived at the tent to cheers from their friends and family. Once they were seated, the catering staff company began diligently working to meet everyone’s needs. I have not encountered such a devoted staff. At one stage, one of the staff came to ask us if we would like some refreshments. He said, “I know you guys work so hard and could probably benefit from some coffee or tea.” In my 25 years as a wedding photographer, I cannot remember that ever happening during my first time at a new venue. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised and a little bit speechless. Later on, I learned that the staff member who had approached us was the owner of the catering company. Such a great example of exemplary leadership!
I asked Maggie and Dan for a minute or two of their time once I saw that the sun would soon be dipping below the horizon. I already had my location and lighting planned out. All I needed was to get the two lovebirds briefly alone to document their joy with the perfect colours at sunset. After we were through, I happened to notice Michaela and her fiancé taking photos with their phone. They were so considerate and didn’t want to ask me to photograph them. However, that’s not how I work. I went up to them and asked if they would like me to take some photos of them as well. Michaela smiled and answered an enthusiastic “yes please!” rushing towards the perfect spot for them.
Dinner with Nighttime photo session
During dinner there was a singer Annette Grotentraast serenaded flawless covers of many famous songs. The atmosphere was lovely, even if it was a bit different than others due to COVID-19 restrictions. The guests remained at their seats and there was not much movement. Only Maggie and Dan mingled from table to table interacting with their guests. They even made the time to celebrate one of their grandkid’s birthday with a medal and cupcake. It was so spontaneous and fun to witness!
And then the dessert arrived. Time sure flies when you’re having fun! Understandably, Maggie and Dan were becoming more and more focused on celebrating their guests. I wanted to finish with my nighttime photos before I lost them to enjoying the festivities with their friends and family. I took them for just outside the tent for just two images on the pathway toward the barn. The path light perfectly illuminated their way.
Perfect ending for such an amazing day
Soon it was time for speeches. Maggie and Dan were so thankful to everyone who helped them make the day so amazing. She even thanked me for choosing this particular date for her. She recalled that back when we first started working together I had suggested it was the best one as “it never rains on that day.” After the speech, they kicked off the party with their first dance. The song was performed by Annette with the accompaniment of the band of two musicians, Double Impact.
The soloist and the band had never met or played together before, however they collaborated, learning the first dance song over the phone just a few days before the wedding. They pulled off a stellar first dance, performing “Last Time” by Trisha Yearwood. It was the perfect segue from the soloist to the band. Once they performed this one song together, the soloist left the stage and the band started their set seamlessly.
Wow! is all I can say about this day. Perhaps this might be my longest blog post I have ever written, but there is still more that I could say.
Thank you Maggie and Dan for choosing me and trusting me with your memories of a lifetime. Your happiness and love for each other and your family makes me feel so blessed for having been chosen to be a part of your day too.
Credits to below wedding professionals and locations that helped Maggie and Dan’s wedding to be one of a kind.
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