It’s a little hard for me to write this post to be honest as nothing I have written down seems good enough. I had the same problem when I was writing up Chris + Jason’s sneak peek as what do you say when one of the very best people who you have ever known gets married? At that time though, I was able to talk details and pass the mushy stuff on to this post…but now that means I actually have to figure out the answer to this question and try to do this wonderful couple justice. So bear with me.
Chris and I met almost exactly 13 years ago. And with that she is one of my oldest friends. But long-lived friendships are not uncommon for Chris. In fact, she tends to collect friends in every environment she gets into and hold on to them for as long as she can.
But really, who wouldn’t want to be her friend? She is the type of person you know will always be in your corner, but will also tell you when you are being a fool. She is one of the most supportive, kind-hearted and thoughtful people I have ever known and I feel very blessed to have her in my life.
In the slightly shorter time I have known Jason, I have come to see that he too shares this trend of being a great friend. In fact, I think the sign of just how amazing Chris and Jason are can be best seen with this wedding as so much of it was achieved with the help of family and friends who I am certain, didn’t think twice about helping out.
Over the years, I have watched as Chris dated the wrong guys. Guys who weren’t in the same place as her in their lives, who couldn’t keep up, couldn’t challenge her, and some that quite frankly, just weren’t good enough. But the first time I met Jason I knew this was a great match. Jason, you are all the things those other guys weren’t and more. I want to thank you for everything you do for Chris. For challenging and pushing her, for taking care of her, for joining her on her wild adventures and with her non-traditional ideas, and most of all for loving her for the truly amazing person she is. Chris is one of the best people out there, and I am so happy that she has found one of the very best guys to spend her life with.
I spent a long time writing the above speech and was incredibly nervous when I said these words during Chris + Jason’s ceremony (so nervous that I messed it up a couple times). This woman has been in my life for so long now and has meant so much to me. It is a corny cliche, but I honestly wouldn’t be who or where I am today without her. From the very beginning of our friendship she built up my confidence and pushed me outside of my comfort zone. She is the reason Dave and I started our relationship and was one of my biggest supporters when I started to pursue my photography dreams.
I haven’t said very much about Jason, who is now my best friend’s husband (I love saying this by the way). But he is, without a doubt, the very best guy for Chris. He is patient and kind, absolutely adores his family, has just the right amount of nerdiness, and of course, has a super cool eyebrow.
To say that it was an incredible honour for Dave and I to photograph their wedding day would not be strong enough, but they are really the only words available right now.
With all of that said (to the best of my abilities), we can focus on the wedding days themselves, for they were truly unique. The wedding was spread over two days. On their first wedding day, Chris + Jason attended a civil ceremony at Toronto City Hall. Their family and friends crammed into the relatively tiny marriage hall (and the hallway leading to it as we were a really big group) and watched their simple, but moving, legal marriage. We were able to get a few photos of the lovely couple, and lots of family photos, around Nathan Phillips Square before we headed inside.
This also happened to be the day that I was part of in a more traditional sense as I acted as Chris’ witness, which I loved because we now have matching signatures on our marriage certificates. As I was part of the day, I had to dress up and be in photos – so yes, there are photos of me here (and Dave too). Big thanks to Dave for taking over the primary photo duties during the ceremony so I could experience and enjoy the wedding from up front.
Once the legalities were completed for the day, everyone headed over to Algonquin Island via ferry taxis to set up and rehearse for Round 2 (and apparently there was an outfit change option that we were unaware of – as an FYI, crossing the water is cold on bare legs).
This part of the wedding day gave me a brand new perspective of Toronto. I have never been a big fan of this city and although I had seen some of the prettier aspects of it in previous shoots, I had never been to the Island. If you want to think of this City as pretty and if you are more inclined to nature than urban scenes, then this is the place for you! I absolutely loved the Toronto Island atmosphere and pace, and of course, I love the nature and sunset views!
Wedding Day #2 is both more traditional in nature, and less at the same time. We started as most of our weddings do, with bride and groom prep (at the Intercontinental Toronto Centre), but they were more casual in nature. Jason’s prep was filled to the brim with children, which turned out to be an unofficial theme for this part of the day, and Chris’ was low-key and chill (with a few kids and teenagers sprinkled around for good measure).
Where the previous day was a dressier attire, this day was almost completely casual. Guests, family and even the wedding party were instructed to dress for comfort above all else and most people wore jeans, t-shirts and hoodies all day long. For me, it meant I got to wear yoga pants to a wedding, so this alone made it by far the best.day.ever!!!
The exception to all of this was of course our lovely bride who still wore a traditional wedding gown and looked absolutely stunning in it, if I do say so myself.
After we all met up at Roundhouse Park and took some time for a few more photos, this ragtag group headed via public transit to the ferries. Now you may be noticing the larger than normal amount of photos of kids here, and how the focus seems to almost be as much on them as it is the newlyweds themselves. I mentioned before how important family is to Jason, and it is equally important to Chris. These two love their family (biological, legal and those they treat as such) so much and incorporated them heavily into their wedding day. Chris’ bridesmaids were a combination of dear friends and her three cousins while Jason’s side consisted of his close friends as groomsmen and his three young nephews as groomsboys. And of course, they had an adorable flower girl and ring bearer, both being a niece or nephew to them.
And you may think that having this many children in your day would be semi-disastrous, but they were seriously some of the best behaved children ever! We had zero parents in the group as we headed from the park to the ferries and only two people the kids even really knew and we somehow had virtually zero meltdowns (and even dealt with a few bathroom issues along the way).
Small side note to say that if I didn’t already know that Jason was so amazing wonderful and perfect for Chris, then I learned it on the wedding day. As we were walking through the World Trade Centre, we stopped to take a few photos (although if you ask the security guard, we were definitely not taking photos), when Jason directed us to another area of the building. At first I wanted to stop him and say how lovely this first location was, but when we got to where he was going, I saw that he had brought us to a tiny kitty statue. It may seem silly, but it pretty much brought tears to my eyes as he just knew his bride so well and made her so happy with such a simple gesture.
The ceremony was as non-traditional as they get. It was filled with the Lord’s Prayer but also Godel’s Theorems of Incompleteness. There was a science experiment in the middle of it and a game of rock, paper scissors to determine who would say their vows first. And of course, to wrap it all up, there was the singing of O Canada. So basically, it was exactly what you would expect Chris’ wedding ceremony to be (although thankfully did not include Christmas carols due to Jason’s veto powers).
I think of all the photos I took of these two throughout their wedding weekend, the above has to be my favourite. It’s not fancy by any means, we are all just sitting on the grass waiting for the ferry to arrive so we can head back over to the mainland and enjoy the reception at Watermark Pub, but this purely candid moment, and the smiles on their faces, is so wonderful and makes me so happy.
Of course when we did get to the Pub, it was time for Chris to write her speech. You see, Chris has not yet attended a wedding where she wrote it in advance. At my own wedding, she wrote her speeches as we got dressed for the day, at Teri’s wedding, she wrote it during cocktails and at her brother’s wedding she also wrote it last minute. So at her own wedding, there was a time during the beginning of their reception where she took a few minutes away from the crowd and finished it up (or you know, started it).
Chris and Jason made their rings themselves at the Devil’s Workshop (how cool is that?!) and opted for charity donations (to the Heart & Stroke Foundation and Jesse’s Journey Foundation) rather than traditional wedding favours. Throughout the relaxed and super fun dinner and reception guests put their poker chips in one of two bowls (or both) and later on the generous couple donated the corresponding amounts to the two charities.
The night was absolutely filled with great conversation and laughter. It was wonderful to be able to catch up with so many people, especially since we see less of them now that our summers are filled with our wonderful weddings. At the end of the night, we had a traditional (for Chris) game of Kings (a drinking game in case you are unaware of it) and enjoyed the scrumptious cake made by Jason’s sister.
It was honestly one of the best weddings I had even attended and I cannot think of a way I would have preferred to spend it than to be capturing it all (or at least most of it as I did take some breaks to chat with friends/eat or do some bridesmaid tasks) through my camera. Thank you to Chris + Jason for allowing us to be part of your day and to photograph it for you. I love you both so very much and wish you a lifetime of happiness together.
Thanks to all the amazing vendors (and family + guests) who contributed to this absolutely wonderful day.
Wedding Photographers: Stephanie Beach Photography (us!)
Venues: Nathan Phillips Square Toronto City Hall, 18 York Condo Room, Algonquin Island Association Clubhouse, and Watermark Pub
Florist: Paper Bouquets DIY by Bride & friends (using this design)
Rehearsal Dinner Catering: We Cater to You
Ceremony Catering: DIY
Reception Catering: Watermark Pub
Groom’s Ceremony Suit: Harry Rosen
Groom’s Island Outfit: Banana Republic
Bride’s Dresses: Hudson Bay & Provonias (purchased through Kijiji)
Program Printing: Moveable
Transportation: TTC and Toronto Ferries and Toronto Harbour Water Taxi
Audio Equipment: Vistek Rentals
Wedding Favours: Charity Tokens (using this concept)
Wedding Charities: Heart & Stroke Foundation and Jesse’s Journey Foundation
Wedding Website: Blogger
Invitations: Google Forms
Accommodations: Intercontinental Toronto Centre