Ten wedding photos that will make you believe in true love

Ten wedding photos that will make you believe in true love

. A bride and friend prepare for the big day.
 Photograph by Scarlet O'Neill

Last Christmas, photographer Scarlet O’Neill was editing some of the thousands of photos she’s taken at more than 500 weddings over the past 14 years. In the process, she got the idea to arrange an exhibition of candid moments that she and other wedding photographers had captured. The result is Love (Actually), on now until February 26 at the Gladstone Hotel, which features more than 30 heartwarming wedding-day photos. “The subtitle of the show is, ‘real men do cry,’” O’Neill says. “It’s beautiful when men can feel so strongly and let it show. On the opening day last Thursday, my friend overheard a pretty built guy say, ‘This is actually really dope.’ People often think wedding photography is cheesy, lame or sappy. They don’t understand how much work goes into it.” We asked each photographer to share the stories behind their photos.

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Peter and Steve
July 2016 • Royal Conservatory of Music

Frances Beatty“Steve and Peter met while studying at the University of Toronto. On the morning of their wedding, they took an hour to get ready together at the Intercontinental across the street. Just before heading for portraits, they exchanged gifts in the Koerner Hall lobby. Steve grabbed Peter’s hand and surprised him with a framed New Yorker–style illustration of the two of them in tuxes, holding hands—it was almost identical to the moment they exchanged vows—and a pair of retro black metal sunglasses that Peter had wanted. When Peter read Steve’s card, he started crying. It’s one thing to say your vows in front of loved ones, but when you write down how you feel, you can usually express yourself in a much more open and vulnerable way. I think of the cards and letters that couples share before their wedding as the deeper vows—the ones you only want to share with the love of your life. In this moment, the entire world melts away and nothing exists but the two of them.”

 

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Will and Jenny
September 2016 • Church of the Redeemer

Sara Wilde“I’ve shot nearly 100 weddings, but this was my first wedding parade. Will and Jenny’s wedding at the Church of the Redeemer was hipster-rustic, with a New Orleans theme: think lawn games, bunting flags, long tables and a buffet with corn on the cob. There’s a Louisiana tradition where a bride and a groom lead a parade from the ceremony to the reception with a band. So they did just that with 90-plus guests, one of whom was wearing a washboard. It took us about 45 minutes to get from the church to the Ward’s Island Association Clubhouse. We took the subway some of the way—from Museum to Union—and this photo was shot on York Street. We had a lot of people honking at us, staring and taking videos of us. This photo screams joy to me—and I love the subtle playfulness of the groom as he sticks out his tongue!”

 

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Kris and Emilie
September 2016 • Sandbanks Provincial Park

Tami Klein“I arrived at a heritage home in Sandbanks Provincial Park about 20 minutes before the ceremony to spend time with Kris, the groom. He was getting ready in one of the guest bedrooms upstairs. When our shoot started, he got so emotional thinking about how excited he was that he started crying. He said, ‘I’m an actor, I should be able to control this.’ I was crying, too. I left the room for a few minutes to give him some space. I love this photo because it was so real and raw.”

 

Image by Toronto wedding photographer Ten·2·Ten Photography (www.ten2tenphotography.com) ©2016

Jennifer and Mark
December 2016 • Park Hyatt

Erika Hammer“On the morning of Jennifer and Mark’s wedding, the four groomsmen got ready in Mark’s parents’ room in the Park Hyatt. They were sharing stories, drinking beers and reminiscing about when they got married. The ring bearer—a three-year-old boy named Alexander—was there hanging out with his dad, who had known the groom since Grade 9. Rarely do we see a child who is calm amongst the hustle and bustle of a wedding morning; they’re usually running around and exploring. This little guy was just doing his own thing. It was amazing.”

 

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May 2016 • St. Lawrence Market

Kimon Kaketsis: “When I came into this couple’s room at the Shangri-La Hotel, they had just finished breakfast. Then they got ready together, putting on each article of clothing at the same time, adjusting each other’s collars and helping with buttons. It culminated with them sitting side-by-side to put on their shoes. Here, one of them, wearing Louboutins, was helping his partner get into his pair of Jimmy Choos. It was truly a gesture of love. They laughed at me because I immediately lay on the ground to get this perspective. I’ve shot 200-plus weddings, but I would say only five of them got ready together. The experience is really intimate.”

 

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Sean and Aaron
October 2016 • Roseville Estate, Cambridge

Laura May“Before Sean and Aaron’s wedding, they had breakfast—bacon and eggs with mimosas—with family and friends at Roseville Estate in Sean’s hometown of Cambridge. Afterwards, they cuddled in bed and had giggle fits, jumping on the mattress for about 10 minutes. It was awesome. Since they had already spent the morning together, I suggested they get ready back to back. After they did, they counted down ‘three, two, one,’ before turning around to face each other. That’s when I shot this photo. Sean was clearly ecstatic about seeing his husband-to-be. Aaron responded with a cute chuckle. This moment was real and fleeting, impossible to repose and recreate. After they finished tying each other’s shoes, they commented on their respective sock choices—Sean’s were blue and white striped, Aaron’s had rainbow stripes—and popped a bottle of Kew Vineyards champagne.”

 

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Brittany and her father
August 2015 • Miller Lash House

Wedding planner Alexandra McNamara (photograph by TJ Tindale): “Brittany’s father was in the room while she was getting ready at her home in Lawrence Park. He is the most lovely man. I could tell that his family means everything to him. This photo captures a once-in-a-lifetime emotional moment between father and daughter. It hits people right in the gut—in a good way.”

 

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Megan and Caiti
September 2015 • Cooper’s Hawk Winery

Tara Lilly“On their first date in 2014, Caiti was two hours late, so they missed the reservation that Megan had made a week before. They ended up going to Jack Astor’s, where Megan drank a Caesar in record time and some biker guys kept trying to buy Caiti drinks. When they got married in September 2015, Caiti and Megan got ready separately, but they decided to share a first look before the ceremony at Cooper’s Hawk Winery. This photo was taken away from the rest of the wedding party and guests, so they could have a moment alone. I stood back and waited until they didn’t even notice we were there. ”

 

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Sarah and Neumann
August 2016 • Mackenzie Beach, Tofino

Liat Aharoni“Sarah and Neumann got married on a beach in Tofino, B.C. It was an unplugged ceremony: guests couldn’t have cell phones or cameras. The groom wore Darth Vader cufflinks, and, at the reception at Tin Wis Resort, each table was named after a different planet from Star Wars, and the bridal party had lightsabers. We snuck away to take sunset photos for 10 minutes, while their guests danced, schmoozed and played Street Fighter II, a game Neumann loves, which was projected on screens. At one point, the couple taught their moms how to play. The next day, they had a bonfire on the beach.”

 

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Brad and Maeg
June 2016 • Navy Hall, Niagara-on-the-Lake

Maison Blanche“I’ve shot about 30 weddings and seen all sorts of vehicles—standard stretched limos, chartered tour buses, party buses, gangs of motorcycles, old Bentleys and Rolls Royces, even taxis. But none of those weddings had a sweet vintage drop-top Volkswagen Westfalia like the one that Maeg and Brad rented. Here, they are on the way to their ceremony. Five minutes in, Greg, the hired driver for the day, opened the rooftop and cranked up the stereo. We were driving around these small-town streets full of tourists, blaring DJ Snake’s “Turn Down for What.” Maeg was rapping to it when I took this photo.I think they were both just so excited that this day was finally happening. Inside the Navy Hall, they had a circle ceremony, where their 115 guests surrounded them with candles while they said their vows. It was so casual and warm. They also had a southern BBQ food truck and a late-night ice cream truck.”