Real Weddings: Ellen and Nick
Inside a romantic sunset ceremony at the Broadview Hotel
Ellen Mclaren, a 31-year-old producer at an advertising agency, and Nick Ager, a 31-year-old architect, met in 2010 during frosh week at Toronto Metropolitan University. They started dating soon afterward and got engaged at a campsite in Algonquin Park in 2021. Their wedding was in December 2022 at the Broadview Hotel, with a sunset ceremony followed by dinner, dancing and an impromptu mosh pit. Here’s how it all came together.
Nick: Ellie and I met in August of 2010. We had just moved into residence at Toronto Metropolitan University, and our rooms were across from each other. We had a floor meeting on our first day and were supposed to say a bit about ourselves. I couldn’t think of anything, so I just said that my favourite TV show was Dexter. Ellie, from across the room, yelled out, “That’s an excellent show!”
Ellen: I really did love the show! I just kind of blurted it out.
Nick: It was nice to know that someone was listening. It was a bonus that she was beautiful.
Ellen: I thought he was pretty cute too. I felt bad for yelling, so afterward I went over to introduce myself.
Nick: We ended up spending the rest of frosh week together. We each had three roommates in our apartment-style dorms, and we became a big friend group. The Dexter thing was a good excuse to find time alone, though. On Sunday nights, we’d watch it together, giving our computers a bunch of viruses as we tried to find a good free stream.
Ellen: I had a crush on Nick almost immediately.
Nick: I liked Ellie too. There was a reason we kept trying to find time away from everybody.
Ellen: One night, a month after we met, a big group of us went out to some crappy now-defunct club on Richmond Street. Nick and I broke off from the group, and eventually I made the first move and kissed him. I didn’t feel scared at all. I knew he liked me.
Nick: I was thrilled. I’d thought she liked me back, but I wasn’t sure until that moment. We continued dating into our second and third years of university. I was studying architecture.
Ellen: I switched from a business degree to photography. A lot of our dates in those early years were us going on photo adventures together. We’d walk around, check out new neighbourhoods and grab a cheap bite somewhere.
Nick: Ellie was working part time as a nightlife photographer in clubs, and I was always in the studio late working on school projects. Our best time to hang out ended up being at two or three in the morning. We’d meet at one of our places and make some food together, elaborate meals that were usually taco-related—tacos stuffed in things or tacos on top of other things.
Ellen: We made breakfast sushi one time. That didn’t turn out as bad as I thought it would.
Nick: That’s when we would catch up on our days. Ellie was always so excited to tell me about something she’d seen or learned or about taking photos in a place she shouldn’t have been. I loved that about her.
Ellen: Nick made me smile every day. He finds a lot of humour in the day-to-day and makes a habit of reflecting on special moments.
Nick: In 2014, we moved in together in a condo rental at CityPlace. Then, in 2017, we moved again and adopted our dog, Tommie. She’s a rescue mutt from St. Lucia. Tommie forced us to communicate better, which brought us closer together. But, in another sense, she forced us farther apart—Tommie likes to sleep in the middle of the bed.
Ellen: In November of 2019, we bought a condo at King and Niagara. It was a tiny studio loft with two floors. When the pandemic hit, we took apart a Pax wardrobe from IKEA and built two desks out of it so we could work from home.
Nick: That condo was very open concept. The only doors were to the washrooms. Ellie was on the phone all day, so I had to take calls in the bathroom. And somehow we didn’t kill each other! By that point, we had already talked about getting married, but we didn’t want to rush it.
Ellen: Once or twice, in passing, I mentioned that I’d like a pear-shaped diamond and that I didn’t want a ring that was yellow gold.
Nick: Ellie went camping in Algonquin Park a lot as a kid, so I figured that would be a great place to pop the question. I booked a campsite for three days at the end of June 2021. I was so nervous during the drive up. I was praying it wouldn’t rain.
Ellen: Setting up our campsite was a disaster. It was so windy, and we’d forgotten some of our tent pegs. The tarp was flying everywhere.
Nick: We eventually got settled in and went for a walk down by the water. I knew I wanted to propose on the first night. I didn’t want to wait.
Ellen: I took Nick to a lookout point and reminisced about my memories of camping there when I was younger. It was starting to get dark, so I suggested that we go back to the campsite and make dinner.
Nick: I realized that was my moment. I told her I wanted to add another great memory to her list and dropped down on one knee. I almost fell over because there were so many roots and rocks underneath me.
Ellen: I remember crouching down and sitting with Nick because I wanted to be eye-to-eye with him and hold his hands. My body was buzzing. I was so excited. We both knew the answer was yes, it was just a matter of Nick asking.
Nick: We didn’t tell our family or friends right away. Since we were camping and isolated, we enjoyed the moment for a few days before we called everyone.
Ellen: We quickly started searching for a wedding venue. We tried looking at restaurants, but all of the venues in Toronto that we loved had closed or were booked up.
Nick: By the fall, we were getting frustrated. We decided to follow up with a spot that we liked but had never heard back from: the Broadview Hotel. It turned out that I had actually left a few letters out of our email address when I first contacted them. Luckily, they still had availability for December 2022.
Ellen: As soon as we saw the event space at the Broadview, we loved it. It had an incredible view of the city. That’s where we decided to have the ceremony. We would use the lounge seating that already existed, which was a mix of velvet couches and brown leather chairs, and we’d add white florals and some candles. The room is dark blue, moody but cozy.
Nick: The city is the decor, really. There are giant windows on all three sides. After the ceremony, we’d go down to the second floor for the reception. We’d have just under a hundred guests.
Ellen: For my dress, I wanted a simple style—nothing lacy or embellished. Because we were still in Covid, the shops had me go online in advance and choose which dresses I wanted to try on. I’m not a particularly adept online clothing shopper. I almost didn’t try on the one I ended up picking. When I saw it on the hanger, I turned to my sister and said, “It looks like a mother-of-the-bride dress.” But, once I had it on, I loved it right away. It’s a long-sleeved satin dress that’s quite form-fitting, with a long train.
Nick: We went with Indochino for me and my groomsmen. We all had different jacket linings with little inscriptions and messages. Mine had our wedding date.
Ellen: We decided not to hire a wedding planner. We just never felt like we needed one. The Broadview had a great list of recommended vendors to choose from.
Nick: Ellen and I shared the task of wedding planning and coordination equally. We didn’t feel stressed until the week before, when we were scrambling to put final touches on some of our decor items and get some gifts ready for our family and the wedding party.
Ellen: The night before the big day, Nick and I stayed together in the Dominion Suite at the Broadview, which is a corner room on the top floor. We started the day with coffee and wrote each other letters.
Ellen: I’m a hobby baker, so I decided to make our wedding cake, just a small one for me and Nick. I baked it ahead of time, a simple chocolate cake with chocolate ganache. I decorated it on the day, between getting my hair and makeup done, adding vanilla frosting, dried citrus and fresh flowers. Some friends had warned me that decorating a cake on my wedding day would be stressful, but it was nice to have 20 minutes to myself.
Nick: I was a bit rushed getting ready, so my hair ended up being just how it looks after I get out of the shower. But I didn’t feel nervous. I was excited to get married.
Ellen: After we got ready and before the wedding ceremony, we did our first look on the second-floor terrace, where the Broadview sign is, overlooking Queen Street. Our photographer captured the first time Nick saw me in my wedding dress
Nick: They had me facing out toward the street while I waited for Ellie. I could see the streetcars passing by.
Ellen: People down on the street were cheering and waving at us.
Nick: At the beginning of the ceremony, while I was waiting for Ellie to walk down the aisle, I felt so happy. It sounds corny, but the room was so full of love. Then, once I realized that everyone was in their place and it was just Ellie to come, it felt like everything stopped. It was like I couldn’t hear or see anything except for her. I’m tearing up now just thinking about it.
Ellen: I felt the same way. The room fell away, and all I could see was Nick. I couldn’t stop looking at him.
Nick: The ceremony was at 4 p.m., which was around sunset since it was late December. The sky was pink and purple. It was beautiful.
Ellen: Afterward, it was like, Oh my god, we did it! One of the best pieces of advice we got for the day was from our officiant. He told us that, after the ceremony, we should leave the room and spend a few minutes alone together to process and celebrate privately. So we went to a little room in the back of the bar, and it ended up being a 40-minute debrief.
Nick: Meanwhile, our guests were starting cocktail hour, which we ended up missing most of. Then everyone went down for the wedding reception and dinner. As an architect, I love a good floor plan drawing. So I reimagined the floor plans of the three apartments Ellie and I had lived in and annotated them with memories from our lives. We put that on the welcome table.
Ellen: He included the “Tommie speedway,” which is the path she would take when she got zoomies, and the IKEA wardrobe we disassembled into our side-by-side workstations. Dinner was a four-course meal prepared by the chefs at the Broadview: a pear salad; sunchoke soup; a choice of duck, short rib or orecchiette; and panna cotta for dessert.
Nick: Our first dance was to a cover of the Waterboys song “How Long Will I Love You” by Jon Boden, Sam Sweeney and Ben Coleman. I was nervous about that part because I’m not much of a dancer. I accidentally stepped on Ellie’s train, but we did our best! Ellie’s a great dancer.
Ellen: The party got started after that, but Nick and I were whisked away for photos. I had this whole idea of a paparazzi-themed, “no photos, please” look. So we wandered around the hotel and took a couple of cool shots in our suite. We sat inside our empty bathtub and drank champagne.
Nick: Ellie was basically the creative director of the whole enterprise.
Ellen: By the time we got back to the dance floor, it was a full party. Somebody came dressed in a blue sequin dinner jacket, and it ended up being passed around the dance floor. If you had it on, you were in the middle, giving it your all.
Nick: Later on in the night, a mosh pit started. The DJ had to change the song so we’d stop.
Ellen: They closed the bar at 1 a.m., and at 1:30 a.m. they turned the lights on and kicked us out. Nick and I came back to our suite, where we had a bunch of leftover food from getting ready. We sat on the bed and ate some nachos.
Nick: It was like another one of our late-night or early-morning conversations. We were just excited to share what we remembered from the evening.
Ellen: Nothing about getting married created a pivotal change in our relationship—we already lived together and shared our lives—but a month afterward, we found out we were pregnant. So, in that way, it hasn’t been business as usual.
Nick: We knew we’d need more space, so we bought a house in Guelph and moved in this past July. For as long as we’ve known each other, we’ve been doing new things together—starting school, moving into new homes, getting new jobs. Ellie always does it with excitement and grace. I can’t wait to go through this next chapter with her.
Ellen: I’m not nervous. I’m just so excited. Nick and I have come up against a number of challenges together, and we’ve always figured it out. Parenthood will be our biggest one yet, but I know I’m in his corner and he’s in mine.
Date: December 10, 2022
Photography: Mango Studios
Venue: Broadview Hotel
Officiant: Chris Yu
Florist: Cool Green and Shady
Food: Broadview Hotel
Cake: Made by the bride
DJ: DJ Floh Back
Bride’s hair: Bridal Hair Collective
Bride’s makeup: Blush x Balm
Bride’s dress: Pronovias
Groom’s outfit: Indochino
Day-of coordinator: Le Love Events
Wedding bands: The Devil’s Workshop