Toronto Life’s most popular Real Weddings of 2023
Including a live-concert themed bash, a double-ceremony Ghanian and Nigerian celebration, and a wedding in the Sicilian countryside
The brides and grooms of 2023 shared an understanding that a wedding is, at its best, an epic party. Short guests lists are out; multiple ceremonies, days-long festivities and endless outfit changes are in. Even the minimalist outliers impressed with their sharp aesthetic choices, and almost everyone danced until the wee hours. This year, the most memorable bashes included a stunt-filled, Met Gala–themed extravaganza; a four-day Vietnamese and Indian-Pakistani celebration; and an elaborate backyard wedding attended by the who’s-who of women’s hockey.
Here are our top 10 Real Weddings of the year.
Steven Cvitko, a senior policy adviser, and Andrew Kalinchuk, the managing editor of the New York Times’ Wirecutter, met on a dating app in 2009. After two years together, they moved from Edmonton to Toronto for a fresh start, and in 2019, they proposed to each other in Mexico City. To honour Toronto and the life they’d built together, they decided to get hitched at Hotel Ocho in Chinatown.
Kieran Sells, a TV producer at The Today Show, and Poly Polydorou, a set dresser, bonded over their love of big concerts and glittery shows. They got engaged in 2019 and, after postponing their 250-person celebration at the Great Hall until it was safe to gather, enjoyed a wild night featuring LED party lighting, disco balls and special performances by a gospel choir, Chantal Kreviazuk and queer singer Betty Who.
Hira and Daniel grew up in the same neighbourhood in north Brampton. They started dating in high school after bonding in the music room. Eleven years later, in the summer of 2022, the couple were married in a four-day celebration that blended Vietnamese and Indian-Pakistani traditions. It also featured a performance by their former music teacher.
Francis Atta, a social worker and therapist, first connected with Tolulope (Tolu) Ojo-Atta, an equity, diversity and inclusion specialist and model, through Instagram in 2013. After sliding into each other’s DMs, the two dated long-distance, with Francis in Toronto and Tolu in Brantford and Hamilton. The couple got engaged in June of 2019 and were married in two ceremonies that blended their Ghanaian and Nigerian roots.
Kiana Madeira and Lovell Adams-Gray, both actors and producers, met in 2016 while working as seat fillers at the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto. Their relationship deepened as their careers progressed, bringing them to LA and then New York, where they’re currently based. Kiana appeared in the 2022 film Brother and the Netflix show Trinkets, and Lovell has appeared in the TV show Slasher and the Starz show Power Book II: Ghost. The couple got married in a royalty-themed wedding at Casa Loma.
Penny Evangelakos, a public relations account manager, and George Alafogiannis, a carpenter, met as teenagers and started dating in 2009. While they always intended to spend the rest of their lives together, they were in no rush to get married. After 14 years, they finally tied the knot in an intimate destination wedding in the rolling hills of the Sicilian countryside.
Mark Cira, a filmmaker, met Alia O’Brien, a musician and anthropologist, in an Uber Pool in 2017. After they moved in together just before Covid-19 hit, Mark proposed to Alia in front of the oldest tree in Canada. Then they were married in a minimalist rustic wedding at Mark’s family cottage in Port Severn.
Renata Fast, a professional hockey player, met Paul Geiger, a financial analyst, in 2012 while playing hockey in upstate New York. Their relationship matured along with their careers, which took Geiger to Europe and Fast to Calgary (to train for the women’s national ice hockey team, for which she eventually took home an Olympic gold medal in 2022). The couple got married in Fast’s parents’ backyard in Burlington, with a ceremony that drew the who’s who of women’s hockey.
Shiran Teitelbaum and Mike Donaghey, both creative directors in the advertising sector living in LA, started planning their fashion show–inspired wedding celebration in 2019. Over two years of Covid delays, they had plenty of time to brainstorm extravagant surprises, like bringing in winged ballerinas to fly their five-month-old daughter down the aisle and hiring stunt doubles to perform their first dance.