A Sitdown with Wedding Photographer, Kate O’Connor of Sweetheart Empire

Love, style, Wedding

Just a week after my own article, about how wonderful it was to work with Kate O’Connor, a fabulous photographer, for our wedding images, the venue where we were married (Berkeley Church) contacted Kate to interview her; they also asked to feature our photos on their own blog.

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They asked:

When approaching this lovely Berkeley Church wedding what were your considerations and aspirations?

I have three goals for every wedding:

  1. To see my subjects for who they truly are – loving, amazing humans taking a leap of faith;
  2. To make sure they feel comfortable, so that they can be themselves and enjoy themselves;
  3. To capture the wedding day FEELS with love and realness – both how people are feeling (emotionally), and the atmosphere of the day overall.

I wanted the brides and their folks to look back at the images and remember how it felt that day – the anticipation, the emotions, and of course the immense loving energy that happens when you are in a room surrounded by your loved ones.berkeley-church-toronto-wedding-ceremoney-weddin-alter.jpgberkeley-church-toronto-wedding-wedding-pritraits.jpgtoronto-weding-berkeley-church-toronto-venue.jpg

For the whole article, follow the link here.

A thousand words. Photography to capture the magic of a wedding day. 

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All photos (above) by Kate O’Connor of Sweetheart Empire.

Choosing our photographer was one of the things we were most picky about for our wedding plans. If everything goes smoothly on the day of, great! But having lasting memories for ourselves and for our future family is a detail we didn’t want to overlook.

We started our hunt by asking for recommendations from people we knew. We then checked out the portfolios of those photographers and met with our top three. We had such an instant connection with Kate (Sweetheart Empire). We felt like we wanted to be friends with her, and now we are. Knowing that someone is going to be standing in at all of those intimate, special moments of nerves, tears (of joy) and excitement, I wanted to feel 100% confident that she would be a seamless, positive part of the day. We couldn’t have been more right about her. Kate O’Connor’s demeanor and utter professionalism was incredible. She listened. She was sweet and thoughtful, open to all my creative (read: strange) suggestions and she got us to feel in the moment, during all the chaos of the day. She was part life coach, keeping us focused on each other, and part magician. She captured the day, and us, the way I remember it all feeling. IMG_3708

When I said, ‘like a Vanity Fair cover’ or ‘the Netflix ads for The Vampire Diaries,’ she knew exactly what I meant.

Like a soft “American Gothic”. Check. This is our trademark shot. We get one like this, together, each year. It’s going to be like a yearbook for us as we grow together.

    
I trusted her completely to get us right. And she absolutely did. These are just a few of my favourite moments from our day, followed by a selection of inspiration images (all pinned to my Pinterest page) of the kind of images that we were drawn to. Knowing what we wanted really helped us to know what direction to take, and how to help Kate understand what we were looking for. She captured our day so beautifully that our wedding was chosen by Pikto Gallery as one of their sample books.

Before choosing a photographer, I wanted a good sense of what kind of images we would want to create with our photographer. Below are some of the photos that caught my eye. For the links to the following images, check out my Wedding Photography Pinterest Board. Though none are an exact replica (like any great art), the feeling of these photos definitely comes through in our final product. They were visual references so we could be on the same page.

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I knew I wanted to feel like this in my photos. Smokey and soft, romantic and a little undone. Very sweet, but still grown up.

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And catching those natural expressions and intimacy was important to us, too.

The drama of a great backdrop and having us be part of a great landscape was also an inspiration.

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How did you choose your photographer? Would you do anything differently? What kind of images do you want from that moment in time?

 

Bouquet Toss

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The history of bridal bouquets is much less sweet than you might expect. June was a popular time for weddings because, historically, it was close to the yearly bath that brides might enjoy – thus ensuring that they still smelled pretty good on their wedding day. In case a bride’s scent was unromantically ripe, you could always rely upon an abundance of fresh flowers in the spring and into summer, perfect for making a fragrant bouquet to mask the odour. How sweet. Then there is the tossing away of the bouquet. Locked in and awaiting your wedding night, there’s no time left to back out… or away.  

Now we retain the tradition of bouquets … for the romance and beauty of the blooms. Good thing, too, because they can be stunning.

              At our wedding we opted for a long-lasting, artistic and local alternative – paper flowers. Our center pieces had white hydrangeas from my mother’s garden and our bridal party carried hand-made paper bouquets, in an array of muted, complementary colours, with burlap ribbon and crystals – a perfect marriage of rough and delicate. We also love that they have lasted, and will continue to last, long past the day-of. It should also be noted that we liked the environmentally friendly aspect of forever blooms.  Our flowers were by Everblooms.  These photos were taken before the ceremony… And they look just as beautiful today as they did here. 

 Working with the artist, a local from Chatham, was a total pleasure.  Our bouquets were placed in vases on the head table for a splash of colour. Below.           

What flowers are capturing your imagination?

Stepping Out – Bridal Shoes for the Romantic Bride

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Photo (above) by Sweetheart Empire. For more work by Kate O’Connor, check out her website here.

One of the most crucial parts of your wedding day is allowing yourself to enjoy it. This isn’t one of those ‘suck it up’ and suffer-the-heels days. Shoes are one of the most important, practical decisions you’ll have to make. You want to look and feel amazing. Yes, you will be photographed more in one day than ever before in your life, but you should be able to last, comfortably, on this (of all days) through the prep, the walk down the aisle, the photos and the dance party. That was key for me; will I be able to dance… all night long? Yes. So, while some folks opt for two dresses, for me it was the shoes. And I have to mention, that while I took lots of inspiration from the expensive items I sourced online and in boutiques, my TWO pairs of shoes cost me less than $100 … together. For the aisle and ceremony, I wore rose-gold t-strap heels (at a conservative 2.5 inches), and for the party, I put on some delicate rose-gold ballerina flats. I made sure that my dress was fitted to skim the floor (which is why a conservative heel was the best choice). At 5’10, I didn’t need to be more statuesque, but feeling comfy (and elegant) was top of the priority list. Here are some of the heels that stole my heart, though not my pay cheque.

Some of my favourite images feature unusual, vintage-inspired picks. Quirky, feminine pairs, with a sturdy heel were good contenders. The top right pair (below) were more of a wear-anywhere shoe, but the other three could easily have been the peep of colour beneath the kick of my hem.

A little something blue? Blue-green, maybe? Liebling makes a wide array of cool, retro shapes.

These beautiful, embellished flats (below) were, by far, one of the best choices I made. They were a hit on the dance floor. I found a pair from Nine West and still wear them today. Pretty-up a pair of simple flats by adding a shoe clip!
The luxe factor really came into play once I started perusing the feed (and website) of Anthropologie’s BHLDN wedding collection. These shoes are drool-inducing. See for yourself. What shoes helped you put your best foot forward on your wedding day? Or, what pair(s) are you still dreaming of?  


  
  

Step up and tell me what shoes you’d rock down the aisle in. 🙂

Wedding Bells: Getting Ready In Style

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I love love. I especially love nostalgia, photographs and reminiscing about happy life moments. So, it`s been a total treat looking at the proofs from Sweetheart Empire; our photographer, Kate O`Connor is a total pro and caught all the lovey-dovey moments of our nuptials, making it a day of smooth sailing and laughter. Here`s a little taste of our day: my wife, getting ready to put on the dress and meet me at the church, surrounded by her dearest friends.

View More: http://sweetheartempire.pass.us/allia-alison-wedding

Dress, shoes and grandmother`s vintage fur. Jewels, makeup and finishing touches. We jumped on the trend, right before it peaked two years ago, and ordered long kaftans in an array of bright hues for all our bridesmaids, mum, our musicians and all the friends who pitched in to make our DIY wedding so dreamy.

Our Emcees were one of our favourite couples, a spicey pair of lesbian-marrieds who are just as silly as we are. In the Grand Hotel, she prepped, went over the itinerary, sipped champagne and got prepped with her ladies. Don`t let the serious face, above, fool you; she was cool as a cucumber, no Bridezilla to be found.

With her sister to help zip her in, it was high-fives and hugs. What a stunning bride. And down the hall, I`m in my own blissful bubble, getting ready to see this gorgeous face at the altar. Stay tuned for the next love-update!   Cheers and love, A.

View More: http://sweetheartempire.pass.us/allia-alison-wedding

Santorini Destination Wedding

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Greece was on my bucket list. We even talked of taking our honeymoon in Greece. We couldn’t afford it. So, when my good friend, a sommelier and traveller, decided to get married in Santorini, we couldn’t believe our luck. I was asked to do the bride’s hair and make-up and to do make-up for the wedding party. Of course, I said yes.

What an incredibly magical spot to wed!

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The Bride’s closest friends, family and her new step-daughter!

Getting ready with her bridal party.

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Enjoying the bridal suite at the El Greco in Santorini (Fira), Greece

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I brought my favourite products for the big day – tried and true – ready for the heat!

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Meanwhile, outside the day was shaping up to be incredibly idyllic. El Greco Resort, Santorini.

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At the wedding venue, Oceanides, with my lovely wife. Just a little over a year ago, we married in Toronto, Ontario.

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Delicious food and fresh local ingredients.

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Honey, sesame and cheese…

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By the time the ‘main’ course of whole grilled fish came to our table, we were so satisfied and full!

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Plates for breaking. Opa!

The bride’s hair and some behind the scenes NON-professional close-ups.

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The bride.

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Braids and twists were the inspiration for this Grecian look. Heat-proof hair was on the ‘must have’ list. 

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At the venue, the sea took center stage as the gorgeous backdrop for their vows.

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Our friendship goes back to 7th grade. She looked absolutely stunning, head to toe.

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A rose between two thorns.

The day after the wedding; the bride, Lindsay, was ready to relax on the beach. Tunic/beach coverup from Muska - Thira, Santorini.

The day after the wedding; the bride, Lindsay, was ready to relax on the beach. If only we all looked this fresh the day after ‘the big day’! Beach cover-up from Muska – Thira, Santorini.

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Getting ready for their close-ups. Olive branch head garlands.

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The flower girl looks on as her step-mom-to-be gets her make-up done.

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Finishing touches.

And… Opa! Here are the final photos of the stunning bride (and groom!)

Lindsay and Rob – Santorini wedding.

Lindsay and Rob – Santorini wedding.

Lindsay and Rob – Santorini wedding.

Lindsay and Rob – Santorini wedding.

Lindsay and Rob – Santorini wedding. Linds found a lovely local Nona to pose with.

Lindsay and Rob – Santorini wedding.

Lindsay and Rob – Santorini wedding.

Lindsay and Rob – Santorini wedding.

Lindsay and Rob – Santorini wedding.

Lindsay and Rob – Santorini wedding.

Lindsay and Rob – Santorini wedding.

This is clearly why people fly half way around the world to get married.  Stay tuned for photos from the Toronto reception. Coming soon…