Matthew Hicks, Calgary Wedding Photographer » Wedding, relationship, portrait and event photography for the Calgary area

This post is very special to me – although I’ve been actively looking for a same-sex wedding couple, it took me until this year to find one. I am really looking forward to Corey and David’s wedding at the zoo next year!

David and Corey’s story is super cute. After meeting online and texting for a week, they connected instantly on their first date and have spent nearly all of their days together since then. Two years in, Corey decided to pop the question. He knew David liked penguins, so they went to the zoo. After feeding the penguins, Corey proposed to David with the rock seen fairly far into the post. The fact that they’re also getting married at the zoo sweetens the deal, and also explains the penguin photo!

While they were present at another wedding I covered, I met them through a community orchestra, as all three of us are classical musicians. Shared interests are awesomesauce!

For this shoot, we spent the evening in the sun in Eau Claire, mostly in Prince’s Island Park.

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“I’m flying, Jack!”

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Camp Chief Hector, at the entrance to the Rocky Mountains – Where better for a wedding that fused traditional and trendy styles with a nerdy overtone?

Paige and Daniel have known each other for ages. Seeing them together was fantastic, they make a great couple!

Paige got ready at Camp Chief Hector, in the Forest House. Daniel was off in Canmore with the boys. We had enough time to take some photos in the tipis!

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Most of you should recognize this tattoo – if you don’t, it’s Navi, from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The accent colours of her raspberry and cyan dreads went perfectly!

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It’s important to never focus too closely on anything while you’re photographing. While I was doing bridal party portraits, I looked up to see this shot while Paige waited on the balcony.

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My favorite bridal party portrait is of the ringbearer, Tankerbell. She’s a French Bulldog, and the most amazingly well behaved dog I’ve ever met!

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Coming back, we found out the boys had turned up unexpectedly between us and the forest house, so I ran in and dragged them off to make sure nothing was unexpectedly spoiled!

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Ceremony time! It was held in the Hector Lodge.

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Additionally, it was a sand ceremony. It didn’t go well…

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After corralling their large extended family for formals, it was off into the woods! We followed a trail that leads over marshes and boardwalks, under McConnell Ridge (Yates Mountain).

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Who doesn’t like wedding party photos in a meadow?

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The largest lake in Camp Chief Hector is Chilver Lake. Though it was a long walk, Paige insisted that we get some photos on the dock, and I was very happy to oblige!

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It started raining as we headed back in, but that never needs to be a downer.

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Especially if you commit to being cheesy!

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The reception was super fun. There was even a magician!

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The reception was also held in the Hector Lodge. Each table had something nerdy for its centerpiece – Lots of WoW, as well as random others including Bender from Futurama, Edward Scissorhands, Captain Picard, and this duet:

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The speeches were something else, too. Truly touching and heartfelt from both the parents of bride and groom, as well as insanely funny!

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The cake cutting was fabulous, too. A small ceremonial cake topped the stand, which was loaded with cute paw print cupcakes! The cake topper is perfect for them, depicting their three fur babies.

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The first dance was wonderful, as well as the mother-son and father-daughter dances.

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Of course, how could you get married at the YMCA’s Camp without doing the YMCA?

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One of the cooler parts was when Paige’s brother Wade did some fire spinning. I got way too close, because I simply couldn’t resist.

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Paige and Daniel’s wedding at Camp Chief Hector was loads of fun for everyone there. I’m so happy and thankful that they chose me to be their photographer!

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This one’s fairly short. Roberta and John realized fairly quickly that they were meant to be together. Both parishioners at Christ Church in Elbow Park, there was no debate about where the wedding should be!

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A very special part about this wedding is that this was a third wedding for both of them. Why would that be special? Well, it has to be to go through all this again!

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There ended up being 3 flower girls with a gorgeous rainbow of colours. There were supposed to be 5, but the other two were a bit too young to make it all the way down the aisle!

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Did I mention that the flowers were on point?

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The ceremony was very lighthearted, and everyone had a smile on their face by the time the kiss rolled around.

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The main doors of the church were closed for renovation, but they still made a lovely exit out of the loggia.

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A quick dash off to the side to have some cute time with older people!

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The reception was a whole lot of fun. With their combined families, children and grandchildren, it was surprisingly large! There were lovely tributes from their kids:

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…and cheeky ones from their grandkids!

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There was no doubt that everyone enjoyed the day immensely.

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I was very happy to spend a lovely afternoon with Roberta and John on their wedding day!

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Melissa and Brendan have known each other for most of their lives, so it’s fantastic to see them finally tying the knot!

I’ve known Brendan since grade 3, and I was honoured when they asked me to photograph their wedding. It was extremely special, as Brendan’s father had died the previous summer, and Brendan and Melissa had moved into his beautifully landscaped house. The backyard had a koi pond as well as a large stone area which was perfect for the ceremony.

Melissa and Brendan were both ready go to by the time I got there. 15 minutes before the ceremony, Melissa said “Is everyone here? Can we just go now?”

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I loved the detail on her dress!

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All the while, this loveable cat was wandering around looking stylish as all heck with his kitty sized bow tie!

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Brendan and his guys walked in around the house first, and then Melissa walked out from the bedroom. Fantastic first look!

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Brendan then walked Melissa the rest of the way in.

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The looks they gave each other during the wedding were seriously fabulous.

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The vows were fantastic, too!

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After the exchange of the rings…

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…They had a sand ceremony. I love the symbolism here, and they did such a good job of mixing their sand!

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“Ow! That’s really hard!”

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Just-Married High Fives!

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Melissa and Brendan made this archway for the wedding, and I thought it was a fantastic touch.

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Those familiar with Silver Springs will know the Birthplace Forest, and that’s where the wedding party headed for photos after. Just enough shade to keep us out of the baking August sun!

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Then we all went to Mac’s for some cool, sugary drinks. Have you ever seen that before?

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Overlooking Bowmont Park, they made such a cute couple!

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On to the reception, there were some fantastic personal touches. Brendan home brews beer, and made a special batch as wedding favours, as Melissa designed the labels!

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The anime cake topper was very them, as well.

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And, my personal favorite, the candy bar!

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Did someone say comfy converse for wedding shoes? Stylish, the right colour, and nobody needs to know!

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First dance, and it was so much fun!

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Another fantastic part of the wedding was that the band was the same band that Brendan’s father played in. Brendan took the stage with them for a set toward the end of the night.

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And it was a LOT of fun!

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This was a fun and excellent wedding, and one that I was happy and honoured to shoot!

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Ah, summer – Gone are the rosy cheeks of winter, and the red eyes of allergy season have taken their place!

Since I love nature photography so much, getting out into a park in summer is one of my favorite things to do. For this shoot, Kate, Terry and I went to the Weaselhead, an alluvial plain at the west end of the Glenmore Reservoir on the Elbow River in Calgary. It’s been a while since I’d shot there, so I was super excited!

Romantic Relatonship photography in Calgary by Matthew Hicks, Wedding Photographer

In the late afternoon, the Elbow river winds beautifully through the valley, glinting in the light – A perfect background.

 

Romantic Relatonship photography in Calgary by Matthew Hicks, Wedding Photographer

I’ve known these two for a few years now and, like so many others, they make a fantastic couple!

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Here’s a fun fact: The path down into Weaselhead park is actually the old Priddis Road. This makes it straight, wide, and a great place to take romantic photos!

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Around this artery are many pathways and beautiful bridges surrounded by the best nature Calgary has to offer. In the middle of these photos, we stopped to watch a beaver swimming under us!

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There’s something about these wooden bridges that are all over Calgary that just draws me in for relationship photos like nothing else.

Romantic Relationship photography in Calgary

It had been a rainy day before the sun broke out, and I was actually sad that it was so clear. I have a collection of umbrellas, and I’m always sad when I don’t get to use them.

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However, the light did make for some neat shadows! (Can you find both hearts?)

Romantic Relationship photography in Calgary

All in all, this was a great session in a rustic, natural setting. There’s nothing better for an intimate photoshoot than being away from the loud noises of the city, surrounded instead by birdsong and trickling water. A big thanks to these two for letting me capture the day!

Romantic Relationship photography in Calgary

Ah, spring. I love spring. I love the soft, evening light coming across the flowers. Laura and John do, too! For this shoot, we went to a skinny park along the Elbow River in Elbow Park. This is somewhere I want to take more photos! Despite being crammed in between the Elbow River pathway and Elbow Drive, it’s quiet and intimate.

Calgary Relationship photography by Matthew Hicks, Calgary Wedding photographer

As for the couple? Well, they’re delightfully nerdy and awkward – Not that you’d know it from looking!

 

Calgary Relationship photography by Matthew Hicks, Calgary Wedding photographer

They first met in their workplace – And flirting in office emails is work! John tried to flirt with Laura using Disney movies, and Laura tried to flirt back – But their flirtations never quite met because they’re both incredibly bad at flirting!

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To quote progressive rock band Yes, or perhaps to paraphase Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, ‘Love will find a way’. And, as it does, they eventually made the connection.

Calgary Relationship photography by Matthew Hicks, Calgary Wedding photographer

Now they’re just a ridiculously cute couple, and I hope this won’t be the last time I get to work with them!

Calgary Relationship photography by Matthew Hicks, Calgary Wedding photographer

Enjoyed the photos? Follow me on Instagram or like me on Facebook to get more posts about awesome people as I post them!

 

I love my phone. It keeps me in touch with my friends, and my family. It takes surprisingly good photos. It lets me flood the ethereal expanse of the internet with photos of what I’m doing, from the most important events in my life down to photos of my adorable cats.

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When we’re at a wedding, it’s so hard not to bring out our phones to share such a wonderful day!

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But here’s why we shouldn’t.

Reason #1: You don’t want your guests to be separated from you.

I’ve been taking photos for a long time. Seeing something through a viewfinder separates you from your subject, and seeing them on a screen is even worse. The feelings are dulled, and the memories aren’t what they should be. Your friends are physically there at the wedding ceremony, but you want them to be completely focused on you, don’t you? It may sound selfish, but what else is the ceremony about! As the bride or groom, being able to look out and make eye contact with anybody there is too wonderful to pass up. There’s a oneness to a wedding that makes the entire ceremony seem so special, and it would be a shame to give it up. Not to mention distracting the other people who are there!

 

Reason #2: It doesn’t look quite as nice in photos.

This one may sound selfish on my part, but you’re going to be getting a photobook, and it’s going to include photos of you, your friends, and your family. The best thing to see are rows of eyes, all looking toward the beautiful declaration of love that’s happening in front of them. It’s incredibly powerful, and you can see it in the photos! Included in this is that your memories are safe with me – I’ve got this. Everyone else can just focus on the magic.

Photo by John Bird Photography

 

Photo by Jon Bird Photography

If your ceremony is in a church, this likely isn’t something you’ll have to worry about as many have policies against non-professional photography. If not, take the time to consider it.

Bonus: There are exceptions!

The technology available to us won’t just force us apart by taking us out of the moment. In more than half the weddings I’ve been at, someone very important to the couple was unable to attend for one of many reasons. This is where you should think about the magic of Skype or FaceTime. Using a phone or a computer can include a sick grandfather who’s in the hospital, or a sister who’s on a 6 month trek across Siberia. They can be there, even though they aren’t, and I think that’s wonderful.
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Family’s always welcome, whether near or far.

At the end, it all comes down to you.

I’m not saying everyone should do things one way. It’s your wedding, it’s up to you! You’ve got a lot of things to plan and think about, and I understand that. All you need to do is consider the question: How do you want your wedding to look, and what do you want your guests to see? Do you want the ceremony to go out immediately to all the people you didn’t (or couldn’t) invite, or do you want to keep everything tight between you and your guests?

Give it some thought, and as always, happy wedding!

First off, this is my first blog post – How exciting! There are loads of reasons to have  blog on my site, and I couldn’t not have one any longer!

Today, I want to tell you the story of how I got here and what makes me love wedding photography so much.

It all started, in an incredibly roundabout way, with Thomas. Thomas the Tank Engine. As a kid, I started getting into trains – First the wooden stuff, then I started to appreciate the big ones.

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My mother and a 5 year old me in Vancouver, BC

What does this have to do with weddings? Well, pretty soon my dad got a beautiful coffee table book featuring the work of Nick Morant, CP Rail’s #1 photographer for over 40 years. The book was full of amazing photos of trains and mountains, including the famous Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, which now bears his name.

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  A train passing through Morant’s Curve headed toward Calgary

I started taking photos of trains at age 14. They stunk. Then I realized that these great photos weren’t photos of trains, they were photos of scenes – Landscapes that happen to have a train in them. This was the turning point! I started to take landscapes, and then, getting my own camera, I started to take photos of EVERYTHING. I even carried my camera around with me every day in high school. See where this is going?

Well, I didn’t. As I developed my style around landscapes and general art photography, I decided that I wanted to be a photographer. Then I decided that was stupid, because photographers have to deal with weddings, and who wants to deal with weddings all the time?

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   Not this guy, apparently.

Turns out, I do. Why the change of heart? Well….I kind of fell in love, and not with a camera. 5 years ago, I met Adrienne. (You’ll probably meet her at some point!) She made me into a hopeless romantic who knows the importance of love.

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     And the importance of fun!

Okay, so I want to do weddings – am I there yet?! No! Weddings are important. Weddings are hard. You can’t just screw up, there are people relying on you to capture the most important moments of their lives. So I didn’t start saying ‘Yes, I do weddings!’ until I was well and ready. I did lots of portraits, learned about posing, earned a photography certificate at SAIT, and covered as many events as I could until I was comfortable with dark rooms and candids. After years of that, I finally said ‘Yes, I am READY.’

2013 was the year of the first wedding. Days of preparation, months of thought, and years of practice meant nothing to the worry that I wouldn’t be able to do what I had been hired to do – But I did. It was beautiful. Every day was a learning experience, and this was no exception. I learned that planning ahead pays off. I learned that it’s normal to take 30 photos of the moment of the first kiss. I learned that overpowering love makes me tear up. I learned that I could shoot through my tears! I learned to put sandbags on my light stands when I’m taking photos outside….but that one was learned the hard way.

That day was important to me, too. I learned that weddings were what I could devote myself to. And that’s important. Having a photographer that is as devoted to The Big Day as you are means that they care whether they do a good job or not – And nothing makes me happier than doing a great job.

Thank you for this job 😀

-Matthew Hicks

This one’s about as close as they get to me! I’ve known Brendan since we were both in grade 3. Thing is, Melissa’s known Brendan for just as long!

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We decided to take this summer engagement shoot to the heart of Calgary – Prince’s Island Park, nestled between two streams of the Bow River by Eau Claire.

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Windmills are cool.

I love shooting around here. The calm of the lagoon with trees drooping all around, interrupted only by the sounds of the angry goose’s honk – Because seriously, screw those guys.

That evening, though, the honking murder machines couldn’t hope to compete with the sheer amount of love in the air.

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Hanging out with these two is really great because of the calm contentment of their love.

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My favorite weddings to shoot are, well, most of them! They’re the ones where two people are so obviously in love that it shows in every photo. I know you’re getting the vibe!

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Plus, having such great chemistry can’t be beaten!

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One reason we chose to have this shoot in Prince’s Island is that Brendan proposed to Melissa here!

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These photos aren’t the whole story. They’re not the beginning, and they’re not the end – They’re a wonderful chapter in a long, terrific story.

Tune in later to see their lovely backyard wedding ceremony!

A prelude post! I’m looking forward to these two’s wedding at the beginning of September!!

Last fall we had a lovely couple shoot in Edworthy Park! The weather was brilliant and let their love shine!

 

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Edworthy Park is a favorite place of mine. Next to the inner city, it has many quiet pathways near the river and the smells of deep pine and spruce forest do a very convincing imitation of being in the mountains. Sunnier parts have aspen groves that turn brilliant yellow in the fall!

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On to these two: A classic contemporary love story.

The stage is set on a computer, much like the one you’re using now! They met through OKCupid, with Alex finding Heather. Finding a match of over 80%, Alex was intrigued by Heather’s very carefully designed profile. Dates at the science center, rock climbing, and cross country skiing followed and it became obvious that they were on to something special. Heather’s dog Daphne’s seal of approval was the final hurdle, and they soon couldn’t stand to be parted.

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Alex and Heather lived at different ends of Calgary, and before too long tired of the 60km round trip that they made far too often. After a discussion of important preferences (including whether the toilet paper goes under or over!) they decided to move in together, and make the house truly their own.

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With Heather providing the creative genius, and Alex providing the grunt work, they tore out and completely rebuilt their bathroom and kitchen. After six months of living in a construction zone, they had done it. Heather had the bathroom and kitchen of her dreams, and Alex was an expert at tiling (having installed about 18 million of them!) Of course, you don’t just build a bathroom and kitchen for anybody, and Alex knew he’d need to put a rock on it.

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Enlisting Heather’s sisters help, Alex set out to find the perfect ring for Heather. Looking for something as unique and quirky as she is, he found it with a mystic topaz. But Heather had somehow gotten wind of Alex’s intentions, and so a brilliant scheme was required to catch her by surprise. Fortunately, Alex had just such a scheme. It began with heading into the mountains for a romantic weekend getaway at Chateau Lake Louise. Upon arriving at their destination, Heather knew something big must be coming. From the lakeview room, the champagne and strawberries, fancy dinners, room service bringing breakfast in bed, a romantic walk around the lake, a couples massage, this trip had it all. All except a ring, as Heather discovered when they drove home with no ring on her finger.

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This was, of course, all according to plan. Alex endured an understandably grumpy Heather upon their return to Calgary, and the next day suggested going out to a cafe. Nothing special, he said, just a simple cup of coffee. But it was something special. And so, one year to the day and to the very hour, Alex proposed at the same cafe, at the very same table, where they first met. Complete surprise was achieved.

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Fast forward to today, and we’re all super excited for this upcoming wedding at Heritage Park! There’s nothing that gets me pumped up like a special wedding, in this case, one that’s retro as all heck!

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Keep watching for the wedding day blog, and I hope you’re as excited as I am!

This beautiful winter wedding wasn’t supposed to be. The couple, of course, was meant to be – but this wedding takes place in May!

I arrived before anyone else in Inverness Square in McKenzie Towne to find it looking a bit different from when I’d visited it the previous week.

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Still, there was no turning back. The note on their fridge whiteboard said so.

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Everyone hurried to the gazebo for the wedding as it started snowing again!

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Luckily, most people had umbrellas. Watching Jessie and her baby being walked down by her dad was very unique!

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That’s right, a newborn baby.

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I absolutely love winter weddings, but I feel bad because this was absolutely not intended to be one!

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That didn’t put a damper on anyone’s spirits, however.

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I loved watching them read their vows, both handwritten and memorized.

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In a surprising twist, Jordan got down on his knee to put the wedding ring on!

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And their son loved it!

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Then, the snowy kiss.

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And a triumphant, if speedy, exit!

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Jessie and Jordan held a small reception in their home, with some beautiful decorations to light up the walls.

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Family members pitched in with cute baked goods. Heart cookies, anyone?

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Catering can be a big cost of a wedding. When trying to keep it small, there’s something that almost everyone will love. Pizza!

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As I’ve mentioned before, I think the first dance is incredibly romantic. Even in the kitchen of their home, Jessie and Jordan’s love positively glowed.

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This was a small wedding, but one that was truly built on love. I love how they tied so much of their wedding into the life they have built together, and I’m touched that they chose me to record their wedding day. Thank you!

For me, winter is the most magical time of the year. That’s why, when Glenn contacted me about his upcoming wedding to Veronica in Lake Louise, I was ecstatic!

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This wedding was their legal wedding here in Canada, but in Albania, there was to be a bigger celebration that could involve more family – Hence the red dress!

Before the ceremony, we did a few fun group photos in the new wing of the Chateau Lake Louise.

The nearly-newly-weds…

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…guys…

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..and girls!

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The wedding itself was held in the Fairview room of the Chateau Lake Louise. Lots of people attended from overseas via Skype!

 

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Veronica and Glenn had very heartfelt vows, and I’m very sure everyone was touched.

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As you’d expect, the mood was as bright as the light coming through the huge windows!Lake Louise Winter Wedding_20

When the ceremony was over, there was a champagne toast, very fitting for the arches and chandeliers of the Chateau.

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Then we bundled up and went outside into the snow. This is undoubtedly my favorite part of a winter wedding in the mountains!

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Even though Mt. Victoria was socked in with clouds, Lake Louise is still very recognizable as a winter wonderland. I really love that Veronica wore an unconventional red wedding dress! As you can see with the above photo, white can get lost in the snow, but red? Not a chance!

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There’s no way the cold of this winter day could dampen anyone’s spirits.

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…Even though there were some blooper moments!

 

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The Chateau Lake Louise has multiple restaurants, and they know how to do good food! Everyone was seated around a single long table, and that gave me an idea for a group photo for all that attended.

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This was a gorgeous winter wedding, and I look forward to having more weddings in Lake Louise! It was a fantastic place and each and every one of us created treasured memories – I’m honoured to have been part of Victoria and Glenn’s big day.

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The setting for this wedding is my natural habitat, but definitely not for a bride. On this February Sunday, vehicles left plumes of exhaust and most people tried to avoid the -20° temperatures.

Anna and Darrell decided to not be most people.

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Let’s start at the beginning of the ceremony, when everyone was warm.

The ceremony was beautiful. Though they both got ready in different parts of the same condo building, the first look was when Anna came down the aisle.

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Her father walked her down, and the photo speaks for itself.

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It’s beautiful watching two people so obviously in love get married.

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I definitely teared up during the vows.

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Married, and loving it!

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In the limo, a surprising coincidence was waiting – Did the limo company know?

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I had recently added a unique lens to my bag, and decided to have some fun with the flare! The low winter sun really helped out with this one.

 

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During the ride, I thought it was a great time to take photos of Anna’s unique ring!

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Our first stop was overlooking downtown Calgary from Crescent heights. We borrowed the ‘Just Married’ sign from the limo. This was about the only time you could tell how truly frigid it was.

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Next up was Fish Creek Park. Many of you will be familiar with the Bow Valley Ranche – A fantastic location for wedding photos.

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Gas lamps light the road past the ranche, but in winter, the warm glow makes winter particularly cozy.

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One more look of hopeless love on the way to the reception.

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The reception itself was held in McKenzie Towne Hall. Anna and Darrell made quite the entrance!

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The reception was very well decorated…

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…And very well stocked!

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Dinner ended up being candlelit, and very romantic!

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Also, there were bubbles.

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I mention to most clients that I think the first dance is one of the two most romantic moments during the day.

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Of course, the father-daughter/mother-son dance is super touching.

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The cake cutting can be totally cute…

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…or it can get out of control!

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Speaking of out of control, this wedding put the party in wedding party!

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I love it when everyone gets into the bouquet and garter tosses.

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What can I say about this wedding? It was a huge, long party. I left at 1, and I don’t think it ended for quite some time. Everyone was happy, can you blame them?

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