Alexandra McNamara Owner, Creative Director + Lead Planner of Blush and Bowtie and Michelle a wedding and lifestyle photographer from Toronto Magnolia Studios in conversation about how their expertise and passion ignited the success of Daniella and Cory’s Toronto wedding at Airship37 wedding venue Toronto.
In conversation with Michelle, a wedding and lifestyle photographer from Toronto, Ontario, and the one behind Magnolia Studios.
You have shot at Airship37 a number of times. Each wedding has a unique and signature look. What are some of the ways you make each wedding unique?
I am inspired by my clients! While my photography style is consistent, it works really well for so many different kinds of weddings – from romantic & classic to vintage retro I really try to capture the uniqueness of my clients and their weddings. I am passionate about capturing the true feel of a wedding – the happy, fun, emotional moments – it is what wedding photography is all about! But along with the moments that unfold throughout the day, on a visual level, I pay very close attention to the creative touches throughout every wedding. There is always a story behind the details and why they chose certain things and I like to bring it all together to tell the full story.
There is such a relaxed natural look to the wedding portraits of Daniella and Cory what do you attribute this success to?
We got to know each other through our initial consultation and their engagement shoot so by the time their wedding came around it really felt like shooting with friends! They trusted me to do what I do and were comfortable with my process as well. I give a lot of direction when I shoot so there is never any guessing or awkward moments where clients don’t know what to do. I think really connecting with your vendors is important, and they made sure to hire vendors who’s work they loved and also trusted so that they could enjoy the day 🙂 I want my clients to really feel like they don’t have to worry about a thing when it comes to the photography side of things.
The colours literally pop out of the frame. What were some of your techniques for creating this vibrancy?
I love working with natural light, so soft, even lighting is what I look for when I shoot no matter the weather. The way I use light and the way I edit go hand in hand. I feel like my editing style feels ‘happy.’
How closely did the creative professionals work together to create this dream day?
Working on weddings with vendors who’s work I love is so great because their work is fun to photograph! Everything on the photography side of things happens in the spur of the moment on the day of, and while a lot of vendors work independently on the actual day, the hard work of everyone shows through in the photographs and comes together really nicely!
When you were reviewing and editing the wedding pictures what made you the happiest about it?
I love how Daniella and Cory’s personalities really come through in the photographs. Their wedding style suited them so much – fun, colourful, vibrant and felt very energetic and happy!! They were smiling all day, and not just for the camera – they are genuine warm, happy people 🙂
You talk about intuitively interpreting the moment and allowing opportunities to unfold rather than having a jam packed timeline. How did this approach pay off so well in the end results of this big day?
This is a big one! So much of what we do as photographers is about interpreting the moment, so the photography is never pre planned which allows for the space needed to shoot really authentic moments and tap into the true feel of the day. Lists, packed timelines and rushing or jumping from one thing to the next too quickly takes us out of the creative space and into the analytical list checking side and can put us creatives into a box. This is something we discuss in our consultation, and I make sure that what I do suits their vision of their day.
Let’s talk to Blush and Bowtie Owner, Creative Director + Lead Planner Alexandra McNamara and how she helped co-ordinate this wedding day.
What were some of the initial conversations with Daniella and Cory like for the planning of this wedding day?
First off I remember the couple being sweet as pie and thinking to myself what a pleasure it would be to help with their day. I could tell Daniella had a real eye for style and design right off the bat. Since we were providing our month of coordination service, a lot of our conversations happened towards the last stretch of the planning, but we stayed in contact throughout and I was able to lend a couple tips along the way for them. When it came to our schedule and planning meeting, they were so organized. I remember joking with Daniella that I had a job for her anytime she wanted. I guided them through our handy dandy 10 page schedule checklist to figure out the flow of the day and how all the important elements would piece together. Daniella walked me through all the amazing decor pieces she had planned and I was just blown away by all her hard work!
You write beautifully on your blog about the necessity of couples hiring a wedding planner / co-ordinator for their big day. In your experience why is it so critical?
3 words . . . peace of mind. I could write a whole book on why having a wedding planner is important, but just knowing that a professional has your back can make all the difference. We allow our clients to actually be present mentally and emotionally on their wedding day. With all the time, money, and energy couples spend planning their wedding, it’s so vital they can actually ENJOY it. By having a planner on the team, couples don’t have to worry about vendors arriving on time, details being set up correctly, or someone managing the schedule.
How did your team help to ensure that Daniella and Cory’s wedding told their unique story and stuck to their wedding vision?
When helping them put together their schedule, I guided them on what traditions to include and what to leave out. We always make sure we ask our couple’s what is most important to them and why, and then make sure it’s weaved into their day. I remember photos being really important to Daniella, so making sure we allocated enough time before the ceremony to take all the family shots they wanted was key. This might seem basic, but I also make sure to take notes on EVERYTHING so I don’t miss one detail. Daniella and Cory had spent so much time planning, that I made sure to write down every last element so that on the day the details would be executed exactly as she imagined.
What were some of the design elements about this wedding day that were most pleasurable for you?
Oh just everything was gorgeous. Blush & Bloom totally knocked it out of the park with the modern geometric centrepieces and bright bold colour palette. I loved the circular focal pieces on the white walls that doubled as both the ceremony and head table backdrop. Being a lover of modern and clean, I adored that the details were kept simple and focused. Also, Daniella made ALL the signage!! What a rockstar bride am it right? The signage for me was really special because it was so unique. Nothing against a chalkboard, but it was wonderful to see something so bespoke and personal. I adored all the modern geo and glass details, right down to the terrarium on top of the stunning cake by Crumb and Berry.
What were some of the benefits of having a the wedding ceremony and reception in the same venue?
Having a ceremony and reception all at the same location is the first step to making your guests happy. I know know, sometimes this can’t be helped, but if guests don’t have to drive around town and kill time during the break between ceremony and cocktail hour, everyone will likely be more at ease.
How did you help co-ordinate the decor and design choices and ensure they came out as envisioned?
I just made sure to ask all the right questions and to really understand what Daniella and Cory were envisioning for their day. I knew Daniella liked a modern look, so I make sure to setup up the details in an uncluttered style. Having a detailed floor plan and mapping out where everything would go is also key for me.
How does your experience with interior styling and project management inform your wedding planning practice?
Often on the day of wedding, we need to make calls on where details are placed, so understanding styling and design, as well as how pieces communicate with one another is helpful. I don’t just place a detail and walk away, I’ll step back and examine how it relates to all the other items in the room. I play and tweak until it’s just right. It’s all about balance, but the trick it to not make everything perfectly symmetrical and matchy matchy. Interior styling definitely has helped me with making tasteful styling choices on wedding days. In terms of project management, after planning over 100 weddings, understanding flow and timing is just in my bones. One key is to make sure you add buffer time. Everything always takes longer than you think it will, but we always add in bit of extra time for each task to make sure no one get stressed. Another important tool is communication. You can’t ever assume someone will know all the details, timing, or logistics, so always being clear with vendors and double checking the work is vital. We share the same schedule with all the vendors so everyone is on the same page.