Toronto bride Julia McEwen & Photographer Scarlet O’Neill share their Passion and expertise on Julia and Tom’s Intimate Stylish Love-filled Berkeley Bicycle Club Wedding
What were your first meetings with Julia and Tom like and what were some of the ways you arrived at a shared vision for their wedding day?
I have known Julia for some time because of mutual clients/friends and past weddings she was a guest at. And because of the closeness of those clients, I’ve gotten to know her a little closer than maybe perhaps other guests at weddings. Plus, she is one of my favourite people to follow along with on instagram! Because of all of this I definitely felt like I knew what to expect when hearing about their wedding. And finally meeting Tom was like the final piece of the puzzle. They are such a great couple and the wedding plans were pretty awesome to look forward to!
What do you like about the Berkeley Bicycle Club as a space for photography?
Do you have enough time for this lol Honestly, its such a great venue and it’s so refreshing being there. I love that its such an intimate venue with warmth in the decor but such great natural light as well. And all the character of the building really makes it inspiring too.
There are some epic wedding shots in the space where you created dynamic beautiful pictures with interesting compositions. How do you accomplish this in the moment ?
Hmmmm this one is easy and hard to answer. For me, it’s just the experience of doing this as a career for over a dozen years and also being inspired by the space and the way the couple interacts in it.
The “getting ready” pictures have such a relaxed yet beautifully editorial quality to them, where the wedding couple’s personalities come through. How did you achieve this?
Again, for me, its just being a fly on the wall and watching as people interact in the space but then stepping in a bit to guide them to better light and direct a little bit while still keeping is quite candid. Julia & Tom are a great mix of editorial and candid so it’s letting that really come out as they exist together.
Julia and Tom had such a joyous and intimate celebration what do you attribute to the success of their wedding?
I think it’s just being honest in the planning, the decor and remembering what matters most; happiness, time together and celebration. The day was calm and full of such love. There was no stressors and I think that made it so great!
How did you respond to the wedding style choices Julia and Tom made for their day with the style of your photography?
When you have a client as stylish as these two, its the absolute best because it just works hand in hand with what I create.
What three words would you use to describe the style of the wedding pictures you created for Julie and Tom?
Heart, Playfulness and Honest.
How did your engagement in Barcelona set the tone and mood for your wedding story?
After 15 years of being a couple I never really thought we’d get married but here we are! So when Tom got down on one knee and proposed to me I was confused, anxious, a little hungry and beyond shocked. It happened last July in Barcelona on the top of Montjuic which overlooks the harbour, to the southwest of the city centre.
I wouldn’t say Barcelona had any influence on our actual wedding day. We had no Katalonien flourishes or details, but it sure made for a spectacular kick off to the adventure of wedding planning.
As a fashion and beauty editor to Canadian Living. How did your career and all of the experiences you have in your field inform some of the wedding choices you made?
My profession had an enormous impact on the decisions that we made. On an average week I attend several media events and parties for brands launching new beauty products or showcasing their latest collection. These events are held all over the city, ranging in scale, from an intimate boutique restaurant to something elaborate at a hotel ballroom or event space.
We didn’t need to do too many site visits because I’d already seen them all and I knew which vendors to use based on the recommendations from the public relation professionals I’ve worked so closely with over the years. Between them they’ve used every florist and dj in the city so I didn’t make any decision blind.
A big part of my job is acting as a producer for photoshoots, so that’s how I treated the planning process. I had a budget, I found a venue, hired the best talents (in this case vendors) and stuck to a schedule. It was all pretty seamless, but that was partly because I’m pretty pragmatic, remorseful and decisive. Also, being a type A personality with a astrological sign of Scorpio helped.
What attracted you to the Berkeley Bicycle Club and what were your favourite things about the space?
Over the last decade I’ve been to all the Berkeley properties numerous times for events, dinners and functions but I had never been to the Berkeley Bicycle Club. I thought it was important to choose a space that was new to both Tom and I—a place to create new memories.
We really disliked the big ball rooms and large empty event spaces seen elsewhere, we wanted a space that already felt intimate before decoration. We were looking for a space with some soul and character ingrained in it. The Bicycle club had it.
We also wanted between 60 and 90 people—we ended up with 80—so the space was perfect because the capacity for a sit down dinner was 80 guests. We also wanted a beautiful vintage space where we could create a house part vibe.By that, I mean a venue that had different rooms and spaces for people to gather with one central location that would bring people back again and again. In a house party setting that’s the kitchen but at the Bicycle Club it was the bar.
I liked the high ceilings, the original fixtures and details and the ornate staircase. I also appreciated the modern elements (neon artwork and renovated bar area) that was added to the space.
The balloons and florals added such a joyous celebratory feel to the wedding experience. How did you make these choices with your wedding vendors and what were you most happy about on the day of your wedding?
I’m not a less is more kind of gal as you probably can tell from my dress. So when I had to make the decision between flowers and balloons I didn’t. Instead, I did what any self-respecting maximalist does and chose both. The flower arrangements that Lesley Riley and her Jackie O team created were stunning. Each table had a narrow garland of green Salal, Italian Ruscus and sprigs of grey seeded eucalyptus that ran the length of the table with fresh lemons and flowers in the yellow and ivory palette nestled throughout. For mood, votive candles in a muted gold mercury glass and the Jo Malone candles brought a romantic glow to the table. They also adorned the archway for the ceremony and the flower crowns, my bouquet and the boutonniere’s that featured wee little succulents.
Now on to the balloons, I worked with Taz Mulji of Balloon Bar for a fashion shoot earlier this year and her work sealed the deal that we also “needed” balloons. We decided to cover the high ceilings at the Berkeley Bicycle Club with balloons in three colours—blush, goldenrod and light yellow—and have gold strings hanging. I really think it added something whimsical and playful to the space. It just might be my favourite touch.
Your beautiful day of wedding portraits were so unique and had such a timeless quality to them. How did you and your photographer arrive at a creative vision for this?
To be honest, we didn’t have much of a discussion about the vision of the wedding. I hired Scarlet because of her trademark style. She doesn’t really take direction, and I don’t mean this in a negative way, it’s a positive. She knows what’s important to capture based on her chats with her clients/couples and years of experience. Her process is more organic on the wedding day, which is exactly what you want, she’s like a shadow—or a ninja! You don’t even really notice her but when you get your photos back you realize she’s captured so much! I love her candid shots best.
In fact, we booked our wedding based on her availability. She did my sister’s friends wedding about 9 years ago and I saw her work when that friend posted them on Facebook. Some of those shots were even featured on Glamour magazine’s website. Based on those photos and some light website lurking I recommended her to a few friends who ended up hiring her fo their weddings. In short, I never knew I was going to get married but I knew if I was Scarlet would be shooting it.
You chose a special scent for your wedding. What was it and how did it inform the rest of your wedding choices and add to the whole experience ?
I’ve been a fashion and beauty editor for over a decade, so fragrance is something that’s very important to me. It’s a major trigger for memory. When I travel to a new place I start a new bottle of perfume so whenever I spray that juice when I’m back in Toronto it will transport me to my travels. Naturally, I wanted to create that same scent trigger for our wedding day. Not only did we do that with the fragrance that Tom and I wore, he wore Jo Malone 154 Cologne (notes of mandarin, grapefruit, basil, and vetiver) and I wore Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka Cologne (notes of lavender, myrrh, amber, tonka bean and tobacco) but we also wanted to find just the right scent for the venue. We landed on a custom scent by blending Jo Malone’s Blackberry and Bay and English Pear and Freesia candles, lightening a few dozens of them throughout the venue. The smell was amazing and friends and family were gushing about the intoxicating, yet delicate, aroma throughout the night. We were able to bring close to a dozen home (the rest got swiped, but I really can’t blame anyone because I’d do the same). Whenever we light the two candles it brings us right back to our special day.
How would you describe your wedding experience and what elements contributed the most to this?
The day itself was perfect. It went off without a hitch, which was surprising because we didn’t have a wedding planner. However, our Berkeley coordinator, Allie Hosch, was a dream. She just got Tom and I and made the whole process simple, easy and fast. She was super chill yet we still felt confident with her for the get-go. I think she was a big part of why our day was so special.
Photography courtesy of Scarlet O’Neill
Venue: Berkeley Bicycle Club