Oak and Olive Co share the exquisite album and insight into Andrea and Tyler’s unique and extremely beautiful Friday night Berkeley Church wedding
What struck you as truly unique about Andrea and Tyler’s wedding ?
Andrea and Tyler are from Ontario, but they currently live in Seattle which made this wedding “back home” also a reunion of sorts with loved ones they don’t get to see all the time. Because of this, we created a timeline that made sure A + T weren’t disappearing for long periods of time from their guests, and instead were able to celebrate and experience every moment with their friends and family.
Their ceremony was both lighthearted and emotional, with references to their favourite 80s music, little jokes and ardent vows. As friends laughed and teared up around them, you could feel the support for this couple in the room.
At the end of their ceremony, A + T popped a bottle of champagne to share with their guests. It was hilarious – of course it spilled a bit! – and was the perfect introduction to the start of the evening.
As mentioned, we didn’t want to disappear from the party for too long, so we spent only about 15 minutes taking portraits after the ceremony. As the sun had set at this point, we had a unique opportunity to shoot using only some street lights in front of the church. I think these portraits matched the day perfectly, as they were candid and relaxed and had a beautiful moodiness to them that matched the vibe of the church.
What were some of the benefits of having a Friday night wedding and how did you highlight these strengths in your photography?
There is something more chill about a Friday night wedding. People get to leave work a bit early to get ready and start the weekend off with a bang. In A + T’s case, the ceremony started later and was immediately followed by drinks then dinner. This condensed timeline meant the evening felt like it all flowed together and the party didn’t stop or take a break. Because of the later start to the day, we thought about how prioritize what was shot in the daylight (bridal party photos, for instance) vs. what was captured after the sun was down.
In a post you highlight that you took portraits after dark. What did this unique choice add to the experience and mood of the album?
A + T opted to wait until after the ceremony to snap some portraits together, and because their ceremony was after 6pm in October, by the shooting time had come around the sun was long gone. We wanted to make sure to document them on this day, of course, but ultimately they valued having more time with their guests. So we worked quickly, popping outside to see what shots would stand out. There was a streetlight that perfectly highlighted A + T as they stood in front of the Church, which had a warm glow from the lancet windows. A bit of a breeze meant we could catch the movement of the ribbon detail of Andrea’s bouquet as they cuddled up together. We ended our session sitting on the steps just inside the Church, cheersing a glass of champagne and allowing Andrea + Tyler to sit for a second before greeting their guests. I loved watching this quiet moment, and it resulted in some of my all-time favourite photos. Their portrait session was such an example that we don’t need a beautiful park to shoot in, or hours of time – a quiet corner and the willingness to take a deep breath together will do.
Margaritas at midnight how fun. What other choices made this wedding so special and do you have a running list to capture the special decisions that were made that made this wedding so unique?
These two were so chill, and every aspect of the day was meant to reflect that. From Andrea’s beautiful yet simple dress, to their no-look first look, a hilarious champagne toast at the end of the ceremony, a few nighttime portraits, dancing to a classic 80s song complete with cheesy lighters and of course starting the party off by yelling “WHO WANTS A MARGARITA??” at the crowd, it’s hard to say which aspects of their wedding WEREN’T unique.
While I was aware of some of the aspects of the day that would be unique, some were a total surprise to me as well. My only process was just to keep watching and snapping away, and the result is that I was able to capture some really amazing moments.
How did you approach capturing the wedding ceremony in the mezzanine. Did you plan out your vantage points and perspectives beforehand?
The biggest consideration I took into account while shooting in the church was actually the light, not necessarily the space. I had wide lenses with me, which meant I was able to capture the whole scene of the couple + their party while they were standing up during the ceremony. Because the sun had set though, my biggest challenge was how to capture the atmosphere of the Church and the beautiful windows behind A + T without just adding a bunch of artificial light. There were so many beautiful colours hitting the couple and their guests that I embraced in my photos, and because of the layout A + T chose for the ceremony, I had quite a lot of space to move freely and capture various angles. It was great to be able to crouch in the middle of the mezzanine and capture the faces of all their parents and siblings, and still be able to quickly pivot to capture A + T’s expressions as well.
You managed to get some super stylish and romantic pictures of the couple together around the Berkeley Church in very candid yet stylized shots. How did this go down so effectively?
Shooting at Berkeley is always a treat because the architecture is so lovely and such a great backdrop. It was important to make sure our shots were positioned carefully, as we were working with only minimal light from the street lights. As light is endlessly important in photography, especially when it comes to style, as soon as I put A + T in a well-lit area, I carried out the shoot as I normally would, encouraging them to interact together and enjoy their time. I made sure to get a variety of shots that captured their excitement, but also told a broader story of where we were and what it felt like to be in such a beautiful location.
The photographs in the wine cellar and lounge are so intimate and romantic and capture the excitement and relationships of the couple and their friends and families. What was your approach for this part of the wedding day?
For me, cocktail hour is always about documenting the buzz of the room. In Andrea + Tyler’s case, everyone was just jazzed to be there and every space their guests filled was bursting with joy and excitement. Always using the light in the room as I guide, I quietly walked around and snapped when I heard laughter, making sure to capture some closer candids but also some wider storytelling shots.
What format do you envision the pictures in when you are taking them?
I deliver slideshows to all my couples as their first introduction to see their photos. So when I’m documenting the day, I am always thinking about the ways that photos can be used together to really give a full sense of what was going on. Sometimes I take a photo and know instantly how it will fit in the slideshow and the impact it will in telling the story of how the day went. I am always balancing making sure individual frames can both stand on their own, and fit into the broader collection of images that become a big part of how couples remember their wedding days.
It’s powerful when the subject matter looks off camera to something the viewer can’t see. You play with this tension playfully on your photographs. Is the subjects gaze something you consciously play with ?
The most intentional parts of my work are definitely how I use light, and how I compose subjects within their environment. Those are the things I feel I can control the most, and ultimately what helped me developed my style. So in terms of subjects – whether its them gazing off-camera or not – so often I encourage people to interact together and ignore the camera, and the result ends up being quite candid and often full of emotion. So while I would love to take credit for it all, I really owe it to my couples for their trust and their understanding that our shooting time is really about them sharing an experience, more than me directing every motion.
There is a beautiful consistent colour palette though the photos from the wedding creating a seamless yet varied album, how did you achieve this?
Consistency in colour definitely starts with consistency in how you shoot. For me, this means being aware of colour casts, funny lighting, shadows and other things that influence the light that’s entering my camera. It’s definitely about seeing a situation and identifying what about it can be harnessed to fit into my style. If I’m shooting raw images correctly, tweaking colours to look consistent from start to finish is pretty easy business in post production!
What was the technical side of capturing the wedding reception and speeches so vibrantly?
I tend to park myself (as ninja-like as I can) in a position where I can quickly pivot from speaker to listeners easily. As people give speeches during the reception, I try and identify what sort of cadence they’re bringing to the speech. Paying attention to this helps me anticipate the reaction my couple might give. You sorta get to know when the punchline is coming, or the tear-jerking moment; by already being in position, I’m ready to snap a well composed, thoughout photo when the emotion comes. These moments mixed in with other storytelling elements and angles (at Berkeley this means shooting down from the balcony, behind the speaker on the stage etc) I think really helps fill out the gallery with a truer sense of what it felt like to be there.
Your creative framing and composition and use of cinematic style in you photographs becomes a very poetic and lyrical quality to the wedding album. What are your influences for this style?
I ironically do not watch many movies at all (I fall asleep), so my cinematic style was developed outside of the influence of cinema haha. I think a lot of style development came from being taught the “way you should shoot things” (such as, the “rule of thirds”) and then realizing fairly quickly that focusing too much on “rules” meant my attention was pulled away from how moments actually felt. Shooting with prime lenses exclusively encouraged a physical side to photography that really helped me feel empowered to take full control of moments; taking a small step can really change a photo. I’ve also always had a desire to capture more of the inbetween stuff: unposed, uninstructed moments that are sometimes overlooked. As these moments became a bigger aspect of the collection of images I delivered to clients, I got better at capturing them in a way that made them feel as intentionally composed as any other shot in the gallery.
What were some of the reasons that Andrea and Tyler chose the Berkeley Church and how did you focus in on this choice with your plan for capturing the wedding day?
From Andrea: “We chose Berkeley because we wanted a central Toronto location. Living far away from home we wanted to make it as easy as possible for our family and friends to attend the wedding. More importantly though is that the venue has such amazing character, unique spaces and personality. Not cookie cutter but a beautiful venue that made our wedding day feel so special!”
Knowing that hanging out with friends and family was the most important piece of the day, I just made sure to capture guests faces + reactions as much as I could, while still balancing some well composed shots that also showed off the beautiful space we were in. And of course while documenting the day, I intentionally snuck in some shots of just the Church, a space that obviously stole the hearts of A + T, so that in future they’ll have photos to look back on and remember why they chose to have their wedding at Berkeley.
What was the first thing you heard from the couple after sending them their sneak peek of their album?
From Andrea: “Oh my god Jacquie.. I am balling my eyes out.. what a special surprise… thank you so much.. You are a freaking wizard!!!” As a huge Harry Potter nerd, being called a wizard is pretty much the best compliment out there haha 🙂
Which picture would you be most eager to print and frame from this album?
There is a photo of Andrea + Tyler sharing a glass of champagne on the steps inside the church. It was one of the very last frames we shot before rejoining the rest of their guests for cocktail hour. Andrea has the biggest laugh while Tyler gives her the cutest, happiest look. The photo itself has a few technical flaws – it’s soft in focus – but it doesn’t matter; the emotion in the snap is incredible and when I look at it I remember exactly what it felt like to live through that joyfilled, hilariously, champagned-fueled day.