a few snaps of a welcome drink we attended the day before one of our weddings this past summer… who knew there was such a cool little place to be found up in the muskoka town of port carling? if you’re a fan of the grand electric on queen st west here in toronto, frankie’s surf club is their cottage country version — they’re run by the same guys & right next door is a full grand electric restaurant too.

i love a spot with history and this place was originally a 1960s speakeasy famous for its live music and penny arcades. can’t think of a better place for a relaxed wedding weekend get together, to enjoy the company of everyone arriving from out of town and kick off the wedding celebrations with a drink in hand on the lake. there’s nothing better.

just had to post a few of these photos… loved the vibe there and couldn’t not share.

(see the day after here.)

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(this post isn’t sponsored or anything, we just really liked it here. extra thanks to bryn for being lovely to work with.)

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we’re so excited to share this day, i’m smiling huge just looking through the images again. it was quite a task trying to choose which ones to share here.

when i think back to this day last summer, so much comes to mind. i think of waves of colour & smiles on so many faces. i can feel that soft rain that spritzed the grape vines at chateau des charmes vineyard, a beautiful spot for a wedding, and then the sun breaking through during dinner. i see the beautiful fabrics as people gathered after the wedding ceremony and the kids who ran amidst their feet and the flower petals being thrown into the air above donna and adil during the chandlo ceremony. i hear the many hearty slaps on the back as people embraced adil. i can feel again that electric energy that surrounded the whole day, the vitality that emanated from donna & adil, two of the most open and personable people i can think of. i can remember our first meeting, choosing a coffeeshop to sit and talk together, except we arrived and there were no seats — as in, it was take-out only! we walked the streets and adil graciously purchased a very expensive juice so that we could sit inside out of the cold, and it felt like talking to old friends. it was such a joy to create this memory capsule of images for these two.

i think what i loved most about this day was witnessing all different traditions that represented both donna & adil’s heritage. i loved watching adil’s mom’s eyes fill as she sat to be served tea, participating in the new-to-her tradition for the first time ever; and then minutes later watching as she performed the traditional ismaili muslim ceremonies to welcome the bride and groom.

one of the most interesting and beautiful parts for me to watch were the punkwa and dukhna ceremonies. the first is said to rid any evil spirits that may interfere with the couple’s happiness. adil’s mom placed a nut in her hand and encircled donna and adil, then whisked the nut away, four times in all directions north, south, east and west. she then placed her knuckles on either sides of their heads to remove any future suffering from their lives. she then placed her hands on either side of her own head and cracked her knuckles to vanquish it all. it’s said that the louder the crack, the greater the happiness.

it reminds me of that leonard cohen line, the famous one about how we all have cracks, and that’s how the light gets in. it makes me realize that even though it might appear that things are as different as different can be, that the world is so vast and people are so different with different backgrounds and traditions, that in the end we’re all kind of talking about the same thing.

this day was truly something great to be a part of. we hope you enjoy the photos and can feel the light and all the cracks that make it so.

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they were married under a huge tree beside the water at sandbanks provincial park. thirty-some odd guests traveled from all over — toronto, saskatchewan, texas, california, nova scotia, and i’m sure many more corners of the continent to share in this beautiful weekend with chris & maren. the california girl got as close to her always sunny in california outdoor wedding she’d dreamed about and i’m sure chris, who grew up in saskatchewan, also felt right at home every time the tractor passed by in the next field over as everyone ate dinner and made toasts.

the heart and soul of this weekend felt just as colourful as the bright blue sky overhead, the flowers on the tables and in maren’s hair, the most beautiful invites i’ve ever seen, and the smoke bombs we set off as the sun went down. as it got dark, everyone ran to their rooms just steps away and pulled on jackets and sweaters, we roasted marshmallows over the fire and sang the night away.

& i also have to say, we couldn’t have fallen any harder for the lovely angeline’s inn, where this wedding took place. we’ve been to a lot of weddings with a lot of amazing food, but this dinner ranks up near the top of our all time favourite list. this was also the ideal spot for chris & maren’s out of town guests to stay right on site, in the beautifully updated motor inn and the dreamy 1300 square foot white cedar log cabin (i would move right in if i could). couldn’t recommend this spot more if you’re looking for an intimate & stylish venue in prince edward county.

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there’s something lost, i think, in this world of instant documentation & sharing — ‘what are you doing right now?’ facebook has goaded us for years. thinking back to the time we got stranded on a small island in the atlantic with no reception, aided only by the photos we took & the small notebook i brought with me, it brings back a feeling of… surrealness. was that really us? did that really happen? do we really take the time to look back on wonderful things that have happened to us and truly appreciate them? or do we race ahead to the next thing to post on social media?

our trip to the faroe islands a couple years ago was a trip of a lifetime, and we haven’t shared nearly enough about our experiences there. the faroes are a tiny chain of islands in the middle of the north atlantic, located in between the northern islands of scotland & iceland — pretty remote and tricky to get to. we could find only one single guidebook in english before we left, which we bought & read cover to cover. we even contacted a girl who’s photos we found online to ask for recommendations (& she was lovely and honestly better than the guidebook, thanks tiffany!). in the guidebook, the author mentioned a particular instance in which he was stranded for several days on one of the remote islands during a storm. dave & i joked about this happening to us, ha. he kept saying ‘stop joking about this.’ well. it did. it happened to us.

it’s about a twenty minute ride on a small boat from one of the main islands. the longest twenty minutes of my life. we zigzagged through the water navigating the swells, clutching onto the edge of the benches where we sat as the boat lurched this way and that. i’ve never been more terrified. all the photos we have from that boat are dave’s because i was too busy trying to breathe and convince myself we weren’t going to die. we arrived into a long narrow inlet with cliffs on either sides and jumped off the boat with waves crashing around us. a few supplies were thrown onto the concrete platform and the boat was off again before we’d climbed up the steps into the small village.

welcome to mykines, population, 14.

dave & i hiked along the ridge of the island to the point with the lighthouse, beside gut-wrenching drops and flocks of puffins circling overhead. by the time we made it out there, we had a whole view of the island stretching behind us, quickly disappearing under a low cloud heading our way. as quickly as we arrived we started retracing our steps, the steep dirt paths turning to rushing streams. i had to resort to pulling myself along my tufts of grass through the slippery mud slopes, every inch of our bodies quickly soaked by the rain. we arrived back to the village and the one cafe in town. we wrung out our clothes in the washroom, set our boots and socks to dry by the radiator. we had warm drinks with the two other couples who’d come over on the boat while waiting for it to come pick us up again.

except, the boat did not come pick us up. the waves from the storm were too much to risk coming into the tiny inlet on mykines. on the faroe islands, mother nature reigns. the group of us walked back into town, with nothing but our backpacks and the (wet) clothes on our backs, with no clue how long we’d be waiting there. we stayed at the same one cafe in town in a few rooms in the attic, drank beer and listened to stories. by the following afternoon, the boat still couldn’t make it in and so we got the surprise of our first ride in a helicopter.

it felt exhilarating, the not knowing. the letting go of control, the being grateful for a single room and good company; for being in a beautiful place & experiencing generosity there.

now, i just wish we’d be stranded longer.

the word ‘adventure’ has just gotten overused. for me, adventure is when everything goes wrong. that’s when the adventure starts / yvon chouinard

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the other day i happened upon a post by author dani shapiro. i’d been feeling pretty down about all that’s been going on south of the border. we were on vacation, and i was just in a slump as a new president was sworn in and new orders began taking effect. feeling helpless, i even posted on facebook asking what we canadians could do to support our friends who were expressing such despair and felt such division. then i was reminded that even our own country is not immune to such devastation either.

i wondered what my place could be in all of this. i just take photos at people’s weddings. what do i do when there are far more serious matters at stake?

“…there is another kind of protest, another way of refusing to succumb to despair. and so we sit down to write. we ignore the inner voice telling us that there’s no point, it doesn’t matter. we grapple with the problems of the spirit, of the human heart and all it contains. it matters more than ever.” — dani shapiro, on doing what we can.

most weekends we have the privilege of watching two people commit to being each others partner. they promise to move ahead as one, often having come together from very different upbringings, backgrounds & cultures. being an immigrant to canada, as well as the child of an inter-race, inter-faith marriage, i’ve seen firsthand how life expands when we’re given opportunities to be with people wildly different than ourselves. even between dave & i, we know after 10+ years together that our strength comes from the ways in which we are different from each other. it’s what makes life interesting, colourful, worth it. these issues of immigration, race, diversity, fear of ‘the other’…. they’re close to me on a personal level. one of my grandmas reads me passages from her bible and says ‘thank you lord for good food!’ before each meal; with the other, we figure out which direction is east and set up her prayer mat.

canada is a land of immigrants and we celebrate that. these past seven years have been full of beauty.

we’ve watched families drape colourful blankets across the shoulders of the bride, welcoming her into the family as per kenyan tradition. we’ve watched a mother-in-law’s eyes tear up as she sees her son’s new wife wearing the sari she wore to her own wedding, many years before. we’ve watched irish parents get teary-eyed while being served tea during a traditional chinese tea ceremony. we’ve seen inter-race and inter-faith parents watch as their children continue to blend new traditions and cultures into their family’s mosaic. we’ve seen bagpipers lead the processional & we’ve seen crowns placed on the couples’ heads. we’ve been caught up in the rush of the hora, we’ve watched the veil and cord be bound around catholic filipinos & we’ve watched a dukhna ceremony at an ismaili muslim wedding. we’ve been welcomed into homes to celebrate pithi and menhdi celebrations & we’ve watched christians raise their hands in song. we’ve participated in a japanese sake ceremony & played the door games common in the chinese culture, once at the very same wedding.  we’ve listened to countless speeches recounting humbling and inspiring stories of immigration to canada.

what we’ve found is a sacred common ground.

we’ve found there is always such beauty in being welcomed into a tradition that’s not your own. we begin to see that it all has a common thread despite seeming so different.

weddings show us these basic human desires, these common things we all strive for and that make us all one and the same, no matter where we come from. what do we want, really? a table crowded with enough food and enough smiles to keep us warm. kids who are happy, thriving. a commitment to belonging to the same team. an outstretched hand, and in turn, our own hand outstretched.

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inspired by this post by our friend taylor roades.

welcome to our journal.

we're jenn & dave :

soulmates, artists, travelers, people who love to smile, & people who love to document the stories around them.

we're photographers based in toronto, canada. we've been documenting weddings together since 2010, close to home and often further afield. with our cameras around our necks we've made our way to greece & the faroe islands; to weddings at summer camps, backyards, and cozy city restaurants; across southern ontario capturing the little & true things that we hope will help people remember this beautiful life.

we're taking just a few more wedding commissions for 2017 & we're starting to book for 2018 - please be in touch using the contact button in the menu.

we share our most recent work & thoughts here; we hope you enjoy browsing around. thanks for being here.

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