Ruby Refined Events in conversation regarding the planning and design of their Kate Spade-themed Valentine’s Day editorial & how Strokes Photography masterfully captured it at Airship37 event venue Toronto.

In conversation with Ruby Refined Events

Ruby Refined Events offers seamless planning and design to its clients. How do you think working with a specialist can support and ensure that the couples’ vision comes out aligned with the wedding wishes?

For clients, the benefit of working with a planner who also specializes in design is the ability to create something custom that is based on the couple’s wishes and style, but that also fits within their budget. I am able to listen and understand my couple’s wishes and underlying goals and can propose alternate plans/designs within their budget that can create a similar impact but may not have occurred to them. I’m also able to pull together their vision with a wider list of event partners and suppliers that the client may not know about.

Another benefit of working with a planner when designing your wedding is that the planner is able to look at all aspects of a wedding when designing the event, including the logistical factors that can influence how guests will *feel* as they experience the wedding. The right sensory changes here and there can make a big impact on guest experience.

The biggest benefit is being able to problem-solve together, as every couple’s wedding is unique.

This style shoot had a modern Boho vibe merged with a fashion aesthetic to create a beautiful outcome. What was the original inspiration behind this shoot? How did the design principles and aesthetics of the Kate Spade brand influence and inspire this styled shoot?

The original inspiration behind this shoot was the bright colours and modern quirky vibe of the Kate Spade brand.

Kate Spade’s repeating patterns of polka dots and stripes served as inspiration for every detail. Circles and spheres were incorporated into all the details including polka dot dinner plates, pink wine glasses, gold candle holders, veil, and Big Love Ball, as well as the fishbowl vases and ranunculus floral arrangements by Dandie Andie Floral Designs. Stripes were channelled through the stunning blush chiavari chairs by Detailz Couture and the Hemisphere gold striped jewellery plate from William Ashley China. The gorgeous invitation suite by Paper and Poste tied it all together with polka dots, stripes, hearts, and quirky slogans in clean fonts.

The Kate Spade brand is also known for its careful use of sequins, and love of champagne and cake. We modelled the cake slice vignette after a similar vignette created by the Kate Spade brand. The gorgeous gold barware and coupes from BYOB Cocktail Emporium created the feeling of sleek celebration. The blush sequinned linens from Linen Closet for the tablescape and cake table, and white sequinned linen for the cake slice display added a subtle touch of sparkle and made all of the details pop.

The inspiration for our model styling was Kate Spade’s “unconventional preppy” runway fashion. Fancy Face Inc. styled both brides with winged eyeliner and hair buns. The brides wore tulle and lace gowns from Ferre Sposa Bridal Boutique accented with bow belts, as well as bold statement jewellery from Hattitude Jewellery, LUVYT, and Alexis Gallery Fine Jewellery.  Our Groom was outfitted in a stunning red Holland and Sherry suit by Garrison Bespoke, while our puppy model wore a LUVYT crystal bracelet as a necklace.

 How do you think wedding styles are influenced by trends in the fashion industry?

Creative industries like fashion, film, and interior design are often the trend-setters in bringing creative, unrestricted new ideas to the forefront. Concepts and styles can be used across different mediums (such as backdrops, for example) and if couples become familiar with these trends in other aspects of their lives, it is easier for event designers to propose these concepts and have couples willing to take creative chances.

One of my favourite fashion trends lately has been minimalism – I hope to see more of it in weddings. (I am also secretly hoping for Black Panther and Blade Runner styles to seep into wedding inspiration!)

How do you think style shoots can forecast wedding trends and spark ideas for “real wedding” choices?

When proposing event designs it’s necessary for me to provide imagery or sketches to help couples imagine what the final result will look like. Couples are very visual, and will often send me images they’ve found on the internet. If the only photos available to couples are from past weddings, old trends continue to propagate. Styled shoots allow wedding professionals to try new things and break out of the cycle. A recent wedding I designed was inspired by a centrepiece of a styled shoot that I did, that the couple loved.

What place does prop styling play in designing an effective event or design shoot?

With prop styling, less is more. The right pieces placed the right way can create statement imagery that conveys feelings of the shoot as a whole. This shoot had a number of vignettes with interesting prop styling, especially the vignettes of the boutonnieres with barware, the invitation suite, and the bridal shoes.

The style shoot had some fabulous cutting edge wedding details that worked beautifully within the whole design aesthetic. How did all these elements tie together in this setting?

The mix of soft draping, exposed garage doors, and beautiful bar made Airship37 the perfect space for the shoot.

The white draping helped the details stand out, including making the round floral arrangements in tall clear vases appear like floating spheres.

The garage door served as a unique backdrop for the cake.

The venue’s natural lighting only enhanced the lovely images by Strokes Photography.

In conversation with Strokes Photography

You talk about having a photo journalistic approach and how you like to create intimate relationship with your subjects. How did this approach translate to this beautiful style shoot?

We’ve found that communication is the key. We spent quite a bit of time chatting with Sidra (Ruby Refined Events) about the shoot, discussing key aspects and the overall aesthetic feel of the photos. Once we had the same vision nailed down between us, the next step was to open that channel of communication with the models on the day of the shoot. This turned out to be incredibly easy, as one of them is a professional model, and the other two are a real life couple that got married that same year. So our approach towards photography, informed by photojournalism and intimacy, fit perfectly for working with our subjects. The professional model took instructions really well and understood the quintessential Kate Spade vibe, and the real life couple was just so natural in their displays of love and affection, that all we had to do was stand back and capture it all as it unfolded before our eyes. It goes back to constantly speaking to your subject before and during the actual shoot, and it makes working with each other a lot of fun.

What elements of this styled shoot did you find the most inspiring? 

The colour palette, the location with its beautiful light, and a chance to collaborate with Sidra really made for an inspired shoot. These elements helped create a really soft look, which goes really well with our photographic aesthetic. 

This beautiful style shoot could easily be translated into inspiration for a stylized engagement shoot. What are some of the ideas in engagement photos that you have seen that you find inspiring?

The great thing about engagement shoots is that you can get really creative, with locations, props, styling, outfits, etc. But there’s one element that may not be self-evident for non-photographers: allowing for natural intimacy between the couple. This is essentially the key to any successful engagement session. You have to remember that for most couples, their engagement shoot is the first time they’re going to be photographed by a professional, especially alongside their partner. So as photographers, we have to start by getting to know the couple, their likes and dislikes, and what really makes them tick about each other, and life in general. So that is all done in the planning period before the shoot, where we also go over stylistic elements and locations that inspire both the couple and us. Then comes the shoot itself, where we bring all these stylistic elements together. But the underlying element that is the most inspiring for us is always the couple themselves. Our job, first, is to ensure they get comfortable in front of the camera. Once this early awkwardness passes, and you watch them simply be natural around each other as the shoot progresses, that’s when the real magic happens. This is the point when the whole shoot comes together, the location, the stylistic elements, props, etc., because the couple is really now having fun and being themselves, laughing, allowing for natural moments to occur for us to capture. That’s when you hit the jackpot.


Airship37 is a modern industrial setting with bright natural lighting. What were some of your techniques for capturing this so beautifully?

With a venue like Airship37, as a photographer, you’re really spoiled for choice in terms of techniques. The beautiful natural light and the vast expanse of space really allowed us to isolate our subjects, while also giving everything a light & airy feel, which was key for this shoot. Natural window light is especially flattering for skin tones and bridal make-up, so we just had to make sure we employed techniques that brought these elements to the forefront. 

As the photographers of a style shoot what is your process for communicating visually the vision of the style shoot?

We’re constantly having a dialogue with both the shoot coordinator (in this case, Sidra) and our subjects. Oftentimes we go over and show them the actual photos as we take them (on the back of our cameras), to provide and take feedback, so that the entire shoot feels more like a collaboration between artists rather than an inflexible narrative. It’s important to keep things in flux and bounce ideas off each other during the actual shoot, so that everyone’s creativity adds something different to the final photographs.

There is an intimacy and warmth in the photographs that translates the theme of love and Valentine’s Day. What were some of your ideas for translating this theme?

The colour palette, props, styling that Sidra did already got us halfway there in terms of the theme of love & Valentine’s Day. What was remaining was the visual blossoming of this theme into photos, and we achieved this by going over the themes in detail with our subjects. That one of them was a real couple really helped, as their intimacy and warmth was so natural. In terms of photography, we also wanted to narrow in on the details: so we did quite a few tight shots (close-ups) of shoes, earrings, how the bride’s hand softly rests on her shoulder, surrounded by beautiful tulle, etc. These snippets of detail, we think, added to the overall theme of love and romance.

Planning, Styling and Co-Production Ruby Refined Events  // Photography and Co-Production: STROKES PHOTOGRAPHY // Floral Design: DANDIE ANDIE FLORAL DESIGNS // Stationery: PAPER & POSTE  // Blush Chiavari Chairs: DETAILZ COUTURE EVENT RENTALS // Sequin tablecloths: LINEN CLOSET // Makeup and Hair Styling: FANCY FACE INC. // Dresses: FERRE SPOSA BRIDAL BOUTIQUE // Holland & Sherry Suit: GARRISON BESPOKE // Crystal Jewelry, Veils, and Belt (Wedding Accessory Rentals): LUVYT.COM // Gold and Pearl Jewelry: HATTITUDE JEWELLERY // Cake and Desserts: THE PURSUIT OF FROSTING // Kate Spade Dinnerware, Mugs, and Chargers: WILLIAM ASHLEY CHINA // Barware, Coupes, and Dillons Distills (Bitters): BYOB COCKTAIL EMPORIUM // Engagement Ring: ALEXIS GALLERY FINE JEWELLERY // Bridal Gown Styling and Puppy Styling: Jennifer Dang // Shoes: VALENTINO // Purse: KATE SPADE NEW YORK // THE BIG LOVE BALL // Model: MARISSA FRAGGIS // Real Couple: John and Candace // Venue: AIRSHIP37 (A Berkeley Events and Catering Space)