Caryn Leith owner of As You Wish Weddings & Mario from Avangard Photography contemplate their role in the success of the beautiful wedding of Emily and Kai at La Maquette event venue Toronto.

Caryn Leith owner of As You Wish Weddings

At what stage of the planning process did Emily and Kai start working with you and what was your role in their beautiful wedding? 

Emily & Kai hired me as soon as they booked their venue, La Maquette. They were looking for help with Month-of Coordination and Design, our most popular service.

What are some of the ways you communicate with your couples the design aesthetic for their wedding in a way that ensures everyones vision is aligned?

This is a great question! While it’s great to have couples share with us any visual inspiration they are drawn to, it’s equally important to get to know them better – their hobbies and interests, where they shop, and how they envision their ideal day (both a regular day, and their wedding day!). Prior to designing, our clients receive a detailed Design Questionnaire to fill out which really helps establish their must-haves, as well budget expectations when it comes to decor. This ensures we are making design suggestions and decisions that are in line with what they are looking to spend. From there, we put together a comprehensive Design Plan that outlines the aesthetics for each part of their day – overall colour palette, floral inspiration, the ceremony site, head table, guest tables, down to the smaller but important details such as stationery and signage, their wedding cake, and more. Once we’re aligned on the plan, we’ll meet with vendors who I believe would be the best fit style and budget wise to execute the vision. Vendors (florist, cake artist, stationery designer) love having this Design Plan to work from as they are able to “get” the vision from our first meeting, making our time with them more efficient and productive.

What are some of your go-to places for design inspiration?

Obviously social media such as Pinterest and Instagram are still big ones, along with wedding blogs to keep on top of the current trends. Beyond that, it’s fun to look at non-traditional avenues for inspiration – cool restaurants, boutique hotels, brands such as Anthropologie and BHLDN, home decor stores (Homesense, Restoration Hardware, West Elm). Sometimes just visiting the client’s venue itself is inspiring, which is why a site visit is key before we begin designing.

Which design elements were you most pleased about with this wedding?

I love seeing how inexpensive details can still have an impact. For example, we wanted to incorporate a dusty blue into the colour palette and did so using beautiful textured water goblets. They’re big enough to make a statement on the table and in photos, but won’t break the bank. I also loved how we made the head table the focal point, by incorporating an unexpected touch of red in the florals – which tied in nicely with the touch of red in the bride’s bouquet.

You talk about how Emily and  Kai envisioned a beautiful, intimate dinner party atmosphere for their wedding reception. How did the setting of La Maquette event venue work effectively for this wedding goal?

The layout of La Maquette with it’s different rooms and family-style tables set the tone, and then by adding lots of lighting through taper, pillar and votive candles, along with beautiful white florals and greenery, we were able to achieve a warm and cozy feel.

Emily and Kai incorporated a traditional Korean ceremony into their wedding day celebration at La Maquette. What was your previous experience with this traditional ceremony and what was involved in addressing all the specific details of this wedding?

I have previously been involved with and am familiar with the Japanese Tea Ceremony. However, this was my first time experiencing the traditional Korean paebaek ceremony, which is intended to celebrate two families coming together as one. It was important to the couple that there was time set aside in the day to incorporate this custom, and I loved getting to know the different aspects and symbolic meanings behind the ceremony – such as how the parents pass on words of wisdom, the throwing of dates and chestnuts to signal how many children the couple will have (dates representing girls and chestnuts representing boys), and of course, the piggy back ride! It was definitely a very special element to their day.

What wedding choices did Emily and Kai make for their wedding day that you felt paid off the most?

By keeping their ceremony (which took place offsite) decor simple, they were able to invest more into the reception space. We chose an amazing florist to work with – Cedar & Stone – who was able to take our vision and make it even better than we imagined. Of course, they also chose a wonderful photographer – Mario from Avangard – who was able to beautifully capture all of the details we had designed.

How did you work so effectively with Emily and Kai and Avangard Photography to ensure that the schedule incorporated time and opportunity to capture all of the days elements and little details so beautifully?

Working closely with a photographer in the weeks leading up to the wedding day is key. Having the conversation well in advance about how much time they need to capture each element of the day, and incorporating this into the schedule accordingly, makes for a smooth and great working relationship on the wedding day.

Mario from Avangard Photography

Emily and Kai envisioned a beautiful intimate dinner party for their wedding reception. What was your approach for capturing the glamour and intimacy of this occasion.

 We started chatting over the internet, we Skyped and exchanged a lot of emails. They also suggested what’s important to them and they send me some ideas how to capture their wedding. It was a very close collaborator from the get go. At the end the wedding pictures were a result of the couple’s vision my artistry and a lot of help from all talented vendors involved in creating this amazing event.

An important part of your approach is to capture the personalities and unique qualities of each couple as well as their family and friends . What are some of the ways you communicate with your photographs?

Our approach to capturing weddings is very simple. We are first and foremost storytellers. We strongly believe that every wedding is a unique personal story that needs to be told truthfully and without compromise. We don’t like to stage or force images but we rather capture events as they unfold naturally. We also make sure that every photographer we take has a purpose, and every frame has a meaning.

How do you operate in busy wedding activities to create a moment in the frame that has all the elements of a truly great photograph?

For me it comes down to experience. Since I’ve been shooting for almost ten years with hundreds of weddings behind the camera it becomes almost a second nature. You want stay focused and be present and aware of what’s going on at all times.. Wedding photography is very similar to sport  or nature photography – you have to study and get to know your subject first, then you spend years developing your skills and craft. At the end you gain experience that allows you to predict what is about to happen and be at the right place and moment to capture great photographs.

There are some striking wedding portraits of Emily and Kai against the white washed walls in downtown Toronto that are striking and have a beautiful cinematic quality. What was your process for this success?

Before every wedding I scout different locations based on the input and likes from the bride and groom. I’m looking for locations that reflect couple’s personalities and match their wedding vision. It was also a result of my personal style – I like simple backgrounds that make wedding couples the focal point of my wedding portraits.

What stood out for you as truly unique in the wedding day of Emily and Kai and how did you react with your documentation?

What stood out for me the most was their Korean ceremony and beautiful wedding reception. Our team made sure we capture every aspect of their Korean traditions and we also spend some extra time documenting wedding reception, decorations and wedding details.

You captured all the important moments and meaningful gestures of Emily and Kai’s traditional Korean ceremony at La Maquette. What qualities and skills do you draw in this process to react in the moment and get those great shots?

Thankfully I had some experience with shooting Korean traditional wedding ceremony beforehand. I also did some research about customs and traditions. I also talked to the official before the ceremony about key elements that have to be captured. As someone famous said “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.”

You created some beautiful still life vignettes of the wedding design of the wedding reception. How did you approach this and what were you most happy about with the results?                                                                                

We were lucky to be part of this wedding and we knew this wedding would be very special. From the coolest venue in Toronto to the awesome wedding professionals involved in this event. Emily and Kai picked great florist that created amazing wedding décor. Also the wedding planner made sure we had access and time to documents all details. At the end the results turned great and we were able to capture it all on our wedding photographs.

As You Wish Weddings

Avangard Photography

La Maquette event venue

Cedar and Stone Floral Studio