Kathleen and Peter: Aquatopia Wedding

Our day started off at Brookstreet Hotel where I entered the room to find all the ladies just milling about. Kathleen in her white romper, which I immediately recognized (girls got style), all of her friends in their dresses and of course, mimosas. She’d placed her details aside for me capture and I was in love from the minute I saw everything. Kathleen’s dress was stunning! You’ll see for yourself but it was a romantic yet whimsical dress with beautiful lace and an amazing train. My favourite detail however, had to be her custom vans. She had pretty white heels for the day but later, she would switch in these white vans with custom embroidery on them that had both their wedding date and their initials. I’d recently come across this type of embroidery on my social feeds but this was my first time seeing it in person and I gotta say, more people need to get something like this done for their weddings!

But not everything was perfect in getting ready land as Kathleen’s mom, Lisa, had a wardrobe ‘’malfunction’’. It was less of a malfunction and more of a; the seamstress was supposed to hem the dress but didn’t actually hem it. The girls tried safety pins but alas, although it worked, it wasn’t very pretty. And so, a call was made to see if things could be resolved, stay tuned.

Time was running out so we opted to get Kathleen in her gown. As she stood in the room, looking out towards the view, Lisa did up the many buttons the dress had to offer while all the girls stood and looked on. You could tell they all really cared about Kathleen and were so happy to share this special moment with her. They looked on, for the most part in silence, smiling, but they also had some good laughs along the way. There may have even been a little modeling on the bed ‘’cough cough’’. Season, Kathleen’s cousin, helped her get into her heels for those finishing touches before we ran out the door because guess what, limo had just arrived! As we were leaving, Lisa’s husband and a friend were arriving and in the friend’s hand, a sewing machine. She had come to save the day! But as Lisa got her dress fixed, we had to head to Aquatopia for Kathleen to finally see Peter all dressed up and to get married.

Now, Kathleen and Peter had actually been together on the morning of the wedding. Just taking things easy, doing a little Yoga session and kissing each other goodbye when it was time to get ready. But this would be the first time they see each other in their wedding attire and I couldn’t wait to see the reactions. It was a very sunny day, perfect honestly so we found a nice shady spot for Peter to wait as Kathleen made her way out of Aquatopia for their first look.

Peter waited with his eyes closed as Kathleen walked up behind him, telling him to turn around so he could see her in all her beauty. As soon as he saw her, his eyes lit up and his jaw dropped. He just looked at her for a moment and then realized he could walk up to her and hug her, she was real. Kathleen was all smiles, trying to hold it together but when Peter started to cry (which didn’t take long), she could hold it in anymore and they both cried as they held each other.  He spent much of the moment holding her and then taking a step back and just looking her. While Kathleen couldn’t help herself, and focused on the makeup she’d just accidentally transferred onto his suave black suit. We kept reassuring her it was okay, but she would occasionally mention it to which we told her it would be fine and live in the moment (and that I’d photoshop it out if I saw it haha).

These two did this day their way and with that, came to them doing their personal vows in privacy, with just them… well and myself and the videographer. Kathleen went first, holding her vow book and tissues to wipe her tears away in one hand, and her other in Peter’s, never letting go. She spoke of their life together, how 722 days ago they got engaged (wow), but also how the universe threw gave them a glimpse into their future, from having their co-op together, Kathleen texting Peter to make sure he came because she didn’t want to be without him. The hardships in their lives and how they were able to be there for one another. How he tells her he loves her a million times a day.

‘’You are genuinely my favourite person. When everyone else is getting on my nerves, you are who I want to be with.’’- Kathleen

Throughout her vows, she would pause and giggle all while sniffling away the tears. Peter watched her, focused, taking every word in, crying and allowing himself to take the moment in. It was a long time coming after all. But don’t worry, there was a lot of laughter in there as well but I don’t want to share all of their vows because they were in fact, their own personal vows.

After such beautiful words spoken by Kathleen, it was Peter’s turn. He spoke of his true happiness since finding her and falling more in love with her every day.

‘’Your love makes me feel an incredible sense of home, the feeling of safety, the feeling of no pressure, the feeling of ease.’’- Peter

Once their vows were complete, we let them take some more time to just take the moment in before taking a few portraits, then running inside to have a little fun before the ceremony. And by fun, I mean a little champagne tower! They were joined by their nearest and dearest as they poured the champagne in, trying very very hard not to make a mess. Funny enough, one bottle wasn’t enough and so, Kathleen popped another bottle and they continued pouring, this time, her focus face came in the action but I saved those photos for their final gallery ;). A quick cheers with their crew, and it was time to hide her and Peter away while guests arrived and got themselves situated for the ceremony.

In terms of ceremonies, this one was very different than most I’ve seen in my 13 years. Peter waited for Kathleen as she walked down the aisle, on her own. The light coming in from the beautiful windows (well it’s a greenhouse after all), made Kathleen shine so beautifully and when she saw her grandfather, she lit up even more. You could tell that in that moment, she was truly happy. Peter greeted her with a smile as he brought her to his side. They stood, side by side, facing their family and friends, no officiant in sight. Instead of going with a traditional ceremony, they had their friends have a part in it.

Jenna started things off as the official speaker for the ceremony itself. Then they had Rebecca come in to do two readings and finally, Amanda who guided the vow portion and exchange of rings. A line from Amanda’s portion I loved was ‘’Their love for one another is not the end, but rather, a means to an end. It is a humble tool of healing, and nourishment, that can strengthen their minds so that they may both travel as far within themselves as possible.’’ The ceremony as whole was very inspiring and had such a loving and healing aura about it which is what I think Kathleen and Peter were going for. During the ceremony, they also had important women in their lives come up and take flowers to put them together in one vase to create a bouquet. Each flower had a meaning and represented people in their lives that could not be with them on this day but that meant so much to them. Meagan, Peter’s sister came to put flowers for their mom who sadly passed away when they were younger and, Lisa coming to put the flowers from those on Kathleen’s side.

They had many of their guests in tears with how personal their ceremony was and how they truly infused their real life in it. Making it truly an intimate experience. They exchanged rings and Peter pulled Kathleen in for a big kiss as their friends and family cheered them on, celebrating their love that finally culminated to this amazing moment.

Between the ceremony and reception, we opted to take things easy and not rush through any moment of the day. Family photos were fun and full of smiles, me even baby babbling to get Jackson to smile (Kathleen’s very tall brother who is an adult might I add) which ultimately made everyone else laugh. And of course, the family wanted all the photos with Grand-pa. This amazing man who is in his 80’s, flew all the way from Mexico, on his own, multiple flights, just to be at his grand-daughters wedding. This family truly is beautiful.

After family photos we wandered around Aquatopia with Kathleen and Peters friends who were their unofficial wedding party and just had a really good time. Apparently, my friendly yet stern demeanor scared Rebecca a little and I felt SOOOOO bad! Don’t worry though, she quickly realized I wasn’t scary at all and quite a blast to be around ;). We even ended photos early enough so that Kathleen and Peter could join their guests in the atrium and enjoy some of their cocktail hour while I photographed the guests and their families.

Kathleen and Peter Aquatopia Wedding Samantha Danis Photography

Aquatopia’s greenhouse is a beautiful setting for any wedding, especially for the reception. And it fit so perfectly with Kathleen and Peter’s vibe/personality. Being surrounded by nature, in a peaceful setting, intimate and romantic. Pure Perfection. The room was lined with three long tables with greenery garland running down the middle, flanked by various candles, wine bottle, and bud vases with a simple few flowers. Of course, the beautiful string lights above helped finish the space for the beautiful evening ahead.

Before entering the venue with the guests, we took a quick little spin outside to get some sunset photos. Kathleen and Peter took a moment to themselves and practiced their first dance under the setting sun and held each other in front of the greenhouse as guests took their seat inside. Finally, I told them I had a weird idea and to follow me. I lay in the grass on my back, camera facing up and told them to hold hands above me. Kathleen was skeptical about what we were doing but I think the show turned out beautifully!

They didn’t want to make a big fuss or do a grand entrance walking into their ceremony so they snuck in from the back entrance but it didn’t quite work out. Once guests saw them coming in, a few stood up and started cheering and applauding them. Their faces did light up though because truly in that moment, they must have felt so happy seeing all their friends and family before them.

Aquatopia Conservatory Wedding Kathleen and Peter Samantha Danis Photography
Aquatopia wedding Samantha Danis Photography Kathleen and Peter

The evening progressed smoothly and was full of laughter and tears. Andrea and Alex did a wonderful job as co-MC’s making sure we were all entertained throughout the whole thing. Honestly, all the speeches were wonderful, when are they not? But when Kathleen’s cousin, Season, came up to speak, she had everyone just enthralled by her words and were so focused. She spoke eloquently and had nothing but kind things to say about both Peter and Kathleen. But obviously, mostly about Kathleen as her quote unquote, favourite cousin. I even told her after the fact that she needs to be a speech writer for everyone at all my weddings, she’s just that good.

Speeches ended with Kathleen and Peter closing the formalities. Thanking their friends and family as one does but also going more in depth with some of their mentions. Kathleen had her mom, Lisa, in an absolute puddle. Mentioning how she’s grateful to have had her as a mom but also as her best friend. But my favourite was Peter’s part to his sister, Megan. What I’ve yet to mention is that Peter and Megan’s mom, Jennifer, passed away in 2017. And of course, losing a parent is never an easy thing. But Megan took on the role of mom and helped her brother just as their mom would have. Something Peter is truly grateful for and made Megan cry in the process. I actually photographed Megan’s wedding last year and seeing her in that moment, bawling, had me crying as well. Family is a big thing for me and seeing their bond was just so special to me. Be proud of your children Jennifer because they truly are wonderful souls whom love you dearly.

Once the crying was done and everyone got the feelies (feelings) out of the way, it was time to bring everyone back into the atrium to get the party started. Before the actual party part (which I knew would be spicy), Kathleen and Peter still had their first dance to do. These two don’t necessarily like to be the center of attention so they danced together, did a few spins but within about 1.5mins, they invited friends and family to the dance floor to join them. And they happily obliged. From then on, guests stayed on the dance floor and party like it was 1999! I still maintain that weddings show have karaoke machines, or at least the cute led mics because the belting out coming from that dance floor was nothing short of spectacular!

And that, that’s how I ended my night, with the party hopping and the deserts being passed around. I will say that a moment I hadn’t mentioned above was a highlight for me which were Kathleen and Peters night photos. We enlisted the help of Kathleen’s cousin, Jesse to give us a hand with this one, and he was all for it. We wanted something that was beautiful, dramatic, but also represented Kathleen and Peter. So I thought, what about using some smoke? As a group of 420 friendly people, I thought it was appropriate. Jesse had a blast running around behind Kathleen and Peter, hiding, sprinting, all of it. Just so we could get the shot, and we definitely got it. Well done Jesse, I’ll hire you as an assistant any day!

And that was that, after having met Kathleen and Peter in 2017 in Mexico, their wedding finally came and went and truly, I am so happy that I was able to be a part of it not only as their photographer, but as their friend. Love you both dearly and I hope you enjoy this sneak peek xox

Hair- Taylor Cameron
Makeup- Jenna Justinich
Wedding Dress- Renewed with Love
Bride’s custom shoes- After August Co 
Groom- Indochino
Venue, Florals and Decor- Aquatopia
Deserts- Suzy Q & Strawberry Blonde.
Videographer- Noah Davidson
Photographer- Samantha Danis Photography