Victoria and Andrew: Fairmont Chateau Laurier Wedding

Victoria and Andrew’s wedding was a first for me. In the 13years of business, I’ve photographed at the Chateau Laurier as an associate and second Shooter, but never under my own name. And on this day, I finally had my chance, and I was NOT disappointed. I knew how detail-oriented Victoria could be and had a feeling the entire day would be beautiful. What I wasn’t necessarily anticipating was the tears that would come to her and Andrew’s face once it all came together. Here is how their beautiful wedding day went.

Starting the day was a little rough to be honest. The road to the Chateau Laurier had many detours thanks to highway closures, road closures and of course, protests which are a common occurrence in our downtown core. To top it all off, it was raining, a lot. But once I arrived, it was pretty smooth sailing for the rest of the day. We were starting our day off with Andrew and his guys whom usually when I arrive, are in their dress pants and shirts, ready to start their finishing touches. Andrew and his guys though, no no no. They were in their street clothes, chilling, eating and drinking beer.

Andrew greeted me with the biggest smile, I knew he was excited for what was to come. I called him out on not being partially dressed and we had a laugh while the boys rallied and started to get everything on. Luckily for me, guys don’t usually take very long to get dressed haha. I grabbed his details and quickly got to work while chaos ensued behind me. Andrew was going for that all black theme with touches of silver. His groomsmen surprised him with a gift while I was there which ended up being monogram cufflinks, a tie clip and money clip which got Andrew so excited. He laughed and told us that last night, yes the night before his wedding, he was at Rideau Center shopping for cufflinks and had literally just purchased the ones he had given me to photograph. So with a switcheroo, the new cufflinks became the stars. I was happy to see that not only was the theme a classic black colour scheme, but that Andrew was also wearing a three-piece suit AND a bow tie.

A couple of the guys grabbed a cooler and run up to the girls room while Uriah stayed by our groom and helped him put on his final touches. Because that’s what your Best Man duties are my friends, to dress the groom. We also had to get a quick picture of the socks because lord knows I love some good socks! But in all honesty, they had some fun nerdy socks with each of them having a Star Wars Character on them. And me, well I’m a sucker for Star Wars, except for storm troopers, they don’t know what they’re doing and have terrible aim. Once he was ready to go, I made my way up to the 6th floor to find that Victoria and her girls had literally just arrived.

Greeted by a happy and beautiful Victoria, I made my way into the room, ready to hang with the girls for a while. As soon as I enter the room, I’m then greeted by a shirtless Katarina who was over heating, just a wee bit. Aside from that though, which honestly, as someone who can’t regulate her body temperature properly, I feel you girl, the girls all wore these super cute ribbed matching lounging sets. See ya later Matching robes and HELLO comfort. They all looked absolutely beautiful as they drank some champagne and munched on delicious food platters provided by FarmBoy. Victoria, who is ultra-prepared, had a box of all her little things set aside for details and so I decided to do a somewhat different flatlay than I usually would do, and it turned out amazing.

Everything was so beautiful, simple and classic. From their Monogram to the artists rendering of the Chateau Laurier inside the invitation suite. And then there were the shoes, I died. If you know me and have read a few of my blogs, then you know I love me a good pair of heels. These did not disappoint. Victoria wanted something a little different yet still classic and glam, she succeeded with these Badgley Mishka’s. The delicate cheesecloth like straps, the ruffled and jeweled toe strap, all of it was perfect. Her dress was also gorgeous in its simplicity with nude cutouts on her sides, a beautiful thick Mikado fabric, beautifully constructed bodice, buttons down the back and of course my favourite, a scoop neckline. To top it off, a stunning pearl encrusted veil which reminded me of my own wedding day veil.

Victoria was going to be a stunning bride; I just knew it. But before getting her to her final stages, the girls wanted to pop so champagne (maybe a second bottle, who knows) while in their matching sets to celebrate and commemorate the moment. And with that, the girls were off to zoom around the room to get dressed because, it was time. All the finishing touches were about to happen.

When they slowly each came out one by one, I realized that they were all wearing the same, classic, black dress and omg, they all looked amazing. Seriously you guys, you can’t go wrong with a black-tie theme for your wedding party. Once they were all done up, it was time to get our Bride in her dress. Helped by her mom, Lynda, Victoria stepped into her dress, and she looked, just wow. Her girls stood nearby and watched in awe as their friend became a full-blown bride before their eyes.  She put on her earrings , spritzed a little perfume, and she was ready. Before leaving however, we had one more thing to do, first look with dad.

David waited patiently in the hallway for us to tell him it was time. I held his hands and told him to close his eyes as I guided him into the room. He stood only a few feet from his little girl but couldn’t open his eyes until we gave him the go. When he did, the sweetest moment happened. His eyes grew big, his smile was huge and his face was just in awe. He truly looked so ecstatic to see Victoria in all her bridal glory. I’m sure some flashbacks of her as a little girl flashed before his eyes in that moment as he walked up to her and held her close. Lynda was already crying too so I knew she’d be one to watch throughout the day. Victoria looked so beautiful in the rainy day light that I had to stop and take portraits of her before it was time to go since she just looked so *chef’s kiss*.

With the limo having arrived, it was time for us all to hop in and head over to the church to get Victoria and Andrew married!

St. Anthony of Padua was our setting for the ceremony as is for many Italian Families in the Ottawa area. Victoria’s parents actually got married in this church as her side of the family is Italian. And so, keeping with tradition, Victoria and Andrew chose the same church. The ladies stayed in the limo to avoid the cold and the rain while Andrew waited in the Church for things to start.

Andrew walked down the aisle arm in arm with his mum with an air of confidence and serenity rather than nerves.  He waited at the front as the ladies made their way down and then came Victoria. Looking at Andrew, I saw the tears well up in his eyes and his lip quiver as he saw her walk in. Victoria held it together and smiled the entire way down holding her father’s arm.

Once at the front, the Priest started things off with a prayer and then inviting everyone to have a seat. The ceremony was fairly quick as far as Catholic ceremonies go as Victoria and Andrew had opted for a shorter ceremony vs a full mass. During these times, I pay less attention to what the priest is saying and more to the micro movements the couple are doing. My favourite from this wedding was the stolen glances between Victoria and Andrew, but mostly Andrew. Almost every time I looked at them, Victoria was looking at the Priest and Andrew would turn his head ever so slightly to steal a glance at his Bride. It was the sweetest thing. And seeing their hands softly touching each other, brushing their thumps up against one another. It’s the little things I look for.

They had beautiful readings from family and friends during the religious portion of the ceremony and then it was time to get down to the good stuff. They opted for traditional vows followed by a ring exchange. The exchange is where things went a little funny. Uriah grabbed the ring pillow to hold as the priest blessed the rings but when it came time to take the rings off said pillow, well, we had a bit of an issue. The rings were tied on the pillow with a ribbon, and I guess the ribbon got wet and wouldn’t budge. Therefore, our rings were trapped. Uriah and the priest had a bit of a struggle while Andrew looked over his shoulder and couldn’t help but laugh.

I swear they were only up there for 2-3minutes in that struggle, but it felt like so much longer as the guests giggled in their seats and Victoria and Andrew laughed while standing there, waiting for the rings. They did eventually get the rings off the pillow and onto each others’ hands, thank God. And with that, they were pronounced Husband and Wife, and they sealed the deal with a stinking cute kiss and a big cheer from their guests.

They did hold one tradition which I always think is sweet which is the lighting of the unity candle. Both of their mums earlier in the ceremony went up and took the flame of the church and lit two candles (I believe it’s supposed to be the baptism Candles from when Victoria and Andrew were baptized). Then, once they were pronounced husband and wife, Victoria and Andrew took the flames from those same candles that the mums had lit and lit up a candle of their own, signifying their unity before God. A quick signing of the register for you know, the legal part, and these two were officially, Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell. They walked out, hand in hand, laughing with guests as they walked down and then, BAM. Andrew surprises me with a dip kiss and oo girl, it was a nice one. Guests cheered as they walked out of the church, ready to start this new chapter in their lives.

Walking out of the church, we realized, the rain had stopped! It may have been a little cold and windy but the 25mm of rain was gone and I think we all let out a sign of relief! A big group shot on the church steps to include everyone and off we went to Major’s Hill park.

Victoria herself is an only child and Andrew has a sister so needless to say, family photos for this one went by pretty quickly. Which honestly, with the cold wind, I think the families appreciated the quickness of it all haha. But once I was done torturing them with the cold air, it was time to dilly dally with the wedding party. The ladies had no objections to making things quick and cuddling up close to one another for heat but the guys… Well they were another story.

I’m just kidding. Well, sort of. They didn’t mind cuddling up to each other (I have lots of proof of this throughout the evening) but they were interested more in joking around and messing with me then they were in taking photos. I say that in the nicest way possible as I loved these guys, they were funny as all heck. But for the sanity of us all, and so that the ladies didn’t turn into popsicles, I may have turned into a bit of a hard ass to rally them up and to focus.

It’s funny because almost every wedding I shoot, the wedding party questions my prompts or what I want them to do. This was no different and I definitely got a few confused faces along the way but you guys, I promise, they always turn out beautifully, trust me. The girls went first, and they did a fabulous job at going with the flow and making sure we got everything. However, they were very happy when I told them they could go inside the Chateau Laurier as they were done their photos. The Guys though, they had fun and stuck it out a little longer (I mean, they did have pants and a jacket, so they were definitely warmer). Before they departed though, they wanted one more shot. Holding hands and skipping across the lawn. And that right there is the framer. With that, the guys were out and I was left with our beautiful Bride and Groom.

We took our time with photos, wanting to capture some of the Chateau Laurier, some of the fall colours and of course, inside the Chateau itself. Victoria and Andrew took things in strides and did so well. I barely had to give them any prompts as they just fell into each other and cuddled. I believe they were genuinely just so happy to be together, alone, in that moment. Once we were done at the park, we made our way to the Limo and back to the Chateau Laurier.

Victoria was totally over her shoes at this point and as we were walking down the hall, they came right off. We stopped at an interesting spot for a few portraits then made our way down to the staircase Victoria really wanted photos at. We went for a more relaxed glam feel at this point just letting them sit together and melt into each other, capturing their beautiful and the old charm of the castle. I couldn’t help but omg the entire time because of how stunning these two were and I think that just added to the excitement of it all. If your photographer, starts omg-ing, awwww-ing, that’s a good thing folks. Once they were satisfied with what we got, we were off to see their reception space for the first time.

All the rooms at the Chateau Laurier are beautiful, but I do love the romantic charm that comes with the Fireplace room and Laurier room which is what Victoria and Andrew selected for their cocktail and reception. We walked into the space and were immediately wowed. Victoria looked around in awe and started to cry as she walked to the center of the room. Andrew kept his arm on her back, always touching her ever so softly as he looked around and looked at his wife. He started to cry too. She told me ‘’this is two years in the making’’. That two years was worth it beautiful, you done good. After a little private slow dance away from everyone, Victoria and Andrew took a moment to go up to their room and take a break before returning to mingle with guests a little later. I on the other hand, explored the room and cocktail area and took all the photos for them to remember the day.

The room was flanked by soft pink/purple uplighting to set the mood. Tables, both long rectangles and rounds, were decorated with beautiful florals ranging in height from tall candelabra type centerpieces to short full floral pieces. All of which had acrylic table numbers, candles throughout and a little disposable camera for guests to capture the night. Let’s not forget the lovely and classic gold Chiavari chairs. The cake, or should I say, cakes, were absolutely beautiful. They had a short heart shaped cake for the cutting but then they had a three tier, stunning white cake with simple brush stroke 3D flowers with little gold flecks throughout. Truly a classic and beautiful cake.

Their cocktail and bar area were also beautifully decorated to match the theme. Guests were greeted by an acrylic welcome sign as they entered the fireplace room. Followed by a table with their Black Acrylic card box, beautiful guests signing book featuring photos by yours truly and of course, candles and greenery throughout. The same table was then flipped to keep the guest book but to then introduce the party favours. A cigar bar for guests to grab and custom designed match packets with things the couple love, including their adorable puppies, Boots and Whiskey. Finally, for guests to find their seat, a classic, black and white seating chart hanging in front of a beautiful floral wall. Overall, everything gave a classic, Gatsby-esque vibe.

Our evening started with a bang with the guests dancing and cheering our wedding party as they entered the room and of course, the guests of honour themselves, Victoria and Andrew. They walked in and went straight into their first dance (a new way of doing things that I love btw). They couldn’t start their dance right away however because the song they walked into wasn’t switching over. Turns out, they had timed their entre to be 1 minute long. but they walked in so fast that they had to kind of let it run its course until the right song would start. They danced under the chandeliers, laughing and smiling throughout the song as their friends and family looked on, so completely enamoured with the two dancing before them.

The evening went so smoothly thanks to the awesome MC’s for keeping things fun and lighthearted throughout the night. They had joke after joke, appropriate and inappropriate that had everyone laughing either at one point or another. Between courses they would introduce the speakers which were, Lynda, David (Victoria’s parents), Doug, Rhoda (Andrew’s parents), Uriah the best man and Amber, the maid of honour. All of whom spoke so highly of both Victoria and Andrew, their perseverance in life, their goals and ambitions and of course, them as a couple. For the most part, they held it together, but Lynda definitely cried during her speech as I knew she would 😉. Love ya Lynda.

There were of course, the traditional dances such as Victoria’s father-daughter dance and Andrew’s mother-son dance. Which were two slightly different dynamics. Victoria and David laughed and laughed through their moment. Andrew and Rhoda held each other close, and chatted and smiled as they enjoyed the moment. Which, by the way, the song they danced to was ‘’you’ll be in my heart’’ by Phil Collins which had many people, me included, singing and dancing along very passionately. Especially the bridesmaids that were breaking out all the dance moves behind the head table.

However, there was one special dance that stuck to my memory and I loved to watch. Victoria danced with both parents, first her dad and then switching over to her mom. Not only is that very sweet, but the selected song by our favourite Canadian Icon, Céline Dion, was top tier. Not only did they dance, oh no. Victoria surprised her mom by bringing out spoons for them to ‘’karaoke’’ too. And they did not hold back. They stayed in each others arms as they belted out the song into their spoon mics and had everyone else singing and laughing along with them. I later found out, Lynda has a picture of her and Victoria singing into spoon mics, hanging in her office. What a sweet moment for them to share and now Lynda will have another picture to hang in her office!

An especially memorable moment was when the MC’s pulled out a little skit for Andrew. Now you see, Andrew works in Cybersecurity and they think they’ve cracked it to him working for either Mi6 OR the KGB, gotta be one or the other. But they came into some top secret documents to read to the guests. When they started reading the page, it EXPLODED into a ball of flames and then, it was gone. When they say top secret stuff, they aren’t kidding. It got a good laugh out of everyone, especially Andrew and left everyone wondering, HOW they were able to pull of that bit. We finished the formalities of the evening with Victoria and Andrew’s speech in which they thanked their family, especially their parents because well… Without them, they wouldn’t be here, literally. That one definitely had us laughing, yes Andrew, your parents made you, you’re welcome. And they ended their speech with a big kiss before walking over to their cake table.

This was a fun moment. They didn’t announce the cutting but clearly the tables nearby were watching as Victoria and Andrew cut into their little sweetheart cake and fed each other a piece. They all burst out laughing and even throwing their arms up when Andrew, oh dear Andrew, didn’t fork the piece he had enough and just as it was reaching Victoria’s mouth, PLOP. The cake falls directly into her bust. He couldn’t believe it, I started laugh, Victoria was like ‘’REALLY?!?’’. She reached in, grabbed the piece and may or may not have thrown it to Andrew’s face which he dodged. They did a second try and this time, the cake definitely didn’t fall off, crisis averted.

Victoria, not wanting to be weighed down all day by her big beautiful gown, went up to her room and did a little dress change. She came out in a super cute, short and flirty white brocade fabric with a matching neckline to her wedding dress. Definitely a fun party dress to dance the night away in. We took the outfit change time to get a few night shots with the elevator and Fairmont Chateau Laurier canopy outside before running back inside (it was mucho cold and windy by this point) to party with the rest of em.

Dance floor wise, the people on it were who I expected to be there. The girls who danced at their tables, yeah, they were clearly the first ones on there. They and the other guests had super cute RGB foam wands to add fun to this hype party and they worked those things. So much so that one guests may have looked like a airport employee that guides the planes in on the tarmac which we truly enjoyed. We danced our butts off and of course, belted out all the classic 90’s tunes we could. A millennial wedding is always a good time.

Genuinely, I don’t know what to say. To end my 2023 wedding season on such a high and with such a freaking awesome couple. I’m truly blessed. Victoria and Andrew, thank you for going with the flow, for enjoying the day for what it was and for just embracing it all with such beauty and joy. Your wedding is truly one for the books and I am so happy to have ended such a crazy time with you as my final wedding of busy season. Your friends and family were so lovely (I made friends with Beverly, holla at me girl!) and caring about you both and even of me as well. Thank you times a million and enjoy your sneak peeks xoxo
-Sam

Vendors:
Hair – Parla Hair 
Makeup – Rebecca Rose Beauty 
Wedding Dress – Sinder’s Bridal House (Essence of Australia)
Bridesmaids Dresses – With Love Bridal (Mori Lee)
Groom’s attire – Surmesur
Groomsmen attire – Moores 
Flowers – Plenty of Pretty 
Cake and Deserts – Victoria’s Cake Studio 
Decor – Exquisite Decor and Design 
Day of Coordinator – Caroline and Co. Angela
Venue – Fairmont Chateau Laurier
DJ – Bobby B Productions
Photography- Samantha Danis Photography
Day of Content Creation: Never Knew I Needed– Abby