Friday, June 14, 2019

kat + matt | a summery engagement session at major's hill park

I'm so happy to be sharing this beautiful engagement session with you today! Kathleen and Matt were so easy to work with and I learned a TON from the hour that we spent together.

I always tell my clients that the engagement session is basically the homework that ensures we can make MAGICAL wedding photos without having to go through a big learning curve on the day. I give instructions on how to walk, how to fidget in a way that leads to natural looking candids, and it's also my opportunity to see what kind of direction works best.

After spending an evening together in Major's Hill Park and the Byward Market, I feel so confident about what we'll be able to create together in October. They're the most easy going couple, and I'm thrilled to share a big collection of favourites from their recent engagement session:


This was approximately 3 minutes into the shoot, so we're already finding our groove...


We kicked off the shoot with a few "family photos."



Kat immediately made this photo her profile pic, so I feel like I've learned where her true priorities lie. 




We spent our time searching out little pockets of architecture and light. Our city has so many of these gorgeous spaces!









This is one of my favourites:
















So right around this time, we started hunting for patios where the two could share a beer. It was a busy night in the Byward Market and the first 3 places we tried were absolutely packed. 

We walked for a few minutes and considered briefly getting a table at a really ugly looking patio with ripped red gingham tablecloths, but ultimately chose to give it one more street. 


Our patience paid off because we discovered this adorable patio right on Clarence, with neutral umbrellas and a hint of the last golden sun of the day. 





Living for this little set of sips before saying our goodbyes and leaving Kat and Matt to finish out the evening in peace.



I love the feeling of a full and happy heart, walking home as the sun goes down, knowing just how beautiful the collection will surely be. Kat & Matt, so excited for us to do it again this Fall!! xo 


To book an engagement session or hear more about wedding packages,
send me a note through my website

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

a look inside my preferred vendor list!

My favourite class in high school was always yearbook. I don't even know how it counted as a real credit because it was just so darn FUN.

In retrospect though, it's probably the one class other than AP English that has had the most impact on what I'm currently doing for my job. I took everything I learned about bleed lines and colour profiles and used it to create my own version of a yearbook: the Laura Kelly Bridal Guide!

This magazine style guide serves many purposes in my business, from setting the tone of quality with my clients right from the get-go, to taking up precious real estate in some of the most incredible wedding boutiques around our city. The bridal guide is also my way of seeing my work improve from year to year, and it helps my clients to see how their photos can be transferred off the screen and into their hands. There's nothing like it!

On the third last page of the guide, I've created a list of some of my favourite wedding vendors in town. I don't always know the specifics of their pricing, but what I do know is that these folks show up and OVER-deliver for my clients every single time. Each of these people add something to my clients' wedding experience, and for me it's just one extra way that we can ensure everything goes smoothly, which makes for the happiest photos ever.


I realized that not everyone gets to see that preferred vendor page of the guide, but that the information could be shared here on the blog for all to see!

Let's kick things off with my favourite venues! Remember, this guide is fairly condensed, so even though I could easily list closer to 10 favourites, I'm keeping it tight:

Le Belvédère | VENUE

One of the greatest honours of my photography career has been to hold a spot on the preferred vendor list at Le Belvédère. The feeling is SO mutual because this venue is a photographer's dream. I love how my clients get VIP treatment always, and how the location makes for insanely flawless photos. Plus it's some of my favourite wedding food everrrr.



Every time I step into Stonefields there are new and gorgeous changes to admire! I cannot wait to return in 2019 and check out their latest renovations. This elegant barn venue is a forever favourite, made even better by a killer customer service on the day. There is ALWAYS someone around to make sure everything is running smoothly, and that is much appreciated. 



This venue is a clean slate. I've been lucky enough to shoot two weddings in the facility within the last year, and they couldn't have been more different from one another. For this venue, you'll need to make sure you hire a coordinator and stylist to help you make it feel warm and inviting. For the wedding below, the space was envisioned and executed by TOAST Events



This is one of the newer venues in Ottawa and I'm already smitten! It's another clean slate venue that's waiting to be enhanced with personality. The entire design and setup should 100% centre around maximizing the panoramic view of the city. 

The venue is located on the 22nd floor of The Westin in Ottawa, however there's a gorgeous space you can rent on the 23rd floor for your preparations (or your first dance if you're as cool as Kristen & Nathan!). Convenience is KEY, and this venue has it all. 


TOAST Events | PLANNER

My creative partner in crime! I love working with Elise from TOAST Events at every opportunity. We speak the same language and make magical things happen together. Her clients really get a luxury experience and get to feel like they are a guest at their own wedding. The company is branded with the following sentiment, "for the bride in a league of her own," and I couldn't agree more! 


The Design Co. | PLANNER

Stacey and her team at The Design Co. are always high on my list of recommendations because they can transform a space like no other. I tend to work with them on weddings with larger budgets and I'm always excited to step into a totally unique ceremony and reception design. Plus the florals by Erin and her team are always stunning!!



Shannon Kennedy and I have been working together since the early days, but it's still not nearly enough! Her team is my go-to especially, and I love that they also offer smaller planning packages including day-of coordination. She runs a very tight ship and makes sure every runs smoothly. 


Showpony Hair | HAIR STYLING

Being a Showpony Bride FEELS like this photo... Glamourously happy, popping a bottle of champagne, not a single hair out of place. My girls are always thrilled with their hair when the Showpony team is in charge, which has such a huge impact on their self confidence. Feeling your best on your wedding day is wildly important, and these girls always deliver. They also work quickly to make sure we stay within our timeline. 

I would trust any or all of the team for mobile hairstyling, but the two stylists I work with most often are definitely Shelby and Lori.


Topknot Hairstyling | HAIR STYLING

Kirsty from Topknot is the quickest and most effortless hairstylist I know! She can work magic in minutes. I always recommend her when someone asks me where they can get that "perfectly messy" bridal look. She's mobile as well! 


One Fine Beauty | MAKEUP ARTIST

My go-to makeup team for a hundred million reasons. Many of my brides aren't big makeup wearers, so they're looking for something very natural but tastefully elevated. Shannon and her team of artists are mobile as well, so it works really well when building our timelines. 

My girls never look too heavily covered, but it somehow magically lasts all day. Shannon even has her own line of products that you can purchase for mid-day touchups. 


Klava Zykova | MAKEUP ARTIST

I can always tell a Klava bride because she looks like a walking ad for dewey, fresh makeup. Klava focuses on modern, effortless makeup looks that are good for your skin, and I've been recommending her for years. She also does makeup education and can help you shop for the exact products that would suit you best! She's a queen. 



I honestly think having the right florals can change a wedding completely. Katherine was born with shears in her hand, I'm sure, because she is so naturally gifted at designing the floral components of a space in just the perfect way. Nothing is ever oversized to take away from the surroundings, and each bouquet looks like it was crafted to fit that particular bride's hands, dress, location, and overall look. 

I am blown away every single time and hear nothing but positive things from my clients about the experience of working with Katherine. Hands down, I have discovered the epitome of floral heaven in Ottawa and this should be the easiest part of your planning process.  


Makin'It Lovely | DECOR RENTALS

My girl Melissa at Makin'It Lovely Decor has been referred to on this blog as the wedding decor Fairy Godmother. That's because she takes whatever stress and worry is on your heart and invites you to her glorious showroom of decor that's available for rent. Mel will come to your wedding, set everything up, and then it will all magically disappear at the end of the day. It's all of these little things that make an event feel really special to you and your guests.

In the photos above and the photos below, Melissa's work is complemented with Pollen Nation's florals. The two (well, THREE if you count me!) work so well together, it's actually infectious. Florals and decor are simply a match made in heaven. 

If you're really struggling to imagine how all the remaining little things will find themselves at your wedding this Summer or next, trust me: take a visit to Mel's showroom and you'll get that pep back in your step. 


Amy + Jen Decor | DECOR RENTALS

I often find these ladies credited with some of the decor in my favourite weddings. They offer beautiful pieces for rent and can really help pull together an already lovely event! 


Lynne & Keith | CEREMONIES

My favourite officiants, HANDS DOWN. Lynne and Keith from Exceptional Ceremonies are so reliable, they are never late, and they pour their hearts into each and every ceremony. One certain (& not named) officiant was late twice during my season last year, and the stress that it caused to the couple was just entirely disrespectful. When I recommend Lynne and Keith, I feel like my clients can breathe a sigh of relief because they're in good hands. 

Also, they don't stand behind the couple during the ceremony! They stand in the aisle and it makes for super clean shots of the vows, the first kiss, and all those in between emotional moments where you might not want a relative "stranger" in the shot. 


The Cake Whisperer | WEDDING CAKES

Cat Campbell is my girl. She's got more talent in her pinky than most of the creative entrepreneurs I know. Her cakes are pieces of art, and equally delicious. She cares so much about her work, and I always trust her to bring it!


The Girl With The Most Cake | WEDDING CAKES

Always sleek, always a showstopper -- I love when The Girl With The Most Cake is on the vendor list at a wedding because I know the cake is going to be something special to photograph.  


Chalked by Mabz | CALLIGRAPHER

Mabz is ALSO my girl. If you're looking for hand lettering and calligraphy for signage, invitations, or other paper goods for your wedding day, she's lovely. I don't get to work with her nearly enough so please my friends, let's fix that.


LaFabère | INVITATIONS

The Ottawa wedding industry needed someone to come in and just SLAY in the invitations department. Christine from LaFabère is that person. Her pieces are intricate, delicate, personalized, and so effortlessly perfect to photograph. Plus, as a Laura Kelly Bride you get a little something extra -- be sure to ask me abot that. 


Up North Wedding Films | VIDEOGRAPHY

Josh is always my first recommendation for video because of how well we work together. Our styles are similar, and we can communicate seamlessly to make the photo and video elements complimentary instead of competitive. Have a look at his work, you'll understand why I love Up North!


Dynamix Pro | DJ

Always my first recommendation for a DJ for a few reasons: one, the set up is super minimal and sleek. No oversized speakers or headsets here, no ugly black draping on gigantic tables with tacky signage -- Stephane can run an entire show from a modern white desk-style table, and control the flow of the ceremony right from an iPad. 

He always delivers and has a really incredible talent to watch and observe while he's working, to avoid any awkward moments. Bridesmaids walked quicker than the song? No prob, Stephane has already cued up the transition to the bride's entrance. Love that. 


David Deez  | DJ

Straight up if you want people to remember the PARTY above all else, DJ David Deez is literally the best decision you could make. I've attended and shot 6 David Deez weddings and the dancefloor photos are like no other. 

He plays mashups of old and new songs and the biggest complaint I've heard is that people can't seem to pull themselves off the dancefloor to get another drink. Sooooo.... only the best things to say about this dude. 


With Love Bridal Boutique  | BRIDAL SALON

I have never heard anything other than glowing compliments about the staff and experience at With Love. So many of my most classic Laura Kelly Brides have chosen to shop with Dana and her team, and it warms my heart to know that they've found the perfect dress. 


Revelle Bridal | BRIDAL SALON

My girls at Revelle have such gorgeous taste. Every single designer they offer is on point and photographs effortlessly. What I'm loving these days in bridal gowns is soft textures, whimsical details, and volume in all the right places.

By the way, check out the post where I shared photos of the Revelle team and the salon tour


Sarah Walsh Bridal | JEWELLERY

Saved the best for last? Sarah Walsh is also my BEST FRIEND, but that's not the reason she's on this list. She has been holding a spot on my preferred vendor list and another spot in my heart for 6 whole years, because of the way she treats my clients and meticulously cares about her work. 

Sarah is a stickler for quality and she looooooves LK Brides more than y'all know. The entire process starts with Sarah asking for a photo of the dress and an approximate hairstyle, so she can design a piece that's going to be the perfect size and impact. And just look at how she was able to create a custom piece for our dear friend, Brittany:  


If you have any questions about the vendors listed above, or if you'd like recommendations that are not featured here, send me an email! I'd love to help. 

Also, please note that none of the vendors listed here have paid for an endorsement or paid to be added to the list. It is entirely organic, built over 8 years of experience in the Ottawa wedding industry.