24 Oct Sugar shack wedding near Montreal, Quebec
A real wedding celebration!
After photographing Elizabeth and Arold’s engagement photos at Mount Royal park, it was finally time for their gorgeous sugar shack wedding at Chalet des Érables.
I was excited to photograph this lively couple’s wedding. Their spirit of joy and the way they are open with their emotions was something I was looking forward to capturing. The result? I spent 12 hours with them on their wedding day and the time still flew by!
What made this wedding stand out?
Friends and family are so important to Elizabeth and Arold. Their strong bond and close community was plain to see in every part of the wedding. From getting ready in their parents’ homes, to special touches during the ceremony. From emotional speeches during the evening to uproarious laughter. From the sweet father-daughter dance, to ending the night with tumultuous dancing with all their guests. Everything about this day breathed joy and celebration!
The groom getting ready with champagne and cheers
We headed to Arold’s family home first, where the groom and his groomsmen got dressed for the wedding in the back yard. It might seem a little strange to get ready in your yard, but the light was great for amazing wedding photos. Plus, there was plenty of room for all the guys to hang out.
Arold’s suit had lots of special touches that made it special. A monogram on his collar and other details really brought the style. His mom decorated with helium balloons to give the yard a festive ambiance. All the groomsmen helped Arold get ready in style. As they successfully completed their mission, the groom popped some champagne. Everyone toasted to the wedding day. Then, the groomsmen began chanting a loud cheer. It was almost like a football team psyching themselves up before the match. I’ve never seen such an enthusiastic bunch of groomsmen!
The bride getting ready with twerking and tears
The bride got ready at her mom’s home. Her bridesmaids were all there hanging out with her. Even though it was early in the day, there was already a celebratory atmosphere. Elizabeth and her friends busted some dance moves and showed off their twerking skills. We captured some emotional moments when her parents helped her into her wedding dress. Then, the bridesmaids saw her complete look for the first time. Hearts were full! Afterwards, Elizabeth surprised her friends with some special gifts and thoughtful messages. More tears flowed!
Chalet des Érables wedding venue
After getting ready, everyone made their way by limo or car to the wedding ceremony location at the sugar shack (cabane à sucre).
The Chalet des Érables is a big commercial sugar shack venue near Montreal. Also called “cabanes à sucre” (from the French), sugar shacks are where maple sap is harvested from maple trees. It’s then turned into all sorts of delicious goodies like maple syrup and taffy. Many Quebecois sugar shacks are open to the public. They have guided tours and special traditional meals. Outside of maple sugaring-off season, the Chalet des Érables becomes a wedding venue and hosts country-style weddings. This outdoor wedding venue has been developed with several ceremony locations and reception locations. The large property also has lots of outdoors options for photos. It’s a very convenient rustic location to hold a wedding. However, their highly-commercial approach means the venue is less intimate. Wedding couples may cross paths with other wedding parties on the property.
Wedding ceremony in the outdoor pavilion
Elizabeth and Arold’s ceremony was held in an open-air pavilion with a beautiful backdrop of autumn leaves. The wedding was officiated by a pastor who knew the bride and groom. He led them in a traditional religious wedding ceremony, but there were still plenty of laughs.
At the end of the ceremony, the happy couple kissed and danced their way out of the open-air chapel. Their friends and family thronged them with congratulations and hugs and we took the time to take a big group photo of the guests at the back of the ceremony pavilion, with the beautiful fall colours behind.
Wedding portraits at the Chalet des Érables
Family portraits are simple group formals taken with your family members. I ask my wedding couples to provide me with a list of groups to photograph and we plan the schedule to make sure we include a time to take these photos together. This part of the day may seem less exciting and creative to photograph, but the resulting family portraits are invaluable. They document the people who were at your wedding, showing their support and love. And, as time goes by, these portraits will become even more precious. Grandparents and parents age. Children grow up. But these family portraits can be a souvenir of this happy moment frozen in time.
After taking the family portraits with Elizabeth and Arold, we headed into the woods for some rustic wedding portraits with the bride and groom. There were several paths crisscrossing the autumn woods, as well as old wooden buildings and stacks of firewood, to use as inspiration for some creative wedding photos. As the day grew darker and the sun went down, we left the woods and explored the rest of the groups, heading over to a carousel that was just sitting in a parking lot nearby. I used my on-camera flash to illuminate a few more creative photos as night fell.
The wedding reception
The wedding reception began with an impressive entrance by the wedding party, who got the dance floor already heated up with some big energy. Then Arold and Elizabeth ran into the wedding hall, each proudly waving a flag to represent their 2 cultural backgrounds: Haiti and Quebec. As they reached the centre of the dance floor, twirling their flags, all their guests clapped and cheered. At that moment, a few groomsmen shot off some confetti cannons! The crowd rushed to the dance floor to hug the newlyweds and dance together with them.
The emcee for the wedding reception was the couple’s friend Jennifer, who did an amazing job introducing special dances and speeches. She also lead the lively crowd of guests in some fun party games, including some karaoke challenges and dance-offs.
Strong feelings and passionate speeches
Elizabeth and Arold’s family and friends took turns at the mike, sharing some words of praise and love for this sweet couple. Congratulations and good wishes flowed along with happy reminiscences.
Later on during the night, I noticed there was a beautiful large mirror in the bathroom and decided to ask the bride and groom to leave the party for a few minutes to get some romantic photos with a creative angle. Do you have a favourite version? Colour or black & white?
As the night winded on, the dance party took off, with Elizabeth and Arold showing off their zouk moves and friends joining in!
Planning a sugar shack wedding?
If you’re planning your wedding near Montreal, please say hi so we can start chatting about your wedding photo needs.
Myriam Ménard from Crémeux Photo was my second photographer for the day. She has a great eye for capturing softer, intimate moments from afar. She also takes graceful portraits. It was a great complement to my documentary style. Since I’m often very in-the-action and closer to what’s happening. We stuck together all day instead of splitting up and covered the action together with different angles.
Videographer Mathias Lucien from Soulshine Films also worked alongside us throughout the wedding and was a pleasure to team up with.