Catherine and James – Hotel Arts Wedding in Calgary.
Calgary Wedding Photographer at Hotel Arts and St. Mary’s Cathedral.
I have to say it: I love this Hotel Arts wedding in Calgary! Hotel Arts weddings are some of my absolute favourite. The room can be transformed into the most perfect reflection of your vibe, as it’s a big space with high ceilings. The options are endless!
When James and Cat told me about their day, I had a feeling it would be beyond epic – but walking into their Hotel Arts wedding in Calgary was more than I ever could have expected. Natural foliage adorned their long banquet tables, and the head table was set up on a small stage with the cutest floral arrangement arch.
Their day was like their engagement session: full of love and laughter. Unlike when we did their engagement session though, their was also a room full of all the most important people joining in the celebration.
When I arrived at Hotel Arts to shoot the getting ready photos, I waited patiently at the elevator as James came up to me to say hi. It’s funny because he was on his way to grab some food, but I was there to shoot his getting ready. His food plans changed and we went up to his room to grab some moments of him getting ready before I had to go meet Cat and the girls. Moments during getting ready are usually fast paced but James shared a little story with me about his brother. He had a necklace from him he placed over his head and wore with him all day. Missing a family member is really hard when it’s such an important day in your life, but I truly felt that James’ brother was there with him in spirit celebrating alongside in his heart. It was one of those moments as a photographer I think about. When you love someone and they are unable to stay with you, it’s really heartwarming to be able to have them be with you in a small way. I was glad James shared this story with me because I made sure to capture some details of the cross in his hands and to me that showed a super important symbol on this special day.
After meeting with the girls and shooting Cat’s getting ready and big reveal to her dad, we headed to Reader Rock Garden for their first look. As Cat walked up the cobblestone path, James turned to see his babe for the first time on their wedding day. Tears welled up in their eyes and cuddles, kisses and excitement were all flowing out of them. As I poked around in some bushes I grabbed some intimate moments before we started their couples photos.
Before we knew it, it was time to head to St. Mary’s Cathedral for their ceremony.
One thing I really loved about their ceremony at St. Mary’s Cathedral here in Calgary was when James’ mom and the priest handed out the communion wafers. The smaller kids were walking past James and giving him high fives. It was so cute I couldn’t stop smiling. Also the mushy side of me got all choked up when I saw James’ face as Cat walked down the aisle. Those tears were so heartfelt.
Following their stunning ceremony, we went for the second part of their couples photos with their wedding party. The rain held off until the very last of the photos and we headed to Hotel Arts for their grand entrance. Everyone clapped and cheered them on. The night was full of stories and love, a surprise performance by the kids and the money dance! The night was topped off with everyone busting a move on the dance floor!
Thanks Cat and James for taking me on this wild ride of getting to know you both and your friends and fam-jam! It was epic and always something I am going to look back on and smile about!
Make sure to contact me to find out if I am available for your Wedding here!
Amazing vendors and words from Cat & James can be found at the end of the post!
Bride Getting Ready Location // Hotel Arts
Brides dress designer // Anais Annette
Store purchased from // Pearl and Dot
Shoes // Spring
Nails // Uptown Nail Boutique
Jewellery //Mix of my Mom’s and Spring
Veil / head piece // Couture by Maisoon
Bridal party attire // Beaune dress from Aritzia
Hair Stylist // Lindsay Larsen
Make-up Artists // Kelsey from Something Borrowed Beauty
Groom Getting Ready Location //Hotel Arts
Suit // 3 piece suit by Atelier
Cuff-links // Gold Lions Club cuff links inherited from my grandpa
Tie // The Tie Bar
Shoes // Steve Madden
Hair // Cut by my main man Martin Macatangay out of Second Mile barbershop
Wedding Rings/Bands //
his: Classic yellow gold from James Allen (think the one ring to rule them all from lord of the rings)
hers engagement: North star in custom 18k yellow gold from Birks
hers wedding band: Thin yellow gold from Birks
Ceremony Location // St. Mary’s cathedral
Father // Father Julian Studden
Reception Venue //Hotel Arts
Caterer // Hotel Arts banquet catering lead by chef Scott Redekopp
DJ // DJ dRAN (Leonard) & DJ Reno (David)
Wedding Planner // Kelsey Locke
Florist //vBouquet by Catherine’s friend and mentor Monica Tran with help from her side kicks Olivia & Gabriel Tran (her two daughters)
Cake // Decadent Brulee
About their Wedding day!
Wedding theme and colours // We wanted to keep it the decor relatively light and fresh since the venue can feel be a bit dark. Lots of ivory linens with touches of greenery, candles and navy for some color. We wanted to the room to reflect the mood for the evening – laid back, light and fun.
How many people came out to celebrate their day // Their was just shy of 200 guests
Their top 3 best moments //
1. James’ mom’s wedding speech, she had everyone in stitches. Apparently she wasn’t even trying to be funny.
2. It was probably my least favorite part of the night but everyone else seems to like it when I dance to Gangnam Style… You have one two many tequilas at Coco Bongos and you have live the infamy of your dancing abilities.
3. Those small quiet moments when we could take stock and survey the room. Seems a little cheesy, but it was really nice just having everyone together.
Wedding song // Take the world by Johnny Swim. Because its just so darn sweet, just look up the lyrics!
Before their wedding day!
How did they meet // Catherine and I went to St. Mary’s High School together (same St. Mary’s that was just down the road for the cathedral of the same name). The first class we ever had together would’ve been Math 10. Where Catherine was probably killing it and I was probably just getting by, we wouldn’t have known because back then we didn’t talk. We were in different social circles ie i was in the well rounded social/out going/fun circle and she was … in some other fringe circle with IB students and choir kids.
It actually wasn’t till the last days of high school that Catherine entered my radar, her best friend at the time started hanging out with my cousin that was visiting from out of town. Which lead to Catherine and I hanging out. We became friends and it wasn’t until then that I realized how special she was. Cute and quirky, with a air of innocence, honest and down to earth. I could be myself around her completely void of insecurities. At the end of summer we knew had feels for each other and we mutually expressed our intent to see where this bond would lead.
Turned out it would lead to a 11 year blissful blur of a relationship! Full of dinners out, playing sports, nights in, hanging out with family/friends, making friends, graduations, working, and a lot of moral support for whatever hardship needed handling.
Their Engagement story // We had been together for a long time (in millennial dating years) and I had known for at least half a decade that Catherine was the only girl for me! In that time I often contemplated how i would ask her to marry me. I often imagined elaborate schemes and grand settings. But we were still young and we both envisioned getting married in our late 20’s or early 30’s
We were older, living together in a home we bought together and I knew the time was right to start looking at getting married. Over the years I picked Catherine’s brain about how she would like to be proposed to. So I knew to keep it low key. She also told me if I ever proposed to her anywhere public she would say no (she gets really shy and really red when the spot light is on her). So to save myself the rejection I decided I’d propose to her in our home.
I had had the ring for a few months, I got it late March 2017. Their were many nondescript evenings where we were just hanging out, watching tv or lounging in the living room together, where I thought to myself, I should just go upstairs! Grab that ring! and ddddooooo iiiiitttttt!!!
It wouldn’t be till June that I asked her. Sitting on that ring for so long made me a little paranoid. I wondered if she would see a proposal coming from a mile away. I still wanted to surprise her but I wanted to make sure it was subtle. So with that I cancelled the marching band, flash mob and advertising blimp!
It was a warm summer morning and she was out for the day. That’s when I hatched a plan. I set out early for my aids in deception. Laid the trap and then waited (yes, I hatched my plan the day off the proposal #improv). That afternoon I got a call from Catherine to pick her up from my cousins place, right on schedule. I go to my cousins place, ring in tow safely tucked in my cars middle console, doors unlocked, sunroof completely open. I visit a few hours longer at my cousins place before Catherine and I head home (thankfully ring still safely in my middle console).
We pull up to our townhouse and their is something waiting for us on our front step. So Catherine jumps out of the car to check it out while I park the car in the garage. We both exam what turns out be beautiful bouquet of flowers with a card attached addressed to her in awful chicken scratch writing. Puzzled at who may have left the flowers Catherine tears open the envelope. It says “Congratulations on your engagement!” on the front, at this point Catherine is pretty confused. I’ve never gotten her flowers before and she’s not engaged, she doesn’t recognize the writing nor is it signed. So in the front entrance of our home she’s all: “Who on earth left these here?”, “this is such a weird joke”, “I’m not engaged”. With that I smirk at her, take a knee. Our eyes locked, mine definitely swelling. I tease her with a casual “Yes you are”. I take out the ring box from my pocket, crack it open and ask her “Catherine will you Marry me”. She says yes. We hug, we cry, okay I do most the crying and the rest is history. =]
Kind words from Cat & James // “Sarah, it was awesome having you as our photographer that day. That day meant the world to us and we were very strategic with whom we shared it with. So picking a photographer who A) would get us killer photos and B) was someone we genuinely wanted to share the day with, was very important to us. Though at the time of writing this we haven’t seen all of the photos, based of the teaser we have seen I can confidently report that you checked off both A & B for us. You really killed it! You took charge that day and were able to direct us all the while still making sure we felt special. Also huge credit for taking on the herculean task of getting all one thousand members of my family to look at the camera at the same time! I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us, everyone is super excited to see your shots. And we’re super happy we went with you!
I don’t know if this will serve as testimonial because I’ve never written one but 10 out of 10, would recommend! Seriously though, Catherine and I were both really jazzed to hangout with you that day and we are very happy with how everything turned out. So thank you, you helped make that day what it was. =]”.