Seble & Liku. It’s hard to know where to start with this post since there is so much to say.

I’ll start from the beginning when we all first met. Seble and Liku came to the Third Floor York studio last year to discuss their Ethiopian wedding which would be a mix of traditional and western styles. These details were interesting but I was more impressed by their personalities. Both Seble and Liku are detail oriented, smart, very sure of what they want, and somehow manage to be the least pushy and most heart-warmingly gentle people you could ever meet. I didn’t even know this combination existed!

Fast forward to this spring and it was time to shoot their engagement photos. Liku had one important request for these photos. They had to feel and look like they were shot in Ethiopia… Liku showed me a video from Ethiopia as an example and much to my surprise, the scenery reminded me of where I grew up… in Farrellton, Quebec. We eventually made our way to the rural backroads of Farrellton along the Gatineau River and shot some of the most unique engagement images that I have had the pleasure to capture.  This shoot re-affirmed my opinion on Seble & Liku. They were awesome.

Ethiopia in the Gatineau’sottawa-ethiopian-wedding-a

Finally the weekend of August 1 arrived. Jessica and I started in 2 separate locations at 7:30am on Saturday. In both houses, we had roughly 60 people there to help prepare the bride and groom or just to celebrate and be part of the festivities. Needless to say it was crammed and warm in both places but the energy level was through the roof.

In Ethiopian culture, a big part of the celebration takes place at the bride’s parent’s house where the groom’s family come over to  get the bride. It is the groomsmen’s job to “fight” their way into the bride’s parents house while being fought off by the bride’s family. Once they have earned their way in, the groom comes in to collect his bride. This is all done in fun with a lot of music and dancing, drumming and food. By mid-morning we had already taken a regular wedding’s worth of images and then it was time to go to the church.

By this point, the celebration at St Teklehaimanot Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church came as no surprise. The wedding crowd by now had climbed to at least 300 and again there was a lot of dancing and drumming. As always at an Orthodox church, we were allowed anywhere we wanted to go for photos. This might seem like a bad thing but we were lost in the crowd and hardly a distraction.

After the church we headed to the Ornamental Gardens at the Experimental Farm for the biggest family shoot that I have ever been a part of. It was so big that it was catered with traditional food, lasted 2 hours and was a great time. This was followed by some time downtown for wedding party and couple photos which included a rain storm, losing some shoes, and a lot of honking from passing tourists.

By reception time at St Anthony’s Banquet Hall, the crowd had grown to 400 strong and the only comment that I could make was “Wow”. I have shot a lot of weddings over the years and some pretty big ones, and some crazy ones but this took the cake. The last time that I saw this many people dancing in one place was in university at a Tragically Hip concert in Vancouver. The difference here being that people danced three times longer!  I may have discovered the secret behind Ethiopia’s dominance in long distance running. I think these athletes have been going to weddings since birth so running a 2 hour marathon is nothing compared to dancing for 6 hours at a wedding!

Here are a few statistics from this wedding:

  • Second biggest crowd I have worked with: 400 people
  • Longest wedding I have ever shot: 25.5 hours
  • Most photos ever taken at a wedding:  Just shy of 10,000
  • Longest formal session and most participants: 2 hours and approx. 100 people
  • Most I have ever eaten at a wedding
  • Most times asked to dance at a wedding
  • Most helpful videographer ever (Sammy from Toronto, send me your contact info!)
  • Most music ever played without knowing a single song. African music!

During all of this, Seble and Liku, AND their families took part in every aspect of the day. Not once did anyone not look fully involved and full of energy. This included grand-parents, parents and kids.  Thanks to everyone who participated in this event and who went out of their way to make us feel welcome, to bring us food and water, and to help whenever possible.  Thanks to Seble and Liku for a wedding that we will never forget.


Some of Seble’s dresses. When you have a 25+ hour wedding, you have more than oneottawa-ethiopian-wedding-02 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-03 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-04 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-05 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-07ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-08 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-09 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-10 Dad sees Seble for the first time.ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-11 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-12 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-13 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-14 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-15 The guys arriveottawa-ethiopian-wedding-16 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-17 This shot sums Liku up. ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-18 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-19 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-20 A helping hand just before entering the church.ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-21 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-22 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-23 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-24 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-25 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-26 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-27 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-28 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-29 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-30 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-31 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-32 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-33 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-34 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-35

A traditional lunch at the Experimental Farmottawa-ethiopian-wedding-36 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-37 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-38 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-39 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-40 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-41 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-42 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-43 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-44 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-45 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-46 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-47 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-48 Hey they were there and they said yesottawa-ethiopian-wedding-49 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-50 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-51 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-52 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-53ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-54 Strangely like the Oscarsottawa-ethiopian-wedding-55 A blessing for 400
ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-57 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-58 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-59 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-60 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-61 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-62 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-63 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-64 A more traditional next dayottawa-ethiopian-wedding-65 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-66 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-67 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-69 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-70 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-71 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-72 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-73 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-74 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-75 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-76 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-77 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-78 ottawa-ethiopian-wedding-79