With so many people around me in the midst of wedding planning and the recent wedding anniversary of Mr Ronan and I, I started to reminisce the planning of our wedding.

One of the favourite things we did was getting pre-wedding photos done.  What’s that you say?  As far as I know, getting pre-wedding photos done is a tradition for people of Chinese heritage ie. Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Pre-wedding photos are done any time between engagement and wedding, and are used for the wedding invitation and shown in the wedding itself.

I don’t exactly know why this is a tradition, could very well be the invention of some very clever business people, as this indeed is a big industry in Asia.  This is partly the reason why I wasn’t keen on the idea of getting them done.  But when we went to Malaysia for a holiday 6 months before our wedding, and Mr Ronan booked us in to stay at the splendorous Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Penang, I decided that it would be so special for us to get some beautiful photos taken with such a perfect backdrop.

I booked the pre-wedding photo session 3 months before arriving at Penang, here’s how:

  • Pre-wedding photos are best done in a bridal house that offers the entire package – outfits, accessories, hair & makeup, photographer, printing.
  • I researched firstly the names of the various bridal houses in Penang, trolled through their websites looking at their portfolio, and bridal discussion forums to read first-hand experiences with them from brides/brides-to-be.
  • Once I short-listed down to 3 bridal houses, I emailed them re rates and availability.
  • I then picked France-Taipei Penang based on their prompt and helpful responses. Had I received the same level of communication from the other 2, I would have kept at least one of them as the backup.
  • A consultation date was booked for the 2nd day of us arriving in Penang, and photo-shoot booked for 2 days after that.  I did not place a deposit as I told them I would not be able to 100% confirm until I meet them face-to-face.

Consultation Day:

  • We went through the package price to confirm – luckily I brought with me the emails confirming the price as the prices they gave us on the day was higher.
  • The package included 6 basic collection gowns, CD with images & slideshow, 30 page album and a large framed photo.
  • As we were only going to be in Penang for a week and a half, everything had to be done quickly – so photo shoot in 2 days, photo and album selection the day after, and pick up our framed photo a week after that.
  • After agreeing to use France Taipei we paid the deposit, and picked my gowns.
  • I ended up with 7 gowns, some of them from the deluxe and premium range.  Plus the gown I wanted to wear for the location (Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion) shoot was not from the outdoor collection, we had to pay extra.  The extra can be negotiated.
  • After picking the gowns, the seamstress took my measurements so she can alter them to fit me.

Day before Shoot:

  • Shoes are not included so I had to buy some to match each outfit.
  • I studied Xiao Kai’s first makeup book that I’d purchased in the same trip, and book-marked the looks I want for each outfit.  I don’t know anything about hair so was just going to leave that to the MUA.
  • I booked myself in for a body treatment that included lymphatic massage and detoxing body treatments.
  • Reduce salt intake and no fluid intake after 6pm, to minimise bloating on the day.
  • Hydrating sheet mask just before bed.

Photo-shoot Day:

  • It was going to be a long day – we had to arrive at the bridal house at 8am.
  • I was to arrive with freshly cleansed face – light moisturiser okay but that’s it.
  • We also paid a bit extra for ampoules – clear serum that preps the skin and help the makeup last longer.  This is essential especially in the hot and humid Malaysian weather.
  • I did purchase a couple of ampoules myself from a near-by makeup supply shop, but decided to keep that for my actual wedding day in Australia.  It’s a lot more expensive to get the ampoules at the bridal house, but since I didn’t know how to use them I still went with that option.
  • Drinks (including lots of coffee) and food was included on the day.
  • The MUA was an absolute genius – she recreated all the makeup looks, did my hair and accessorised me to suit each gown perfectly.  And so quick!  The first look took about 40 minutes, but the following ones took mere 10 minutes to change from one to the next.  She was like a magician!
  • We started with a couple of looks in the bridal house studio, then in the early afternoon we headed off to Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion for the location shoot.
  • The MUA was also there for the location shoot, to touch up my makeup at any time.
  • After location shoot we went back to the bridal house and finished off the rest of the looks.
  • All up, the entire shoot from start to finish took 13-14 hours.  We were absolutely exhausted!

Photo Selection:

  • We went back to the bridal house the next day to pick the photos for the album.
  • The package included 30 photos – we culled down to around 50 that we loved.
  • Each additional photo was expensive – around AUD$7, so we culled down to 32.
  • We then picked the photo for front of the album, the material and colour of the album, the photo for the frame, the frame itself, and the song for the slideshow.
  • Mr Ronan and I are both pretty decisive so this process only took 2 hours.
  • The remainder of the $$ was paid – with all the additionals I think it came to about AUD$2000.

A Week Later:

  • We picked up our framed photo!  So happy!  We carried it all the way back to KL then Melbourne – checking it in as fragile/oversized luggage.

6 Months Later:

  • A month or so after we got back from Malaysia I received email proof of the album layout, for approval before they went to print.
  • Another month later I received a call from the bridal house that the album is ready, and the additional postage charge that I had to pay via bank deposit.
  • I really wished that they could have worked out the postage charge whilst we were still in Malaysia, or kept our credit card details, or requested payment via PayPal – it was so difficult for me to pay money into a Malaysia bank account in Australia, I gave up trying until after our wedding (6 months after photo-shoot).
  • We used one of the images for our online honeymoon registry, and the framed photo was displayed on an easel at the entrance of the wedding reception.
  • The album landed in Australia shortly after our wedding – all well packaged and came in a briefcase that we put some of our other wedding mementos in.

Clockwise from top left: the briefcase with the makeup book I used as reference, content, the pre-wedding album, inside the album

Framed photo

In Summary:

  • We are both so happy with our pre-wedding photos!  Not only did it give us some beautiful photos and memory, I really enjoyed the chance of trying some gowns that are so different in style to my wedding dress.
  • Mr Ronan secretly enjoyed being in front of the camera – there were more than a few Blue Steels a la Zoolander poses :D
  • Be prepared to pay more than the package price, it’s worth it to get the gowns you’re happy with.
  • Research is the key especially if you’re booking from overseas.

We had our pre-wedding photos done at France Taipei in Penang.  Unfortunately I think it has recently shut down as their website and Facebook page are both no longer there.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this long and rather self-indulgent post.  I highly recommend getting pre-wedding photos, or if you’re already married, get them to mark an anniversary.

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22 thoughts on “Pre-wedding Photos – What, Why and How?

    • Yeah I’ve seen a few engagement photos from some photo studios here. Some Asian bridal houses to have casual styles as one or 2 of the looks, but not the one we chose but I was happy to wear the formal gowns, as my wedding dress wasn’t the big princess style.

  1. Such lovely pics! Did you have good experience with France-Taipei? I think the horror stories I hear can fill volumes. I’m so glad you enjoyed that fully. My favourite of what you’ve shown is the one of your side profiles holding each other’s hand.
    LeGeeque recently posted..A Very Dior ChristmasMy Profile

    • Really??? Except for the postage part we found France Taipei to be really good! The makeup came up well and we got everything on time so can’t ask for more.

  2. Such beautiful photos! Made me look back at mine. Mine was done at Aspial Bridal Studio on Macallister Rd. All up paid around AU$1800. The fun part was trying on all the gowns!

    Ooh this post is tempting me to put up pictures of mine on the blog :P
    Tine recently posted..Packing for My HolidayMy Profile

    • Oh I’ve heard of Aspial Bridal Studio too!

      And I want to see your pre-wedding photos! Strangely enough no one around me have gotten them done, so I would love to see someone else’s!

  3. Oh my goodness…you both look stunning! That first picture especially is just so beautiful, it looks like it’s out of a magazine. Thank you for sharing. :) I can’t get over how amazing your hair looks, a different style in each shot.
    peta petal recently posted..The IconicMy Profile

    • Thank you lovely. Yes I was in awe of the MUA’s skills in doing such complete different styles to quickly! I wanted to bring her back to Oz as a party trick :D

  4. Beautiful photos! France Taipei has shut down as far as I know. Most bridal studios don’t survive more than a few years, that I know but they usually pop up as some other name so they never really go away. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories so perhaps you got lucky. The latest trend is not to go the way of a studio (albeit its cheaper) but just to do everything ala carte. Photos are different but always lovely :D
    Paris B recently posted..Flash of Gold with the Shu Uemura x Wong Kar Wai Flashing Gold Mini Brush SetMy Profile

    • Wow I’m interested to know what the horror stories, cos we didn’t have any issues with them at all! Wish I knew they were shutting down cos maybe we could’ve gotten the rest of the pics for cheap :D

      I think a la carte is a good option as every element can be controlled to minimise problem. I looked into it too, but it was to much hassle to do take that option when booking from o/s.

      Now I’m even happier that our pre-wedding pics turned out so nicely!

    • Thank you – I loved that cheong sam so much! I even asked them where to purchase and how much, but turned out it’s a super exxy brand so I contented with just wearing it for the shoot :D

      After the pre-wedding shoot I really recommend the concept – whether it be hired/BYO costume, location/studio, they still make great memories <3

  5. Your pre wedding photo is very nice!! :) Do you mind to tell me who is your photographer and MUA? How much is your original package?

    • Summer: The photographer came with the package at France Taipei – I didn’t specify them. From memory the packge was originally $1200 so we added a few extras :P

  6. I feel that you guys definitely got your money’s worth! These are gorgeous, gorgeous photos, especially the ones in the mansion and the one with the rickshaw! I have a soft spot for historical-themed wedding photos, they just look so ethereal and romantic! (and different, compared to the standard studio ones; I think, being in a special location seems to add so much more to the shot)

    • Neve: Yes the location definitely added to how special the photos are. The mansion was such a gorgeous place to stay at and I’m so glad we were able to take the memories away with us (and having the chance to wear such a beautiful gown in it – that just made it even better).

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