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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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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