This post has been very highly request, by one person…
It’s been a little over a month since I’ve gotten married, but because of my husband’s *hehe* (it still makes me giddy when I say it) job, he is currently living in a different city. That’s life when your other half is a doctor.
But being on my own again has given me more opportunity to do my own thing; this often just means chilling out on the couch and rearranging our stuff at home. I’ve kinda put off writing lately because I was still on a high from getting married. But I am now in the mood to write.
I’m going to tell you of our experience of having our wedding photoshoot, in Japan, one year ago.
I also delved into making a video for it, it was actually quite fun going back and watching the footage and editing. If you want some visuals, please watch the video below.
In East Asian culture, it is very common to have your wedding photos taken before your wedding. I’m not sure what the reason is, it might just be convention. But you do get more interesting shots and have the opportunity for various looks (if that’s what you want). For us, it wasn’t completely about cultural convention, the reason we decided to follow this tradition was because
- We wanted an excuse for a holiday.
- We wanted scenery in our wedding photos. My other half in particular, has always wanted to see Japan’s autumn leaves in all its glory.
The company we booked our photos with was Studio TVB Nara | DE & Co. Decollte Wedding Photography. They are an international company so they have a range of translators. Good for me, because my Japanese is pretty much non-existent; it didn’t really affect my husband *hehe* because he speaks Japanese to a conversational level.
The preparation – choosing the dress
A couple days before the photoshoot, we went to their office in Osaka to choose our attire. The ladies (which included our translator) took us to this room that was filled with wedding dresses…and my god, it was amazing!! I had no idea what to choose, so I got the input of a) my brain, b) my now husband *teehee* and c) the ladies.
Here are some pictures of the dresses I tried on
I decided to go with the mermaid style dress, because to my surprise, I loved the way it looked on me. My actual wedding actual wedding dress was a princess ball gown. My husband *hehe* brought up a very good point that since I already had a princess ball gown (for our actual wedding), it would be nice to have something different for our wedding album! My other half chose a light coloured suit, was done and fitted in probably a quarter of the time it took me to choose and try on the dresses!
The photoshoot – getting ready
I was elated and nervous, the closest I have come to a photoshoot was probably school photos, or the embarrassing amateur photo-not-photoshoots my friends and I would do on occasion.
The studio where we would be getting ready was located in Nara, so we used that opportunity to go look at the famous Nara park deer. Being someone who loves animals, I was overwhelmed with the idea that there was going to be no barrier between me and the deer. I was mentally preparing to go play with them and take mega awesome photos. Upon arriving at Nara park, two things became abundantly clear. First, the deer weren’t as docile and gentle as the internet made them out to be; and second, I was afraid of them. I was afraid they would bite or attack me. We saw some deer knock over some children because they wouldn’t give them food. And even though they were medium sized, they were still large enough to frighten me. I know, I know, I’m a wuss. Nevertheless I still enjoyed their company (and still got some nice shots)
After spending some time at the park, we headed over to the studio. We were greeted by a familiar face, our translator and were led to the bridal dressing room to get ready where the hair and makeup artist was waiting. Leading up to this, I was mildly anxious that the makeup artist would get my foundation colour wrong.
Now being mixed race, matching my skin to foundation has always been an issue. Every time my Mother and I would go to makeup counters to buy foundation, the makeup ladies would look at me, and select a colour several shades too dark and insisted it was match. After I tell them, ‘put it on’ to prove to them it doesn’t match, they happily abide. This is followed by the look I have grown accustomed to which is ‘wtf, that’s not right’. To which my Mum and I telepathically and monotony say ‘no, it’s not’.
Because of this history, I was worried that she would get my shade completely wrong. But to my delight, she examined my face, grabbed a bottle of foundation, pumped it onto the back of her hand and swiftly swiped the foundation onto my cheek with a brush. She examined the colour and her body language just went ‘yes, that’s right’, with a confident nod and proceeded to coat my entire face in this shade. And you know what, she was completely accurate! A true case of ‘not all heroes wear capes’. As I’m writing this, I’m remembering the air of elegance she had as she did it…it was amazing.
The process of doing my hair and makeup took two hours. TWO HOURS!!!! At this point in my life, I had never worn that much makeup, but I was loving every moment of it. Now if you know me, you know I’m pretty terrible at makeup, but it doesn’t stop me from liking it or watching endless Youtube makeup routines, there’s something about it that I just find very soothing.
I didn’t know exactly what makeup I wanted, so I told the makeup artist that I will leave it up to her and trust her skills. She suggested a natural look, which is very popular is Asia, and I agreed. At various points she would say things like ‘this colour will look good’ or ‘this one suits you, but if you want another colour, we can do that one instead’. I agreed with all her instincts and told her I trusted her.
When she began working on my hair, she asked what I style I would like. I had spent ages on Pinterest looking at various hairstyles, but I was just as clueless about how I wanted to wear my hair. I had very long hair (to my waist), so I knew wanted it curly and I knew I wanted braids…of some sort. But that was it. Again, I was highly dependent on her skills and creative talent. She brainstormed some ideas with me and the hairstyle evolved as she was doing it.
After my hair and makeup was done, it was time to get dressed! They helped me into the dress and actually sewed it to fit my body. They did warn me that it was going to be tight, and my god they were not lying! With each pull of the thread I thought, how am I going to last the next few hours in this thing!
Up to this point, my main concern was that once the dress was on, I couldn’t use the toilet. I have a pretty small bladder and the thought of this just made me feel the need to pee even more. It’s kinda like when some says ‘don’t move’, you just feel every muscle in your body on the verge of twitching. Basically, this was my form of mild mental anguish. My other concern was the temperature, it was November after all, and was around 7-ish degrees and all I was wearing was a strapless dress.
The photoshoot was in two main location, Nara park and Mt Wakakusa (included sunset and deer photography).
Accompanying us was our translator, one photographer and another lady who was there to touch up our hair and makeup if it was required. But really, they were just amazing companions.
To get to the locations, we took a taxi. We walked outside, in full wedding attire and queued for the taxi. We got a lot of looks from curious onlookers, and many people looked at us with smiling faces. An elderly lady in front of us in the taxi queue offered us her ride, she was smiling and bowing her head slightly as she was speaking to us. Our translator and my other half respectively declined. The whole interaction was just so sweet.
We got to the location in Nara park where we would be taking our first set of photos. When we got there, we were delighted by the sight, there was a lake surrounded by colours of red, yellow, orange, brown and green trees. We were also greeted by the sight of many couples having their wedding photoshoot. There was definitely a sigh of relief, because at least, there were others there like us.
I tightly clung onto my husband’s *heheh* jacket as it draped over my shoulders. I wanted to soak up the warmth as much as I could before I had to take it off. If you know us, we just enhance each other’s weirdness. There was this one set of shots where we were asked to walk towards to the camera, next to the lake, while gazing off in the distance; we were asked to have a conversation so that we look as natural as possible. So most people would just talk about…well, I don’t actually know what most people talk about in such a situation, but this is what we did during our conversation…’I am talking and you and talking and walking and doing stuff’, ‘I like ramen, do you like ramen?’, ‘no I don’t like ramen, I love ramen’, ‘yes, that is all we have eaten and we still walking and talking’……
You get the picture. This type of conversation went on for the whole day, even when they asked us to look lovingly into each other’s eyes….
We wandered around the lake and took photos in various spots, some bits were scary as I had heels on! I’m definitely someone who lives in flats, so being put in heels for the photoshoot was definitely a source of mild stress, to be fair, it was mostly just really painful. But I told myself to get over it and carry on. I was super proud of myself that I could still walk…not well…but still managed to not look like Bambi…much.
As the sun was getting lower in the sky, we all made our way to the next shooting location, Mt Wakakusa. During this taxi journey, I was soooooo relieved as I could rest my pounding feet. There was a toll (I think) for cars to get to the mountain, and our translator warned us that we might feel the altitude, as the car climbs the mountain quite fast. For some reason, I was surprised at how winding the road was and yes, you could feel the altitude change, but it wasn’t that bad.
We got to the drop off point (the furthest the cars can go), I remember there were vending machines…one of the things I absolutely love about Japan. As we got out of the taxi, I saw that there was a pedestrian path that lead up to the peak…my heart filled with dread as I realised I had to walk up this steep-ish hill in heels.
As we started walking up the path, we came across a tree stump and our photographer said this would be a good stopping point to take forest photos. We stood on the stump and posed *with their help*. Not long after, a Mother deer and her baby approach us. Our team had brought deer biscuit for us to feed the deer at the peak, but took this opportunity to feed these two. It was a super awesome experience and these deer were a lot more docile than the ones we had encountered earlier at Nara park. The Mother deer also kept bowing her head when asking her food.
Please take a moment to appreciate the crazy-eye on this deer.
Once we were done, we *painfully* walked the rest of the path. As we got to the peak, there was at least one other couple taking wedding photos, plus a bunch of tourists and people gathering to enjoy the sunset. There were just amazing God rays pushing through the clouds as we posed for our photos. On the mountain, we got a little more creative, relaxed more and gotten more comfortable with the team.
My husband *hehe* lifted me up and I went ‘weeeeee’, a serious stark contrast to the other couple, who appeared to take the photoshoot very seriously and were taking really intense fashionable shots.
It got colder as the sun set (it was about 5 degrees at this point) and we took night shots on the mountain before turning in. In the background was the city below us and the lights were almost like stars. Our last shot of the day remains our favourite. It was when the team asked us, what we would like to do? My husband *hehe* responded ‘a proposal shot’, so he got down on one knee and the photographer snapped away.
That concluded the day. At this point, my feet had reached its limits with how much pain it could take. I told myself that I would take my shoes off in the car. But attempting to walk down the mountain was incredibly painful, so I stopped and said to my husband, I need to take these shoes off….and as I was starting to do so, my translator yelled ‘noo, take my shoes!’ I replied ‘it’s okay, because then you will have no shoes to wear’. But she insisted and said she would wear the heels. I agreed because I had enough of those heels.
She put her socks on my feet and cosied them into her sneakers…and my feet felt amazing…a comfort I will never feel again. She seemed to be fine with the heels going down the stairs and then the slope of the path; ‘what a hero’ I thought.
We got back to the studio, and were greeted by the hair/makeup artist, she helped me out of the dress and my poor feet were in so much pain that I just slumped on the floor as I was putting my normal people clothes back on. The feel of my own sneakers felt amazing after what my feet just went through. It was around dinner time and asked the makeup/hair stylist if she could help me take the pins out of my hair (otherwise, the pins were never coming out) and take the makeup off…I was not ready to go to dinner with so much makeup.
As she was taking the pins out of my hair, she told me to put conditioner in it for about 5 minutes before washing it, so that the hair spray (and all the back-combing) could soften and not tangle so much.
After our faces and hair were relatively back to normal…we sat on the chairs and watched the photographer sort through the images. After about 20-ish minutes we were called over to look at all the pictures…she had edited some of her favourites from the day to enhance the colour (or put black and white).
It was so much fun going through and seeing all the pictures. The team told what would happen next; in summary, they would send a zip folder of all the pictures taken and we would select 25 of them of our wedding album. We were to select the album cover, the inside contents and one framed photo. The selected photos would then be edited and placed in our wedding album.
So this turned out to be a very long post, but if you read to the end, we are now basically best friends.