For as long as I can remember, pre-wedding photo session is a crucial ritual of Hong Kong weddings.
This cultural phenomenon of taking advertisement-like snaps has now spread around the world. Happy couples posing in their wedding attire are frequently spotted at famous tourist sights in major cities.
Some of their favourite locations – or the most popular options offered by wedding photographers in their standard packages – include Paris, London, Santorini, Tokyo and Seoul.
Costing anywhere in the region of HKD$4,000 to $25,000, it is no wonder some local photographers in these cities have started targeting Chinese couples and expanding their services for local people to maximise businesses.
What are pre-wedding photos?
As the name suggests, these are taken before the wedding ceremony (usually weeks in advance), but they should not be confused with engagement photos for which the couple are often casually dressed.
The dress code for pre-wedding photos is the actual wedding attire itself – a concept that many foreigners find bemusing. Why would you want to put on a delicate gown with a three-metre train and parade through the city in various epic poses?
Because for many Hong Kongers, it is important to remember the most special day of their lives through cinematic photographs, to enjoy luxury that they will probably never experience again, and to showcase on Facebook among other showcasing purposes.
Really, it is a win-win situation. Wedding companies make a bucket full of money by offering similar packages every season, and most importantly, this is guaranteed business as pre-wedding photos have become almost as essential as the ceremony itself.
The couples get to doll up to the brim and play dress-up in exotic locations. And by dress-up, I mean dress-up!
It is not uncommon at all to have 3-7 gowns and suits to change into for different places and time of day. These garments, of course, come with the packages offered by various companies.
The local economy also benefits from the money splashed on the entire session, from accommodation and food and drinks, to shopping and sight seeing.
Pre-wedding photos in Hong Kong
Organising the shoot abroad is appealing to many Hong Kong couples because of the prospect of travelling, although for some, this is also a great way of flaunting their wealth.
Admittedly, it was very attractive to us as well while planning our wedding. What better than travelling and looking drop dead gorgeous in the process? However, due to the limited time that we had, logistics and other reasons, we decided to do this in Hong Kong instead.
After my first round of research, I realise that a number of spots are very popular with local photographers and there are hardly any unique touches or perspectives to these photos.
So I dug deeper, and I found a long list of recommended spots in the city and outskirt areas. And I was glad there were some nice surprises.
Here are some interesting ones for future couples to explore:
- 南生圍 Nam Sang Wai
- 城門水塘 Shing Mun Reservoir
- 石澳 Shek O
- 萬宜水庫東壩 High Island Reservoir East Dam
- 馬灣公園 Ma Wan Park
- 赤柱 Stanley
- 香港大學 University of Hong Kong
- See below for Central for more
- 香港中文大學 The Chinese University of Hong Kong
- 西九海濱長廊 West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade
- 尖沙咀 Tsim Sha Tsui – 鐘樓 Clock Tower, 維港 Victoria Harbour
- 中環 Central – 石板街 Pottinger Street, 都爹利街 Duddell Street, 碼頭 Pier, IFC 四樓平台 4/F Podium, 蘭桂坊 Lan Kwai Fong
Our Final Choice
For us, exquisite locations are nice to have, but they should also mean something special.
So our final itinerary include my secondary school, Shek O (in line with the theme of our wedding venue decoration) and a very unusual and sweet spot (what we both love about Hong Kong) – IFC 4/F Podium.
Our choice of outfit was simple. No wedding attire or elaborate evening gowns. Just a couple of dresses from ASOS for me, and a tailored shirt and jeans for my man.
We also opted for a freelance photographer (also a family friend), rather than packages from the shops, for an extra personal touch and a more affordable cost.
Weddings in Hong Kong have always been about extravagance, glamour, and the more of everything the better.
We took the ‘budget and beautiful’ route and I guess you can say they look like engagement photos instead, but we still cherish every moment of that sunny day in 2014.