I’ve photographed destination weddings in the past, but this was my first time leaving the continent to shoot a wedding. It was an incredible experience and I’m addicted, but enough about me, let’s talk about this wedding!
I first met Gloria and James when they came to Vancouver to have their pre wedding photos photographed by me. They’ve always had an affinity for the western style of photos and really wanted something with that pacific northwest feel. Needless to say, they loved their photos – so much in fact that they decided to fly me across the world to photograph their big wedding celebration.
Gloria and James were already legally married so this day was to pay tribute to Chinese traditions and to celebrate with all their family and friends. The day started with me meeting up with James and the guys at the Royal Plaza Hotel in Mong Kok where we decorated the wedding vehicle. However, this wasn’t your everyday run-of-the-mill car, this was Jame’s dream car – a Land Rover Defender – a bad ass 4×4 off-road machine.
After a few portraits and photo ops in front of the car, we hopped in for a quick drive around the complex to signify the groom arriving to retrieve his bride.
Once the pieces were all in place, we made our way into the hotel with gifts and money prepared to “pay off” the bridesmaids. The bridesmaids had prepared a few door games as a ceremony for the groom to demonstrate his love and devotion to the bride. Luckily for the guys, the girls were pretty easy going and really just wanted to test their strength and flexibility… aka their durability.
Once the tasks were all complete, we proceeded with the traditional tea ceremony where the bride and groom pay respects to their elders and pour tea in exchange for well wishes and gifts. After we finished with this, we hopped in the car and headed to the groom’s side to do it all over again (minus the door games).
After the tea ceremony, we all went to a near by restaurant for a lunch break and had dim sum together. I was eager to shoot again so I made it a quick break and headed back to James’ house to photograph the two of them changing to their western wedding attire.
It was now time for photos with the entire wedding party – one of my favourite parts of the day! We started off with portraits at the courtyard in James’ property. It was an overcast day which was absolutely perfect for photos. It was a “cold” day by Hong Kong standards, but for me, being from Canada where it’s currently -7 degrees, I thought it was super comfortable.
For our next spot, we drove up a nearby mountain to the Chinese University of Hong Kong. James, Gloria and I had done some location scouting a few days prior to the wedding and found this beautiful spot at the Pavilion of Harmony with sweeping views of the harbour and nearby mountain ranges. The sun began to poke its head out from the clouds and we were graced with some gorgeous light. With the warm glow and tropical foliage, it really made me feel like I was on the coast of California.
Once we finished with the portraits, we hopped in the car back to The Royal Plaza Hotel where the wedding reception would take place. The ballroom had gigantic floor to ceiling windows with the iconic Lion Rock Mountain and cityscape acting as a backdrop for the evening. James and Gloria had a few family members who could not attend the tea ceremony earlier in the day so they poured tea again.
In these sets of photos, you can see how the tradition of pouring tea for your elders can be such an emotional experience. Gloria was so happy that her grandmother was able to attend her wedding reception and could barely keep her tears in. This was a good reminder to me how important it is to preserve traditions and pass them along to the younger generations no matter how silly or insignificant you may think they are.
With all the tea having been poured and all the guests arrived, it was time for the bride and groom’s grand entrance. James and Gloria were received by a traditional sword ceremony led by Gloria’s coworkers who work for the government.
Dinner was served and after a quick outfit change, Gloria and James gave a speech to thank all their family and friends for joining them in celebrating their wedding with them. With glasses filled with cognac and accompanied by their wedding party, James and Gloria went around and toasted all 400-something guests in attendance. At this point, my night was done, but I stuck around to celebrate the rest of the evening with a full glass of scotch in one hand and my camera in the other to snap whatever action I could.
James and Gloria, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so hospitable during my stay in Hong Kong. It was truly an honour to celebrate with the two of you and to capture such a beautiful day. I can’t wait to see you two again when you come back to Vancouver!