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International

Two Middle-Eastern Weddings

libyan-wedding01Traditional Libyan wedding outfit

A few months ago, I was approached to photograph two very interesting weddings. Both were Middle Eastern weddings and required an all-female photography and videography team here in Kuala Lumpur. Since I love a challenge (despite not speaking Arabic) and have always been fascinated with Middle Eastern culture (I’ve read lots of biographies especially of women living in this region), I decided it would be wonderful if I could photograph these weddings! Somehow, I gained favour in the eyes of the couples, and my team was engaged to cover their events.

The first couple was from Yemen. They were originally meant to be wed in their home country, but because of the civil war that is still ongoing, they had to move their wedding to Malaysia. Up to one week before the wedding, they weren’t sure if their family could come for the wedding as the Yemen airport was closed due to unrest. Thankfully, the couple had already left Yemen by then, and were sure that at least they would be there to attend their own wedding! This couple have known each other for a few months before getting married.

yemeni-wedding03The second couple was from Libya. I really had a tough time communicating in English for this wedding but thankfully, even though I couldn’t understand their verbal language, I understood universal body language! I found out that this couple have only known each other for 2 months and that the groom worked with the bride’s father.

One common theme during the two weddings were the separation of gender during the parties. I knew that it would happen, but I never understood how it would unfold on the wedding day. Interestingly, both cultures had different standings on how strict they were on allowing men to view them unveiled. I am not sure if it was specific to these families, or it was a cultural thing. The Yemeni family I photographed was particularly strict about this, so there were two grand entrances (one with the bride only to a roomful of unveiled women), and then the bride and groom to the same room of women who covered themselves again before the groom entered the room. There was a lot of cheering, clapping and singing as the couple made their entrance. Many of the women who were at the Yemeni party specifically told us not to photograph or film them, so it felt a little strange for me to mainly focus on the couple during the wedding. Naturally, I had to respect their wishes but it was not possible to completely ignore all guests! (one lady specifically made me delete her photo from my camera when she saw that I had photographed her). I found it challenging knowing who I could photograph and who I couldn’t.

However, at the Libyan wedding, the guests kept on asking for photos (repeatedly and in many different poses)! It was quite entertaining, really! Continue Reading

Singapore & KL: Pre-Wedding of Andrew & Katrina

We went everywhere. From the beach to the garden and also the city, Andrew and Katrina’s pre-wedding shoot was as epic as their wedding. We recently completed a 3 week wedding marathon with this couple but more on that later! I’m really glad we had the opportunity to be part of this amazing wedding and got to know this really warm and friendly couple. From the start, we were treated like friends instead of vendors. It just feels as if you’ve journeyed along with long-lost friends.

It was 9 years ago that Andrew and Katrina met each other but unfortunately, they were both attached at that time. But as fate would have it, 5 years ago, they bumped into each other at a club. It was already closing time, and the lights had come on. At the corner of his eye, Andrew spotted Katrina as she was being whisked out of the club. He quickly rushed to her and grabbed her by the hand.

Katrina turned, about to land a huge punch on this creep who dared to hold her hand. But much to her delight, it was Andrew… who told her to call him the next day.

The next day came but the call never came through. On the second day, Andrew ‘poked’ her on Facebook, and Katrina called him back… somehow she couldn’t remember meeting him at the club! (Andrew claims she was really drunk).

And so a beautiful journey started as #katandrew.

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Catholic Wedding in Brunei: Ben & Michelle

“Ben is probably the most kind and caring person that I have met. He is such a softie that he often feeds strays on the roads or on our travels with our food packed in our bags and will go to great lengths to make sure they are doing ok before we leave.” – Michelle about Ben –

“Michelle is a great storyteller and always recounts her experiences in great detail to anyone who would listen! She is quite acute to people’s emotions and feelings often anticipating what they need and acting on it . She’s content with spending evenings in with a good movie or a good book and  often cries too easily during soppy parts  and hates horror movies (no zombies for her!).” – Ben about Michelle –

20150125_WEDDING_BEN_MICHELLE_01 20150125_WEDDING_BEN_MICHELLE_02Two high school sweethearts

They were quintessentially your typical high school sweethearts. Having grown up in rival schools (Michelle from Catholic school and Ben from the Chinese school next door), they grew closer through participation in church youth activities and ever since Secondary 3, Michelle has had a crush on Ben! Perhaps it was a guy thing, but Ben was totally oblivious to her feelings! :) She  always thought Ben was a pretty cool guy, with an amazing smile and very funny personality.

So for 13 long years, they went through a couple of rough patches as they dated. For 3 years, they went through a long distance relationship (UK & Australia) during their university days. The reality is that, when you date for so long, break ups are bound to happen. They went through 2 heartbreaking years of an ‘on and off’ relationship, but in 2011, felt a real renewed commitment and resurgence in their relationship with both of them working through their individual issues and ultimately coming back together to bring out the best in each other.

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Pre-Wedding in Santorini: Terence & Sarah

As a photographer, I am always touched that couples would willingly display public forms of affection in front of my camera lens. It’s not an easy thing to do… following directions and at the same time, being engrossed in ‘the moment’. And when the photographer is your sister-in-law, it can either be a good or awkward. But Sarah and Terence rocked the session, and were totally easy to photograph.

If you have been following this blog, you’d know that a few days before this shoot, it was raining in Santorini. The weather was 8 degrees Celcius and strong winds threatened to ‘blow’ us off the cliffs. But thank God the clouds parted and we had a sunny day for Terence and Sarah’s session. (though her jacket was always within reach in between shots!)

Terence and Sarah have known each other for years now, since uni days, when they were young adults exploring life in Australia. Their journey began in 2004, and now, 11 years later, they are registered. Thank you, T&S for being such awesome family members. I’m glad we could share memories like these, including lugging our bags up and down stairs in the rain, exploring different restaurants and lying on the black beach. Love both of you very much. Looking forward to the Bali wedding later on!

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Wedding of John & Hazel at St Irini Chapel, Santorini

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Santorini… the gorgeous island that has captured the hearts of many all over the world. There is something about the sea, cliffs and amazing sunset that makes us feel as if this is the place for romance. I was really thrilled to be invited to John and Hazel’s wedding in Santorini last month (by default since my husband Alex was invited!), but in the weeks leading up to the wedding, suddenly, I wasn’t just a guest anymore… I was their photographer! And then suddenly, Alex was also appointed as the ‘pastor’ and ‘celebrant’ (though the official Greek celebrant was present too).

That was the start of our Santorini adventure.

John and Hazel wanted an intimate wedding, with just 11 guests (including us!). When we arrived the day before the wedding, it was really windy and cold. Apparently, winter had not left this beautiful island, and most of the locals were also complaining about the weather. It rained on the wedding day (with no contingency plan), so we prayed really hard that the rain would stop…which it did! I applaud Hazel for braving the elements in her strapless gown… it was absolutely freezing that day! (I had 4 layers of clothing on, one of which included a leather jacket).

Naturally, the breathtaking view of the Caldera and the Aegean sea from the Santa Irini Chapel trumped the cold weather we had to endure.

I truly enjoyed this wedding for so many reasons, but most of all, it was a meaningful ceremony filled with love. You could see it in their eyes. The family and guests who were there truly loved John and Hazel. There were many things that happened that day (rain, flat tyre on the way to the chapel, Hazel almost falling flat on her face as she walked down the aisle) but they took it in stride. Everyone had fun, and it was a beautiful day.

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