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Wedding Do’s & Don’ts (as told by Grace Tan)

Some time back, Abirami Durai, a writer for Faces magazine contacted me. She asked me if I was keen on contributing some tips for couples who are about to get married and if they could feature my wedding in the magazine. The first thought that came to me was… “My wedding? That was 5 years ago!”

I said yes.

I don’t claim to be a wedding expert. I can only share from my experiences – whether it was from planning my own wedding or from going through many weddings as a photographer. (by the way, the article said I’ve photographed hundreds of weddings… just to let you know that the numbers are more modest than that, maybe a hundred plus?).

If you are interested in getting a copy of this magazine, you can buy it from any normal bookstore. It’s the July / August 2011 issue.

Do let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment here and maybe you can share some tips of yours as well.

There isn’t any photographer credit mentioned for my wedding images featured below. I’d like to thank to Andy Lim, Joseph Siew and Yean Tai for these photos here!

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Photographing Large Groups

At weddings, it’s normal for the couple to request for group photographs. Most times, the group size ranges from 5-20 people. However, if you are like Ben and Angela here, you might request for ALL your guests to be in the same image. While it’s a cool idea, there are some challenges a photographer faces when shooting such a large group. How do you even organize the people? How do you see everyone in one image? How do you even light everyone properly, especially if it’s an indoor venue?

Unless you have a huge, multi step platform with about 15 steps that can comfortably fit 10 people per row without one person blocking another, there’s no way to properly achieve this shot.

Tip: So, if you plan to do a large group image like this (anything beyond 50 people)… please make sure there is a way for the photographer to be elevated above the guests.

I wish I had a behind the scenes shot to show you how we achieved this shot. The photo was taken at Zion Lutheran Church in Brickfields, and it didn’t have a 2nd floor where I could be elevated. So Ben organized a tall ladder for me, Johan placed 3 speedlights behind me and held the ladder steady while I climbed it to get this shot.

Ideally I would have liked to see everyone’s faces better without any distortion, but given the space constraints, I could not use any other lens other than a wide angle lens.

Having said that, I am quite happy with the results and I think it’s a pretty cool and unique group photo!

So, it is possible to take large group shots and also make it interesting. Hope that helps! Over time, I hope to share more tips on planning for your wedding, especially from a photographer’s point of view.

Why shoot a pre-wedding?

Some couples tell me that they are into candid shots and don’t really want to do a pre-wedding shoot. All they want are candid shots that show how people are having a great time in their wedding. While that is absolutely important, I do think that it’s equally important to shoot pre-wedding photos. Or post-wedding. Or set aside time on your wedding day, (if only for an hour!) for portraits.

Ok, I am not trying to sell you more of my services (though of course, I’d LOVE to shoot more pre-weddings!).

What’s my reasoning for portraits? Well, how often in your life, have you done a professional photo shoot? And what’s the best time for that than your wedding… when you have most probably slaved at the gym for months to be in your best shape, gone for beauty treatments and spent a thousand dollars or more on your gorgeous gown?

To be honest, I never had a pre-wedding shoot for my wedding, but I set aside some time on the wedding day for portraits. I did realize though that I was constantly chasing after time, (hurry, we gotta get from my house to your parent’s place, or we gotta head to the hotel like NOW!!). On hindsight, I think I would have enjoyed a pre-wedding shoot, done on another day, at a more leisurely pace. Sometimes, I still have crazy ideas like donning my wedding gown (which I haven’t tried on for 4 years, but still hangs in my cupboard, or is in a box?) and doing a post-wedding shoot!

Some of my clients come up with absolutely creative ideas for their pre-wedding shoot, and I love that. I think the first thing that people think of when wanting to shoot a pre-wedding is the question, “Where should we go?”. So here are some tips for brides and grooms who are planning on getting a pre-wedding shoot done.

1. What is your personality like?

Are you a bubbly person, an extrovert who loves to laugh a lot and chat nineteen to the dozen, or are you an introvert who prefers to sit with your books and enjoy quiet moments with just yourself and your hubby? Are you a hopeless romantic at heart? Your photos should reflect your personality. So if you’re a quirky, non-conforming kind of person, the type of location you choose would reflect that.

Simple and glamourous

Dramatic and moody


Just love to have fun!

Simple contentment

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Wedding Ideas

Where does a would-be bride go to for some good recommendations on vendors and wedding ideas? Overseas, there are heaps of wedding portals to visit for ideas, but when it comes to finding vendors who would actually make those cute-little-couple-kissing-salt&pepper-shaker wedding favours you’ve been eyeing in Malaysia, it’s hard to find. Here are two recommendations for Wedding portals that you should definitely check out (click on the logo to visit their site). Of course, Stories by Integricity Visuals is in their directory listing! :)

The directory listing in Weddings Malaysia encompasses every aspect of a wedding. From cake vendors, make up artists, where to go to for a spa, decorations, even finding a Master of Ceremony… you can find it under one ‘roof’ or rather, under one website in Weddings Malaysia. The person behind Weddings Malaysia, Kris Wong, is also the man who spearheads That Special Occasion, a boutique that churns out beautiful wedding gowns.

Wedding Guide Asia was started by Stephanie Chai, who decided that hip Malaysian brides needed a space to find good, trustworthy advice and ideas for her wedding. Wedding Guide Asia is a wedding portal catered for the Asian bride who wants something a little more stylish and unique for her wedding. You can find articles ranging from fashion to planning to honeymoons.

Sometime soon, I will be blogging a little about my wedding 4 years ago, and how some ideas started. Alex and I went all out in getting our wedding favours from Bangkok Thailand, and assisted the help of our maids and family members in preparing it! And we partially handmade our wedding invites – all 1000 of it. Yup, we had 3 wedding receptions and there were about 1000 people to invite! Now that I look back at it, it was a crazy decision to do it, but we had fun in the process. I am glad that Alex is the kind of man who is interested in the wedding planning process! But more on that in another post!