Engagement photos-Taiwan style

Part of my trip to Taiwan included getting our engagement photos done. Now, this isn’t your run of the mill western photoshoots where you simply pick a photographer you like and take pictures in a nice place with a theme of our choice. These are all out all-inclusive packages where you choose dresses from their wardrobe, get your hair and make up down and drive to a location designed for these photos. Altogether, we spent 2 days in the studio and one on location.

These photos are a staple of Chinese weddings. It’s a part of typical Chinese wedding planning to get these extra special photos taken to show at the reception and to have for the home. Brides get dolled up, grooms get suited up, and special backgrounds. There really is so equivalent of is in the Western world. I would say this is uniquely Chinese. Taiwan would be the capital of engagement photos, with people from around the world coming to it just for these photos.

Step 1: Pick a studio
We’re very fortunate that YC’s sister helped us out. Each studio has a website that showcase their packages and the special locations they offer. If you can’t read Chinese, you will need to know someone who does, to help you navigate the websites. After narrowing a few studios down for us, we chose JoJo Fairytale Weddings.

Step 2: Pick your dresses
After making an appointment for the shoot, you have to go to the studio at most a few days before to choose the outfits you will wear for the shoot. The package we chose allowed the girl to pick 5 dresses and the guy to pick 2 suits. I thought it was terribly unfair that the guy only got 2 suits. The studio has a large collection of dresses that are modified for the day of the shoot. They are basically all very large dresses that are then taken in or out, depending on the size of the bride. If you’re a germaphobe, you may not want to wear dresses that dozens of other girls have worn and spent a day in.

Another thing about the dresses that I found very odd was that they were all outfited with fabric cones at the bust to create a fuller top. Every dress I tried on had these. As I am already quite well-endowed, I had to ask them to take them all out. According to the girl that was assisting us, almost all the girls that have come through their studio want those cones. Apparently, fake boobs “look better”. *shrugs* As YuChun says, “This is Taiwan”.

Step 3: Pick his suits
JoJo had a deal with a nearby suit store to rent suits so we walked a couple of blocks to get there. All the men there were very well dressed and I very much enjoyed watching my fiance go through what I just went through. Which is strangers touching your junk. We tried on all sorts of suits and finally settled on one that fit well but was a little more restrictive. Unlike the girls dresses, no alterations were to be made with these suits so we had to settle for fit or comfort and since this is for a photo shoot, we chose fit. Again, so unfair.

It was a little difficult to find him the right fit because he has wide shoulders, slim waist, larger thighs, and is tall. The consultant asked him if he was an athlete because he had an athlete’s body. I think he was hitting on my fiance. Which is totally cool in my books

Step 4: Photo shoot day- Hair and make-up
You usually get fitted for your outfits a couple of days or a week ahead of time, but that was something we didn’t have so our photo shoot was 2 days after the fittings. You show up at the studio early in the day to get your hair and make-up done. Showing up early is important if you chose a studio that goes to outside locations because you want to take advantage of the daylight. Our location was also a little over an hour’s drive away so the whole day felt very rushed.

When we got there at 8am as we were told, they weren’t open yet… We stood there not knowing what to do and who to call. Someone showed up 10 minutes later to open the studio. She turned out to be the make-up artist and hairdresser. Immediately, I was put into a chair where she started crimping my hair which I found to be completely unnecessary but chose to trust her. She then placed large curlers in my hair and moved onto make-up.

There was a bit of a debacle when it came to make-up. I think our language barrier might have made it worse. Before we started, I told her I had sensitive skin, so I brought my own primer to use. She understood the first part, but I didn’t know how to tell her what a “primer” is. She then told me that she had something for sensitive skin that is applied before make-up (a primer) and I told her that what I had was what she was talking about. But then she insisted on us using hers instead of mine because hers was better? YuChun heard all this and came over to check up on us. He tried to explain to her that I brought my own primer. But she was very insistent on us using hers. Then we had an “ahah” moment. YuChun asked her if she was going to charge us extra for her primer. She said yes. At that point, I was pretty ticked that she argued with me about using my own primer when she didn’t even tell me she was going to charge me for it. We finally get our points across and the make-up begins.

YuChun helped me explain to her that I wanted to look natural and didn’t want a lot of make-up. Point being, I wanted to look like me. She asked if I still wanted falsies and I agreed to that. With my glasses off, I wasn’t able to really see what was going on. After she put on the first set of false eyelashes…she began to put on a second pair. I think I was too tired to notice. 2 pairs of eyelashes is “natural”? She told me all the girls that go to her studio do AT LEAST that. She was put off when I told her I didn’t want a lot of make-up.

Alas, all that was for nothing because after all that powder, I didn’t recognize myself. I took a good look in the mirror afterwards and COULD NOT tell you who was looking back at me. It kind of scared me that I looked so different. I took some photos and posted on Facebook. My own MOTHER didn’t recognize me. These photo shoots are not about looking like yourself. It’s about being someone else for a day. Someone else getting married.

After all that froofiness, we chose a hairstyle and some accessories to go with my 1st dress, took some family photos, and headed up into the mountains where the sets were.

Here are pictures from the day of the shoot.

In the taxi on way there…
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Opening up 10 mins late
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It’s dark because they hadn’t turned on the lights yet.
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Getting my hair crimped.
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Then curled.
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Look at how heavy that one eyelid is!
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Can you still see me?
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“Natural” look
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The family arrives and Andrew’s gussied up.
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yuki

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