Why engagement photography popular amongst Asians?

I get asked this question ALOT! And I guess it’s not surprising. A lot of my couples are Asian (aka Orientals if you’re from the UK) and they seem to be the ones most open to it. They appreciate engagement photography and are also willing to budget for it. Why you ask? … I think it comes down to 2 things …

1. We were brought up to appreciate and value photography

I don’t mean this in the “I-appreciate-creative-photogarphy” kind of way. I mean it in a practical way. In that we generally grew up with our parents wanting lots of family portraits. They would get these cheesy photos done, get the blown up and have them hanging up all over the wall. If you went into my grandparents house in Vietnam, the living room wall is filled with family portraits where no one is allowed to smile (the older generation like to not smile in family portraits and I have no idea why!).

And every time I went to Vietnam, when I was 13, 16, 21 etc- … each time I went back I was asked by my mother if I wanted my portraits done (I guess she figured it was cheaper there). But overall there is a really high value and emphasis on getting your photos done. Paying for it and sharing the images with your family.

So what I’m saying is, our family (and extended family) expect us to get really nice professional photo taken and when it comes to a special occasion like a wedding or engagement – this gets amplified x 1000!

2. Often Asian Weddings are more about the family and less about the couple

This isn’t true for every Asian / Oriental couple. But it’s definitely true for some. I use to think it was quite sad and I remember thinking I never want to have an Asian wedding (my brother had 500 people at his wedding!). But as I’ve grown older I’ve realised how important it is for “Asians-oldies” to celebrate this momentous occasion with their friends.

(i) Asian weddings are more like “village-celebrations”
When my brother got married, I was asked how many ‘tables I wanted’ for my guests. I ended up having a table of 10 and my sister had 2 tables! It was totally normal for me to spend most of the evening reception celebrating with my friends, my dad celebrating with his friends, my sister celebrating with her friends etc-. (sounds strange I know!) – but basically it’s like a village celebration! My dad’s friends are happy for him. My mum’s friends are happy for her. And they all want to celebrate with each other.

And if your parents are active in the community (ie. church) this pretty much means everyone at church also needs to be invited because everyone in church saw you grow up and everyone feels like they know you!

(ii) Following Tradition, Culture & Religious Rituals
The older Asian generation are also highly superstitious. You need to get married on an auspicious date, at an auspicious time and the number of rituals are truly endless (note: every aunty has a different variation to each ritual which makes it increasingly annoying!). And although it’s really nuts I do see the beauty in following certain rituals.

In the tea ceremony, my mother and father would have had to pour tea for my grandparents and ask their blessing when they got married … and I can definitely see why it would be important and beautiful for me to undergo the same ritual with my parents.

(iii) Compromising from the heart …
The point I am trying to make is, modern day Asian / Oriental couples and brides spend a large chunk of their wedding planning balancing tradition and religion against what they want in their hearts. At first they may want a modern day contemporary or vintage backyard wedding … but when it comes down to it, what’s deep in their heart is making sure their parents are happy on their wedding day.

So there are compromises that are made. Not in angry way, but more because they know how important certain things mean to their parents and grandparents. Some traditions are adhered to and some, thrown out the window due to practicality. But overall culture/ ritual/ religion are all weaved through the wedding day.

Why engagement photography is like a refreshing utopia
Overall, many Asians / Orientals they have these amazing beautiful weddings fused with tradition and culture. But because of all the rituals and tight schedule, they may not have had time to do all the things they may have wanted to do. So an engagement shoot is a really nice way for them to block out all the external noise. It’s a day where everything they do is about them and their relationship. There are no rituals to consider, no parents to think about, no regions that can be offended, no compromises that need to be made. They can be themselves and do whatever they want. And for them that is an exciting breath of fresh air!

And on that note, I’m off to a traditional Chinese wedding today! (can’t wait for the yummy food LOL!) I hope this post have given you some input on why Asians / Orientals love engagement photography.

If you’re Asian / Oriental and would like to add anything to the reasons above, please comment below : ) I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you’re not Asian / Oriental and have any thoughts, let me know also : ) It’s always interesting to hear what others think : )

Photography by Darren Wong

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