While winter is often a slower season for photographing weddings, statistics show that many couples get engaged and are planning their weddings during this season. This winter, we had the honor of being featured on NBC’s “Asian Pacific American with Robert Handa” where he interviewed us, along with Kren Rasmussem of Bloomsters and Jin Wang of Jin Wang Bridal Atelier – wedding vendors with expertise in Asian American weddings.
Over the years, we’ve had the honor of shooting a variety of Asian American weddings, including a variety of beautiful ethnic traditions. Here are just a couple of highlights of our work over the years:
Korean Tea Ceremony, often known as Paebaek, is a wedding ritual where the groom’s family formally accepts the bride into their home. The bride wears a traditional dress or hanbok while the red dots are placed with stickers on the bride’s cheek to symbolize youth and beauty. The bride and groom serve tea to each set of parents and relatives after they bow. Afterwards, the parents and relatives offer words of wisdom and blessings to the couple. In the scene above, the parents threw dates and chestnuts while the bride and groom attempted to catch them with bride’s apron. The number of dates and chestnuts caught represents the number of boys and girls they will bear. Finally, as a public display of his strength, the groom will carry his new bride on his back around the table.
In an Indian wedding ceremony, the arrival of the groom is an important and fun-filled event. The groom, dressed in his wedding attire, often rides on a horse or elephant accompanied by his family members, relatives, and friends in a big procession with music, orchestra, and dance.
Hindu wedding ceremony is the telling of a romantic love story. The bride and groom come to the Mandap separately as if unknown to each other. They fall in love and ask the parents for permission to get married while the meanings and obligations of marriage are explained to the young couple. During the various rituals, the couple commits to remain faithful to each other and repeat the pledge in front of Agni, the Fire God, and all others to witness. They take steps around the fire to commit the wedding vows to each other and their future lives together.
The acrobatic lion dancers jumping and twirling to the thumping drums and cymbal is always a highlight in a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony. The custom is meant to invite good fortune into the couple’s lives and build a long and prosperous future together.
Tea ceremony is the quintessential Chinese wedding tradition where the time-honored exchange was created to show respect to the family. Tea is served by the bride and groom to the parents, grand parents, and relatives. After each elder takes a sip, they hand the couple a red envelope containing either money or jewelry.
In most Asian wedding traditions, gift exchange is an essential part of the ceremony.
Finally, on a more whimsical note, groom and groomsmen are often put through a series of challenges known as pick up the bride games –or- wedding door games when they meet the bride for the first time on the wedding day. In the past, the groom would simply give out red envelopes to get past all the hurdles. Today, these games are often funny, witty, and physically-challenging. The games can sometimes be silly and embarrassing, but it is also a testament to the camaraderie between the groom and groomsmen – their willingness to do anything for the groom to pass these challenges.