Tag Archives: engagement pictures

Engagement Photos from Nanjing to Inner Mongolia *FINALLY*

Hello my dears,

very sorry for my prolonged absence, which I cannot excuse. All I have to say for myself is that I have busy with a couple of other projects, but more on that in the next post. In the meantime, Jocelyn’s recent post on WWAM BAM!, which collected some amazing wedding and engagement photos inspired me to set up this long, long overdue post – a best of of the engagement pictures we took in May and August 2015. We basically had two photo sessions, one in Nanjing which had been extensively researched and which I have also written about at length, and a second spontaneous one in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia just three days before our Chinese wedding. So without much ado, here are the pictures, and some tidbits about the shoots, hope you enjoy them!

Round 1: Western Glam and Old Shanghai in Nanjing

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After weeks of research, I decided to book the engagement picture shoot in Nanjing, rather than Beijing, since we would get double the value for half the price. We started at 8am and finished around 6pm, had 7 different sets of clothes and 14 locations – 2 per each costume – 300 pictures taken, half of those retouched, 3 print-out photo albums and more framed pictures and nicknacks than we knew what do with; and all of this for merely 3200 RMB from Bazaar Photography.

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It’s not so obvious in this pic, but my makeup artist/hairdresser was an absolute genius with a brush and comb, she is the only person who has ever managed this elegant hairdo, and I have tried to get it replicated twice – no one else can do it.

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We had two Chinese-style costumes and five Western ones, which was a bit of a shame, because the Hanfu set and the Old Shanghai ones are definitely the highlight of the Nanjing bunch. The picture used in Jocelyn’s group post is probably my favourite out of all of them.

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The indoor pictures were taken at the company’s photography villa – a massive two story mansion that has around 20 to 30 different indoor sets, all of which have varied themes. Street cafe, library, church – you name it, they’ve replicated it in small scale in this human-sized dollhouse.

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This is the masterpiece and the reason I chose to stick with Nanjing rather than the Northern capital. I love old Shanghai style and had seen some stunningly beautiful pictures online of brides-to-be in their Qipaos, with 1930s themed locations that just oozed elegance, history and a mix of Chinese and Western culture – so us, no? Looking at some of the wedding photography in Beijing, I did get the feeling that my Chinese friends’ repeated warning that Northerners can’t do a “Southern style” like Old Shanghai seemed to have at least an ounce of truth to it, as they struggled to make it look as glamorous. This hairdo was another one that no one has been able to replicate in that fashion.

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Our outdoor shots were taken in Lvbo Yuan, the botanical gardens in Nanjing right next to the Yangtze river. It’s definitely a fave for engagement shoots, as I spotted ten to twenty couples just in our immediate vicinity.

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This beauty is the only dress I brought that belonged to me – bring your own also an option in case you’re wondering – and it’s a German dirndl, a nod to my Germanic heritage. Part of this set of pictures was taken in front of the Dutch windmill in Lvbo Yuan, the one sponsored by Eindhoven, so it has a really fun feel to it. But this is probably one of the very few photos that we freestyled – a lot of the shoot was posing very gracefully and glamorously, which was fun but also not really us. So in this final shoot we decided to mess about a bit instead.

Round 2 – Inner Mongolian Grasslands…well, kinda…

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After we showed our engagement pictures to my MIL, she then said we should have done some Mongolian style ones. She didn’t have to tell me that twice! For this shoot, we rented the outfits from a genuine Mongolian dress shop and so they were much more high quality than the slightly tatty ones in Nanjing. Big thanks to my MIL, whose wedding treat this was.

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Absolutely adored the colour of this dress and the pearls used as head decoration, still one of my favourite outfits to this day.

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And then we got a horse…as you do. Feeling so Mongolian princess 😉

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In the background is the Mongolian yurt in which I got to change my outfits while repeatedly banging my head on the beams. It was a new sensation, I’m 1.55m tall, I don’t hit beams often.  This is finally the matching dress to fit Mr Li’s outfit, the poor man didn’t get to change his clothes once (for which he is probably grateful at heart). Oh and btw, we weren’t actually out in the grasslands but rather a patch of grass that belonged to the photo studio.

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And now for the final reveal – my parents joined the fun and so did my MIL. We had such a good time together, it was the best day! I think all of us make fabulous Mongolians, don’t you? Especially my dad. Watch out Genghis Khan, you have competition!

Where did you take your engagement pics? Did you dress up in local costumes?

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Act 2: Shipping in China – Do you want that delivered in one piece?

This is a continuation of “A Logistical Nightmare in Three Acts”.

Meanwhile, this side of the globe I having to deal with Kuaidis and Wulius has almost caused my head to explode. The quest was to send the largest of the wedding pictures, 1.2m X 0.6m and thereby almost as tall as myself, to Hohhot, as a present for MIL and in preparation of the wedding, since it is customary for the the most massive wedding pictures to go up on the wall in the home of the couple. In our case, it is rather Mr.Li’s mother’s home, since we do not live in Hohhot.

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Now, Kuaidis and Wulius might have you thinking “What the heck?”, so let me back up. Kuaidi is the general term in China for delivery guys (快递 meaning speedy delivery). You might say a lot about China but the delivery network is fabulous for the most part. That is of course, if you are not sending anything remotely valuable. They deliver documents and the like with the blink of an eye and quite contrary to the Chinese post rarely lose anything. What’s more, it is stinking cheap to use delivery services. However, with that come a few obstacles. The cheap fees equals low wages equals terrible attitudes. So it can happen that a Kuaidi will say your package has been delivered and sign for it themselves, just because it is 4.30 and they can’t be bothered to walk up that flight of stairs to your flat, and it is not until you call him and raise hell that the package will be delivered (true story!). What it also means is, when you try to send a wedding picture they will reply with “oh well, the size is not the problem but it will almost certainly break during the delivery process, so no, we won’t take this package and deliver it to Hohhot.” Naturally, the operator on the phone said something completely different, so it is not until the guy shows up to pick up the package that he informs you of the impossibility to grant your wish.

Onto Plan B, the Wuliu, or logistics company. Once again I found myself facing the oh-so-familiar feeling of being told information by customer service only to find that most of the information was rather inaccurate upon the arrival of the people handling the goods.

After a detailed breakdown of the costs had been given over the phone, we estimated that with packaging, extra padding, doorstep-delivery and the whole shenanigans, the package would cost about 200 RMB to be delivered to Hohhot (this also depends on the location inside the city; if it is the suburbs there is another extra charge).

As I should probably have anticipated, but as usual failed to mentally prepare for, a couple of young men working for the logistics company came by to pick up the package and informed us that they “doubt that this could be sent for 200 RMB”. See, this is what always happens, you are given wrong or only partial information and then people from another department give you other half-truths until you are so confused you do not know which way is up. Now, if the actual price was in the range of 250 RMB then fine, but how can I have this company pick up the picture and then in the end send me a bill of around 400 RMB?! After I angrily shouted this at the poor pick-up guys (my temper is rather short strung these days, I wonder why), their helpful reply was “actually, we have no clue since this is not our department.” Oh, the classic “not my department, not my responsibility” mentality, you have got to love it. The thing that blows my mind is why they then felt the need to comment in the first place, if in actual fact they have no bloody clue. Maybe just to seem knowledgable, or out of a desire to make one’s life miserable and add to one’s worries. We shall never know.

In the end, I decided to risk it. After all, there was not really any other option than having them take the package. How else was I going to get that giant of a picture to Hohhot, I could hardly take it on a flight with me, I’d have to buy it an extra ticket! The end result was that the picture was successfully delivered, however MIL decided that we can’t use this picture since we are looking at each other rather than facing the camera and apparently that is a no-go in the world of wedding pictures. Which means that she will not actually be using this picture but instead get two new ones printed and I could have saved myself the worry and the money in the first place. As it stands, I am still waiting for the bill; I am sure that’s another heart attack waiting to happen.

The Wedding Photos – Larger than Life

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So, finally the wedding photography company completely finished editing and printing out our photos. Hip. hip, hurray. My favourite part of this entire wedding is of course the tradition to get professional and nauseatingly kitshy/glamorous engagement pictures taken and then have them printed out in inconveniently large sizes for your in-laws and yourselves to hang aaaall over the place – seen as we are not vain enough as it is.

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Now, I have to admit, I did not quite realise what I was signing up for when I decided it was the smartest logistical and financial choice to get the pictures taken in Nanjing. Thanks to my generous boss, who brought his car for the pick up, we were able to get the pictures to the office. If it had not been for him, there would have been no way I would have managed to get those humungous pictures back to the city centre. I mean, one of them is actually almost as tall as I am. No kidding!

Though, before going on about what to do with the scarily-sized images I have no idea how to shift, I have to say a MAJOR thumbs up to our wedding photography company. As I mentioned in a previous post, I found them via Dianping, what a lifesaver, and the deal they offered was really top-notch. 3700 RMB for minimum 250 photos, 130 photoshopped, seven different outfits, a qipao or wedding dress chucked in for good measure, three photo albums, three really large framed photos and countless smaller ones, really good photography skills and an incredibly talented and lovely make-up/hair stylist. If you ever find yourself in need in Nanjing, Bazaar Wedding Photography (芭莎摄影会馆), in Jiangning district, New Metro Shopping Mall; I can whole-heartedly recommend their services.

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Now, I am really at a loss as to what to do with all the photos I have now, especially the super large ones. They do not fit in a suitcase and even if they did, what with my five wedding dresses and all the other stuff I will have to drag up to Inner Mongolia in August, there will hardly be enough space. I am probably just going to have to send them per messenger, always assuming that they will actually get there. When Mr Li comes round to visit me here in July, I might try and offload as many of the pictures as possible on him, the poor guy.

So, yes, I guess I did not think that through too much, whoopsee. Wish me luck in finding a permanent home for them; my 40 m2 studio flat would just be ever so slightly overwhelmed if I just kept them there, and more importantly I might be moving soon-ish.

The good news is that Mr Li was stunned by the results of the shoot and I got to spend about half an hour listening to him scrolling through the pictures on his phone and telling me I look stunning or amazing. I’m just lapping it up right now, who knows when I will get to hear such lovely things again!

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