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15 November 2011 / leggypeggy

A glass of water, a tuft of grass and an armload of wedding dresses (12 photos)

When one more shot is one too many.

If there is such a thing as reincarnation and if it happens that I score a return trip, I want to come back as a wedding photographer in Vietnam.

I have no idea whether the job is well paid, but it is certainly in high demand.

I thought weddings were big business in Kazakhstan, but they’re amateurs compared to Vietnam. The enormity of it all was most evident soon after we arrived in Hanoi and went for a walk in the park beside the West Lake. It was a Wednesday, but every 10 metres or so was another couple being photographed ‘on’ their special day. By a temple, by the lake, on the grass, amongst the flowers, against a tree, on a bridge, on a park bench. Then I started seeing the same couples a second time—in different clothes, but all still in wedding get-ups. Then I started seeing these same couples changing clothes behind trees and bushes. And in every case, there was a young woman (in skin-tight pants and stilettos) mincing around somewhere with bags and armloads of bridal clothes and accessories. She and her entourage were helping the couple to choose settings and wriggle into the next outfit.

Good grief? What’s going on here? How many wedding dresses does a girl need? For that matter, how many wedding photos do a couple need?

This puzzled me for a few days and although I posed the questions to Poor John, I’m positive he didn’t think about any of them for even two seconds.

Fortunately we were booked for a two-day boat trip on Ha Long Bay and one of our travelling companions was a young Vietnamese woman—with answers.

Turns out that Vietnamese couples get their wedding photos taken as much as six months before the actual event. They hire an array of wedding clothes in a rainbow of colours and have pictures taken in as many settings as possible—especially someplace with a bit of grass or water.

Over the two weeks we had in Vietnam, I saw couples being photographed in gardens, museums, historical sites, art galleries and more. One image that will always remain in my mind’s eye is of a couple who’d had enough. It was late in the afternoon, she was in a gold number and he had a white suit. They were both exhausted. She was so over it all; lips like string and sitting vacantly on a bench while the photographer explained the next shot. The photographer didn’t get the shot, but I did.

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Leave a Comment
  1. Louise M Oliver / Nov 15 2011 7:43 am

    Peggy, these photos, like all your others are great. But why do they take photos in so many different outfits six months before their big day? Do they want to see which outfit they look best in or do they want to get the photos done in good weather in case it buckets down on their special day? I really do await with bated breath!! Oh well, perhaps I’m not really holding my breath but I am extremely curious.



    • leggypeggy / Nov 15 2011 11:14 am

      Keep holding your breath. I don’t know why—other than it’s a custom—and the Vietnamese woman couldn’t explain either.



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