A Beautiful Southeast Asian Union: Gail and Lawlun

I shot Gail and Lawlun’s engagement photos last September, so when their big day finally arrived I was excited to document this life-changing event. I love it when a couple is just so perfectly matched that it shows up in their eyes and their body language. Everyone in their families and in the entourage could feel this loving energy and when this happens… the photos just sing to me!

There were so many adorable Asian details before and after the ceremony. I’ve talked about the Filipino money dance before, but I’ve never mentioned the meaning of some of the traditional symbols used in many weddings in the Philippines. Couples usually light a unity candle together, to signify the merging of their families. Later on, a white veil and a cord is wrapped around their shoulders as a symbol of the unbreakable bond of marriage.

Lastly, the bride receives an arrhae—gold or silver coins presented in a beautiful box—from her groom. While some people insist that this final symbol traces back to when women had a bride-price (yikes!) I refuse to believe this. I’m a romantic so I think it represents the future prosperity of the couple.

Lawlun’s pride in his Chinese heritage was represented with a lovely tea ceremony right before the reception. Lawlun and Gail knelt in front of his parents and the other senior members of the family and offered tea. After each cup was drained, gifts of jewelry and lucky envelopes were bestowed on the newlyweds.

Talking about these traditions make it seem that the wedding was oh-so-serious, but really, that’s not the case! The entire day was filled with laughter and fun. One of my favorite shots was of the little girl who caught the bouquet. She had real catching chops. And I could not help but grin whenever the bridesmaids kept photo-bombing shots whenever they could.

I’m really pleased with how my photos came out and I hope Gail and Lawlun will love them too.

The filipino tradition of exchanging coins, the placing of the veil and cord was honoured during Gail and Lawlun’s church ceremony.

I love doing getting ready shots but try very much to avoid the usual cliches. This spontaneous one of Gail in her Monique Lhullier gown, surrounded by her best friend and favorite cousin, made me especially sentimental though. Traditional bridal photos will never grow old.  I imagine Gail looking at this photo 40 years from now and it seem timeless.

And then again, here’s Gail in a spontaneous giggle. It’s so her.

We dropped by the Japanese Tea Garden in San Mateo Central Garden. The lighting gods were with us that day. 

A quick diversion before the reception had us do the traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony. Here’s the couple paying tribute to Gail’s parents.

The adorable photo booth was designed by Lawlun’s personal friend. DIY at it’s finest!

A perfect closed-eyes moment during their first dance.

Lawlun made his traditional family-introduction speech, with the aid of a translator for the Chinese-speaking guests. I sense something was lost in translation, judging from the laughter of the guests. I love the diversity of cultures in weddings like these. It gives me more reason to be thankful I live in the Bay Area!

What do you think I am? Made of money?

Keep your eyes on that little girl! She’s vicious!

Gail’s dad, living it up.

Say queso!

Gail and Lawlun insisted we take this photo and I’m glad they did. To the right of the photo is my friend-associate photographer-right arm Kinsley Wong. I always forget to take a photo with the bride and groom and I am thinking from now onwards, I should. Even for a day, I become part of their circle of family and friends. And I feel tremendously blessed to be included.


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