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Hokkaido Pre-wedding Blog, Part 1 – Our Perspective on Destination Pre-weddings

In April this year, we explored Hokkaido with BeyondPictures, together with Asher and Ruth. In this two-part series, we will be sharing our philosophy on Destination Pre-weddings and also a bit of the journey with these two lovebirds. Teresa is part of the team from BeyondPictures, who also played a pivotal role in the conceptualization of the Pre-wedding shoot for Asher and Ruth.


During the pre-trip discussion a concern that came up was the season – early April isn’t considered prime time for Hokkaido travel. Could we still come back with beautiful photos and footage?

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is a question.

What’s the most important part of your destination pre-wedding?

All of us came to a similar conclusion, Asher having helped BeyondPictures in our early days and Ryan having accompanied us on many local and overseas shoots. Our answer came pretty quickly. We share a sentiment, or a philosophy, if you will, that has guided the way we shoot from day one. I want to finally write this down because I believe that this can extend beyond the creative space and benefit your pre-wedding experience.

What is it that couples should take away from their destination pre-wedding shoot? Perhaps a set of gorgeous photos or videos, shot in a far-away place against breathtaking backdrops. A hope that your love will be as immaculate and as immortal as the images you bring home. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We’re not saying that’s not important, because it is. But we think something else takes first place.

We hope that the images we bring to you will still mean something ten years later. Twenty years later. Thirty. We want these pictures to show who you are, what you love doing, and we want you to have fun making them. Asher didn’t want familiar shots of cherry blossoms in full bloom; he wanted snow and the Blue Pond at Biei. We went with that. We shouldn’t always need iconic places to make iconic memories, because what matters is the journey. We want our couples to be in the presence of friends rather than photographers, and to genuinely enjoy the process of creating their albums and films. I guess you can say we hope to make memories, not pictures. Great pictures are just symbols of memories well made.

Hokkaido Destination Prewedding - Snow

Half an hour away from Sapporo, the city of Otaru bustles with activity. Our second day of the Hokkaido pre-wedding shoot was looking up. A warm, pale sunshine thawed out the arresting chill of the day before. Ruth and Asher had never been to Hokkaido, and had never worn a kimono or yukata before. We knew they would be up for some fun, so we had them put on the traditional costumes before taking a tour of the city. It was an unhurried affair; part shoot, part sightseeing. Otaru flourished during the rise of Western influence in Japan, and its architecture presents a unique blend of Kyoto-esque timberwork and colonial masonry. Few places can make you feel as though you are caught between two worlds at once.

After a while we could feel the pair brimming with unspent energy. Perhaps simply walking was too mild of an activity for them. We asked them about it, and they raised the idea of dancing through the city. Dance they did.

Asher and Ruth gambolled through streets lined with traditional shophouses and little family stores, attracting curious eyes of tourists and locals alike. The ambience of the shoot had suddenly changed. Instead of taking in their surroundings they were now in a world of their own, the centre of attention, a parade of two. We had as much fun shooting them as they did dancing.

It was when they started to become playful that we felt our shots finally match the vibrancy of their personalities.

Hokkaido Destination Prewedding - Kimono
Hokkaido Destination Prewedding - Dance

This wouldn’t have worked with a more mellow couple. We couldn’t force people like that to frolic down avenues and put on clothes they wouldn’t feel comfortable sporting. We would have suggested to shoot in a more relaxed environment, like a cafe. The style should match the people, not the people to the style. When couples share their videos and photos with others, the last thing we want them to hear is “Wow, that doesn’t look like you at all.”

How do you capture the essence of someone’s romance in such a short time? I’ll be honest. It’s not a straightforward answer. Our whole creative process is built around getting to know the couple first. We insist that constant communication is a necessity. Sometimes preferences and personalities come right out during the planning phase. Sometimes they’re alluded to in seemingly irrelevant conversation. Sometimes we only get to understand something when we are on shoot. That’s why we always suggest stretching out the itinerary a bit; this way we have more time to bond with the couple, and we also want the trip to feel like a holiday rather than a mad scramble for shots. And who doesn’t love a longer holiday?