Immortalizing International Love through Photographs-An Engagement Pictorial (1 of 2)
It’s wedding season for my age bracket! Lately when I’m on social media networks, I’ve been seeing my comrades getting engaged, marrying, and having babies. Love is in the online air!
It’s amazing what modern-day communication affords us. I can truly attest to this. My mind is blown because of how with one click, I am able to talk to old friends I haven’t even touched base with for a while… people I would otherwise only see again in the pages of old yearbooks, class pictures or night-out photographs of years past.
I remember frolicking under the sun with as kids with some of these old friends. Others were high school girl friends that I used to share colognes and crushes with. The rest were either colleagues from previous workplaces or someone I knew through somebody. Now in our mid-twenties, discussing wedding plans with them after several years of inconsistent communication is both unexpected and refreshing.
“We are at this stage, huh!?” we would comment to each other. Yes – it seems like we are not getting any younger.
On the subject of weddings, it is usual for brides-to-be to share and compare wedding plans with each other. Crucial topics such as the ceremony venue, reception, cake and catering services, florists, and for some, preferred officiating ministers or priests are thoroughly discussed. Then they fuss about invitation printers, save- the- date ideas, table cards, giveaways, and of course the entourage’s outfits and the bridal couture! Ah, and the wedding dress!
To my dearest grooms – keep in mind that holding everything together is difficult enough for the bride to do even with her bridesmaids in assistance…and for an occasion as big as this, the ladies always put their best foot forward so that absolutely nothing goes wrong and everything is perfect come the big day. Minor glitches are not even tolerated. Women plan for and organize their weddings like a platoon strategizes before battle. It’s do or die. But in terms of wedding planning, women are even more feral and unforgiving when they don’t get their way and/or things don’t go as planned. Hell hath no fury than a bride and her entourage scorned. It’s like “Bridezillas Unite!” and you, poor little groom, don’t want to end up as collateral damage. So if you value your life, DON’T EVER commit the crime of ripping even just a teeny-tiny portion of the train of her dress on your way home from picking it up from the couturier. I’m telling you, she will definitely lose it. You’re a dead man walking. I can’t even begin to tell you how justice will be served…
(Yes, Ian. The whole paragraph about keeping the wedding dress safe and secure is essential to this entry and so you must not edit it out. ;-))
So, a few weeks back, I started talking to my ladies about wedding planning. Gentlemen, when we ladies talk weddings, this includes the blow-by-blow scrutiny of each one’s grooms: how helpful and participative they are with the organizing process, do they go to food tasting sessions, have they picked out their suits, were they aware the guest list just ballooned to 200..what??!!?, etc. Luckily for my darling Ian, I’m not quite in that Crazy Bride mindset (yet…that would be later, baby…hehe). I explained to my girls that since we are in a not-so-traditional circumstance, we can’t really do the whole big wedding thing (yet). Ian and I will say our vows in front of a Justice Of The Peace. Or, a city mayor – I am not certain. I am not even sure when I’ll get my visa or when I’m leaving.
Naturally, this plan was met with raised eyebrows. People gab about getting married as being a once in a lifetime deal (true for some people), and that couples are supposed to make it as memorable as possible. And so they ask me, “Why aren’t you throwing a big wedding? Don’t you want your friends and relatives to celebrate this occasion with you? Don’t you want your loved ones’ blessings?”
It’s not that we don’t want it – of course we do. But we can’t just yet. Basically, the plan is for me to leave for the US as soon as possible after my visa is approved. After I step foot on American soil, I intend to marry Ian as soon as we can. After all of this exhausting bureaucratic work and the agonizing longing and waiting that came with it, I doubt I will have the time and energy for any kind of wedding planning.
So, civil courthouse ceremony it is.
Of course, that was not how I imagined my dream wedding would be. And this is absolutely not my mother’s dream wedding for me. But as I told you in my earlier entry, we make do with what we have. If there is anything my love journey with Ian taught me, it is to prioritize the things that are truly valuable in life and let go of all of those things that are material, temporary, and unnecessary. As for the two of us, to be in each other’s arms forever is blessing enough.
Besides, it’s not the wedding but the marriage. I know it’s not an original thing to declare, but it is certainly true. How many extravagant weddings have you been to and later found out that the couple split or that the bride ran away with another man? In 1974, Ian’s parents, Bob and Ellena, were married by a Justice Of The Peace too. Forty years later, they are still together, very much in love, and renewing their vows over the coming (American) summer.
Oh well, who knows? Maybe Ian and I will have a nice wedding in the future…we are certainly dreaming of it. Don’t be upset if we require guests to wear cloaks, tunics or kilts, because what we are imagining is a unique Game of Thrones inspired medieval-style wedding in honor of the circumstances of our first meeting. DIBS!!!! Dare duplicate my theme and my dragons will be after you!
But for the time being, we have our minds focused on priorities. We are taking it one step at a time. Among the important details we carefully planned for and arranged was our pre-wedding pictorial. I believe the engagement photoshoot is as important as the marriage ceremony itself. It says a lot about the couple and their love story. Also, it is sentimental because it is both a formal declaration of the couple’s betrothal and probably the last formal portraits of the couple as unmarried individuals.
Some people make an effort to come up with unique themes for their shoot. Some go with the customary and pose in bridal couture. Either way, the theme selection process is never easy. Yet for Ian and I, our love story and our theme were a match made in heaven. Our theme had always been there since we first knew each other. We chose to channel The Wind-up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, a novel which is very close to our hearts. You do remember me telling you about Emiko and Anderson Lake, right?
For my first-time readers, and for those who have forgotten, here’s a link to one of my earlier entries:
This riveting novel, although fictional, had repeatedly tugged on our heartstrings as if it were real. We were moved by the harrowing possible future reality presented by the author. We empathized with the characters, and in our imaginings, they became alive. When we were deciding on a concept, there was no doubt in our minds. This had to be it.
After rigorous research, we found out that no individual or group has thus far done a detailed interpretation of The Wind-up Girl, either through stills or film. Good! We wanted to be the first. With the help of our hardworking team, we breathed life into the pages of the bestselling book. So to Paolo Bacigalupi and to the many sci-fi/dystopian future fans out there, here’s our offering. We do hope that our version is close to how you imagined these characters.
Also, we would like to share an exclusive sneak peek of some behind the scenes activity.
A day prior to the shoot, we met with our team to finalize the details of our endeavor. Like us, our photographer and stylists had done intensive research on the concept. We were all eager to make this shoot an unforgettable one.
(Notice the photo of Audrey Hepburn on my laptop? More of it on Part 2 of this entry)
Also, we did a pre-photoshoot location visit so that our team could become acquainted with the surroundings.
Finally, here we are in action on the day of the shoot.
Earlier that day, Ian and I encountered an inconvenience. His parents were worried and so they were calling him from the States. That’s him picking up his phone.
Our team was eager to start and so they were waiting on us.
This was me asking them to give us a minute. They did.
Minutes later, Ian was still on the phone.
And still on the phone….So we waited.
“Baby, they want to start”
Ian was so stressed he needed re-touching…
And some more last minute touch-ups…
Me too, apparently…
Then, our main photographer RJ gave us instructions…
And more instructions…
Finally we are ready to roll…
The first few shots were awkward of course!
But then they just kept taking photos….
And more photos….until we were both exhausted.
And so they gave us some break time
(The Windup Girl photoshoot location was just outside the Champs Elysees Condominium compound, where my parents live. We shot the remainder of the photos inside….Stay tuned for Part 2)
More retouching for me….and Ian was back on the phone!
It turns out; it wasn’t very easy to solve our dilemma that day. Lucky us, Ian’s parents were to the rescue. They were very supportive even from thousands of miles away. From afar, they ended up saving the day. Thanks B + E.
Back to work! RJ was relentless in motivating us.
He did well at taking charge
This time, the more intense shots….
And finally, we shot the last set. Everyone was quiet while these pictures were being taken. The scene was so solemn and so moving that I swear I saw my uncle shed a tear. Personally, I was being emotional. The stress of what happened earlier finally got to me…but what helped the most was when I was internalizing Ian’s impending departure the following day…It was a heartbreaking thought and maybe you can tell when viewing the final published photos how somber I was….
But all is well that ends well. We finished the first part of our pictorial session right before lunch. Relief! Also, food was waiting for us back in my mother’s place. So, we had the perfect excuse to be playful in this photo.
There you have it folks, the first part of this photoshoot entry. Stay tuned for the next installment. I promise I will publish ASAP!
To view the complete set for this photo session, click here:
Our Compliments and Special Thanks
RJ Protacio and RJ Protacio Photography
Jared Villegas Teves
Hair and Make-up Artists:
Jan Jay Espino