Singaporebrides | Photography

May 2019

Sheila and Wei Hoong’s Pre-Wedding Adventure in Hokkaido, Japan

Sheila and Wei Hoong’s pre-wedding shoot in Japan was one of romance and fright, as they get caught up in a natural disaster. Read more about their experience here!

Sheila Yeo, 29, and Wei Hoong, 30, were university school mates who didn’t connect with each other until a chance meeting at a zichar place where they learned that their parents actually worked in the same bank. The sweet lovers decided to jet to Hokkaido, Japan for their pre-wedding shoot with Antelope Studios, a place they both have not visited before. Unbeknownst to them, an adventure beyond their wildest imagination was awaiting them. Read on to find out what they experienced on their pre-wedding shoot!

How did the two of you meet?

Wei Hoong: We first met during our university days where we were in the same lecture group.

Sheila: Back in 2010, my first impression of Wei Hoong was “a guy attending lecture in shorts, t-shirt and slippers with a bag pack and shoe bag”. To be honest, I was not impressed. Haha!

However, it was during a coincidental meet again one year later at a zichar place called Two Chefs that we really connected with each other. We were with our respective families but did not notice each other initially. My mum met her boss at another table and exchanged words. Then, her boss coincidentally also went to another table (which was Wei Hoong’s) and said hello to his parents too! That was when we noticed and acknowledged each other. (It turns out that his parents and my mother worked in the same bank!) It all started that evening when he started a conversation with me and the rest was history

What’s one of the things you love most about your partner?

Wei Hoong: We were in the same lecture group and had a mutual friend. When I had to borrow some notes, our mutual friend lent me Sheila’s notes instead. I was captivated by her neat and pleasant handwriting, and of course her looks too. Just like her handwriting, I love how organised she is in things she does.

Sheila: I was actually attracted to his looks and his sportiness. Love at first sight? ;) I love that he is very sociable and outgoing. He is a very filial son and cares a lot for his parents.

What was the proposal like?

Wei Hoong: She was on a trip in Luxembourg and we decided to meet in London for a holiday. This made ring shopping and proposal planning easier while she was away. The proposal happened at the London Eye where I pre-booked a capsule for the proposal.

Sheila: I was on a five month job rotation to Luxembourg and we planned a two-week vacation in London back in 2017. As I was the one who planned the entire holiday trip, I did not expect him to “hijack” my London Eye pre-booking and upgraded it to a private capsule! I was truly surprised as he was never a planner to begin with!

Take us back to your pre-wedding shoot. Why did you choose to travel to Hokkaido?

Wei Hoong: We met up with Bryan from Antelope who suggested travelling to Hokkaido for our pre-wedding shoot. As the weather seemed perfect – not too hot – plus the fact that we’ve never been to Japan, we decided to give it a try.

Sheila: Hokkaido was also somewhere uncommon for a pre-wedding shoot at the moment, hence, we went along with the recommendation despite us being their first pre-wedding shoot couple in Hokkaido!

Walk us through your pre-wedding shoot.

Wei Hoong: It didn’t feel like a stressful photoshoot at all because we felt like we were holidaying all the time. Our photographers from Antelope Studios were very experienced and took effort to make us feel as comfortable as possible throughout the entire process. We were touring scenic spots like Biei, Lake Toya and Otaru and whenever Bryan and Sherman deem a location suitable, they would get a shot out of it. As we rented a car to get around places, I found it to be a great experience and loved the scenery as we drove along.

Sheila: It was a very relaxing photoshoot and Bryan and Sherman made us feel as comfortable and natural as possible. Our makeup artist was also very helpful in every possible way and never left my side. She helped with my hair, make up, the gown and all. I truly felt like a princess that day.

Share with us any obstacles or funny moments you’ve encountered during the shoot.

Sheila: As we were dressed in a wedding gown and suit, we had a group of Japanese ladies who were on a tour to Hokkaido and they started cheering us on in Japanese when they walked past us. Our makeup artist, being the human translator for us said that to the Japanese, seeing a groom and bride signifies good luck. They also congratulated us and sent us their well-wishes. It was funny looking at their very excited reactions and expressions.

During the same time you were in Hokkaido for your pre-wedding shoot, the 2018 Hokkaido Eastern Iburi earthquake struck. While you and the Antelope Studios team were safe and sound, it must have been a scary and eye-opening experience for all of you. Can you share with us what it was like back then?

It was only after a day after Typhoon Jebi struck Osaka which caused some damage to the city. Occasionally, we could feel strong winds and experienced wet weather in Hokkaido. But was lucky enough to not suffer much from this Typhoon. Even though Hokkaido was spared from the typhoon, another natural disaster was waiting to strike.

It was around 3.08am on the 6 September 2018 when the earthquake struck. We were soundly asleep in our Otaru hotel when an emergency alarm was triggered on our mobile phones. What accompanied was shaking and squeaking noises from the building and bed frame. I soon realised it was an earthquake and quickly woke Sheila up. It was pitch dark along the streets. We were shaken by the earthquake because we have never felt one before. We were drifting in and out of our sleep as we were shaken by the aftershocks that came along. More news came in and we soon realised just how bad the earthquake was. Images of landslide and entire villages buried under made us realised just how bad the earthquake was. We were thankful that Otaru was a bit of a distance from the epicenter of the earthquake.

Bryan and Sherman were supposed to head back to Singapore on this day while we had 4 more nights at Sapporo. As the electricity outage continued and all shops remained closed we soon realised that we have another problem to cope with. Food and water became a scarcity all of a sudden. We only had limited supply of water and snacks we bought and relied on these items for survival because no shops were opened.

We had to decide if we should make a two and a half hour’s drive to Asahikawa where the airport is open and to take a next flight out. But we did not have enough fuel to take us there and some roads were closed. Fuel were already being rationed then. We eventually decided to head back to Sapporo which is about forty minutes away by car as Sheila and I already had four nights of hotel stay booked.

Back in Sapporo, the electricity outage continued and shops remained closed. Thankfully, there was order in the city. We roamed the streets to look for food, and eventually came across a shop that sold barbecued food items. The stall owner was creative enough to use charcoal to cook their food. It was never a delicacy but under such circumstance, what more could we ask for. Every single grain of rice was never wasted.

The streets were dark at 7pm. As we were given a room on the 10th floor initially, and there was still no electricity, we decided to stay for the night at another hotel lobby where we had a comfortable sofa, a functioning public toilet and some ventilation.

Throughout this, we were thankful that we had power banks to charge our mobile phones. We also have to ration the use of our phones so that we could still stay in touch with our loved ones. Given the uncertainty of the situation, we decided that we should cut short our trip and head back home earlier. We soon got ourselves booked on a flight out on the 8th September (very thankful for Jean and our family who coordinated all these for us from Singapore).

At around 5.30am, the lights came back on and the crowd cheered. That was the best feeling ever as it was like seeing light at the end of a tunnel. With electricity, things got better and shops slowly reopened. We could see the situation improving.

What did you witness during the catastrophic event and how did you cope with the limited resources during the two days you were stranded in Hokkaido?

It made us realise how important food, water and electricity is and never to take them for granted. During the two days, we went through quite a bit with our photographers and a strong friendship was forged between us. We took care and looked out for each other, sharing what little food, water and resources we had.

We could also see that the Japanese are very orderly people even in a situation like this. They are very resilient and do not buckle in such a circumstance as they worked hard to bring things back to normal.

Were there any touching or memorable moments/instances/actions that you experienced during the event?

Wei Hoong: I had never liked Japanese curry. But the first food that I took was the complimentary meal offered by our hotel after electricity came back on. It’s the best meal ever after an ordeal and now, I am starting to love Japanese curry rice!

Sheila: I was so glad that Wei Hoong was beside me all the while. It was the least I expected of him as he was calm and encouraging the whole time. Usually, I am the more rational one and he would have been the more panicky one. It also helped that we had the companions of our photographers, so we were never alone.

If there were any, what are some of the take-aways you experienced during your ordeal?

Wei Hoong: We learned that it was best to have spare power banks to charge your mobile phone and to keep some spare food and water too! Cash is king as going cashless will not work in an electricity outage, so spare cash is a must.

Sheila: Yes I agree. I am a huge fan of credit cards and going digital (apple pay), but this ordeal has taught me that cash is still king.

What was the most memorable moment of your pre-wedding shoot?

The moment when he looked so deeply into my eyes during the shoot. That has to be the only time I can get the sweetest look out from him, oops!

Also, the un-planned casual, random shoot the day after the earthquake. We were just roaming along the streets and killing time when Bryan suggested a few shots to document this event. This will definitely go down memory lane to be re-visited with our children!

If you could share three pieces of advice about pre-wedding shoots with couples who will be embarking on theirs, what would it be?

Sheila: Relax, keep calm and enjoy the moment!

The Pre-Wedding Shoot Destination: Hokkaido, Japan
The Pre-Wedding Photographer: Bryan and Sherman from Antelope Studios
The Wedding Gown: The Warehouse Bridal
The Hair and Makeup Artist: Yuri Hair Makeup Artist
The Bride’s Shoes: Bride’s own / Superga
The Groom’s Suit: Jhasper Fashion / Benjamin Baker
The Groom’s Shoes: Rad Russel / Superga
The Engagement Ring: eClarity
The Florist: The Warehouse Bridal

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Sheila and Wei Hoong’s Pre-Wedding Adventure in Hokkaido, Japan