Singaporebrides | Real Weddings

September 2020

Stephanie and Li Ming’s Rustic Wanderlust Styled Pre-Wedding Shoot in Coney Island

Stephanie and Li Ming embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for their pre-wedding shoot right here in Singapore.

While most people meet through dating apps and friends, Stephanie and Li Ming met as strangers at a social event more than a decade ago. Drawn by their mutual sense of adventure and love for solo travelling, Stephanie and Li Ming became an item quickly. After a private proposal in The Netherlands, the lovebirds decided to embark on yet another adventure together – a styled pre-wedding shoot that featured everything they loved and held dear – the rustic wilderness and each other.

How did the two of you meet?

Li Ming: I met Steph at an event. When she introduced herself, it was like it happened in slow motion. She was so beautiful! I did not have the guts to talk to her, though. Thank god for the group chat that was setup after the event, otherwise I wouldn’t be with her today.

Stephanie: My first impression of Ming was that he was very tall (he’s 1.88m)! I also remember him sharing stories of his solo travels in South America and para-gliding adventures, and thought to myself, “Wow, this guy is very adventurous!” Fortunately, we managed to get each other’s contact details from a WhatsApp group chat. It was only a couple months later that we re-connected through our interest for Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and briefly met again at Hardwell’s concert at Gardens by the Bay.

What drew you to each other?

Stephanie: Definitely his sense of adventure and humour! He never fails to make me laugh with his silly antics and sarcastic jokes, especially after a rough day. More than anything, he teaches me to stop worrying unnecessarily, to learn to let go and be kind to myself as I can be quite harsh and judgmental about myself. I also love that Ming is sincere and truly cares for people, such as spending time to talk to my grandmother and giving her shoulder massages. I always joke that she prefers to have him as her grandchild as she asks about him more often than she asks about me! It also helps that he is an amazing cook who whips up delicious food for my family and friends.

Li Ming: Initially, Steph’s kind heart and beauty attracted me. As I got to know her better, I found out that not only is she three years older than me, she also has a fiery side which I absolutely adore. The age gap didn’t feel as weird as I expected it to be, and Steph’s critical side helped mould me into the man I am today. I met Steph when I was a pre-grad back in 2015, still studying for my finals in university. She also had an adventurous side that I can resonate with, being a solo traveller herself. Steph would embark on journeys alone to Bali, and she even did a Trans-Siberian Railway and Eastern Europe trip with her mum . I have never seen any girl pursue her dreams like Steph, always striving to make them a reality. On her back, she has tattooed “A Beautiful Life” in Italian, which is something that I want to create alongside her.

She is also someone I can depend on when I need a helping hand. She never says no to helping people in need, which makes her a perfect fit for her line of work. Despite her love for the outdoors and previously holding a stable job in marketing, Steph decided to drop everything to do her post-grad in social work, grooming herself to be one of the best medical social worker I have seen. That level of selflessness is something I can never achieve, and I am thoroughly proud of her.

What was the proposal like?

Li Ming: I think I did a terrific job at hiding the proposal from her. I had been planning it for months, yet in front of Steph, I’d have give a heck-care attitude towards the possibility of a proposal. I wanted it to be intimate, just the two of us in lush green fields with a setting sun. Of course, I couldn’t find the exact setting that I wanted, so I had to improvise as the opportunities came.

When we were in the Netherlands, we visited the Weerribben-Wieden National Park, and I was stunned by the beauty of the landscape and how it was so untouched by tourists. I decided to make my move there, but I had to find the perfect backdrop and opportunity. Towards the second leg of our kayak through the canals, we took a short break on a nice little rest spot, engulfed by nature on all sides. The only way to get to that spot is via a canoe, so we were definitely enjoying lots of privacy there. Steph excused her to answer the call of nature, and I KNEW that was my chance. I sat and waited for her return, with the ring in my trembling hands and fading speech in my head. Alas, when she returned and I went on my knees, my mind completely went blank. Instead of the speech I had prepared, I said, “I’m sorry, I forgot everything that I wanted to say. Will you marry me?” Steph thought it was a joke! She couldn’t believe it until I started to cry. Thank god there was no one else there to see it.

Stephanie: Most girls would have a sixth sense when it comes to such surprises, but I must say that Ming certainly caught me by surprise with his proposal! Apparently, he had sought for my hand in marriage from my parents prior to our trip to Europe and my mum kept hinting to me to pack something nice like a beautiful dress. However, I remained oblivious to her not-so-subtle hints and insisted on packing something comfortable as we were heading for the biggest EDM festival. 
Ming proposed when we made a pit-stop on a deserted island while kayaking in the Netherlands. And he had to propose right after I was done with my “business” in the bushes! It was definitely not the most romantic image I had in mind but this is truly Ming’s style. How could I have said no?

Share with us the concept behind your pre-wedding shoot. Was there a theme, and where did you go?

Stephanie: As we both enjoy travelling and doing outdoor activities together, we thought it would be special to have a rustic photoshoot out in the nature. We also decided to carry our beloved backpacks to add that element of eloping into the woods.

Our incredible photographer, Germaine from Bridelope Productions, suggested Coney Island as it provided the perfect setting for a nature-inspired and rustic photoshoot. We were initially hesitant as the location is highly popular for bridal shoot and we were hoping to find somewhere that is slightly off-the-beaten track. However, looking back at the pictures, we knew that we made the right choice as the island really brings out the wild and carefree feel.

What was your pre-wedding shoot like?

Stephanie: We started the day around 2:30 a.m. as I had to prepare for make-up and hair. Waking up during the odd hours of the morning was tough and I wished I could sleep a little longer but of course, it was worth the sacrifice after my make-up artist, Esta, worked her magic on me. I loved how radiant yet natural my make-up looked! Although this was not the first time that we were doing a couple shoot together, it was still awkward as we did not know how to pose or find the most flattering angles for the camera. Nonetheless, Germaine is excellent in getting us to warm up by asking us questions and play games with each other. It doesn’t hurt that her laughter is super infectious and got us laughing in no time.

My parents were very enthusiastic and even joined us for the photoshoot as this was the first time that they got a chance to be involved in one of their daughters’ pre-wedding shoot. In fact, my mum even volunteered to become my personal assistant as she helped to adjust my gown and hair throughout the shoot.

Li Ming: The day before the shoot, we scheduled to collect our flowers from Liz Florals. Liz complemented our wilderness theme by creating a rustic bouquet and matching hairpiece. They were really unconventional and bold, and that’s what we really loved about them. We woke up early to meet Esta, our talented makeup artist cum hairdresser. Esta hyped us up while she was doing her make-up and hair with Steph, giving us snippets of what to expect and what to show off to the camera during the shoot.

During the shoot itself, we needed some time to get into the mood. Germaine was doing a great job breaking the ice as we were walking to the island. She also dug up some useful pieces of info from us that would help her in shooting us. She started us off with simple, more traditional poses to warm up, then suddenly brought her A game! She got us running and jumping, holding each other and laughing non-stop! She seems to have this reservoir of energy that she is able to channel to us during the shoot. Each time Germaine brought us to a new location, there was an air of suspense and excitement. We knew it was best to let Germaine choreograph the whole shoot, as she had a wealth of experience under her belt.

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

Stephanie: My dad came along on an Electronic Convenience Vehicle, so we decided, at the very last minute, to pretend that we were racing on the ECV. It was funny as Germaine started blasting the song “Tokyo Drift – Teriyaki Boyz” from the film Fast & Furious, which added to the rush of adrenaline!

Li Ming: My biggest obstacle was… Steph’s dress’s long train!!! It got in the way of my feet so many times! However, Germaine’s professional work made sure that it was all worth it!

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

Stephanie: To remember that it is ultimately about you and your partner so don’t be too stressed up about getting the “perfect” shot. Instead, it’s really about being spontaneous, going with the flow and enjoying the process!

Li Ming: Think about the most beautiful date you had with your partner. It can be as simple as a movie date, or karaoke session etc. Try to recreate that same state of mind during the wedding shoot! Focus on having fun and not how the photos will turn out. The more genuinely happy you feel, the more it will show through your expressions!

Also, find out what makes you and your partner stand out from other couples, and accentuate it with props if it makes sense! We brought backpacks along for our shoot to thematise it a bit, bringing out our wanderlust vibes.

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

Stephanie: I truly enjoyed how Ming and I got to joke around, play games and piggy-back each other, thus making the experience very comfortable and authentic. It also brings back memories of our initial dating days and the butterflies in my stomach. Having my parents around was special to me too, and it made me smile with glee to see them so excited and actively involved in this pre-wedding shoot.

Li Ming: This is an easy one. The most memorable moment was during Steph’s first reveal in her full wedding gown glory at Lacebridge. Ginny was quick to pick up on Steph’s preferences, and skilfully picked a few gowns that perfectly matched her. Seeing Steph dressed in them was just like meeting her the first time, where time seemed to slow down. I was reliving a moment there.

The Pre-Wedding Photographer: Bridelope Productions
The Gown: Lacebridge
The Bride’s Shoes: Zalora
The Suit: SuitsCraft
The Groom’s Shoes: Aldo
The Engagement Ring: Love & Co.
The Hairstylist and Makeup Artist: Esta Hsu
The Florist: Liz Florals

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Stephanie and Li Ming’s Rustic Wanderlust Styled Pre-Wedding Shoot in Coney Island