Where to begin. It has now been exactly a year since I first met Wanlyn and Thibaut and this wonderful, kind, crazy, funny and sweet couple has wormed their way into my heart so thoroughly that I can’t believe they live on the other side of the world. Because I wish we lived close enough to pop over to each others places for dinner and drinks. So we could go on adventures together that don’t involve a 12 hour flight. Luckily for me we got on so well during their engagement photo shoot in Munich last year that they decided they needed to have me there for their wedding as well. In Malaysia.
So Wanlyn and Thibaut flew me to Singapore for their wedding. And that’s how this story really starts. It’s a story about a girl from Singapore and a boy from France who met at university in Munich. Fast forward a few years and the French boy now lives in Singapore with the girl and it turns out her military precision and sublime organisation skills are a perfect match to his French joie de vivre and laidback-ness. So they decide to get married. In Malaysia. With not only her family and friends (easy) but also his (a little harder). And a photographer from Germany who lives in England (that’ll be me).
But organising a destination wedding in Malaysia with foreign guests from all over Europe is not enough, oh no. Everyone needs to go on to Bali – for their “honeymoon”! So shuttles are booked and flights are arranged and hotels are reserved and on to Bali we all went. Wanlyn did promise me that they will have a proper honeymoon on their own sometime soon, though.
Knowing Wanlyn and Thibaut means I wasn’t surprised to see that their wedding involved some ridiculously early wake up times and schedules that would leave any professional wedding planner in awe. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the amount of sheer joy and love that lead though the whole day like a guiding light. What an adventure this whole trip has been and how rewarding to be a part of their story and this day.
Shot on digital and film. All film Kodak Portra 400 and 160, shot on Contax 645 and Nikon F100, scanned and developed by the FIND lab.
The Gate Crashing
It’s 5.30 am and I’ve just gotten up at Wanlyn’s parents house. The sun has not risen yet but the bride and her bridesmaids definitely have. The next two hours pass in a flurry of activities, including not only the usual hair and make-up but some odd creations of food, with smells wafting up from the kitchen that would assault anyone’s senses, not just this early in the morning. The girls are preparing the “torture” for the gate crashing of the boys later that morning.
Tradition has it that the groom and his groomsmen need to pass challenges set up by the bridesmaids in order to be allowed further and further into the house to eventually free the bride. If a challenge isn’t passed, torture ensues. From debatable foods that need to be consumed (let’s just say this is the first I’ve heard of bitter gourd being combined with fish sauce?) to hidden paper hearts that demand to be kissed Thibaut and his boys slowly make their way forward into the house.
The Tea Ceremony
Once Wanlyn is freed we move on to the Chinese tea ceremony. The bride and groom serve tea to their elders and get red packages in return. Afterwards the roles are reversed and Wanlyn and Thibaut got served the tea by their younger relatives. To be honest this part of the day was one of the many moments that left me a little bit misty eyed as it was quite emotional to see both families do this, Wanlyn’s family as well as Thibaut’s French family. I have no doubt this will be a lifelong memory for everyone involved.
After a light lunch served in the garden everyone moves on to the Pulai Springs Resort for the wedding ceremony and dinner reception. In the week prior the wedding I walked around Singapore in the humidity and heat, thinking: Yes, I’m hot. But it’s all right! I’ll just move slowly and I’ll be fine. Well, let me tell you that there is no such thing as moving slowly or not feeling too hot when you photograph (or even attend!) a wedding in this climate.
Whilst the sun in the morning was burning down hot the clouds that are moving in during the afternoon appear to only make the humidity worse. And those clouds are dark and mean, the wind blowing stronger and it’s looking suspiciously like a threatening thunderstorm. Somehow we make it through the outdoor ceremony, lead by Thibaut’s godmother, with no harm done. Just in time for the 8 course Chinese dinner the weather calms down and the sun sets. With speeches and toasts, fireworks and
smuggled imported European beer the night slowly brings this incredible wedding day to a close.
It’s no exaggeration to say that this experience has left me changed and richer – I have gained memories and friends and am forever thankful for this opportunity. I could not have done it without the help of Alissa Aubertin as my trusted assistant and second photographer. She flew in from New Zealand for this and I am so glad I had her there with me.
Wanlyn and Thibaut – you are such wonderful people, don’t ever change the way you do things! Thank you for everything and congratulations on becoming Tiblyn! Much love to all of you.
© Ann-Kathrin Koch 2013. Images look best without watermarks on them. Please don’t use the photos without asking me first.