Before I’d even been to Korea (or met my husband), I dreamt of doing a Korean pre wedding photoshoot.
I’m Irish, my hubby’s Canadian and we live in Australia. A Korean wedding photo shoot seems like a random thing to do, huh?
Neither of us have a particular interest in Korea (other than barbeque, yum!).
Why Did I Do a Korean Pre Wedding Photoshoot?
I blame YouTuber Bubzbeauty! When she posted a video about her experience in 2012, I was sold. Watch this and maybe you’ll understand why:
There was something about her photos that captured me. Not only were the backdrops spectacular, but the photos had a real focus on the love and emotion between Lindy and Tim. I had never seen this style in Western wedding photography before.
R and I got married in 2015 at a registry office, with only two guests as witnesses. We didn’t bother with formal wear. Our photos were taken with an iPhone and were…completely crap, to be honest.
We wanted a keepsake to celebrate our marriage, so a photoshoot after the fact seemed like a great idea.
[Note: in the end I couldn’t go with the company Bubzbeauty used as it was waaay out of my budget. I found a great alternative though!]
What’s So Special About Korean Pre Wedding Photography?
I’m generalizing here, but from the small amount of research I did before picking my Korean pre wedding photoshoot package, I learned a few things:
- The “cute” aesthetic is much more popular in Korean wedding photography than in the West.
- If you like tacky (adorable!) props, you’ll be in heaven. Think balloons, bunny costumes and big “Mr & Mrs” signs.
- Photo studios complete with backdrops and props are everywhere in South Korea. You don’t need to take your photos on your wedding day. You can fake the whole thing with dress and suit hire, hair and makeup and even a fake cake!
- It’s relatively cheap. Weddings are insanely expensive. Our photoshoot with everything included cost about the same as hiring a wedding photographer for a day in Australia. We were going to Korean on vacation anyway so I haven’t included that in the cost.
My Korean Pre Wedding Photo Shoot Experience
I’ll be referring to my package as a “pre wedding photoshoot” throughout this post, despite the fact that we were already married when we did it.
Doing this type of thing after you get engaged seems to be the norm both in Korea and abroad. The staff were surprised when we told them we already had our “wedding”.
1. Pick a Korean Pre Wedding Photography Package Provider
There are quite a few companies selling complete Korean pre wedding photography packages to foreigners.
In general they include everything you’ll need:
- Korean to English translator (usually Cantonese and Mandarin are available too, at minimum)
- Photo studio hire
- Photographer hire
- Hair and makeup for bride and groom
- Dress(es) and suit hire for photoshoot
- Transport between the studio(s) and salon(s)
- Email copy of photos
- Printed photo album
There are some extras if you want to pay more, such as:
- Extra scenic outdoor locations
- Sunset or sunrise photos (need extra time)
- Extra dresses or suit hire (I got four dresses just in the most basic package, it was more than enough!)
- Hair cut, color or extensions
- Longer or extra photo album
- Higher resolution soft copy of photos
The provider I chose in the end was Hello Muse. This post is not sponsored and I didn’t get any discount at all. So my Hello Muse review is 100% unbiased!
You can find other very similar companies through Google, but I won’t mention them here as I can’t vouch for them personally.
I found Hello Muse was the cheapest for what we wanted.
Exact prices aren’t usually listed on the websites so you will have to send a few emails back and forth with different providers to compare them.
2. Picking Korean Pre Wedding Photoshoot Options
Once you have decided on a company to purchase your Korean pre wedding photoshoot package from, you have a number of options.
Hello Muse displays portfolios for each photography studio on their website.
These are the ones in Seoul but you also have options in Jeju and elsewhere.
We picked Lumiere Studio in Gangnam.
I thought the portfolio would just be an example of the type of photos the studio can produce, but no. These were the exact poses and backdrops we got too. I was really happy about that because I loved their portfolio.
If you don’t book very far in advance (We only contacted Hello Muse around one month before our trip to South Korea), the studio you like might be booked out.
Hair, Makeup and Formal Wear Rental
I communicated with Hello Muse through email. Responses were always fast.
We were given a choice of wedding dress/suit hire shops and hair and makeup studios.
The fancier ones had an extra charge.
I let Hello Muse pick for me, as I have bad taste.
Pay The Deposit
When you have chosen, you receive a contract and pay your deposit. Paypal or bank transfer is usually ok. I was a bit reluctant at first as it’s a lot of money and review were hard to find, but we had no problems.
3. Go to South Korea
Of course, when you’ve got all of that settled, you have to actually go to South Korea.
We spent around ten days in Jeju and Seoul. We were going on vacation anyway so it was convenient to do the pre wedding photoshoot while we were there.
The photoshoot took two days out of our trip.
The first day, we picked our formal wear at the bridal shop and the next day we had the photoshoot.
You can do both on the same day but I would NOT recommend it. The photoshoot is EXHAUSTING.
Day 1: Dress and Suit Fitting at The Beaulah Seoul
On the first day, we went to the Hello Muse office for 1.30 pm. It’s not hard to find, they will give you a map.
Their office is really cutely decorated!
Then we went together with our translator (also the company owner) to The Beaulah bridal shop.
I had to pick:
- One puffy, princess-style dress
- One fitted mermaid dress
- One colored cocktail/evening dress
- (and another short white wedding dress was included with the studio)
- (we were also allowed to have casual photos in our own clothes)
I tried on around three options for each. It took approximately 40 minutes
If you are a bride or bride-to-be you probably already know this but…
Most wedding dresses are extremely unflattering!
Maybe it was because they are intended for more petite, Asian body types, but I didn’t feel too good in them.
I am around a size Small in most clothing but have an hourglass shape. They said they have dresses up to US size 12 but I think if you are really curvy, renting dresses for a Korean pre wedding photoshoot is a bad idea. I believe Western dresses would be more flattering.
At the end of the day, I was happy enough with my choices. They looked better in the photos than in real life!
My poor husband only got one suit (you can bring your own if you want to change).
Day 2: The Photoshoot
The Worst Part
The worst part of the whole thing for me was having to go to the Hello Muse office at 5.30 am!!!
I am not a morning person.
Hair and Makeup
We went to Encloe salon and had our hair and makeup done, along with a different translator.
Again, I let them pick whatever style they liked, as I don’t usually wear much makeup.
I was surprised at how pink and girly the look was but it turned out fine in the photos.
I just went for gentle curls in my hair. Another assistant joined the crew to help me get dressed and re-do my hair into updos.
Husband got hair and makeup too!
Lumiere Photo Studio
Me, hubby, our translator and the lady who would help me with the dresses and hair all went to the studio.
We met the photographer who was super cool!
She showed us an album with similar pictures to the portfolio and asked which ones we liked.
The studio had a bunch of different backdrops. I was really impressed. We also got to do a small selection of photos on the rooftop and in a park nearby for free.
It lasted around six hours in total.
The translator brought us a yummy lunch of kimbap.
Most of the pictures were taken in the mermaid style wedding dress. Each of the other dresses got one or two hours. There were bowtie changes for hubby but that’s all.
I got a migraine pretty early on which made things really difficult but hopefully this won’t happen to you.
The posing is really physically draining and uncomfortable. The dresses were really tight and I’m not used to walking in heels, so that played a big part.
It was totally worth it in the end though!
So…You Want to See the Photos, Right?
I’m not going to share all of my photos here because they’re personal to us but here are a few samples. I’ve covered hubby’s face with a cat because:
a) Cats are awesome
b) Hubby doesn’t really want to be on my blog.
We received over 300 unedited photos one week after the shoot.
These are the unedited ones (I just photoshopped myself a bit thinner!).
We have to pick 30 which they will edit and make a photo album from. I was too lazy and only did that today! Will update when we get it.
Final Thoughts on Korean Pre Wedding Photoshoots
For my husband and I, a Korean pre wedding photoshoot was the right choice.
I liked that everything was organised for us and we just had to turn up on the day.
We were also really happy with how the photos turned out.
I really recommend Hello Muse (again, they’re not paying me to say that, not even a discount!).
If you want to know about prices, please contact Hello Muse directly. It changes completely depending on which options you choose. Questions about pricing will be ignored/deleted.