Couples expressing their love of sports and fitness in their wedding photos

Some couples are expressing their love of sports and fitness in their wedding photos

If you think wedding photos show only couples hugging and kissing, or looking wistful under a tree or beside a lake, think again.

Some sporty couples are using their pre-nuptial shoots to express their love of sports and fitness.

One couple, decked in formal wear, even abseiled down a cliff and dangled in mid-air for an hour as the photographer snapped away.

 
 

Some ditch the formal wear altogether. A national gymnast, for example, took his pre-wedding photos in 2013 in a leotard, performing acrobatic stunts around his bride.

One weightlifting enthusiast took his photos in workout attire, lifting a 250kg tyre his wife sat on.

But while the physical activities are not a problem for these fit couples, the challenge for them is to look fabulous while sweating it out. But they do not mind the sweat and stickiness, as they are happy to have their photos show them doing what they love.

Such photo shoots are getting more common as couples are more creative and open-minded about their pre-wedding photos, say three photographers The Sunday Times spoke to.

They generally cost the same as a typical wedding photo shoot package, although one studio - Raymond Phang Photography - considers some of these shoots as "conceptualised" and charges more for them.

Mr Jerald Zhan, 32, from Tinydot Photography, has been taking wedding photos since 2008.

Two years ago, he started receiving requests for pre-wedding photo shoots involving sports such as basketball and golf. Since then, he has been doing four to five such shoots a year. He says: "In the past, I guess people had more fixed ideas of how pre-wedding photos should look."

Mr Raymond Phang, 32, who has done pre-nuptial shoots featuring rugby, athletics and tennis, adds: "These days, couples don't just want prim and proper photos. They want the photos to look unique and be a conversation-starter. Couples nowadays are also more willing to try new concepts."

Sports-related photo shoots, however, can be challenging as there is usually movement during the activity, says Mr Chris Chai, 36, from Bridal Concept. He has done wedding shoots involving athletics and boxing. He says: "You have to catch the couple at the right time, so the photo looks nice."

But such shoots are especially meaningful, he adds, since the sport featured is very much a part of the couple's everyday lives. "There is a personal story behind why this particular sport was chosen and I am happy my photos can always remind the couple of this story."


Doing some heavy lifting

Solitude Of Strength is a gym in Geylang filled with barbells, sledge hammers and giant rubber tyres. Long ropes hang from the ceiling and there is no air-conditioning.

Terence and I met at the sweatiest, stickiest moment of our lives. I wouldn’t want my photos to show anything else.

MS JACKIE LI on why she and her husband Terence Tan had their pre-wedding photo shoot in a gym

It is hardly an ideal location for a pre-wedding shoot, but Mr Terence Tan and Ms Jackie Li, both 29, picked it for theirs. After all, they met in a gym - the Singapore Weightlifting Federation's training centre at Jalan Benaan Kapal.

Mr Tan, a marketing executive, was training there thrice a week. One day in 2011, Ms Li, a speech and language therapist who is also a CrossFit buff, walked in.

Mr Tan thought she looked cute and worked up the courage to talk to her about weightlifting and training techniques. Then the topics branched into interests such as rollerblading and food.

They became workout buddies and started dating when Mr Tan asked Ms Li to spend Christmas and New Year's Eve with him. She says: "I thought he was thoughtful and sweet."

When it came to choosing a wedding photo venue, a strength and conditioning gym was their first choice. Mr Tan says: "It was the main setting of our love story. No other place would do."

The gym where they met was not available for the shoot last April, so they picked Solitude Of Strength, which had similar features.

In one photo, Mr Tan is lifting a 250kg tyre on one side, with Ms Li, who weighs 55kg, perched on top. "The tyre is hollow," the 75kg strongman says. "Lifting it at an angle is also much easier than carrying it entirely off the ground."

Nonetheless, both were sweating profusely by the end of the shoot.

Ms Li says: "Most brides do not want to sweat during their pre- wedding photo shoot. But Terence and I met at the sweatiest, stickiest moment of our lives. I wouldn't want my photos to show anything else."


Abseiling down a cliff


The couple abseiled down a cliff (above) at Dairy Farm Nature Park last July. PHOTO: ALVIN CHONG

Set against a seven-storey-tall cliff, Mr Keith Ching and Ms Woo Pei Xun's pre-wedding photos look straight out of a wuxia flick.

The couple abseiled down a cliff at Dairy Farm Nature Park last July. Mr Ching, 30, a digital project manager, says: "We decided our wedding photos should show what we love doing."

The couple, who met in university, have completed abseiling proficiency courses certified by the Singapore Mountaineering Federation and had abseiled at the location about 10 times before the shoot.

On the day of the photo shoot, they hiked up in their climbing attire with three friends - two belayers to secure their ropes from the top of the cliff and Mr Alvin Chong, 30, an aspiring adventure photographer who took the photos for free.

When they reached the top, the couple changed into formal outfits - Mr Ching wore a white shirt, pants and vest, while Ms Woo was in a cropped blouse and a long white skirt she bought for the shoot.

They abseiled down together with Mr Chong, who snapped away on two DSLR cameras.

As Ms Woo, 27, a travel blogger at Ladyexplorer.com, could not kick off the cliff in high heels, she had to do so barefoot. Mr Ching held onto her heels and helped her put them on while they were in mid-air.

While abseiling was not a problem, being photographed while doing so was a whole new ballgame. Mr Ching says: "Dangling in the air, we did not know where is left, right, front and back. The trees and rocks also blocked our faces in many shots, so it took a while to get the right ones."

They were suspended in the air for an hour. Apart from their abseiling shot, some of their other photos show them kayaking, cycling and playing soccer.

Ms Woo says: "Doing the activities we love for our shoot was fun and memorable. We were laughing throughout. The photos reflect who we are as a couple."


Kicking things up a notch

Almost every weekend, Ms Berlinda Ong and Mr Kenneth Thng, both 31, are watching football either at home or at their friends' homes.

Mr Thng, an insurance agent, says: "Football is a big part of our lives. We don't play it, but we love watching it."

Ms Ong, a client services manager in a local bank, adds: "I support Liverpool, Kenneth supports Tottenham Hotspur and we often tease each other about whose team is better.

"We have about six other friends who are also football fans and whenever we see a good goal, we cheer and talk about it. It is a bonding experience."

No surprise then that for their pre-wedding photos in 2014, part of the shoot revolved around football.

One photo, taken at the National Stadium, shows Ms Ong decked out in a rented $6,000 gown and four-inch heels, kicking a ball towards a goal post "guarded" by Mr Thng and his groomsmen.

"Surprisingly, it was not hard to kick the ball while wearing high heels," Ms Ong recalls. "I found it harder to walk to that position on the field. As the ground was soft, I walked in my slippers and changed into heels only when I reached the spot."

Mr Thng himself was clad in a spiffy $700 suit and pants, and his shoes cost $300.

Was he worried they would get soiled? He replies with a laugh: "Perhaps that was why I had such an frightened expression on my face."

Ms Ong had to kick the ball 10 times to get the right shot. She says: "We had to coordinate the timing, to make sure the guys were jumping at the right height. In some shots, the gown was also covering my legs and it wasn't clear I was kicking the ball."

But the couple found the photo shoot fun and memorable and loved how the photo turned out. Mr Thng says: "I like that our wedding photos do not just consist of the usual romantic shots, but also showcase something we are passionate about."


Hanging upside down


Another photo (above) showed him hanging upside down from a high bar and sharing a kiss with Ms Tan. PHOTO: JERALD ZHAN

As a national gymnast,moves such as somersaults, jumps and dives are second nature to Mr Gabriel Gan. Yet, the three-time medallist at last year's Southeast Asian Games found himself struggling while executing the stunts during his pre-wedding photo shoot with 29-year-old civil servant Davina Tan in 2013.

Mr Gan, 30, says: "Doing the moves was easy. The hard part was holding the poses for so long."

For instance, he usually holds certain poses for three seconds during a competition. But during the photo shoot, he had to hold them for up to a minute just to get the right shot.

"After a while, my muscles started screaming for oxygen. And it was tough having to smile brightly even though my body was suffering."

Throughout the four-hour shoot at the gymnastics arena in Bishan Sports Hall, he was constantly wiping off perspiration with a hand towel. There was also a make-up artist on site to do touch-ups.

The final photos showed some tough stunts, such as one of him leaping over Ms Tan with the photographer timing the shot so that he was directly above her.

Another photo showed him hanging upside down from a high bar and sharing a kiss with Ms Tan. The photo is among those displayed in the couple's apartment in Kuala Lumpur, where they are currently based.

What will he say to his future children if they ask why the photos were taken in a sports hall? Mr Gan says: "I would say gymnastics was a big part of their daddy's life and their mummy supported their daddy so much that we took the photo to remember this moment forever."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 29, 2016, with the headline 'Bridal shots that are sport on'. Print Edition | Subscribe