Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - Page 5 News List

FEATURE: Taiwan hopes to lure engaged couples

WEDDING PHOTO KINGDOM?The Tourism Bureau is eager to promote the nation as great place for wedding photography, citing scenic locations and attractive prices

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

A couple in wedding attire pose in Taipei on June 15.

Photo: CNA

At a wedding photography exhibition in Hong Kong last year, 29-year-old Emila Ma and her fiance were quite excited as they initialed a contract at a Taiwanese wedding photography company’s booth for a four-day trip for their photo shoot.

Increasing numbers of young couples abroad are choosing to come to Taiwan to shoot their wedding photographs due to the nation’s spectacular and varied scenery and the photography package prices.

According to the Taipei-based Wedding Photography Association, more than 5,000 couples from abroad choose Taiwan for their wedding photos last year at an average rate of 425 couples per month.

More than 65 percent of couples came from Hong Kong and Macau, the association said.

Ma, who works at a bank, said it was increasingly popular in Hong Kong for engaged couples to go to Taiwan to have their wedding photos taken, citing prices, varied scenery and creative ideas as incentives.

Emily chose New Taipei City’s Tamsui (淡水) and its “wedding photography base” for her photo shoot.

The “bases” are the brainchild of wedding photography companies and include a variety of backgrounds, such as “scholarly” buildings; juancun (眷村), or military family villages, to convey a nostalgic atmosphere; European-style settings; floating chapels; luxurious settings similar to those seen in South Korean television series; and underwater shots.

The “bases” are meant to cut down on the time needed to reach various scenic sties, the companies said, adding that the bases have not only proven popular with foreign clients, but helped win a slice of the domestic market as well.

The bases help reduce logistics problems for the photographers and the amount of time for the photo shoot as the team only has to go to one location to find a wide variety of scenery.

Immortalizing a couple

‧ More than 5,000 couples visited Taiwan last year to have their wedding photos taken.

‧ Couples from Hong Kong and Macau accounted for more than half of the number.

‧ Four-day package trips are popular, allowing one day to arrange the logistics, one day of photography, one day for sightseeing and then selection of the wedding album photos on the final day.

‧ Wedding photo packages average about NT$50,000 to NT$60,000.

‧ Wedding shoot “bases” that provide a variety of backdrops in one location or in close proximity are popular.

In Ma’s case, she chose her outfits and went over the details of the photo shoot on the first day of her trip and the photo shoot took up the second day. On the third day the couple was able to take a tour of “must visit” sites in Taiwan, thanks to the Taiwan High Speed Rail.

On their last day in Taiwan, the couple returned to the wedding photo company and chose the photographs they wanted, Ma said, adding that they received their wedding album two months after they returned home.

The wedding photo session cost NT$40,000 (US$1,335), after a 40 percent discount, or about the price it would have cost in Hong Kong, Ma said.

Tracy Wong from Macau did her photo shoot in Taiwan in April.

Aside from having met her husband in Taiwan while they were both studying at the division of preparatory programs for overseas Chinese at the National Taiwan Normal University, Wong said they chose Taiwan because conditions here are more liberal.

Wong said she liked that they could leave the company’s “base” and go to other locations, adding that they had visited the Gaomei Wetland Preservation Area in Pingtung County, New Taipei City’s Pingsi (平溪) and a military dependents’ villages.

A key element of photo shoots in Taiwan is the simplicity and the naturalness of the shoots, Wong said.

The Tourism Bureau estimates that the wedding-photography industry could contribute NT$225 million per year to the economy — including hotels, meals, ground transportation and incidentals — if foreign couples stayed an average of four days on a photo-shoot trip and paid an average of NT$35,000 for their photography package.

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