Tips + Techniques

Asian Weddings: Pro Photography Tips and Inspiration

May 23, 2024

By SLR Lounge

Asian weddings offer a vibrant tapestry of traditions, each rich with colorful ceremonies and deeply rooted customs. If you plan to capture these moments effectively and efficiently, you’ll need to equip yourself with both technical skill and a thorough understanding of the cultural nuances. To that end, we’ll share some pro tips for photographers looking to excel in Asian wedding photography.

All images are provided by the photographers at Wedding Maps and used with their permission.

Research the Cultural Events

Payne-Corley House, Duluth, Georgia © Kristin Cheatwood

Whether Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, or Japanese, among others, each Asian culture boasts its own set of traditions and ceremonies. From the intricate rituals of Chinese weddings to the solemnity of Japanese Shinto ceremonies, it’s crucial to understand the specific events and customs of each culture when working in the field of Asian wedding photography. Doing your homework ahead of time will prepare you to capture the most significant moments effectively and respectfully. To do this, you can do the following:

  • Conduct your own online research by searching the culture name + the phrase “wedding traditions,” e.g. Japanese wedding traditions.
  • Seek out cultural wedding guides designed by experienced photographers.
  • Make it a point during pre-wedding talks with your clients to discuss any plans they have for including specific cultural traditions during their wedding and reception.

The last bullet point above is a must, really, which leads us to the next tip.

Discuss the Inclusion of Traditions with Clients

Family Home, San Francisco, California © Picturist Photography

Not every couple adheres strictly to tradition; many opt for a fusion of cultures or modern twists on classic elements. Either way, it’s essential to discuss with your clients beforehand to understand their specific expectations and cultural amalgamations. For weddings featuring couples who come from different cultures, some clients even opt to perform multiple ceremonies, each honoring distinct cultural traditions. Having a dialogue on the subject with your clients will not only help you prepare adequately but also build trust and rapport.

Encourage Couples to Incorporate Traditional Attire

As we mentioned previously, there are no strict guidelines for couples to follow in terms of choosing specific traditions to follow during their wedding. Sometimes, it can be helpful if you suggest traditions that make for great photos. Traditional attire can add a visually striking element to your photographs. Whether it’s the richly embroidered lehenga of a Hindu bride or the elegant hanbok of a Korean couple, these outfits provide a unique aesthetic that sets Asian weddings apart. Encouraging couples to wear traditional dress, even if only for part of the ceremony, can enhance your photos with vibrant colors and textures.

Boulder, Colorado © Larsen Photo Co

For example, in the photo above, the couple is dressed in traditional attire on an elopement photography shoot. They might not have thought of this idea without the photographer mentioning it to them.

Understand the Significance of the Tea Ceremony

The Grove, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom © Andy Sidders Photography

The tea ceremony is a common feature in several Asian cultures, such as Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese weddings. It’s a significant exchange that honors parents and ancestors, symbolizing the unification of families. In some cultures, these ceremonies also incorporate elements you’d expect to unfold during the main wedding ceremony. During the tea and candle ceremonies in Vietnamese weddings, for example, brides and grooms also exchange vows and rings. Understanding the ceremony’s steps and significance allows you to capture these poignant moments more thoughtfully.

© Lin and Jirsa Photography

It’s worth noting that families often host tea ceremonies in tight or crowded spaces, i.e., the living room of someone’s home. If you plan to use flash to light the images, you’ll need to position them and yourself before the ceremony begins. You might consider using a wide-angle or zoom lens, such as a 24-70mm lens to document the ceremony. Make sure you have a clear view of the couple and their VIPs as they receive the tea.

Be Ready for Fun Games

Prospect Park Boathouse, Brooklyn, New York © The Greens Photo

In many Chinese and Vietnamese weddings, playful door games are a tradition where the groom and his groomsmen must complete challenges set by the bridesmaids to “win” the bride. These games are not only fun but also make for great, lively photographs. Anticipating these moments and capturing the fun and the reactions of the guests will add another layer to your storytelling.

Bring Your Creativity

While respecting traditions, don’t forget to inject your creativity into your take on Asian wedding photography. Experiment with different angles, lighting, and compositions to capture the essence of the day. Think outside the box. For instance, consider combining compositional elements like symmetry, leading lines, frames within frames, and more to create more compelling Asian wedding photos.

Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam © Aidan Dockery

Treat Asian Weddings as You Would Any Other Wedding

West Seattle Hotel, Seattle, Washington © Loc Le

At its core, a wedding is about the union of two people and the celebration with their families and friends. Asian weddings are no different. Always be on the lookout for those candid, spontaneous moments that often make the most memorable photos. Capture the laughter, the tears, and the dance moves, just as you would at any wedding.

Government House, Edmonton, Alberta © Elaine Green

More Inspiration from Asian Weddings

Belhurst Castle, Geneva, New York © Roc Focus
Montaluce Winery, Dahlonega, Georgia © Authentic Collective
The Barn at Woodlake Meadows, Bear Creek, North Carolina © Kivus and Camera
© Stefani Ciotti
District Winery, Washington D.C. © Anji Martin
Westin Hotel, Chicago, Illinois © Milan Lazic


Asian wedding photography offers photographers both the privilege and the responsibility to both capture and respect the essence of the traditions. With the right preparation, understanding, and creativity, you can produce a beautiful gallery that honors the cultural heritage of the couple and tells their unique love story in a visually captivating way. Remember, every shot you take is not just a photo; it’s a page of someone’s treasured memories.

As a thank you to our readers, we’re pleased to offer you a Rangefinder exclusive discount code to get 25% off The Portrait Masters courses below. Use the code RF25 at check out to redeem. This code cannot be used in combination with other sales.

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