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Quest for perfect photo op sends Hong Kong's betrothed couples abroad

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(Read caption) A Hong Kong couple poses for pre-wedding photos.

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

For a lot of Hong Kong to-be-weds, getting those perfect photographs before the big day is almost as vital as the vows. Until recently, many thought it enough to get snaps at a local park (see photo). No longer.

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“Hong Kong couples consider pre-wedding photos very important,” says Olivia Cheng, a committee member at the Hong Kong Wedding Merchant’s Association. “They don’t want the same photos as their friends. If they go abroad, their photos can be different.”

Go abroad they have. One agency, Romantic Life, reports that more than 1,500 couples have traveled to Taiwan, more than 310 to Japan, and 70 to Paris for their wedding portraits.

It all started, Ms. Cheng says, when Taiwanese companies offered similar packages five years ago to Hong Kong. Companies here followed suit. The trips do not come cheap. A six-day jaunt to Bhutan with Chee’s Wedding agency will set a couple back $8,730, not including airfare from Hong Kong to Bangkok.

Adele Lok, 30, thinks pre-wedding photos taken by local photographers in Hong Kong are too choreographed and uniform in style. “Everyone goes to the same places and does the same poses.” In April, she and her fiancé spent $5,135 on shoots in London and Paris – where they were planning to vacation anyway.

With agencies introducing packages including photographers and makeup artists to exotic destinations, couples can get images of themselves doing anything from gallivanting around relics in Bhutan to stealing a kiss in Greece.