N + A / Crazy Elopement in Kon Tum, Central Vietnam
Concept & Photographer: Tu Nguyen Wedding
Wedding Planner & Floral Designer: Hands Heart Wedding
Bride's Apparel: Colorized Bridal
Groom's Apparel: The Manner's Tailor
Hair & Make-up & Celebrant: Thu Thao
Invitation & Map: Thiep cuoi Flocat
Guide: Kon Chu Rang National Reserve's Rangers
You want to create a full-blown elopement in Kon Tum, Central Vietnam in the middle of a protected national reserve with a real, adventurous couple just for your four day wedding photography retreat?
Four hour car drive from the closest airport, then three an a half hour tagging along a tractor off-road and almost four hour trekking through untouched jungle just to get to the ceremony location?
You want their elopement to be even more authentic than a real elopement?
THE WEDDING PLANNER: Are you fucking kidding me?
US: Hold my beer, here is the moodboard.
Vietnam, our homeland, has a singular, multifaceted kind of beauty that has often been overlooked and underrated comparing to other South-East Asia destinations like Thailand, Indonesia or Philippines. That's why we always wanted to create something, kind of annual event to honor our country's stunning beauty since forever.
We rarely say the cliché "feeling proud of ourselves" but this time it really needs to be said that we are so damn proud that we and everyone on the team were able to pull off such a crazy and fearless feat like this!
We had in mind a four day wedding photography retreat that taking place in the middle of nowhere, far from cities, not to be distracted by the frenzied world, no phone reception or wifi, a place located deep inside the jungle that separates us from the noisy city life and the daily stresses. Gathering together to gain new knowledge, learning from each other, opening your mind up, resolving internal conflicts to help us striving to be a better version of ourselves.
„We were all dreamers once. Some of us still are. But in the journey from imagination to adulthood, too many of us were told we had to leave our wide eyes behind. We were told that dreamers didn’t win in this world; that fantasies were the foundations of failure. So we turned our backs too soon, leaving our inner dreamers forgotten somewhere deep within us, buried beneath the debris of doubts and demands that we amassed along our path.
But those who have reached the peak know how wrong they all were — not to see that all energy comes from inspiration, and that we exceed ourselves only when we’re inhabited by a force larger than ourselves.“
Many people told us why bother making such a huge effort for just one wedding photography workshop a year when you can just create multiple formulaic, cooking cutter workshops for a fraction of a cost and time with higher return on investment rate but it's just how we are and what are we passionate about. We mean teaching about shooting adventurous elopement should be an adventurous experience of itself too, embracing the whole idea and philosophy of having an elopement, otherwise you just talk the talk. Spending a few day close close to nature, seeking mindfulness and sharing that idea, that philosophy, that way of life with other likeminded people. Detaching from our routine, where everything is loud, vibrant, crazy, filled with activity that craves for attention. And one can be overwhelmed by external sounds that sounds of your own body can be forgotten: our emotions, our mindfulness. It‘s being sacrificed, you know, the idea of being present, being mindful and being able to expressing your gratitude for each other, for life. This is what we need!
Landing at Pleiku airport, the bus took two hours to get us to the Mang Den, an important ecological area and then another two hours from Mang Den to Kon Chu Rang National Reserve Service Ranger Station. From here there is no turning back, no paved road, no reception, nothing. The only way to get through the untouched jungle is driving a tractor off-road for 18km (It took the driver a bit more than three and a half hours) and then trekking through primeval forest for more than 3 hours (6km), going up and down, crossing 6 streams, creeks and rivers, climbing a 60 meters high waterfall.
Although March is the best time of the year with pretty sunny, warm weather and so little rain, low water season but still there are endless muddy sections up to our knees or crossing rivers at the hips level, especially with the professional and choreographed attacks of the jungle leeches that many people on our team have shed blood even in the most well hidden body parts 😂 A journey waged with blood, sweat, tears and even a broken tractor's steering wheel or flipping the ceremony bamboo raft at the foot of the waterfall at the last minute during the ceremony!
But at the end of the day it all paid off, even with all accidents that make the story more real and down to earth. When the whole crew of 40 people camped on the top of the most amazing waterfall in Vietnam, watching the majestic scenery of the mountains and forests in mist, We know that it was worth it.
Makeup Artist, Celebrant, Designer, Stylist.
Three local guides and two park rangers.
And many other silent heroes to make sure we will leave nothing but footprints behind.
And of course, our rock stars: Nghia & Hoang Anh - our amazing groom and bride.
Back to early 2019 when we put up an announcement on our Facebook, looking for a real, ready to be married couple that up to an crazy elopement, seeking adventure off the grid, not afraid of getting cold, sunburn or muscle sores while dong it. We promised we will make this elopement an unforgettable memory in their life, something that happens once in a lifetime. The only catch was 20 attendees following us to learn and shoot you so it would be a bit more "production" than an usual elopement!
But then again, looking at the story, we think we have kept that promise. Thanks to them.
From almost 30 emails we received, Nghia & Hoang Anh came across as very down to earth, sympathetic human beings who seemed to be a good fit. People who love analog photography and appreciate art. And after all being said and done, we're so glad that we met and the universe somehow had a way to bring us together. We've done so many trips in our life but this hand down to be one of the most funny, mesmerizing and amazing!
SEE THE BEHIND THE SCENES OF THIS WORKSHOP:
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