Photographer Mylyn Wood, is on a special mission to show off the gorgeous wonderland that is Saipan, as well as to demonstrate the ways in which local resources can be engaged to create the most romantic celebrations! Her challenge to island brides to recognize the natural beauty and tools at their disposal, is one that resonates with me deeply and was my motivation behind creating Bajan Wed, so you can imagine what a thrill it is to showcase this incredible, tropical editorial! Kudos to Mylyn for executing her goals so brilliantly!
From Mylyn Wood Photography: I’ve been a wedding photographer on this tropical paradise called Saipan for 4 years. During that time, I’ve seen brides import almost everything from their wedding to the island- the dress, the flowers, the invitations, literally everything. Over and over I’d hear their complaints about the cost and how they want a tropical wedding but everything they have for inspiration were things not specific to our island.
As much as I love these weddings it made me a little sad to see that Saipan’s resources weren’t being tapped into and the beauty that has kept me here year after year (we were only supposed to be here for one!) wasn’t being recognized. I decided to style a shoot completely on the idea of locality. Everything would be local: the venue, the rings, the cake, even the bride. I was a little nervous taking this on having heard that supplies are limited here but I found it surprisingly easy.
My main inspiration was the island itself and looking at it with new eyes, seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary, everyday things. In lieu of the traditional diamond ring I found it more fitting to adorn the bride’s hand with a pearl. I dressed her in a locally tailored gown and draped her natural, flowing hair with the traditional maur-maur. These floral headdresses are symbolic of celebration, happiness and tradition and were the perfect centerpiece for our model. We carefully wrapped a tea lei with leaves from her family’s farm and let it graciously rest on her hips. The bridesmaids carried flowers gathered and assembled by the local cultural club, turned floral business. Even the cake reflected local flavors by incorporating the local citrus fruits to make the delicious, lemony cake. Precious coral from the shoreline rested beautifully atop the cake and a few sprigs from the bride’s bouquet sat alongside it. Local bananas, taro leaves, and sea glass were used for decor, providing the perfect nod to the island. The bridesmaids’ dresses were found the local “Sabado,” street market, a sort of flea market happening every Saturday. We knew the chances of finding matching dresses were slim so we embraced it and mixed colors and prints to show diversity from traditional thought. Many local farmers and vendors came together for this project in an effort to showcase the beauty of Saipan and open our eyes to its potential as a wedding location.
“Seeing little pieces of home all around me was the best thing about the whole project,” said Hyunjae Lee, our bride who grew up on Saipan. She and husband Micah were married just a year earlier in her mother’s home country of Korea but she was thrilled to be part of the project and have her own Saipan “wedding.”
“Everything brought up memories of living here- the smell of the plumerias in the maurs, the taste of the citrus in the cake, even the sea glass. I used to play with pieces as a child while my brothers chased hermit crabs.” Our bride herself had lived in Saipan for over twenty years and had never even been to our venue (Tank Beach) even though it was only fifteen minutes from her family home. “Our island is so small and families are so close that we don’t normally venture out very far from our villages–even if it’s only a few minutes away. I had no idea this beautiful beach was even here. I had heard about it but have never been here until now.” she admitted.
When we approached our models with the idea and our color scheme they sort of shrugged. With such a simple, organic color palette and all local vendors they were a bit unsure of what to expect. Their reaction was priceless. “I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was when it all came together. I never could have pictured it this way,” said Kelly Pangelinan, one of our bridesmaid models. “It takes a creative mind to put something like this together to open our minds and see what could be, when it’s put together, instead of seeing them as separate things that don’t mesh together.” Their response was so positive and heartfelt that I couldn’t help but share it. Saipan is truly a special place with beauty that is unmatched, people who are vibrant and caring and most of all, people who love and love big.