This post is about a beautiful proposal from Jeju Island over this past summer. Lai Sheng had reached out and let me know of his intention to propose to Brenda and wanted to discuss my coming down to capture all the moments for them. He had a plan in mind and wanted to ensure that everything would go off without a hitch.
In all honesty, a few things had me worried about Lai Sheng’s plan to propose. Without a doubt, she was going to say “yes”. That was the least of our worries. The major concerns were to do with the location. His idea was to work in Noulli, a cafe in one of the busiest districts on Jeju Island, Aewol. With its nice view and its proximity to the hotspot, it was sure to be busy, especially on a weekend. Being able to choose a specific spot for him to show up to and also not having the cafe staff shut us down for disturbing the atmosphere were my two big concerns. But, we formulated a plan of attack and decided to go ahead.
Lai Sheng and Brenda were traveling with friends and they had agreed to help out with making this a reality for him. Having additional people would make holding a place in the cafe much easier. All I would need to do then would be to explain to the patrons around the area that I’d be photographing an event so they wouldn’t be alarmed. Locals are generally very supportive of ideas like this and will more than likely offer to move aside when the time comes.
My second concern was that the staff of the cafe wouldn’t be as supportive. Unfortunately, when I arrived I learnt that one of Lai Sheng’s friends had already tried to explain to the staff what they were planning. This is never a good idea in Korea. It’s always best to beg forgiveness after if required. Local events, such as proposals, tend to be far more involved and disruptive, so staff will generally just shut it down and say no right away without even asking any questions since that is what they expect. Such was the case here and, understandably, the group was worried when I arrived. I suggested we order another round of drinks and slowly begin to take over the corner we wanted to use as people finished their drinks and vacated the space.
Slowly, the plan came together and we were able to get all the space we needed for this to happen. Having a group of five helped with getting a couple of tables and we eventually had the area we needed. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and we began the wait for Lai Sheng and Brenda. They were at a nearby beach and would be joining us at a pre-arranged time.
So, I got to planning the exact location that would work. Once that was sorted, we texted Lai Sheng the details. As he arrived, he shot us a text and we sprung into action, hiding his friends from view and setting me up at the perfect vantage point. I quickly let the group of locals sitting at the table nearby know that it was showtime and rather than simply moving one seat to the side, they moved a few tables across and let everyone else around us know not to disturb us for a while! Such is the power of the ajumma here in Korea!
Walking in, Lai Sheng and Brenda ordered drinks. Then, Lai Sheng pointed out the table that we’d told him would work best. They sat down and still Brenda didn’t suspect a thing. Lai Sheng pulled out his tablet and asked her to watch a video he had prepared. While she was distracted, their friends handed him a bouquet of flowers and a scrapbook he had put together of their lives so far. They reminisced for about 10 minutes and I was able to get some beautiful candid images of them together. He then invited her to stand and placed his knee on the floor. I hammered out frame after frame and watched as friends began to stream the proposal back to families in Singapore so they could join the big moment.
We achieved everything we wanted to. His proposal went off without a hitch. We didn’t disturb the cafe and we supported their business while we were at it. All bases covered! I gave Brenda a few minutes to process everything that just happened before we headed out to the nearby coastline to spend 30 minutes making portraits of the couple as the sun dropped towards the horizon. The couple then headed back to be with their friends for dinner and I drove myself to Jeju City for my flight.
Looking to have your own proposal photographed in Jeju or anywhere else in Korea? Please reach out so we can discuss options!