A couple taking pre-wedding photos at the ocean in Jeju.

Lorryn Smit

June 26, 2023

Imagine witnessing the first light of day with the love of your life by your side, sharing an unforgettable moment filled with warmth and affection. That’s exactly what David and Kaylinh experienced during their breathtaking pre-wedding photoshoot on the enchanting Jeju Island – a memory they will cherish forever!

a couple watching a sunrise in jeju island

They first met at a typical house party in Austin, where David and Kaylinh were introduced as friends. Their paths crossed occasionally on the streets of downtown Austin’s lively 6th Street. After David completed his graduation, he relocated to Houston to kickstart his career as an engineer. A year later, Kaylinh also moved to Houston to pursue her Master’s degree. When David heard about her move, he took the opportunity to make his own move as well. Their shared love for exploration and discovering new places kept their spirits high, whether it was a cozy coffee shop, a trendy restaurant, or an exciting city.

Their first international trip together took them to Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, where they visited a friend. This experience revealed their mutual joy in traveling the world side by side. From spontaneous weekend getaways to lesser-known cities across the United States, to week-long international adventures during U.S. holidays, they always found something to look forward to, even as they settled into their lives in Houston. Their constant wanderlust earned them a reputation among their friends for being constantly on the move, and it became their hashtag: #alwaystravelinh. Kaylinh’s exceptional skills in planning itineraries made their journeys all the more memorable.

Their motto was to make the most out of every city they visited, even if they had just a weekend to explore. Despite the limited number of paid-time-off days typically available to Americans, they maximized their time off by taking advantage of long weekends, holidays, and, later, the opportunity to work remotely. However, their path to the proposal was not without obstacles. David initially had plans to propose in Australia in 2019, among the enchanting “Fairy” penguins, which happened to be Kaylinh’s favorite animals. Unfortunately, he faced a setback as he was laid off five months prior, and his focus shifted to finding a new job. Thankfully, he managed to get back on his feet before the 2020 pandemic struck, further delaying his proposal plans. David had always dreamed of proposing internationally, but with the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, that seemed nearly impossible. During the waiting period, he made a wise decision to invest in a house, and it turned out to be a blessing as the housing market and rates soared.

After settling into their new home and stabilizing their finances, David felt ready to try again. He noticed a new flight route from Houston to Bergen, Norway, and decided that it would be the perfect location for his proposal, even though it lacked penguins. With its breathtaking natural landscapes, mountains, lakes, rivers, and fjords, it resonated with their shared love for hiking and picturesque views. The remote and unfamiliar atmosphere of the location also appealed to David, and Kaylinh’s expressed desire to return to Norway solidified his choice. While they were exploring the Scandinavian region, they came across a flight deal to Korea and took a chance, hoping that the world would have calmed down in terms of the COVID-19 situation in the next eight months. Fortunately, their gamble paid off, and Korea turned out to be a country they had longed to visit. They had heard tales of the enchanting beauty of Jeju Island and believed it would be the perfect backdrop for their proposal. Thus, after booking the flight to Korea and returning home, they realized that Jeju Island would be an idyllic place to make their dream of a pre-wedding come true.


As mentioned earlier, we booked the trip to Korea 8 months in advance to get a good flight deal. Fortunately, Korea turned out to be the next big trip for us soon after getting engaged. We read that April was an excellent month for visiting Korea, and Jeju specifically, so we started creating the itinerary with pre-wedding photos in mind. Nature with big backdrops is always enticing for us to explore and capture. Experiencing Korean culture was also something we had been looking forward to for a while. Just like I would never propose in the U.S. (internationally only), I felt the same way about the engagement photos as well as the wedding. Everything just worked out the way it was meant to be for our Jeju Island pre-wedding photoshoot.


For location, it’s always nice to see a photo and get that “awe” feeling. Impressed and humbled by the earth and its features. Mountains, volcanoes, rivers, oceans, and everything natural. The green, blue, and rock colors make you appreciate the vast wonders of this world. We’re so small so it is not difficult to appreciate what you’re standing amongst as well as the ease to possibly see these things nowadays. Relaxed and appreciative of your surroundings while enjoying the times together as well as the opportunity to be able to witness these wonders. Nature doesn’t discriminate so it’s humbling to know how powerful it is no matter who you are, what you have, or what you do.


It was special to be able to have the photo shoot at Seongsan Ilchulbong during sunrise since it’s also called Sunrise Peak. Pictures at dawn and shortly after give that “awe” feeling when exploring, not to mention the smaller crowds. It was also interesting to see the Jeju locals’ reaction to witnessing a pre-wedding photoshoot; they are very kind and respectful of the situation by moving or waiting so they do not interrupt the shoot.


We’re glad we decided on doing our pre-wedding photoshoot internationally and somewhere beautiful like Jeju Island. Buying the ticket to Korea during the trip we got engaged in worked out for the best. Later knowing that April was a great time to visit also helped seal the deal. Also, we’re glad we woke up extra early for this shoot. It was a little rough in the morning, but it was worth it in the end. (Thanks Lorryn for making our dreams come true with the early morning shoot as well!)


I would advise you to start looking early and ask around. Photographers have a network and follow each other on social media. Also, depending on what you like, do a little research on the weather and climate of the location you’re visiting. Hopefully, it’s not too cold, lack of local flowers blooming, rainy season, etc. Have an outfit in mind as well, I’m sure it would not be fun to last minute shop or not have something for the day.


I remember how windy it was at the first location of our photoshoot. It was tough to keep our eyes open and look at each other or the camera without wanting to blink or cry. Also, it was a bit cold that morning, so it was a little rough not having a thicker outfit to withstand the wind. We all laughed our way through it for amazing photos.

Pre-Wedding Photoshoot on Jeju Island: David & Kaylinh

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