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Esther & Bryan: Surprise Proposal to Sophisticated Nuptials

Esther & Bryan: Surprise Proposal to Sophisticated Nuptials

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Esther and Bryan’s love journey began almost seven years ago when they met at a small Raleigh church. Starting out as just friends, the pair had no idea at the time of meeting it was truly fated and would lead to ‘I Do’.

Over the years their friendship grew and took them to a very special day… their engagement. In May 2018 the couple ventured to Los Angeles where Bryan’s parents lived. Little did Esther know that Bryan had a big surprise in store for her. Near the end of their trip he took her on a brunch cruise and for a couples massage. Later that evening they headed to Laguna Beach for a picnic. It was at the private little spot on the shore that Bryan popped the question. He even hired a hidden photographer dressed in black to take candid shots of it all, including engagement photos on the beach after the big question.

In a few short months, the couple was wed at Umstead Hotel & Spa in Cary, N.C. surrounded by their family and friends. They had always loved the hotel and knew immediately that they wanted to get married there. In addition to the lovely ambiance, the hotel provided a wedding planner and catering manager to help with the wedding plans from start to finish. The bride shares on this valued service, “Our wedding day went so smoothly. I was so stress-free!”

To save money and make the wedding uniquely theirs, all the flowers, décor and signs were DIY. The bride made her own bouquet, bridesmaids pitched in to help with their bouquets and other floral arrangements, and the bride’s dad made the cross at the altar. “I really liked having personal touches to everything,” shares Esther.

Looking back on the special day, both Bryan and Esther reminisce on what they remember most.

Esther recalls most, “Our first look! We decided last minute to share our personal vows during our first look. We thought it would be more special and intimate, and it truly was. Also, having that moment with just him really helped calm my nerves before the wedding started.”

Meanwhile, Bryan remembers most, “Our ceremony. The ceremony was the most unforgettable moment of the day. Seeing my wife walk down the aisle with her father, having our best friend marry us, saying I do, and exchanging rings and vows were memories I will cherish forever.”

In true celebration fashion, the couple gave each guest a paper confetti contraption, which the guests shot to create a confetti tunnel for the couple to walk through at the end of the night. The entire wedding was elegant and sophisticated, and exactly the day the couple imagined sharing with loved ones.

The Couple: Esther Choe, Esthetician, and Bryan Lee, Business Marketing

Number of Guests: 120

Venue: The Umstead Hotel & Spa, Cary, N.C.

Colors: Golds, whites and pops of pinks

Favors: Traditional Korean lucky fortune pouches

First Dance Song: “Touching Heaven” by Johnnyswim

Special Touch: A close friend officiated the wedding.

Advice For Brides: “I highly recommend having a first look or even just finding time to have a moment to yourselves. Slipping away together for 10 minutes to take in all that is happening around you really makes a special moment.”



Florist: Ordered from

Caterer: Umstead Hotel and Spa

Hair: Ashley Watts

Dress Designer: Essence of Australia

Wedding Dress Boutique: NY Bride and Groom in Garner, N.C.

Bridesmaids’ Dresses by:

Tux: Groom - Hugo Boss

Photographer: Urban Bloom Photography

Planner: Gina Johnston from A Southern Soiree

Cake: Plain white cakes from Publix & the MOH decorated them with fresh flowers, gold leaf, gold dust, macarons, etc.

Invitations: Vistaprint

Officiant: Josh Cho

Rings: Diamonds Direct Crabtree

Bartenders: Umstead Hotel and Spa

Music: DJ Daniel Herion from Complete Weddings + Events

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