PJ and Hannah's Vineyard Proposal

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how we met

Hannah and I grew up a few blocks away from each other in small neighborhood in Denver. We played in the same park and took swim lessons at the same local pool. Yet somehow we never actually met each other until sophomore year in high school when she joined as the mysterious new girl who caught everyone’s eye. We became fast friends and spent our teenage years dancing the night away at concerts, goofing around in math class, and one-upping each other naming bands nobody had ever heard of. Then one snowy night our senior year, we decided to ditch a party that I happened to be throwing at my house. We left everyone raging in my basement to go upstairs, light a fire and play with my new puppy, Guinness. We talked long into the night watching the snow fall outside. As the fire died down and as Guinness fell asleep between us, I leaned over and kissed Hannah for the first time since we had met. Before we knew it, we were going to senior prom and frantically spending every waking moment together as the prospect of going to different colleges loomed over us. With every thick acceptance package or thin denial letter, our hopes of staying together were quickly dwindling.

Eight years later in the spring of 2015, we faced a similar situation. Hannah and I sat in our New York City apartment staring at the subject line of a long awaited email in my inbox: “UC – Berkeley Admissions Decision”. Hannah had already been accepted to her graduate program at Cal and now we would find out if I had been accepted to mine. After reading the first few words of the email, I knew we had gotten lucky again just like in high school and we would be headed west to embark on a new journey together. We packed all of our worldly possessions into the back of a U-Haul, and hit the road to spend our summer back where it all began in Denver before starting school at Cal in the fall.

Image 2 of Hannah and PJ

how they asked

One night after settling down in Denver, I sat in an unfamiliar bedroom at my mom’s new house reflecting on how far Hannah and I had come together. The house where I had thrown the party that fateful night had long been sold and renovated, Guinness was no longer with us, and my younger sister had just graduated from the same high school where Hannah and I had met eleven years earlier. Thinking about how far we’d come during that time, I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life bouncing from one adventure to the next with Hannah by my side. The next morning, I drove to the jeweler, invited her parents to lunch to ask their permission and began scheming for the proposal.

I spent the rest of the summer designing the perfect ring. After multiple computer renderings, two wax molds and a gold caste, it was ready. At the end of the summer, we packed up the U-Haul again, this time with a car in tow, and headed west, Hannah none the wiser that the most valuable thing in our possession was in my pocket.

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Shortly after arriving in California, Hannah and I decided to take a day-trip to Napa. We were getting ready to leave when I turned to her and suggested that we pack overnight bags just in case we decided last minute to stay the night. She would be in for a surprise when she found out I had already booked a room two months earlier at a small bed and breakfast for the night. The weather was perfect as we drove the beautiful winding road through the valley, stopping at vineyards along the way. Hannah didn’t seem to notice that I was spitting out the majority of my wine to make sure I had all of my senses about me for later in the day.

Finally we made it to the final winery in the hills overlooking the Napa valley. We checked in for our tour and were told that we were in luck – nobody else showed up except for a photographer taking promotional shots for the vineyard. Little did Hannah know that I had booked out the entire tour to ensure we would have the place to ourselves, and the photographer, Cindi, was actually there to sneak pictures of us from afar. At the end of the tour, our guide suggested that we wander down to a private terrace with views of the entire valley.

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When we got down there, I pulled out the ring that had been burning a hole in my pocket all day, got down on one knee and asked the love of my life to marry me… and I stayed on one knee, and stayed on one knee, and stayed on one knee until Hannah stopped crying and finally said yes. Cindi was perfectly positioned at the top of the hill with a telephoto lens to capture the moment.

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After some celebratory champagne and a re-application of makeup, Hannah and I headed to the Auberge du Soleil where I had made a reservation on the balcony to watch the sun go down. At the end of dinner, we went back to our room and ended the night in the same way our relationship had started – in front of a blazing fire late into the night.

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Special Thanks

Two Irises
 | photographer