Valerie and Vince's Peony Garden Proposal

How We Met: After I moved to the bay area, I started babysitting for my neighbor while pursuing graphic design.  They quickly became like family, and invited me over for dinner on a night that their cousin was visiting.  He had an ease about him that felt comfortable right off the bat.  We went out shortly after that and our friendship and relationship progressed steadily over the next six years as we moved in together, got a puppy and got engaged!


how they asked: Vince went for a ride on his motorcycle a few years ago and passed the Chateau Charmarron Peony Gardens deep in the hills of San Jose.  Peonies are my favorite flowers so he made a mental note of this location for future reference.  Fast-forward 2 years and we’re on our way to the gardens, anxious and excited to see an entire field of my favorite flowers during peak bloom time.  This place was absolutely unreal.  The owner, Marcia, met us at the front and was so sweet and helpful describing the grounds.


There were peonies the size of softballs in every color from bright white to ruby red.


My jaw dropped at the sight of it all and I immediately started taking photos of my favorites when something caught my eye – it was our puppy running through the garden toward us.


I can only imagine the look on my face at this point.  It was a mixture of shock, confusion, and joy, wondering who brought him and why he was there.  Vince untied a small silk bag attached to his collar and got down on one knee.  I just about lost it.  I was so excited I’m not even sure I ever said “yes,” but after so many years together, I’m not sure I had to.


He pointed out a photographer and we smiled for a couple of love-drunk photos before I see my mom walk out of the bushes behind him.  This is where I really lost it.  Vince’s mom followed behind her, having flown all the way out from Colorado for the occasion.  My dad walked over from the opposite side of the garden, tears in his eyes and a leash in his hand having been the one to let the puppy loose.


It meant the world to me to have them there to celebrate with in such a special moment.  We opened a bottle of champagne and clinked glasses over a picnic table surrounded by peonies.  We met more friends and family in San Francisco and celebrated over tacos and margaritas.  I couldn’t have planned a better day.


Peony gardens: Marcia of Chateau Charmarron  |  Photos by:  Zax Avila Photography