On Sunday morning, February 12th 2023, Vina thought Noah was taking Izzy for a quick walk. Shortly after he left, he tipped her off to where to find the first clue of an elaborate scavenger hunt that he had planned for weeks. Spoiler alert: it ends in a proposal and she said “yes.”

Clue 1: Planning

Noah said he was going to walk Izzy and call his best friend Max. Vina stayed behind in bed. Shortly after, Noah texted “did I leave my airpods on the bar?” There were no airpods on the bar, but there was the first clue to a scavenger hunt. Upon opening, she knew this meant it would end with a proposal.

Vina paused to take it all in before doing as instructed and getting ready for the day with the accompaniment of the playlist. After showering, putting on some makeup, zhuzhing her hair, and dressing for a scavenger hunt (cute athletic clothes and shoes), she still had 45 minutes before she needed to be at the first stop. So she wrote down what she was feeling in a journal and left it out for Noah to find later - assuming he would be back at some point before her.

First stop: Schlock's

Schlok’s is Noah and Vina’s favorite bagel joint and is just a few blocks down the street from where they live. Vina continued to listen to the curated playlist on the Schlok walk and arrived just before 10:30am. Vina asked for the “Relationship Sunday Special.” The woman behind the counter replied with a big smile and handed over a salt bagel with chive cream cheese (Vina’s regular order) with clue # 2.

Clue 2: Care

Noah was a huge support when Vina was in the hospital for a week when her appendix burst after Thanksgiving. He took her to the ER when she said she was in “excruciating pain,” even though she suggested they should just go to urgent care. After they spent a whole day in the emergency room at UCSF Parnassus, the doctors confirmed she had appendicitis and her appendix had burst. They said she had to stay overnight, which turned into a five night stay of antibiotics and mostly no solid foods. Noah visited every day, usually staying past visiting hours.

Noah cared for her again when Vina had to return to the hospital to get her appendix removed in January (see appendix). This is a big example of caring for each other but showed them they can get through the really hard stuff of life.

Second stop: Q Spa

The special guest at the nail salon was Vina’s cousin, Lena! Lena is like a sister to Vina because even only children need sisters.

Lena had the next clue, of course. Noah secretly gave it to Lena the night before when they all celebrated Lena’s fiancé’s birthday at the Church of 8 Wheels (not a church, but a roller rink).

Clue 3: Laughter

Noah and Vina can always find ways to laugh so hard it’s basically exercise. They also have a silly dog, Izzy, who will be at the next stop. Noah adopted Izzy during the pandemic, when available dogs were hard to find. Noah got really lucky because there is an organization in San Francisco named HARA (Happiness Animal Rescue Alliance) that helps find international dogs homes in America. Izzy is a Formosan Mountain dog and was born in a shelter in Taiwan. Black dogs are particularly hard to place with families because they don’t photograph as well and tend to be overlooked. But when Noah saw Izzy he knew he had to adopt her.

Izzy is very attached to Noah but has also bonded with Vina and she makes her humans laugh every day.

Third stop: Alamo Square Park

Third stop: Alamo Square Park

Third stop: Alamo Square Park

Lena walked Vina to Alamo Square Park where they were greeted by Izzy and her best friend, Frida and Frida’s human, Jamie. They gave Vina a clue and got to run around in the park. Noah originally thought about having Izzy join Vina for the rest of the scavenger hunt at this point, but ultimately knew that Izzy would have way more fun running around with her best friend.

Clue 4: Communication

The clue from Izzy reminded Vina of her third date with Noah. It was back in June, on the unfortunate day when Roe v. Wade was overturned. That day, Vina saw Noah’s kindness and a glimpse of some similar political leanings when he shared that he offered his team the day off after hearing the news. Vina felt defeated by the ruling that day and asked Noah if she could join him and Izzy on a mental health walk later that afternoon. That impromptu date turned into a long walk through Golden Gate Park, one of Vina’s favorite places in the city, where she led Noah and Izzy on an improvised guided tour filled with fun facts about the park. After Golden Gate Park, they walked to get pizza and continued to walk to Buena Vista Park and to Noah’s house. Their first kiss was on the steps of Buena Vista Park.

Fourth stop: Buena Vista Park

At the bottom of the park, Noah’s friend Austin was perfectly timed to greet Vina just as she approached the steps. They had been following Vina’s location to get the timing just right. He handed her the next clue and walked away.

Clue 5: Love

Noah and Vina had fallen in love quickly. Noah even earlier than Vina but she caught up. After their first date, Noah had made her a spreadsheet and Karaoke app and she still wasn’t convinced that he was “that interested.” It wasn’t until months later on that date that stretched from Golden Gate Park to Buena Vista Park date that the feelings freely came out. Since then, they had brought Izzy to Buena Vista Park pretty often, it’s just a few blocks uphill from where they both now live (Vina moved into Noah’s place recently). Now Vina was headed to locate the bench that Noah once subtly hinted at being a nice view on one of their walks, knowing it would be the backdrop of their proposal.

Clue 6: Commitment

The aforementioned (and usually empty) bench was occupied by a group of strangers so Vina found Noah just north of the bench. This was the first time they had seen each other since he left the house that morning. Noah read the final clue aloud and got on one knee. Vina, having known the the scavenger hunt would surely end with a proposal, ecstatically said “yes.”

Noah’s former co-worker, Topher, was asked to join as the photographer. It had to be someone Vina hadn’t met and wouldn’t recognize. They gleefully spent some time taking photos around the park before heading home.

The Ring

Even the ring has a sentimental backstory. The center diamond was passed on from Noah’s mother, Karen. Noah’s late father, Harry, chose this diamond for Karen’s engagement ring in a solitaire setting with a gold band. Henne Jewelers in Pittsburgh procured the old European cut diamond from an estate sale. This particular cut was popular between 1910s-1930s and is known to have a great fire, which refers to the multi-colored flashes of color that come from within the diamond.

The diamond is part of Harry and Karen’s love story and Karen has graciously passed it down to Noah and Vina. Noah invited Vina to be a part of the ring design process so they looked at rings together in Pittsburgh. By a recommendation from a friend, they went to Orr’s Jewelers and found a great partner with their gemologist, Steve, who helped them customize the family heirloom into another beautiful ring.

The Surprise Party

The Surprise Party

It occurred to Vina that there might have been some friends surprising them at the top of Buena Vista Park, but when there was no one there, she dismissed the idea of any more surprises. She didn’t expect those friends were actually waiting at the house until she heard the champagne cork that prematurely popped while Noah was still unlocking the door.

Noah and Vina were joined lovingly by friends and food to celebrate their big day. Earlier, when Vina was waiting for the time to go get her special bagel, Noah was busy picking up drinks and snacks for the party. While they were doing the actual proposal at Buena Vista Park, Matt, Lena, Austin and others were setting up, grilling and gathering for the surprise.

Vina just saw her friend Samantha two days earlier, who had to lie to her face and pretend she did not know any of this was happening.

Noah’s Plan

Noah’s Plan

The designer in Noah made three versions of the scavenger hunt in Figma. He landed on the final version with the help from:

  • Max, proposal consultant, all the way in Pittsburgh

  • Lena and Matt, Vina consultant

  • Austin, design consultant

  • Nathaniel, proof reader

  • Keefer, Izzy stand-in

Behind the scenes

Sometime between Friday, February 9th and very early Saturday, February 10th

Thank you for being in our lives. Many of you had some part in our story and we couldn’t be more grateful 💕. We are looking forward to continuing to share our love story with you all. - Noah & Vina

Thank you for being in our lives. Many of you had some part in our story and we couldn’t be more grateful 💕. We are looking forward to continuing to share our love story with you all. - Noah & Vina