While planning an engagement proposal might be one of the most nerve-racking and thrilling experiences of a lifetime, it doesn’t have to be over-the-top to be special. In fact, creating a memorable proposal can be simple with the right planning behind it.
Bay Area native John Tounger couldn’t agree more. He skipped the bells and whistles in favor of an intimate proposal in a carefully crafted environment. The result? A sophisticated and classy evening to celebrate a defining moment with the woman he loves.
As someone who values meaningful experiences, John approaches everything he does with creativity and passion. While he’s succeeded at impressive stints in the past (such as creating an Instagram for his cat with over 30k followers) when it came to planning a surprise proposal for his high school sweetheart, he was up against the biggest challenge of his life. Tounger wanted to plan a proposal unlike any other, and turned to Peerspace to find a space that matched his ambitious goal.
After searching throughout the Bay Area for the perfect backdrop for the special evening he had planned, Tounger found his dream Peerspace location in this sophisticated yet laid-back urban loft. Featuring an open floor plan, chef’s kitchen, private patio, and floor to ceiling windows to offer plenty of natural light, Tounger thought the space was just what he was looking for to create the ideal surprise-proposal-turned-dance-party event.
He wasn’t disappointed. On December 23, 2015, after weeks of planning in secret, Tounger asked the woman he loves to marry him in a simple and beautiful way. (Spoiler alert: she says yes!)
If you’re starting to think about celebrating an important moment – however big or small – take the first step and start browsing unique locations on Peerspace.
Here, he shares his engagement journey and how he found a space worthy of this life-changing moment.
Q: How did you meet your fiancé?
A: We grew up in the Bay Area and met in high school, where we became fast friends. After both attending college in Los Angeles, our friendship continued to grow. We started started dating in the summer of 2014 when I asked her out in Paris. We were in front of the Eiffel Tower, which set the bar really high. Later that year, we were in Zurich on New Year’s Eve and I told her I loved her. It was snowing and there were fireworks. It was very romantic. So when it came time to proposing a year and a half later, I didn’t know how to top those moments. I knew I had to try and pull off something big.
Q: What was the biggest challenge in surprising her with the proposal?
A: From the start she always said I couldn’t surprise her and there was no way I could trump the extremely special moments we had already shared. This made me even more motivated to surprise her. I knew the only way I could pull it off was by turning the tables on her and having her think she was planning something for me. I came up with the plan that a friend would convince her to throw a surprise party for my birthday. We decided that he would tell her he had a great event space set up and all she had to do was invite our closest friends. She bought it. What she didn’t know was she was actually inviting guests to help us celebrate the engagement right after the proposal. But then the hard work came in – I had to find the perfect venue to fill in the lie and provide the perfect backdrop.
Q: What were you searching for in an event venue for the ideal proposal?
A: From the start, I wanted to find something cool and unique in San Francisco. But I had no idea what that might look like or where to begin. I called every hotel in the city, asking what options they had, how many people could fit and what it would cost. If you can drop the money for a corner penthouse with killer views, great, but I was working with a $1,000 budget. After I didn’t find anything suitable – or affordable – I turned to Airbnb. There were some cool options, but no one wanted to let me host a party. Not to mention I had to pay for a space overnight that I didn’t need. So I turned to looking up rooftops and private dining rooms in restaurants, but still couldn’t find a good fit. It was a long and frustrating process.
Q: How did you come across Peerspace and what was your process like in finding a space?
A: Once I figured I needed a really unique yet affordable event space, I went to Peerspace and made an account. I started talking to a variety of hosts and venue owners right away. It was actually the Peerspace Concierge who reached out personally and offered to find the right space based on my needs. I contacted the venue owner and from there it all came together fast. I saw the location a few days later with my father in tow to give the final nod of approval. I instantly knew that it was the place. It was absolutely perfect. The host was really excited about what we were doing and extremely helpful. They had glassware and catering options and everything I could have needed. From there, it was just down to logistics.
Q: In retrospect, would you have done anything differently?
A: No. It worked out perfect. It all came together better than I could have hoped. She was 100% surprised – which I didn’t believe would happen. She didn’t even have a hunch and could not have been happier with how it turned out. Having the engagement party with friends and family arrive at the event venue right after the proposal was really fun and intimate. It was this special blending of emotions and experience. It was fun. Everyone ended up dancing. It was a great party, it was perfect.
Q: There’s a lot of pressure for men to have unique proposal ideas these days. What advice would you give to someone else who wants to plan a stand-out proposal?
A: The discouraging thing is that when searching online or talking to friends you can come across great ideas, but having the resources to actually pull off some of those stunts is tough. My personality is always to go big, but I would give the advice to anyone that they can make something special happen. A proposal is a once in a lifetime thing worth the extra effort. It’s a story you are going to to tell for the rest of your life. I would recommend exploring an option like Peerspace that allows you to do something affordable and creative.
Q: With such a special proposal – what kind of wedding do you have planned to top that?
A: It’s going to be tough! But I think we are going to have something spectacular. We are planning to get married in Napa, surrounded by people we care about. I’m Greek, so it could be a pretty big event. Our culture tends to have this perspective that “your life ends when you get married,” but we are stoked to embark on this adventure together. We are excited about what’s ahead.
Q: You obviously value impactful experiences and try to commemorate big moments – do you have a daily motto that inspires your approach to life?
A: I always live by the very cheesy motto: Enjoy the process. It sounds cliche, but I value life experiences over anything else. I truly believe that an awesome life experience or learning opportunity is always worth the journey and any risk. I love the thrill of building something and working side by side with people. These experiences are what binds us.