A few years ago, Kristin wrote an amazing series here on Southern Weddings called Hints for a Happy Marriage. One of those hints was to keep dating, so while we already knew that regular date nights and quality time together are a huge priority for the Winchesters, we thought it was high time we all tagged along on one of their adventures here on Southern Newlywed. We also picked their brains for some of their favorite date ideas, and I’m positive y’all will be as inspired as I am!
Names: Kyle Preston and Kristin Eileen
By day: Kyle loves sports and manages corporate partnerships for UCF (Go Knights, charge on!). Kristin loves love and marriage and handles client relations for Southern Weddings.
Where they live: Sunny Orlando, Florida
Their love story: All the magic started in the fall of 2004. We met in a college class and exchanged some good-natured banter until early October, when KPW asked me out on an official date. Our first date was supposed to be to the North Carolina State Fair, but I woke up with a terrible case of strep throat. Instead, he showed up to check on me that night with diet coke, gummy worms, and cotton candy (from the fair–I know, I couldn’t believe it either!) in hand. The rest is history (a long, juicy, marvelous history. You can read more here, or invite me to coffee and I’ll tell you all about it).
Their wedding: Our day included our favorite meal (two words: Thanksgiving dinner), many of our favorite people, and our most favorite place in the world: Chapel Hill. It all took place on and around the same campus (Go Heels!!) where we had exchanged our first hellos many years before. In addition to a heart-filled ceremony with lots of laughter and quite a few happy tears, there was a whole lot of dancing, celebrating, AND the most incredible chocolate chip cookies! In short, it was magical, and I wish we could get married every year.
Kristin and Kyle’s top five favorite date ideas:
1. Rent swan boats (AKA, go on mini adventures): Going on mini adventures and exploring your surroundings can be great fun, and a wonderful way to spend a free afternoon or evening! Often, it takes you out of your respective comfort zones and leads to great stories to be told later. This is how we found the most adorable swan boats and hand-crafted popsicles just down the road from our new house. It’s also how we wound up hiking trails in Virginia and exploring new wineries on Saturday afternoons. And how we found ourselves blueberry picking and out to brunch one weekend morning. A tip: use your resources. Date night ideas can be just a “Google” away. We just moved to a brand spanking new state, so I love that we can search “date nights in Orlando” and come up with a ton of suggestions! Or, ask your friends and neighbors for their favorite ideas.
2. Make a reservation: It’s no secret that I love a reservation. While this isn’t the most “creative” idea, I feel it is very purposeful and practical! There is something a bit wonderful about the pre-planning and thought that goes into making the effort to make a reservation, and I love that it gives me something to look forward to at the end of a day or week! A reservation also offers the chance to try new places (both fancy and not-so-fancy), sometimes letting you take a peek at the menu in advance so you can start drooling over the homemade pimento cheese appetizer (big hugs, Cask & Larder) days before your dinner date. We are big Open Table fans–with the click of a few buttons, we can find new restaurants close by and snag a table for a fun date night on the town. Sitting at a table, enjoying delicious food, and chatting the night away with KPW? Sounds pretty good to me!
3. The next Food Network Stars: Our schedules are busy and weekdays can get crammed with commitments. While I love cooking and we eat at home most nights, we tend to go with standard, tried-and-true recipes that keep us (ahem, me) from spending all evening in the kitchen. However, it can be extra fun to plan to stay in and make an ordinary evening not-so-ordinary (all while wearing pajamas and no makeup). We love to open a bottle of wine, find a “fancier” (see: more time-consuming) recipe, and maybe even pull out the nice napkins. While prepping the meal together, we are known to be pretty silly–singing (me), rapping (KPW) and dancing (both) while chopping vegetables and making marinades. A good meal, and more importantly, quality and dedicated time together that isn’t rushed or hurried, is sometimes just what we need at the end of a long week.
4. Double date: As much as we love spending time together just the two of us, inviting others along on date night is always fun. Meet friends for dinner, dessert, or Saturday morning brunch! Go to an outdoor movie (splitting food and drink responsibilities). Go bowling or play mini golf. Some things, while fun with just the two of you, are even more fun with another couple or two!
5. Walk down memory lane: Coming up on our 11th dating anniversary makes this date night idea one of my favorites. Over the years we have have gone on some really fun dates and made some great memories. Sometimes, revisiting a place or recreating a favorite special date night brings back a flood of goodness from the past. We jump at the chance to stroll around the campus where we first met and grab a bite on Franklin Street when we’re in North Carolina. We also love going to the Carolina coast for a weekend when given the chance, because it’s where we got engaged! Going back to the restaurant where we ate right before KPW popped the question? It makes me feel like we’re magically back at that sweet December 31st evening. There’s nothing quite like recreating some magical moments to remind you why you fell in love in the first place.
Thanks so much for sharing, Kristin and Kyle! Find more date night ideas and inspiration in the Southern Newlywed archives.