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Twelve years ago this coming Saturday, I went on my first “official” date with my now-husband. Our date planned for the previous week was canceled thanks to a dreadful case of strep throat on my part, which derailed our plans to go to the State Fair for ham biscuits, cotton candy, and a ride on the Ferris wheel. Little did I know that dinner at Chili’s and trip to a haunted house would lead to our forever. I wouldn’t change a thing, but before that first date, there is something I wish I had known…

Photo by Gina Zeidler

Actually, I’m fairly confident I could list out 100 different things, maybe more. But one immediately rises to the top of my list: I wish I had known that our love story would become a one-of-a-kind work of art. Not a Rembrandt or a da Vinci, but an impressionistic finger painting – one that doesn’t look like much until you take a few giant steps back so that you can see the whole picture. Each twist, turn, joy, sorrow, and celebration was just one more glob of paint necessary to create our love story masterpiece.

It’s no secret that life is messy and doesn’t always go as planned, and Kyle and I have had our fair share of “messy” over the last twelve years. Yet I’m still a hopeless romantic and a sucker for a cheesy rom-com flick, and it’s easy for me to fall victim to the belief that ‘good things’ follow a specific formula, and therefore should fall into place like a connect-the-dots game. I also think it’s easy to wish for or even actively try to create a picture that looks an awful lot like someone else’s (which is never a good idea).

For those of y’all out there in a new relationship that down the road might be a forever-kind-of love, I hope with all of my heart that you’ll grab a paint brush and get messy. Make your own priceless piece of art. All cheekiness aside, I wasted a lot less energy in the first years of our dating being overly concerned with creating a perfect picture instead of wiling embracing a messy (future) masterpiece. Four years into marriage, this concept still rings so true. [Insert lack of Pinterest-perfect home décor or holiday celebrations (God bless football games ON Thanksgiving).] Fighting for my very own masterpiece still, brown sofas included.

My number two thing I wish I had known would be that KPW is a bit of a thermostat monster (ha). I would have invested in a few more sweatshirts and perhaps a blanket for our car trips and evenings spent watching TV on the sofa ;)

I’d love to hear what ONE thing (although I know there are many) you wish you would have known before you went on your first date with your forever plus one? I’m sure we can all learn a lot from one another. Leave a comment below!

PS: This sweet little corner of the Southern Weddings blog is a place where I get to chat all things marriage. I would love to hear from y’all. What topics to you want to discuss? Any questions or things you would love a different perspective on?  Don’t be shy. Send me an email: [email protected]  or leave a comment below.

kristin Written with love by Kristin
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    Any Friday Night Lights fans in the house? (Raising my hand high!) Tami and Coach’s life had its ups and downs through the five seasons we followed them, but it always centered around family and football. Kutter and Lauren are in the same mold, including the ups and downs AND the sweet love story. From a tumultuous start to their relationship to the simple ways they like to spend time together, I loved learning more about these two and their five favorite date nights!

    Thanks to Ally and Bobby for these wonderful photos!

    Names: Kutter and Lauren Miller
    By day: He is a Texas high school football coach and health teacher and I am the owner and lead wedding planner at The Simply Southern.
    Where they live: Currently, Weatherford, Texas about 30 miles west of Forth Worth, but being married to a coach means that could change at any time!
    Their love story: I am a North Carolina girl — born and raised in Raleigh. I moved to Texas to go to college for athletic training, and was assigned a clinical rotation with the football team at a local private high school. At my first football game, this really cute coach came up and introduced himself. I wanted to talk to him, but it was against my college’s rules for me to date a coach that I worked under. After much debate, I decided to ask for his number, and then invited him to a football game date the next weekend.

    Soon after our return we were found out, and I was suspended from the Athletic Training program at my college. My world felt like it was crashing down around me, but he was by my side through the entire process, and I knew that if we could make it through all of that in the first few months we had known each other, then we could make it through anything. On June 27, 2015 we tied the knot in my hometown. Our ceremony was at 9:30am, followed by brunch, and by 1:30pm we were off to our honeymoon as newlyweds!

    Five Favorite Date Nights:

    1. Tossing the football. Being married to a Texas high school football coach means my life looks a lot like a scene out of Friday Night Lights. We met on the football field, our first date was a four-hour road trip to watch the Sooners take on the Horned Frogs, and a lot of our dates revolve around football season and finding ways to spend meaningful time together despite the hectic schedule. Some days we take the football and play around in our backyard, or we’ll walk the nature path behind our house with our dogs. Other times we make a date night out of going to scout upcoming opponents! One perk of coach life is that we get free tickets to local football games, so we frequently have date nights to TCU football games. Our lives really do revolve around the sport, and we never get tired of it!

    2. Downtown and local eats. We love dressing up and heading downtown to explore. We make a trip out of it, and if the weather permits, always try to eat outside. I love trying new restaurants, and eating local is one of my favorite ways to find the best cuisine. It always evokes good conversation, and I love the small town feel.

    3. Camping. Coming from families that grew up camping, I love to tie my hair up and have a relaxing weekend outdoors — we’ll bring the dogs, unplug from technology, and enjoy nature to its fullest. Sometimes we fish at the lake, other times we explore the countryside, but no matter what, we have uninterrupted time for meaningful conversation and to enjoy each others company.

    4. Past and future. Between the busyness of football season and wedding season, date nights in are some of my favorites. We love to lounge around with a glass of wine and take a walk down memory lane. I am still amazed by all of the things that we have been through as a couple, and I’m in awe of how we got to where we are. We also love dreaming about the future on these slow nights in!

    5. Ice cream. Whether we’re at Goodberry’s in Raleigh or Sweet Sammies in Fort Worth, we love to take trips for ice cream. There’s nothing more refreshing in the Southern heart, and it gives us a good excuse to just focus on each other!

    Thanks so much, Lauren and Kutter! Find lots more date ideas in the Southern Newlywed archives.

    emily Written with love by Emily
    1 Comment
    1. avatar Southern Date Nights | Hollow Hill Event Center reply

      […] of weeks ago our wedding planner, Lauren from The Simply Southern, and her husband were featured on Southern Weddings Newlywed Date Night […]

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    October 21, 2004 was my half birthday, and it also happened to be the day that was supposed to be my first date with my future husband. He was going to take me to the NC State Fair to eat cotton candy, nibble ham biscuits and visit the farm animals. Unfortunately, I woke up on that fateful Thursday morning with a dreadful 102 degree fever and a throat that felt as if I had swallowed a bucket of nails. One trip to student health later and a diagnosis of strep throat in hand, we spent our first “date” on my sofa, watching the state fair coverage on the news. He did bring me cotton candy and diet coke to make me “feel better,” and we managed a first date redo a few days later. The rest, as we now know, is history.

    I am convinced that this next hint for a happy marriage is one of the most important, potentially the most fun, and likely the one that’s most easily pushed aside. Hint #4: Keep Dating. As in, continue to carve out dedicated, uninterrupted time to invest in one another; forever and ever, amen.

    Y’all, dating is so important. You really got to know your sig-o by going on dates, having adventures and spending quality time together, right? It’s where you learned about his favorite foods, he learned about your love of all things monogrammed and the two of you started to form a bond stronger than pecans and sweeter than honey. Unfortunately, after marriage (and even while planning a wedding), life gets busy, and suddenly there doesn’t seem to be time to dedicate to uninterrupted quality togetherness. The pressure of life starts to overwhelm the calendar and that sweet regular date night is the first thing to go.

    I would argue that you must make dating a priority because it’s a simple way to remind yourself why you started this whole marriage journey in the first place: a way to connect to your spouse and continue to get to know him and fall in love. Continuing to date, on purpose, gives you a chance to break away from the busy and focus on what really matters.

    Dates don’t have to be fancy. They don’t have to be all-day affairs. They just need to involve you, your other half and limited unnecessary distractions (insert cellphones here). Certain dates and adventures become lifelong favorite memories just because they are with the one that has your heart, and the accumulation of those memories and experiences is what enriches a relationship over a lifetime.

    Kyle and I both have busy careers and other important commitments, and we haven’t added the complication of littles to the mix quite yet. I can imagine this hint will only get trickier to execute with time, but continuing to date is something I am fiercely passionate about, and plan to fight tooth and nail to maintain no matter what life throws our way.

    For us, date night is occasionally getting dressed up and trekking to our favorite Southern eatery tucked up a windy road from our house. They have great live music on the weekends, to-die-for grits of the day and provide a sweetly Southern atmosphere for an intimate and cozy dinner conversation. Other times it’s strolling downtown to grab frozen yogurt and snag a bench outside to sit and chat. No matter what we do, if we are doing it together, in an effort invest in each other and our relationship, it makes more difference that we can quantify. After all, why on earth would we stop doing something we LOVED doing before we got married?

    I asked the SW gals about their favorite date memories (big or small). Lara loves visiting Fearrington Village and the beltie cows with Ari! Nicole’s most favorite date with her beau was an spontaneous Fourth of July adventure to the coast for a picnic and a day of catching rays. Marissa reminisced about a day spent playing hooky from school, riding roller coasters and giggling her way through Universal Studios with BDK. Lisa has the sweetest memories of her first camping adventure with her cute beau and his family. And Emily loves going to outdoor movies with John — they’re usually less than $5 per ticket (or free!), and they can bring along a picnic supper. From once-and-a-lifetime visits to amusement parks to regularly visiting the Fearrington cow, regardless of the details, the most important part is that memories are made and quality time invested.

    So I am extending a challenge to each one of you. Join the Keep Dating movement. Take turns planning dates. Get creative and see what you can dream up. Make a date jar full of ideas and keep it on your counter. Be committed and block off your calendars. I promise that the time invested in planning and participating in the Keep Dating movement is so worth it!

    Have a creative date idea to share? Spill the beans! Have a fun date memory? We want to hear about it!

    P.S. Catch up on past hints here: #1, #2, #3!

    P.P.S. Lovely session by Jo Photo, one of our Blue Ribbon Vendors! See more from this session in our Facebook Friday series!

    kristin Written with love by Kristin
    10 Comments
    1. avatar Samala C. reply

      I loved reading this! I could not agree with you more regarding setting that special time together. Having been married and divorced with 3 children, it was a lot harder when the kids came into the picture. But kids or no kids, making one another a priority will keep you both rediscovering why you grew to love one another, and give you more reasons to keep the love alive!

    2. avatar Madi Reid Sanders reply

      Sig-O! Love it! Great post Kristin!
      Sending BIG southern hugs!
      Madi

    3. avatar Stephanie Huxter reply

      GREAT post Kristin!! Oh we are so passionate about this subject! Life is busy for all of us, but dating our spouse really does need to be a BIG priority! It’s the way we stay connected, in love, and on the same page. When your marriage is happy and good, other priorities in life seem to fall in place. Our favorite date night – having a fire pit in the back yard with a bottle of red wine! All of our life, dream, funny conversations seem to happen there! Cheers to the Keep Dating Movement!

      • avatar Kristin reply

        Stephanie! Am I allowed to invite myself (and Kyle) over for a double-date in your backyard? It sounds dreamy!!

    4. avatar Brittany Lott reply

      This is so sweet and absolutely 100% true! It is so important to invest quality time and effort into your marriage.

    5. avatar keep dating | Piwo z Lody reply

      […] am not married, duh, but read this “tip for a happy Marriage” that said to keep dating.  I thought that it was sweet. I […]

    6. avatar Jessie at Gramercy Studio reply

      I loved reading this post & totally agree. Dating (and engagement) are really special times not to be rushed through. It is easy when you know you found the one to neglect this time – but it is really precious and should be enjoyed. I believe taking the time to work through things and learn about each other when dating relieves a lot of tension and fear when you do get married.

      Lovely post and VERY lovely photographs. You are stunning!

      blog.gramercystudio.com

    7. avatar Hints for a Happy Marriage: Get Away – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

      […] rejuvenate you. Put some of those past hints in action: laugh out loud, put down your cellphone, go on a date. The WHOLE point of this hint is to recharge your batteries and to take time AWAY from the daily […]

    8. avatar Hints for a Happy Marriage: Take a Deep Breath – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

      […] I, and even for our future children. I long for dinners eaten at our table (more on this later), date nights, and the occasional lazy Saturday morning sipping coffee in our pajamas. So, I try my hardest to […]

    Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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