12 Date Ideas for Small Town Couples

Sam Jones Photography - Couples Photography Session in Selma, Alabama

SJP12-24 (1 of 1).jpg

I got the inspiration for this blog post from these two. I mean, talk about a married couple that is still intentional about dating each other while living in a small town with a limited amount of things to do. Nez, writes Kelli a note asking her on a date and leaves it some place she can find it (and all the girl’s hearts SWELL).

Now let me be honest, Luke and I have only been married for 2 years but we live a lot of life together. We do absolutely everything together just about so it can blur the line between intentional time together and just regular life. YES THERE IS A DIFFERENCE so I’m super passionate about this. I’m gonna shoot y’all straight, going to the grocery store together or running errands together is NOT a date (unless you planned it as a date, which why???) Bringing your kid with you to dinner is 100% NOT a date. Having a long car ride while your kids are asleep in the back is NOT a date. A date is an intentional  and planned set aside amount of time where the goal is deeply connecting with your spouse. Luke and I went to a conference one time and the lady speaking about connections in relationships called the deepest connection, level 3 connections, so we use that as a scale for how much were connecting. (Hey I need some level 3 right now :)).

I don’t indulge people when they say, ‘we’re just so busy,’ ‘but I feel bad leaving the kids,’ ‘we don’t have to date because we don’t have kids yet,’ ‘there’s nothing to do here, if we lived in a bigger city we would date more’ or ‘we date every night while we watch Netflix after the kids fall asleep.’ FALSE.

When you live in a small town you have to be creative and super intentional about dates. If you’re having a hard time dating your spouse in a small town it’s probably it DOES require a lot more effort. Sure it’d be nice to have the luxury of going to a new restaurant, having a couple drinks and calling it done. There’s nothing wrong with that as a date but again I ask - is your goal being intentional with the person sitting across from you? Or are you just choosing something that looks like a date so you can cross it off your list?

Now you’re probably wondering, well what can we do in a small town? I asked my closest friends who live in small towns for their favorite date spots and this is what they had to say! Whatever you choose from this list, the goal is CONNECTION. If something on this list doesn’t make you connect, then pick something else!

selmaalabamacouplessessionsamjonesphotography5.jpg

BEFORE WE START:
Remember the goal is to be intentional, here’s how to meet that goal. Call it a date. You have to mark the time as a date no matter how simple it seems. Once you say date, the intention meter rises.

FOR THE BOYS: schedule a babysitter and ask your wife on a date. YOU WIN EVERY TIME YOU DO THIS.

FOR THE COUPLES: for goodness sake have a regularly scheduled date night! Put your excuses away and date each other! Your marriage and your spouse DESERVES it. Put your phone on airplane mode. Ask each other questions! Check in with each other! Luke and I look up questions to ask your spouse on Pinterest and go off of those. (We also like to do this for our nieces and nephews, look up, ‘questions to ask your kids’!)

1. Picnic. Most girls freaking love picnics. It is probably one of the most intentional dates. Most guys are like it’s just eating, why the heck can’t we just eat inside? Because girls swoon over the amount of intention it takes to put together a meal and eat it in a beautiful park. It makes you slow down and actually be intentional with each other rather than eating a meal inside and getting distracted by your list of to-do’s or your phone. You can go as cheap or as expensive as you want. Wanna make a Pinterest-worthy charcuterie board? Go for it. Wanna pick up some .89 cent tacos. That’s cool too. But bonus points if there’s a basket and real glasses

FOR LOCALS: We pick up an easy meal from Mark’s Mart and our favorite spot is Heritage Village, but we’ve also picnicked at Camp Grist and Old Cahawba.

2. Be a tourist in your own city.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who were born and raised in my small town that haven’t explored downtown. It’s shocking. Even if you’re bored in your tiny town, chances are it’s pretty cool or has some sort of history! Do a walking tour and explore and then get a bite to eat at a local restaurant. Luke and I do this all the time and we love it. Doing something new together creates connection.

FOR LOCALS: If you’re in Selma, hire AC Reeves to take you on her walking tour and then grab some lunch at Hancock’s. That’s an authentic Selma day!

selmaalabamacouplessessionsamjonesphotography4.jpg

3. Bike

If you don’t want a walking tour, do a bike tour instead! Get outside and enjoy some fresh air. I’m sure there’s some place you can rent bikes or you can borrow from a friend. We’ve done both!

FOR LOCALS: Luke and I ride our bikes all the time. One of our favorite places to ride bikes is at Old Cahawba. You can incorporate the picnic thing into this or you can head to the Orrville Farmer’s Market for a meal because it’s darn good and also SO CUTE and girls will love the southern charm. Put a girl in a cute place and her love tank gets a little fuller.

4. Head to a local restaurant for their weekly special.
You’ve got some restaurant in your town that does a weekly special. Use that as an excuse to go!

FOR LOCALS: Here in Selma, you’ve got Taco Tuesday at Mi Tenampa or Pint Night at Tally Ho.

TIP: Now, if you’re in a southern small town like me and you bump in to people you know, your date just turned into a group date. Engaging in long conversations with people other than your spouse on a date just skewed the intention meter. My tip is to go when you know not a lot of people will be there!
*Also, for Pete’s sake, you can’t bring your kid! That should go without saying.

5. Schedule a photo session!

Photographers, (like me!) sometimes have specials or mini sessions where you can get a taste of what a full-length session would be like with them. Kelli and Nez do this from time to time and I think it’s a brilliant date idea.

TIP: You could incorporate this into a birthday or anniversary date! (you’re welcome).

selmaalabamacouplessessionsamjonesphotography3.jpg


6. Coffee Shop + Thrift Store
This is my absolute favorite date and Luke knows it. We walk to our local coffee shop and then walk to the thrift store afterward and explore. I think thrift stores are so fun because you never know what you’re going to find so it’s kind of like exploring together. My friend Danielle’s tip is to give each other a budget and see who can find the best thing. Now the guys may be rolling their eyes at this moment but hear me out: If your wife loves this kind of date, you’re going to love how much fun she is having, and she’s going to love how much you’re engaged doing something that brings her joy.

7. Get outdoorsy
You probably have some place near your town that offers some hiking trails and if you’re like most people in a small town you never go. Luke and I didn’t start going to Camp Grist until it was about to close and I begged him to take me so I could see it at least once. He hadn’t been in 10 years and y’all it is a dream! We love going out there. You could head out early in the morning to see the fog on the water, go for an afternoon kayaking date, or you could even set up camp and stay for the night, we’ve done it all and it deserves all the heart eyes.

8. Create a playlist and ride some back roads.
Where you live is probably beautiful. Get out there and go see it. One of my favorite things to do is to listen to the playlists Luke makes because it teaches me a lot about him and the way he thinks. I love what he loves! Have someone create a playlist and then ride around and listen to it. Ask questions about why they chose what they chose! Then next time, the other spouse gets to create one. LEVEL 3 CONNECTION WILL HAPPEN.

9. Play a sport together.
This one isn’t for everyone depending on how competitive you are. But if it could be fun for you then do it! Luke and I played tennis together last year until I started taking it too seriously and burned out so instead a bought a portable ping pong set for Christmas.

Here’s a tip: pick a sport neither one of you are that good at. If this sounds like it would be awkward for you then I say DO IT! Having to be awkward in front of your spouse is one of the most rewarding things.

selmaalabamacouplessessionsamjonesphotography2.jpg

10. Read.
DON’T ROLL YOUR EYES AT ME. If you’re blessed to live in a cute little town with a front porch to sit and sip coffee on then head out there and read a book together. But if not, find a date-y spot! Luke and I have picked books we both wanted to read and had our own little book club but now we’re reading The Five Love Languages together (this is actually the definition of level 3 connection).

Here’s a tip: read the same book! That way you actually connect and you’re not just sitting there doing something next to someone else. Another one of my all time favorite relationship books is Keep Your Love On! Every human should be required to read this book.

11. Go to a local sporting event.
This one is from Kelli. It can’t be one you’re obligated to go to because a niece or nephew or cousin is playing. Go somewhere where you don’t know anyone! It’s more fun that way.

12. Serve together.
Again, this is Kelli’s suggestion, don’t you just love her heart? Serve at church together (this one is out for me and Luke because the bulk of our time is spent doing this so unfortunately it’s not that intentional for us!), help clean up your community, serve at the food bank! When I serve with Luke it makes me love him even more because I get to see him love others. When you’re used to seeing your spouse love you, you can grow accustomed to it, when you see them love others it reminds you of the gift you have!

There you have it folks. I’m curious, do you have any more date ideas?

selmaalabmacouplessessionsamjonesphotography1.jpg
sam jones