10 Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights

10 Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights

Date nights are one of my favorite things. I am such a quality time girl, and unfortunately, hanging out in groups with a bunch of people doesn’t fill up my quality time tank quite like it should. I’m more of a one on one kinda gal. My dad says I’m high maintenance in the attention category. . . and maybe I am.

As newly weds, we aren’t going to the fanciest restaurant in town to wine and dine, but we do like to do something fun at least once a week – whether that is cooking together, going on a walk, or setting up a legit date night. Today I’m going to share with you a few of my fav budget friendly summer date night ideas!

Hammock Date! 

I’m a huge fan of grabbing my double nested ENO, setting it up by a creek or a river, and snuggling and talking about our day. Or just snuggling and reading a book not saying one word to each other. . .

Picnic in your backyard

OK confession, Pai and I have had many picnics in our backyard because our dining room table was so full of wedding stuff/stuff that needs to go to Goodwill. . . six months into this whole marriage thing. Yup. But cooking dinner together or grabbing takeout and spreading out a picnic blanket in the backyard makes an ordinary meal *romantic*.

10 Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights


I always find it suuuper romantic to be out at night under a clear, velvety sky, looking at the scars. Extra points scored if someone thought to bring a yummy drink. Lying all cozy under the stars always leads to great conversations with your lover.

Trip to the Farmer’s Market

We don’t go to the Farmer’s Market enough, but I absolutely love it when I do go! Artisan bread, fresh flowers, herbs, succulents, delicious coffee – what more could you want on a Saturday morning?! Going to the Farmer’s Market with my boo is one of my fav things to do. Plus, I enjoy supporting local farmers.

Snocone Zone

Pai loves ice ceam, I love snocones. There’s a local food truck here that does ahhmazing snocones! First you get your snocone, then they put ice cream on it, then you can pick out a topping (I got pineapple once, and she poured sweet and condensed milk all over that goodness!) It’s pretty delightful. But if slushies aren’t your thing, milkshakes are equally fun.

10 Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights

Lake Day!

Recently we went with a group of people on a Sunday afternoon and rented kayaks for a couple hours. I got nice and light pink, was sore for several days after, but had the time of my life! Kayaking, paddle boarding, white water rafting – anything that gets you outside and moving under the summer sun is a great way to connect with your boo.


This is another great date idea where you can invite a lot of people to join in. On a super hot day, grab a tarp, find a hill, suds it down and get your bathing suit on because it’s slip-n-slide time. It is sure to be a hilarious and fun time.

Hot Tub Hot Date Night

OK this one may not be feasible for all. But if you don’t have a hot tub but have a friend with one who doesn’t mind you climbing over their fence to hang out in their hot tub late at night, then this could be a fun and giggly date night. Grab your favorite drink and enjoy a steamy evening with your boo (because hot tubs are steamy.)

Make Your Own Beach

When I see everyone else on the Instagram bummin’ it at the beach, I get kinda jealous. Because I want to be on the beach. But when life doesn’t give you a beach, make one yourself. Put a beach front image on your TV, the waves sound on your white noise app, lay out the towels on your living room floor. If it’s hot enough in your house and you close your eyes, you can semi-pretend you’re on the beach.


Nothing is more romantic than sitting out by a fire, eating hot dogs, roasting s’mores, and then sleeping on the cold, hard ground. While I’m more a fan of “glamping,” I don’t mind roughin’ it for a night with my boo.

Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights

What is your favorite way to spend a date night? 

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6 Things That Surprised Me About Marriage

6 Things That Surprised Me About Marriage
Last Saturday, Pai and I celebrated our 6 month anniversary with him camping, me exploring Asheville with my blog bestie, Tiffany, and then a game night with a few friends. I collapsed into bed at 1:30 after a spontaneous trip to a bakery, we said Happy 6 months, and rolled away and went to sleep.

When I thought about how we would celebrate this half a year celebration 6 months ago, this is not what I thought would happen. Likewise, marriage is not everything I thought it would be, and it’s even MORE than I thought it could be. Basically, marriage is awesome, and completely surprised me.

Intimacy is not like the Movies

Let’s just clear this one right away. Now, I knew intimacy would not be like the movies, but I’m quite surprised at how much it is not.

For instance, last night Pai and I were watching Batman v Superman and Clark Kent hopped in the tub with Lois Lane with his clothes on. ALL HIS CLOTHES ON. EVEN HIS SHOES. And he had just been grocery shopping! Pai looked at me and said, “That is definitely the movies.” Uh, yeah. Rather than laughing like Lois Lane, my reaction would be more along the lines of, “Ew, no, you’ve been walking outside with those shoes on, what if you stepped in dog poop! This is my clean bathtub, this is my alone time!”

My Selfishness

They always say marriage is like a mirror. While Pai definitely builds me up, encourages me, and loves me well, I see a lot of flaw in myself. And it’s not because Pai points them out. It’s just his general goodness. He is so selfless, compassionate, and kind. He will work late just so he can help out his employees so they can get home sooner. He teaches me a lot about being available to love on people, and not hiding in the bathroom when it’s socializing time at church. (Sometimes that is 100% me.)

The New Relationships We’ve Formed

So, part of this is more likely because we also switched churches shortly after we got married. One of our favorite things to do is have people over for dinner and game nights. In the past six months we’ve made several new friends who are AWESOME. We wanted to be sure that we weren’t the old married couple who hid out and watched Netflix on their couch every night. We are both relationship people, so we make sure that we make a couple nights a week available for girl time, guy time, and time together with friends.

6 Things That Surprised Me About Marriage

The Sexiness of a Clean Kitchen

I truly underestimated how much of a turn on a clean kitchen is. On the days when I come home from grocery shopping, or a long day at work and I see the dishes loaded in the dishwasher and the counters wiped off, I am overjoyed with gratitude. We attended a Valentine’s Day Brunch back in February at our church and there was a discussion panel on marriage. One of the female pastors said, “It’s the sexiest thing to walk in the kitchen and see my husband bent over a dishwasher.” I didn’t understand then, but boy do I now.

How Much I Enjoy Being a Housewife

Even though I consider myself a strong, Christian feminist, I find that I truly enjoy doing the little things at home. Cooking dinner for my husband and myself is a way I get to serve my husband, and a fun stress relief after work – and when Mr. M loads the dishwasher after dinner, it’s even better. We’ve separated house chores pretty well, too. I consider myself lucky that I have a man who loves to do my least favorite chores and vice versa.

How Awesome my Husband Is 

I obviously already knew how awesome my husband is because I chose to marry him. I’m still not used to saying “husband” and signing my new last name. I still get a little giddy inside every time, because I’m just so dang proud of my husband and am so honored to be a part of his family. I learn so much from Pai every day. I learn so much about him, too. The idiosyncrasies we both have are somewhat hysterical. We are both so particular about certain things, and we’re both just learning to let it be so. I love how Pai is so passionate about whatever he sets his mind to – his most current adventure being gardening. He gets hyper focused and incredibly enthusiastic. He loves me in a way that shows me the love of Jesus. His love for people comes from a source of joy that can only be from an intimate relationship with God. He makes me want to be a better person. And he’s stinkin’ hot, so that’s pretty awesome too. 😉

6 Things That Surprised Me about Marriage


My Big Fat Zim Wedding

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

I know what is on everyone’s mind when they go to a wedding. 1) Will there be a cocktail hour? 2) Is the food good? 3) Will there be dancing? 4) How many slices of cake can I get away with eating?

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

There wasn’t a cocktail hour because several of our families members are opposed to alcohol and we didn’t want to offend anyone. Plus, it’s cheaper. But in lieu of a cocktail hour, we did have a coffee bar with cookies and hot chocolate, etc. The food was good, and by God will there be dancing. The party was lit.

After our wedding ceremony, chaos ensued. The room was flipped immediately into the reception hall, and we tried to get 100+ various family members together for group pictures. I was joyously stressed. During the family pictures, dusk was falling and people were getting caffeinated and chocolate wasted. The takeaway favors were tacky Christmas mugs, which not many people took away, so I have a couple totes in my basement of tacky mugs that my mom and her band of faithful friends rummaged for at various thrift stores from September – December. If you want a tacky Christmas mug, hit me up.

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

In Zimbabwe, when the wedding party enters the reception hall, they do a dance called Ma Steps. Pai’s mom and sister and Pai choreographed a dance for us to do, and so when it was time for the party to start, we gathered outside the venue, and danced our way in. It’s a great way to ensure you have a killer entrance. Ma Steps can last anywhere from 3-10 minutes. We made ours simple because there were a lot of white people in the wedding party.

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

The dancing broke away because we all know food is the most important part of the reception. We served a traditional Zimbabwean meal, and my favorite winter time meal – soup. A traditional Zimbabwean meal is comprised of 3 things you eat all at once. There is sadza (a cornmeal patty), muriwo (collard green veggies), and ne nyama (meat stew.) You break the sadza off with your hands, dip it in the muriwo and hte ne nyama, and put it all together to eat it. OK so you don’t have to eat it with your hands, if you’re at a wedding per se, but it’s way more fun to do so. I had a soup bar on my side, because homegirl loves her some potato soup and chili in the winter. I loved that even though our venue required us to cater, they also allowed us to have someone bring in Zimbabwean food. Several of my mother in law’s friends spent the wedding day cooking trays of food at their house and bringing it together. It was a huge hit.

During the dinner portion of the reception, there were speeches upon speeches upon speeches. Pai’s familiy is very intentional in how they do everything, so they brought in about 5 additional people to share advice and congratulations (which, if you want to say in Shona, is Makorokoto – pronounced: mah-core-oh-koe-toe. See? I bet you didn’t know you were going to learn another language when you read this post today.)

We also had some entertainment before the dancing started. Pai’s sister and cousins did a dance for us they had choreographed, and his parents’ friends brought instruments and sang a song. Then the party really started.

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

You know those weddings where you’re wondering, “Will anyone dance?” This was not one of them.

After Pai and I danced, my dad and I danced, Pai and his mom danced. But they did it a little differently. In Africa, they have the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Even though Pai predominately grew up in the US, he still grew up surrounded by community and several other “mother’s.” After he and his mom danced for a moment, they invited aunties, friends, and other women in the family to join.

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

Once the dance floor opened to everyone, no one stopped. We had a mixture of American, Zimbabwan, and South African music playing and the beat was bumpin’ the entire time. There was one point where I was in the middle of the dance floor with everybody and it felt like the floor was bowing. I thought maybe I was just really dizzy from all the action of the day but no, the floor was definitely bouncing. I’m sure the people in the restaurant below us were none too pleased with their noisy dining experience.

One of my favorite dancing moments was with my 11 year old brother. He came up to me during the dinner portion and asked if he could request “Juju on that Beat.” I have no idea how to juju on that beat, so when the song came on later, I found him on the outskirts of the dance floor and followed his lead.

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

We tossed the bouquet, Pai grabbed my garter, and we cut the cake. The cake cutting ceremony is another Zimbabwean tradition. After we serve cake to each other, we then serve cake to our families. I serve Pai’s, and he serves my mine. It’s a way to honor the new family we are a part of, so I thought that was pretty cool to be a part of.

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

Dancing continued, and cupcakes were doled out. His aunt had made the traditional wedding cake, and my boss’s gift to me was making cupcakes. Y’all, she makes the most bomb cupcakes I’ve ever tasted in my life. So it really was the best.

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

The DJ basically had to force everyone off the dance floor when it was time to shut everything down. Pai and I exited the venue in a tunnel of bubbles to a car that was full of balloons, a few other balloon-like things on the windshield wipers and gear shift, and lots of messages written ALL over the car as if anyone at the hotel were curious as to what we were doing that night. . .

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

It was unbelievable. So there you have it, the highlight reel. There were several stress tears, emotional breakdowns, and learning to love each other better through the chaos, but I would do it all over again to be married to this guy.

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

To catch the rest of the journey, you can find them below.

The Bridal ShowerSaying Yes to the DressThe I Do Crewa Literary Bachelorette PartyMy Big Fat Zimbabwean Rehearsal DinnerThe Ceremony

The Ceremony

The Ceremony

Before I left for the venue, my sister’s best friend who wasn’t able to come to the wedding (but helped us get ready) hugged me and said, “Remember this day. Pretend your mind is a camera, and capture the special moments in your memory.” While I won’t share all the special moments, I’m going to share a few with you today. :)

No Sleep

The morning of my wedding I slept maybe a total of 4 hours, but in 2 hour increments. The first two hours I was too cold in my bedroom because I went to bed with my hair wet and I couldn’t stop coughing. I woke up and sat on the vent in the kitchen eating crackers and reading a book. An hour later, I tried to sleep. I slept fitfully for two hours until I woke up, still freezing and now nauseous, and sat on the vent in the bathroom and journaled before I decided to take a bath. And I’m glad I took a bath, because even though the night before I double and triple checked to make sure I shaved my underarms, I forgot to shave my legs. So I drank ginger ale, ate crackers, and shaved my legs. By the time I got out of the tub, a few other bridesmaids had stirred so we gathered in the kitchen and one gave me peppermint essential oil and a half of zofran. I felt a little less nauseous after that.

We started getting ready in at my house – several friends donated their time to doing hair, and a few of my bridesmaids were well versed in makeup. I ran up and down the stairs saying “I’M GETTING MARRIED TODAY!” between sips of coffee and one bite of 1/4 of a bagel.

My Big Fat Zim Ceremony

Forgetting Lunch

While I arranged someone to bring us a veggie tray, I forgot to arrange someone to bring us sandwiches. Luckily, we were above a pizza joint, so pizza for lunch was perfectly fine with us.

My Big Fat Zim Ceremony

The Amazing Hands 

I went between the bridal suite to our venue (the floor above) and was overwhelmed with delight. So many of my mom’s friends and Aunties from Pai’s side were helping set the tables and tie bouquets at the end of the aisles.

My Big Fat Zim Ceremony

The First Look

I’m so glad Pai and I decided to do a first look. It gave us a few moments to steal away to process the day and pray together. I couldn’t stop looking at my man. He was so handsome. I was so nervous before I saw him, but after seeing him, the stress melted away. I felt so much peace in our decision to merge our lives together.

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

Cinderella’s Shoe

When I was 4 years old, I would dress up in my Cinderella costume, run down the hall, and kick my shoe off. Dad would run down the aisle and bring my shoe to me. So my evil plan my whole life was on my wedding day, to kick my shoe off for my Prince Charming to bring me one last time.

My Big Fat Zim Wedding

Captuerd: The Line Up

Before I knew it, we lined up in the stairwell and the music started. My bridesmaids walked down the aisle to “We Dance” by Steffany Gretzinger. I watched my brother and cousins carry a Bible my dad gave me and the vow booklets down the aisle; and started to get emotional as my little brother pulled my baby cousin in a wagon, realizing my dad and I were about to be next.

My Big Fat Zim Ceremony

Walking Down the Aisle

As my dad escorted me down the aisle, I scanned the faces of people who came to support our marriage. I couldn’t believe so many people loved us so much. It was the longest walk of my life, but also the fastest. I purposefully didn’t look at my mom because I knew I would lose it. So when I got close enough to see the love of my life, I locked eyes with him.

My Big Fat Zim Ceremony

The Ceremony

There were so many favorite moments of the ceremony. We started the ceremony with the worship song, Holy Spirit. Pai and I prayed for months that the Lord would be present in our marriage and our ceremony. We covered the day with prayer, and wanted to cover the start of the ceremony by inviting The Lord’s presence. Before my dad could give me away, he stood up with us and worshipped. My dad recently texted me the other day saying “Core memory every time I hear this song.” and it made my heart sing.

The pastor preached a fantastic sermon that intertwined our personalities, our cultures, and our faith. Pai and I took communion together, so we had our friend who actually played matchmaker between us give the communion meditation. He surprised both of us by sharing in both Shona and English.

My Big Fat Zim Ceremony

The Kiss

Oh. Boy. For months and months I taunted Pai. Pai has always been Mr. No PDA. He wouldn’t be mildly cuddly with me in front of our families, let alone kiss me. To which I kept saying, “Are you even going to kiss me on our wedding day?” Well. . . I certainly got what I deserved. When the pastor said, “You may now kiss the bride” Pai did not just kiss  me. He KISSED me. And there was lipstick all over our faces, just like the Mickey Mouse/Minnie Mouse cartoons. And when he broke away, one of Pai’s uncles from one of the front rows said, “I didn’t capture that on camera, do it again!” And he did it. Again.

My Big Fat Zim Ceremony

An Adventure of a Lifetime

For the first time, presenting Mr. & Mrs. Mush. . . 😉 I pumped my fist and we danced/ran down the aisle, my broach falling off my shoe and flying under someone’s chair while Coldplay’s “Adventure of a Lifetime” played.

My Big Fat Zim Ceremony

Chaos ensued as the room was flipped into reception mode and we took family pictures.

But the after party was hoppin’. . . so we’ll get to that next week. 😉

My Big Fat Zimbabwean Rehearsal Dinner

my big fat zimbabwean rehearsal dinner

Friday Morning

The best part about coming from a big American family and marrying into a big African family is the people. There are people everywhere! The number of people at our rehearsal dinner was paramount to a small wedding. We had between 75-100 people at our rehearsal dinner alone.

Friday morning, I woke up early and met my soon-to-be husband at Panera bread for breakfast. Somehow we managed to see each other throughout the week in snippets, but we had hardly been alone the week leading up to the wedding, and I needed some one on one time to process the weekend. We sipped our coffee, gazed in each other’s eyes adoringly, and prayed together. To top the morning off, we had the first snow flurry of the season and I was ecstatic.

We separated before the rehearsal, me running last minute errands.

Always have your rehearsal lunch at Chickfila

Someone had rented our venue the night before our wedding for a rehearsal dinner, so we had to have our rehearsal at 3 in the afternoon. Before we went to the rehearsal, several of us met up at Chickfila for lunch. I kid you not, almost the entire dining room of Chickfila was practically filled with our bridal party and my family. The rehearsal went as smoothly as you could expect when there’s 36 people in the wedding party, and I only had a secret freak out in the bathroom once.

We had some time to kill before the rehearsal dinner, so a few bridesmaids, one husband of a bridesmaid and I went to one of my favorite coffee shops. Because what cures the wedding jitters more than extra adrenaline and caffeine?

Before the rehearsal dinner started, the rest of the bridal party met up at the church and Pai and I taught the bridal party a traditional Zimbabwean entrance dance, coreographed by his sister and his mom. At the reception, when we were introduced, we came out dancing to a Zimbabwean song. It was hilarious to see all these white guys trying to keep up with these white girls who knew how to dance. I’m sure it was mortifying for some, but every one was a good sport and it was a huge hit at the reception.

Rehearsal Dinner – Zim Style

The rehearsal dinner had a few more Zim traditions that we couldn’t squeeze into the wedding day itself. Pai’s mother gifted us with a traditional matching outfit which was adorable. Several of my bridesmaids had been to different parts of Africa, so they wore dresses they had bought in Africa. My mother in law also lent a few of my other bridesmaids some dresses she had.

my big fat zimbabwean rehearsal dinner

The night consisted of Zimbabwean food and speeches upon speeches upon speeches. Friends and family stood up to share their well-wishes. One of my favorite moments was when an uncle on Pai’s side gave us wedding advice and ended with a song. We originally wanted him to sing at our wedding, but due to health complications he wasn’t able. So when he surprised us with a song at the rehearsal dinner, I was so touched.

my big fat zimbabwean rehearsal dinner

I looked over at my dad throughout the night, who had been as any typical dad giving away his first daughter would be, and could see the glee on his face that I was marrying into a family whose values and relationships were steadfast.

In Zimbabwe, when the woman marries the husband, she marries into his family. As a thank you for a new daughter in law, it is typical custom for the husband’s family to give the brides parents a gift. Rather than the parents hand the gift off to the parents, though, they have intercessors. The uncles on the husband’s side give the gift to the bride’s father’s sister on the bride’s side and the aunt then presents the gift to the parents. It is a way to thank the parents for trusting the family with their daughter, and it brings the families together. Pai’s parents and family are so intentional and mindful of establishing a relationship with my family.  Both sets of my grandparents are best friends with each other, and I always wanted that for my parents and in-laws as well.

my big fat zimbabwean rehearsal dinner


After the rehearsal dinner, Pai and I gave each other one last kiss before the big day. My dad loves to take us kids out one on one to get hot chocolate from McDonalds, so I asked him if we could go for a hot chocolate with my mom before they took me home.

When mom and I got home to a house full of bridesmaids, it was like Slumber Party 2.0. We played more games that Abigail hadn’t had time to play during the bachelorette party. We stayed up till midnight giggling and then I tried to go to sleep. Try being the operative word here. . .

Until next week, when we finally talk about the wedding day!

my big fat zimbabwean rehearsal dinner

OK but before you go, look at how cute our little flower girl was <3  She is always mesmerized by Pai . . .must be the dark chocolate skin. 😉