weddings

The DC Date Night Guide

The DC Date Night Guide by Sarah Bradshaw Photography

Buck and I celebrate our five-year engagement anniversary today. It’s a fairly normal day for the Bradshaw family— I’m typing this from a Starbucks while I wait on car repairs (which will make me late to pick up London, late to get home, and late to start dinner… oh well), Buck has a work event this week that took him out the door early and will keep him out late tonight, London will need a bath before bed, and I have a call with a wedding planner at 7pm to talk through the final version of Saturday’s wedding timeline, so tonight is just going to be a whirlwind of crazy. Like I said, a fairly normal day.

A couple of years ago I would’ve mourned the “normalcy” of today. It’s an important and much-treasured anniversary— one doesn’t get engaged every day, and it’s important to me to celebrate special dates, as best as possible. A casual observer might think that we’ve failed to recognize it at all today… but I walked out this morning to see a sweet message from Buck left in brightly-colored sidewalk chalk, reminding me that even if I barely get to see my husband for an hour today, we still cherish one another, we’re still crazy about one another, and we still prioritize each other above everything else. Just as it should be.

Cultivating a marriage is hard work. It takes time, effort, and is sometimes uncomfortable because the best marriages are marked by an even give-and-take by both spouses, each giving up their own preferences for the sake of the other person’s joy. Saying “no” to self is never comfortable, but the seeds of selflessness grow a deep, lasting trust and intimacy that make all the little “no’s” sweet, and so very worth it. My parents (who have a beautiful and strong marriage) have always said, “If you’re not working on your marriage, you’re working on your divorce,” and I think they’re right. Buck and I work hard at, in, and on our marriage. We fight for it, and we’re stronger as individuals because of our strength together.

Days like today make me so thankful for the marriage that we’ve built— the din of errands, work, to-do lists, stress, and juggling all the things can be overwhelming to handle on my own, but when our marriage is strong and in-sync, the deafening noise turns into a beautifully orchestrated symphony. Most days, there are still some missed notes and out-of-tune instruments, but the more we work on our marriage, the better our symphony becomes.

Scheduling regular date nights is one way that Buck and I work on our marriage. Our second date was on a Thursday night, and we’ve maintained Thursday nights as time set aside for our relationship ever since. For the first four years of our relationship, we did a date night out once a week. Sometimes it was dinner, sometimes it was just getting coffee and taking a walk, and sometimes it was staying in for a movie or a TV show. Now that we’re parents (and have to consider the cost of a babysitter), we do a date night out just once a month, but we still reserve the other Thursdays in the month as “marriage nights in”— we’ll play a game, mix a cocktail and just talk, or rent a movie. It doesn’t really matter what we do, as long as it’s building our friendship and growing our marriage.

Dating / cultivating relationship is so important to me that I made a DC date night guide for Washingtonian’s Unveiled Bridal Showcase this past January! You can download it here or by clicking on the image below!

Of course, it’s not a comprehensive guide, just a few ideas to help break us out of the “dinner and a movie” date night cycle. Our current favorite dates are when I pick up Buck from work, we go for a walk for about 45 minutes to debrief from the day, we grab drinks somewhere fun, and then grab dinner somewhere else before heading home. It’s a marathon of talking and connecting, and just the best. I’d love to hear your favorite date night ideas!! We’re always looking for new ideas, so send me an email or comment below if you have a great date night idea that isn’t in the guide!!

Tomorrow night Buck and I are exploring the DC Wharf together (finally!!), and I can’t wait. Because dating my husband is the best thing ever.

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Hello, I'm Sarah Bradshaw! Classic-obsessed, coffee-loving D.C. wedding photographer. I’ photograph because I believe that all of life is beautiful and every person has a story worth telling. I'd love to tell yours.

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