Dream Weddings, Date Nights, and a Decade with Dave

posted by Andrea | 06/30/2016
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10 year anniversary

Today is Dave and my 10th anniversary!

We always try to get a family picture within a couple days of our anniversary… and this year, as I was editing our family anniversary photo for this post, I thought our outfits looked familiar. As it turns out we BOTH wore exactly the same thing for our 8-year family anniversary photo 🙂

I guess when I think back to our wedding day, those 10 years flew by pretty quickly. However, when I think of everything we’ve done, seen, and accomplished in those 10 years, I can hardly believe we packed it all in!

Over the past SEVERAL months, as I thought about what I wanted to talk about on our 10-year anniversary, 2 different (but related) ideas kept coming to mind. I couldn’t choose — so a couple weeks ago, I decided I would touch on BOTH!

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1. Dream Weddings:

When we were married back in 2006, there was no such thing as Pinterest, so I used good old fashioned wedding magazines for my ideas and inspiration!

I had a very vivid picture of what my “dream wedding” would be like — but at the same time, I knew there was basically no way I’d end up with that wedding (at least not on my budget!)

The fact of the matter is…

Our wedding was fabulous… but it was NOT my “dream wedding”.

My dream wedding would have been in early October (because I love the fall). However, I married a teacher so a summer wedding was a must.

My dream wedding would have been brown and ivory, but I found a white dress I liked well enough on the clearance rack for $90 and celadon green bridesmaid dresses that both my sisters liked — so green and white worked just fine.

My dream wedding would have been outside with a casual barn reception — but when you get married in June in Michigan, there is approximately an 85% chance it will rain or be insanely hot and humid — so our wedding was in my parents church and our reception was down the road at a local country club.

My dream wedding would have been dripping with flowers and greenery with a rustic arbor up front and big chunky lanterns lighting the way down the aisle — however, my parent’s church is anything but rustic, and fresh flowers are crazy expensive. So I made most of my own flower arrangements using silk flowers (and then sold them on Craigslist after both my sisters used them for their weddings!)

My dream wedding would have had piles of appetizers, a full open bar, a huge dessert table with rustic platters and cake stands — but instead, we had simple appetizers, beer and wine, and Costco cake (in addition to a plated main course meal). It was delicious and we saved a fortune! Also, our tiered cake for cutting was frosted styrofoam. Only the top layer was cake!

My dream wedding would have had professionally printed save-the-date cards, invitations, programs, etc. — but instead, I used my parents’ (older) computer to design very simple stationery and then printed it all on our home computer (it actually turned out really well and cost less than $25 total!)

I do not share all these differences to complain or lament the fact that I did NOT have my “dream wedding”.

NO, not at all! 

The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes a “dream wedding” is just that — a DREAM! It’s fun to think and dream about, but when it’s actually time to plan a wedding, we should realize that it is just ONE DAY of our lives. The main purpose of that day is not that you have a perfectly Pinterest-worthy wedding and reception — it’s that you’re marrying your best friend and making a life-long commitment before your family, friends, and God.

Our wedding was far from my “dream wedding” but it was FABULOUS! In fact, many of our friends and family still talk about how fun our reception was — we practically had to kick people out at the end because they stayed dancing all night long!

Also, my kids love flipping through our wedding album, and I truly have nothing but happy memories of our wedding day (even though everything didn’t necessarily go according to plan).

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2. Date Nights:

Regular date nights is another topic I’ve been thinking about lately — mainly because I get so many emails and questions asking what Dave and I do for “date nights” or what frugal ideas I would suggest for regular date nights.

I used to sheepishly respond to these emails explaining that Dave and I actually don’t do “date nights”, and then give a few reasons why. I would also make sure to cover all my bases by explaining that we don’t think date nights are bad, we just don’t do them… blah, blah, blah… etc. etc. etc.

The funny thing is, my responses were almost always met with sighs of relief as the senders realized there were other seemingly normal and happy couples out there who also didn’t do “date nights”.

Personally, I see so many Facebook photos, blog posts, and online articles insisting that regular date nights are a “must” for any healthy marriage… and sometimes, I find myself wondering if Dave and I actually have a “happy and healthy marriage” even though we almost never go out on dates.

And when I say “almost never” I truly mean ALMOST NEVER! 

I honestly can’t even remember the last actual “date” we went on without any children with us — and that’s not because we don’t like being with each other, or because we don’t have any place fun to go, or even because we can’t afford to hire a babysitter and go somewhere fun. It’s just that neither one of us has any strong desire to go anywhere or do anything considered a traditional “date night date”.

We are both more than happy to stay home and work on a house or yard project together, watch a Netflix show while eating brownie ice cream sundaes, make a fancy dinner for ourselves after the kids go to bed, or go somewhere with the entire family for a “fun” day date. 🙂

We didn’t even do “date nights” before we had children — and since having children, I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve hired a babysitter so we could go out. We’ve never left the kids with Grandparents for an adult-only vacation, and aside from the few times Nora has slept over at her Grandparents’ houses, I don’t think anyone besides Dave or I has ever put our kids to bed.

Again, this is not because we don’t trust anyone else to put our kids to bed or because we don’t like spending time without kids — it’s just because neither of us gets super excited about date nights. Maybe we’re boring… but at least we’re happy being boring together! 

I might be completely wrong, but based on a whole bunch of couples we know at different stages of life, with different income levels, and with different priorities and obligations, there are a lot more couples who DON’T have regularly planned date nights than you might think.

Obviously, having a regularly scheduled date night every week or every month really can’t be harmful to a marriage (unless you’re going into debt to fund them). However, contrary to what we might hear on the internet or read in best-selling marriage books, I honestly do NOT think regular date nights are necessary for a happy, healthy marriage. 

10 years

If you love your regular date nights, then by all means, keep doing them. The point of sharing my thoughts is not to stop you from doing something you enjoy or having fun date nights with your spouse. Rather, it’s to simply share that Dave and I don’t do date nights, we don’t feel bad about it… and if you don’t do date nights, you shouldn’t feel bad about it either!

There are so many other ways you can connect with your spouse and enjoy time together without actually going out on a date! In fact, in the links below, I shared 8 of our favorite frugal date ideas and only ONE of them involves actually going on a more traditional date!

After 10 years of marriage, I’m certainly NOT an expert — but these two topics have been weighing on me for some time and I’m glad to finally be sharing my thoughts with you!

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Also, for those of you who might be newer readers, you can check out my past anniversary posts via the links below:

9 years :: How the quest for “Fair” can ruin a relationship (so good for any relationship, not just marriages)

8 years :: 8 of our favorite FRUGAL date ideas

7 years :: Our engagement story (it’s so good!)

6 years :: We were at Dave’s brother’s wedding that weekend (his brother’s anniversary is June 29, our’s is June 30, and his sister’s is July 1 — crazy huh?!)

5 years :: A few pictures of our first 5 anniversaries

What are your thoughts on dream weddings and date nights?

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35 comments

  1. Elena

    07/07/2016

    Happy Anniversary, Andrea! I hadn’t checked my feedly in a couple months, so I’m a bit behind on your posts. You all look wonderful! I can’t believe how big Nora and Simon are! Looking forward to catching up on your posts. I hope you had a wonderful anniversary. Next week my hubby and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary 🙂 Time really does fly by when you’re having fun! Take care.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Elena!
    yes, the time flies and the kids are getting so big! James will be ONE next week!

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  2. Beatriz

    07/04/2016

    Happy Anniversary! Wishing you many more anniversaries 🙂

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  3. Aa.

    07/02/2016

    The problem with date nights is that you feel pressured to be happy on those one-month-in-advanced-planned-nights, wich is not a natural thing for me to do. I love planning things, but love and happiness shouldn’t be so specifically planned. I thinks they should be a day-to-day goal, and we should always seek love, joy, being prezent and there for each other , listening, respecting, having fun together when any opportunity arises – wich is way healthier than to rely ONLY on date nights for a happy marriage.

    They are not a bad thing – but shouldn’t be the only time a couple connects and has fun. I think it is much healthier to find joy in simple things wich happen all the time than one big moment (wich sometime could become a disaster because of high expectation and society pressure).

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    Andrea Reply:

    YES! That’s how I feel — and then I’m alway disappointed because something happens with the kids, a babysitter cancels, we have horrible service at the restaurant, we get caught in a traffic jam, they are out of my favorite food, someone super tall or super smelly sits right in front of me at the movies, etc. etc.
    I’d honestly just rather stay home than spend money going out for sub-par food and bad entertainment. Dave and I have more fun at home anyway!

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  4. Debby

    07/01/2016

    I had a very simple wedding and wish I had one simpler, LOL. We spent more on our honeymoon than the wedding and I am so glad we did. Nothing extravagant for us but like you everyone had fun at the reception and still talk about it 27 years later. Now that we became empty nesters, we do enjoy our favorite Mexican restaurant on Friday nights with a nice big Margarita. However, after spending quite a bit on some landscaping projects over this past week and a graduation party next weekend, we decided to make dinner at home with food we have on hand, wine that we already have in the fridge, and a fire with s’mores tonite. Happy Anniversary Andrea and Dave!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I actually wish we had a simpler wedding too. If I would get married now, it would be WAAAAAAAY simpler, smaller, less expensive still. Crazy how much we change in just a few years!

    Enjoy your date-night-in tonight!

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  5. Amy

    07/01/2016

    Love these 2 topics! My husband and I did not have my “dream wedding”. It was a small ceremony by the bay and we were married by our town’s mayor. Almost 16 years later (in Sept!) we are still happily married! We’ve had and still have plenty of ups and downs, but it did NOT take a “dream wedding” to make sure we would be happy.
    As far as date nights go……I too can count on one hand how many times we’ve been on date nights. Our daughter is 13 now, so we may go out a bit more, but nothing “exclusive”. We usually wind up at a store! Romantic, right? But were BOTH GOOD WITH THAT!

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  6. Meghan

    06/30/2016

    Yay for the “real” wedding versus the “dream” wedding! Your dream wedding and wedding were both very similar to mine! My sister-in-law’s wedding last weekend was my “dream” wedding, but afterward the night was over I am glad we went the way we did. Hers seemed like so much work, stress, and expense.
    My husband and I go out on a date about once a month (it’s not regularly scheduled) and have weekends or a night alone a couple of times a year. Often, they are events/ trips for his work, but truthfully I even enjoy the time alone in the car with him. These times are necessary for us to feel connected – we love doing new and adventurous things together. Plus, he works 50-60 hours a week (at the office – a little more from home), so when he is home the three kids have all of his attention. I work too (I’m a teacher – hence all of my comments lately – summer break!) so after sports practices/ games and the kids are in bed, I make lunches, shower, clean up the kitchen, and get everything ready for the next morning. If I can sit down by 9:30, I’m estactic. I love our crazy life though and being a teacher lets me do what I love with lots of breaks and time with our kids.
    I am really enjoying your blog since I have so much more free time now! It’s also more relatable to my life as a temporary stay at home mom.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like you have a pretty good system down! I have a never-ending love-hate relationship with a teacher’s schedule… of course, it’s awesome during the summer, on spring break, on Christmas break, etc. but it’s also SOOOOOOOOOO busy and crazy and go-go-go-go all school year long!

    Enjoy your summer break (and more “you time”!)

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  7. wendalette

    06/30/2016

    I’m of the opinion that whatever you two do together that you enjoy doing together and that allows you to spend time with each other (as opposed to just near each other), and brings you closer together–THAT is your date. (Especially if it’s something you just want to do, rather than have to do.)
    That’s how The Fella and I do. Only rarely do our “dates” exclude our kiddo–like maybe lunch after my Doctor-appointment-day-off while kiddo is at daycare.

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  8. Anna

    06/30/2016

    Happy anniversary! I love your blog and your family is so sweet.
    My favorite thing about your blog and the reason I keep following, is you seem so GENUINE! It doesn’t seem like you put up a front to come across a certain way and I really appreciate it.
    My five year old son enjoys seeing your pictures, he keeps asking if he can be friends with Nora!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Anna!! I’m guessing Nora would love to be friends with your son 🙂

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  9. Becky

    06/30/2016

    Happy 10th Anniversary! Great pictures and your wedding cake was beautiful too. We have been married 29 years last month. I wanted a June wedding and 2 p.m. and we got married in May at 4 p.m. LOL. The 4 p.m. was so it was closer to the dinner reception time.

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  10. Iliana

    06/30/2016

    Happy 10th Anniversary!!
    I like your blog because you are a very honest and down-to-earth person.
    Thanks for sharing your life with us.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much 🙂

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  11. Sue

    06/30/2016

    We are approaching our 21 year.. and we really do not do date nights.. Never really felt the need.. I never understood the girls weekend either.. but I guess my husband and I like to spend whatever time we have with our kids and each other..
    We went away for our 20th last year cause we felt we “had” too… well our romantic 20 year anniversary weekend was to a water park with the kids… and we could not have had a better time if we left the kids at home!..

    So take it from an old married lady, do what you want to do and don’t worry about what every one else says you HAVE to do !

    Sue in NJ

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I jokingly told Dave that I almost felt like we HAD to do something just because it was our 10th anniversary. We thought about things we could potentially do — and ultimately couldn’t think of anything we really wanted to do. We ended up doing a couple fun things with the kids this morning and having an Arby’s picnic for lunch (with the kids). We’re making homemade pizza tonight and planning to watch a movie after the kids are in bed.

    maybe we’ll be more adventurous and come up with something a little more fun for our 20 year — or maybe not 🙂

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  12. Brenda

    06/30/2016

    Happy Anniversary!!

    When we had littles we did things very much as you do. It’s probably just semantics, but when the kids were in bed and we were alone, I considered it a “date”. Of course, it wasn’t a real date according to the world. We never got a babysitter and almost never went out to eat. We were poor! LOL But we had time alone together. I don’t think date nights are required, but I do think that time alone is required. 🙂 How that looks in every marriage will be a bit different.

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  13. Katie

    06/30/2016

    Oh my goodness! My thoughts EXACTLY on date nights! I knew there was a reason I liked your blog so much! 🙂 My parents will usually watch our kids so we can go out to eat on (or close to) our anniversary, but other than that, we don’t do date nights either. And neither of us want to! Our kids do go to bed pretty early so we do have time in the evenings together. And I really don’t want the pressure of planning “fun” date nights. We’re home bodies- so staying home is fun for us!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha 🙂
    Yes, our kids go to bed really early (last night we stayed up until 12:30 and had FIVE hours kid-free!) and yes, our parents will usually offer to watch the kids sometime around our anniversary so we can go out to eat super early and be home to put them to bed. We beat the rush and usually get early-bird prices too 🙂

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  14. Karen

    06/30/2016

    Happy Anniversary!!!!!! I am coming up on my 28th anniversary and wanted to say that we NEVER do date nights. My husband and I have not been away alone since 2006……In my opinion~ that is not what keeps a marriage together. Also, we were broke when we got married ~ we had an after work wedding in a park in our work clothes with only a few family members. I never got my dream wedding or even a fancy ring………..but none of that matters to me. PS ~ you looked beautiful at your wedding!!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Happy 28th to you Karen! And thanks for your kind words!

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  15. Nina

    06/30/2016

    Happy anniversary.

    We don’t have a regularly scheduled date night but we do make it a point to spend a day doing stuff together. Usually not your typical date things, although that happens too. We don’t have children but we both have more than one job and I’m training for a marathon so we need some time to connect. It sounds like you and Dave connect just fine.

    I used to coordinate weddings for a church. We noticed the more extravagant the wedding the less likely the couple was to stay together. And, no, that’s not true of everyone. But focusing more on each other and what the two of you can afford and will really enjoy is more important than the extras. I usually have more fun at a beach party than I do at a big fancy event, but that’s me.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes. I think with him being home almost every day from 3:30 – bedtime, AND being home all summer, spring break, christmas break, etc. we’re just used to spending lots and lots of time together and don’t feel the need to go out and do “special things” in order to have time together.

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  16. Chris

    06/30/2016

    My opinion is even if I or my parents ( whomever is paying for the wedding) CAN afford a dream wedding, I would rather save up the money for a downpayment on a house. As far as dating, we did not do much of it when our son was little. Now that he is grown, it is extra fun when he is the one joining us going out to eat, etc. lol

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    And by the way, happy anniversary!

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  17. Mandy

    06/30/2016

    This might surprise you, but I actually remember when you got engaged (I went to Calvin and we had some mutual friends). Congratulations on 10 years!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Cool! Happy to hear from another Calvin Grad! I love our engagement story too!

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  18. Amy

    06/30/2016

    Happy Anniversary! It’s so encouraging to see a happy couple/family:) Your Nora is growing up :'(

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  19. Stacie

    06/30/2016

    HI Andrea, Happy 10th Anniversary!! My husband and I had a frugal wedding as well, and it got quite fun to see how cheap I could do things! It was like a game. I don’t regret anything about it! As to my husband and myself we talked about just going away and getting married, however came to terms with that we did want it to be in our church and have our family there.
    We too LOVE being home, being home is our favorite place to be! Definite home bodies as we call it. Love your family pictures!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Stacie! I always knew I wanted an actual wedding, but as we get older, Dave and I have joked about how we should have just eloped or something and saved all that money. Obviously, I’m so happy we had a wedding day, photos, and memories to share with each other and our families — but it’s definitely something to think about if you want to save money!!

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  20. Amy O

    06/30/2016

    Andrea – I love this post! I have been married for almost 24 years – and we have never done regular “date nights.” I’ve also heard that you must take regular trips away without kids in order to have a “happy and healthy” marriage. We have taken exactly three weekends away during our entire marriage. Once before our second baby was born, once for our 20th anniversary, and then I went away with my husband on a business trip earlier this year. They were all enjoyable getaways and I’m glad we got to do them – but in no way do I think they were essential to the health of our marriage.

    We still have one young child (a 9-year-old) and the closest we get to a date most of the time is going out to eat with her (and whichever teenagers are willing to come with us.) And maybe watch some Netflix after she is in bed!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Amy! Dave and I have yet to take a kid-free vacation — but neither of our parents really did that, so it’s not something we really thought about until we noticed many of our friends regularly shipped the kiddos off to grandparents for fun grown-up vacations.

    The idea sounds fun, but I could never do it when my kids were little. I don’t even like being away for 1 night when I’m in the hospital having another one 🙂

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  21. Ruth

    06/30/2016

    On point and well said. I’ve been married for 22 years now. I was married and had kids before the Internet and definitely before social media and I am glad for it! There is so much social pressure and so many stupid articles with titles starting like “you must!”. When our kids were younger, we didn’t do “date nights” either. We are both homebodies and after a hard day at work, my dh did not want to go out. We’d put the kids to bed, put on a movie and snuggle. We always felt refreshed and connected.

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