wedding date night kit 001

One of my favorite photographers Melissa Jill blogged about the date night kit she sends her clients and I was blown away!  She got the idea from another set of photographers I love Justin & Mary who are all about creating lovemarks.  So the wheels started turning in my brain how could I incorporate this into my business.  I could send my clients a gift card to a restaurant they love or maybe send them to the movies with popcorn and candy on me.  I liked those ideas but I was trying to stay within a budget and frankly have you been to the movies lately, you can drop $50 in no time!  I’m not sure how high school boys afford dates anymore.  I also wanted something that wasn’t just a one time thing, I wanted to create something for my clients that they could repeat whenever they needed it without breaking the bank.  So I started bouncing ideas off David on how to make a date night that was easily repeated and created a lovemark.

While this idea was turning around in the back of my head I shot an engagement session for Rachel & Edwin and she mentioned they had Date Night Chicken for their first date and I thought it was an adorable name.  Her recipe actually used dates hence the name.  I remembered that we have a family recipe called Aunt Carolyn’s chicken that is sinful and delicious!  It is easy to make, even I can do it and I make it better then David!  Ha!  Date nights don’t have to be fancy and expensive but they are a necessity in relationships I believe.  My favorite evenings with David the ones where we enjoy a beer or a glass of wine while he cooks dinner and we just talk.  Then we settle on the couch to watch a Redbox movie and eat whatever fabulousness he has cooked up!  (Yes I just admitted we eat on our couch, I keep making a resolution to eat at the table but it never lasts long.)  It’s a date night that can easily be done and doesn’t break the bank.  So I thought why not create that date night experience for my clients!  Aunt Carolyn’s Chicken has since been renamed Date Night Chicken (no actual dates are in my recipe though) and it is the backbone for date night.  I send my clients a recipe card and a $20 gift card to buy the ingredients which are pretty basic.  If they are thrifty they might even get a bottle of wine with that!  I tell them to save a $1 for the redbox to grab a movie on the way out.  The instructions are simple, they are to make dinner together and there is no wedding talk allowed.  They are taking a break from the wedding and are re-connecting with each other.  After dinner (you can eat on your couch too, I won’t judge) pop in the Redbox dvd and enjoy the candy I have also provided and pop that bag of popcorn!  Oh and I found a place that will print a photo on the giftcard, so if the couple had an engagement session I will pick a photo from that.  They can keep it in their wallet as a photo after they have used it up!

Simple, easy, cheap and most importantly repeatable!  My hope is that they will pull out that recipe over the years and continue the date night tradition.  If they remember me then great but I want them to remember each other and remember to make time for each other.  It can easily be adapted too, no talk about the kids or not talk about your job, whatever you need to put off limits do it.

I’m about to put two date night kits in the mail this month for my March brides, I like to send them out 6-8 weeks before the wedding.  The craziness has really set in at that point and they need a night of no wedding drama.  I suggest turning off your phones too!

wedding date night kit 002 wedding date night kit 003

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  • AbbeyMarch 25, 2012 - 9:22 pm

    Hi Melissa! Found your blog on The East Coast Bride and I love your work. This is a great post about client gifts. I’m in the process of trying to come up with ideas for my clients and may just borrow your idea. Thanks for sharing!!!

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Melissa Arlena is an award winning Richmond and Charlottesville photographer. She recently earned her Master Photographer Certification in the Maternity, Newborn & Family categories from the National Association of Professional Child Photographers. Melissa offers maternity, lifestyle newborn, and family photography in her relaxed, natural, and joyful style.


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