Reinventing the “Date Night”

Nate Marcus of PartyRVA is always ready to give advice for how to have the most fun. This time, we asked him to tackle the tired old Date Night.

Photo by: Tibor Kovacs

Date Night is such a grody term, is it not? To me, it always implies that you need this night out in order to make one last valiant effort to rescue your relationship from drowning. I picture awkward dinners, where you spend the first course not knowing what to talk about, the second exchanging kid stories, dessert trying not to get into a fight, and the ride home in tense silence.

Not everyone is like this, though! Let us take back “Date Night” to mean “any time you spend with the one you love, doing the things you love best, and hopefully not ending it with tense silence.” There are no expectations and no agendas. Just have fun.

We asked Nate Marcus of PartyRVA what his recommendations were for reinventing the Date Night. He, in turn, turned to his own panel of experts. At the bottom you’ll find his own curated list. And of course, he’s provided links to vendor discounts on PartyRVA, his free directory of discounts and ideas for group fun.

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“Virginia is for Lovers,” sure–but great dates don’t just happen. You need a great idea.


Reinvent the date night with some late-night mini golf at Bogeys Sports Park

Reinvent the date night with some late-night mini golf at Bogeys Sports Park

“There is great benefit to doing something adventurous,” says our first contributor, Mona Jain. And she means that scientifically.

Jain, a dating consultant with Richmond’s dating company River City Romance advises people in the River City with strategies to be successful in dating and finding love.

She explains the benefit of finding thrilling, innovative date ideas: “Research has shown that when you have a new experience, your brain has greater levels of dopamine and norephedrine. These are the same chemicals that are released when you are falling love.”

There is a connection between love and paintball, or bubble soccer, or being trapped in RVA’s new escape room (which just launched). “By doing something different and challenging–such as trying a new cuisine or doing something adventurous, like kayaking–you are releasing those chemicals and building a new repository of emotions and experiences with that person.”

Adventure Date Ideas


Trap yourselves in a room together. No, it's not "Seven Minutes in Heaven." Instead, it's "Seven Deadly Sins." Escape Rooom RVA is now open.

Trap yourselves in a room together. No, it’s not “Seven Minutes in Heaven.” Instead, it’s “Seven Deadly Sins.” Escape Room RVA is now open.

Richmonder Terricinia St. Claire, owner of the Tipsy Sommelier and the author of the book, Conversing With The Elephant: 25 Things Our Girlfriends Don’t Have The Balls To Tell Us, believes creative events will leave a lasting impression. Personally, she “appreciates the energy put into the giving of a gift–sometimes more so than the gift itself.”

“Roses? They are way too easy. Hand selecting a beautiful arrangement of exotic flowers, or even personally handpicking a bouquet from a garden? Now, that’s impressive.”

St. Claire’s company offers private wine-paired dinners in any venue, such as a park, home, or local winery. A certified sommelier will serve a meal made by a local chef, explain the wine pairings, and will interact with the couple as much or as little as they might like. Booking for private couples-dinners should be done online.

Mise en Place Cooking School, in downtown Shockoe Slip, offers two upcoming couples classes this month: “Date Night: Mediterranean Mezze” is on June 27th and “Date Night: Rustic French Dishes” is on July 17th. Date classes can be reserved online. Private group events–say, for an anniversary party or several couples going out together–can be booked online as well.

Creative Date Ideas


Many people don’t have the time to plan a magical evening, no matter how important the occasion. But local date planners will work in the background, so that you can take all of the credit.

RVA’s EQ Events is made up of Linda McCurdy, Rachel Leyco, and Casey Dokoupil, and specializes in proposal packages for both straight and LGBTQ couples.

This summer, Leyco suggests these three easy itineraries:

Enjoy the Outdoors in Comfort

  1. Go on a custom scavenger hunt in Maymont, ending with a beautiful catered picnic on the lawn.
  2. Top the night off with a drive to Goochland Drive-In for a romantic movie under the stars.

Do a Pub Tour

  1. Take a Groovin’ Gears Carytown Pub Tour and pedal your way through Carytown.
  2. Take a Spoken4 Pedicab towards the VMFA to catch the new Japanese Tattoo exhibit.

Dinner in the Field

  1. Begin the date with a stroll along the Canal Walk.
  2. Then watch the sunset on the highest point of Church Hill that overlooks the city.
  3. Book two seats at the Dinner in the Field at Victory Farms and enjoy a farm-to-table dinner under the stars.

EQ is also one of several planners that have started a national trend of offering customized proposal planning. They’ll set up the scene, from arranging flowers to setting up other props. They can also provide a hidden photographer so that the date or proposal is documented for posterity. More information is available on their website and, of course, don’t forget your PartyRVA discount.


Take it from Vanessa Diamond: love can be a by-product of doing good.

Diamond, the Director of HandsOn Greater Richmond, has seen people date “accidentally” while volunteering. HandsOn Greater Richmond facilitates individual and group volunteer experiences with local not-for-profits.

“We have couples that have met while volunteering,” explains Diamond. “We have people who have signed up just to get out and meet other people, and have human interactions.”

Volunteering takes the attention off of the date itself, and allows both parties to relax – “which is when true personalities can really shine.” Couples get to feel warm and fuzzy after the date – no matter where the date or relationship leads.

Examples of date-worthy volunteer projects include painting murals in schools, flower garden maintenance, neightborhood cleanup, and dog care. Or, couples can sign up for the Color Run where volunteers throw a designated color on runners in the Color Zone.

To sign up for one of these feel-good “date” opportunities, couples or singles should create a free account with the site on HandsOn Greater Richmond and find an opportunity. You’ll get a follow-up email and see the details of the project in your account.


“By creating a vision board and visualizing whatever your goals are, you’ll be more focused on the goals you have chosen for yourself,” Mona Jain explains. “You’ll feel more confident and optimistic about achieving your goals.”

Richmond can now count itself among the cities offering professionally-facilitated vision board parties. River City Romance provides the materials and dating tips, and people bring their own wine.

For one to two hours, couples or single people will create their own board that represents the things they most want to create in their romantic lives.

How effective can a vision board be? “On a personal level, with a vision board, I became much more successful dating,” explains Jain. “I became more confident in myself and I understood better what was attractive to those I was attracted to.”

Mona Jain offers in-person dating consultations and seminars. Topics include online dating safety, having a healthy mind and body, and reigniting a romantic spark in a relationship. Get the PartyRVA vision board party discount here.


When in doubt, go for consumables. But push yourself to think beyond just the dinner reservation!

Foodie date ideas

Whatever you choose, it will be exciting to do something new–and scientifically speaking, will help sparks fly.

PartyRVA is a free directory of discounts and ideas for group fun.

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Nate Marcus

Nate Marcus is the founder of PartyRVA, a free website that lists local, reliable businesses for private events. He also teaches culinary classes at Mise en Place cooking school in Shockoe Slip.

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