Welcome to our Date Night series where we discover great date night ideas for couples around West Michigan. Many thanks to BIGGBY of West Michigan for partnering with us on this relationship-building project. 

BIGGBY COFFEE is all about its customers. When you step into a BIGGBY you instantly feel like a regular. Come in for the iced lattes; stay for the sense of belonging (oh, and the free wifi…).

The VanDams Trusted us to Send Them on an Unknown Date – Did it Pan Out?

A few weeks ago we invited local couples to apply for a mystery date. We are thrilled to be partnering with BIGGBY of West Michigan to help couples around Grand Rapids shake up the date night routine, as well as send some lucky couples out on Mystery Dates.

Our first randomly chosen couple was Christina and Jaymen VanDam of Jenison.

Meet Christina and Jaymen

Christina was spending a summer day at a friend’s lake cottage where she was befriended by a gregarious young girl on the beach named Emily. After commiserating with Emily about her “mean” older brother, Christina’s new friend invited her to go a on a boat ride.

When a strapping young man fresh off the ball field and still in uniform joined them on the boat ride, he caught her eye. Emily’s “mean” older brother was not what Christina was expecting!

Somehow, Christina’s number made it back to him and they started exchanging texts. 

The rest is history and now the two have been together for eight years and welcomed a little boy almost three years ago.

Favorite dates the two have enjoyed include attending sporting events, rock climbing, and remote hiking adventures. Now though, since having to manage childcare when planning a night out, they look for shorter, more local adventures like trying out new classes together, especially cooking ones.

On Christina’s birthday she received a phone call from our CFF (that’s Chief Fun Finder), Melody, letting her know that she and Jaymen were the first couple selected for our Mystery Date. She was only told the date and approximate time so that she could arrange for child care and had to trust GRKIDS for the rest! 

When the day arrived, Christina and Jaymen met Melody at BIGGBY downtown to start their Mystery Date adventure. Melody handed them their itinerary and the evening began.

Date Night Part 1: Setting the Scene with Some Smoothies

Christina and Jaymen’s date started off with some smoothies at the BIGGBY at Monroe Center – a perfect way to start the evening since it was hot day.

When I later spoke to Christina, she said if there was one thing she would have changed about their evening, it would have been to spend more time at BIGGBY.

She enjoyed her drink and if she did this evening again would have carved out more time to sit inside or across the street at Rosa Parks Circle to help change gears into date mode.

Date Night Part 2: Murder!

After finishing up at BIGGBY, Christina and Jaymen walked a few blocks to the main event: The Dinner Detective. Not only was our couple going on a mystery date, but they were now going to help solve a mystery.

Hosted in the newly updated Courtyard by Marriott (11 Monroe Avenue NW), The Dinner Detective is an immersive theatrical production where anyone could be the killer.

Now known as “Jean-Claude” and “June-Marie” they settled at their table with some new friends after enjoying some appetizers.

As they were enjoying their dinner (Jaymen opted for the fish, Christina chose the vegetarian) things took a dramatic turn.

The actors were phenomenal, noted Christina, and to make it even more of challenge, actors were planted among the other dining guests! Audience participation was a given, and even Jaymen who is typically reserved, got in on the action.

As the mystery was solved (and presumably justice prevailed) a cheesecake dessert was served to wrap up this portion of the evening.

Dig this date idea? Read to the end for a promo code discount for your own murder mystery escapade!

Date Night Part 3: Nightcap at Gray Skies Distillery

To wind down their night, Christina and Jaymen headed over to Gray Skies Distillery (700 Ottawa Ave NW) for a nightcap. Specializing in “good hooch made local,” this tasting room was the perfect stop before heading home.

After ordering drinks, the relaxed and talked. A variety of board and card games were available for guests to play and added to the friendly atmosphere.

They Loved it so Much That Christina Wants to Plan Mystery Dates for Friends

When I asked Christina what her overall favorite part of the evening was, she explained that simply not having to plan anything was incredible. She appreciated that all she and Jaymen had to do was show up, and a whole entertaining and tasty night was laid out.

In fact, she loved this concept so much that she wants to pay it forward and plan surprise dates for friends. She will plan the evening and all they have to do is show-up (#squadgoals).

Christina’s advises future Mystery Date couples to “trust the process; it may seem hard and even challenging to give up this level of control, but it will be worth it. The GRKIDS team knows what they are doing!”

Want to Try This Date Night?

If you would like to recreate this night for you and your special someone here is what you need to know:

Biggby of Heartside | 146 Monroe Center NW

Courtyard Grand Rapids Downtown | 11 Monroe Avenue NW

Gray Skies Distillery | 700 Ottawa NW

From the Marriott to the distillery is about a twenty minute walk, so there are plenty of options when it comes to parking between the two locations. You can even utilize valet parking at discounted rate at the Marriott when you check-in for the The Dinner Detective.

Future 2018 dates for The Dinner Detective are:

  • Saturday, July 28
  • Saturday, August 11
  • Saturday, August 25
  • Saturday, September 8
  • Saturday, September 22

Check in starts at 6:00 PM and the event starts at 6:30 PM. Save some money when you check out with promo code SECRET49.

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