The first #CourtneyCoversCleveland #MarriedCouplesInCLE event was nothing short of amazing! It literally exceeded all of my expectations from day one. From the time I announced it on Channel 19, to posting the flier on Instagram and the event selling out in less than 3 hours. I was excited that so many couples were interested in supporting and attending! I started feeling bad that I had a waiting list of couples all wanting to attend that I couldn’t accomodate. Due to the overwhelming response, I promise to plan another one soon and have these events more often.
So for those who don’t know, this concept was birthed from our biweekly date nights. Couples were looking for ways to get out and explore the city together and although we started with one couple, I decided it was best to be more intentional and strategic in planning for #MarriedCouplesInCLE. As a heads up, every event will be different! The people, the activities and the topics. For the first event, I reached out to one of my favorite local chefs who had been promoting group cooking classes.I proposed an idea to partner with #CourtneyCoversCleveland and to focus the evening on married couples. As a man who has been married 21 years, Chef Eric Wells of Skylar LaRae’s agreed and we moved forward with planning.
I created a flier and posted it on IG. Couples who were interested had to email me their names and submit payment right away to lock in their spots. Before I set the price, I surveyed couples to see how much they usually spend on date night. I received responses as low at $60 all the way up to $300. Due to the fact that this event required a fee for the activity that was preset, I only tagged on $10 to help cover the cost of wine. So couples spent $80 for the class, food and wine!
Once I had the couples locked in. I sent emails asking for wedding pictures, allergies and wine preferences. I also gave the couples a little homework which was to come with a prewritten topic they wanted to discuss with other married couples and then on the “cooking theme” ways to keep the marriage spicy. Now I’ll be honest, I questioned sharing some of this information because I know there will be people who will try to replicate this, BUT I’ll never share all the details, and I’ll never share comments from my couples. Although everyone is asked to share only what they want and feel comfortable discussing, this is and will always be a safe place for those who choose to attend. I also recognize, my events will grow and change each month as will my couples. I also know a huge part of the planning are my thoughts and ideas and no one else will have those 🙂
So again, like #CourtneyCoversCleveland the idea is to explore the city and try new things together! This event was held at CornUcopia in Cleveland’s Kinsman neighborhood. I didn’t reveal the location until the day before and will possibly do that each time. My logic is to never share too much information, when people know too much they tend to think of reasons they might not enjoy something new without actually trying. This is a unique place that hosts cooking and nutrition education for people of all ages and skill levels in the community. It’s also connected to the Bridgeport Café, which is a new restaurant with a menu that incorporates locally grown food in the Kinsman neighborhood. This was a great opportunity to support this local business and bring money back into the community!
Anywho, the day arrived the only thing I had to take care of besides creating fliers with the hashtags, was picking up the gifts and purchasing wine. I purchased 12 bottles of wine… and ran out LOL so I ended up sending my husband out for more throughout the evening. Not a big deal, but a testament that couples were drinking and having a good time long before dinner and our table conversations. The couples arrived and were greeted with their wedding pictures all on display. There was a large king size table in the center of the room and then a little past that a large kitchen for everyone to cook!
The first instruction was that couples could not be seated next to anyone who had been married the same amount of time as them. After everyone was seated we received a warm welcome from Chef Wells. This was followed by a cute icebreaker and then each couple stated their names and how long they were married. I will not share the icebreaker, I will shout out the winners Mr. and Mrs. Lucas who received a FREE intimate dinner for two prepared by Chef Wells in their home!!!! Although everyone couldn’t win that awesome prize, I did present everyone with an AWESOME customized gift before we started our class. Thanks to my friend at Memories by Bee and her sponsorship, I provided Mr. and Mrs. Aprons to everyone in attendance! It was my small token of appreciation for supporting the event and spending the evening with me.
So everyone was asked to pick a color cutting board and from that we determined teams. No one knew what they were cooking so this was another small surprise. FYI- Chef Wells has a variety of menus to choose from, but I was able to narrow it down to the themes N’Orleans and Taste of Thailand. I ultimately went with Thailand because that’s a favorite of mine and it was dairy free. I needed to accommodate that and our vegetarian that was in attendance. We spent the next hour or so cooking in our groups and engaging in various topics. This was fun because the couples got to meet and talk to the other couples in their groups. We laughed, we drank and we had a great time during this time. Once each group had finished cooking we set all the food up buffet style and prepared to eat. After everyone had a chance to eat, we voted on the best item and selected a winning group. Shout out to Mr. and Mrs. Patterson, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson and Mr. and Mrs. Lucas (AGAIN) for winning with their Shrimp Spring Rolls! They were amazing… It was originally a tie with the Mussels, but they won after the final recount. Everyone also went home with a packet of all the recipes!
Once dinner was done, we refilled our glasses with wine and started our conversations. I placed all all the topics in a fish bowl and randomly pulled and started our discussions. We talked and received various perspectives from everything from finances to work/home balance. It was such an amazing conversation. We had couples married from 3 years to 21 so it was interesting! Ultimately we all agreed, while this is a great way to share ideas, it’s also a place to understand everyones marriage is different and what works for some doesn’t work for all. It was a heathy and enriching conversation. Based on the post event surveys (yes I do surveys lol) this was most couples favorite part and the part they wished we spent more time on. After we finished our table topics, we broke down into husbands and wives and came up with lists to keep things to keep the marriage spicy. Another way to share ideas and learn from other couples and then we ended the night with each group presenting!
This was a great night all around the board! It was great to see so many men comfortable meeting other men and talking about challenges they face in their own marriage. I think after talking to my husband we realized that more times than not, there’s a couple that has gone through the same experiences and sometimes you just want to hear… hey been there, overcame that, this is what helped! I’ll say this a million times over as we continue to host these events. We are not experts and we are farrrrrrrr from perfect, I think I shared we had actually been arguing all day leading to this event LOL… but what we do have is a commitment to each other and to our marriage and to making it work. It may be hard at times but we are trying to do the work to learn and grow together and that’s why we will keep this event going!
Thanks again to all the couples who attended, Chef Eric Wells and his wife and staff for hosting us at CornUcopia and Memories By Bee for the aprons! I’m already looking forward to the next and I encourage you all to STAY TUNED on my page and website!!! Once posted I know the next will sell out fast! I know this was limited on space but I will expand it next month and each month it will change. I encourage you to search all the hashtags! The couples share their perspectives, personal videos and images #CourtneyCoversCleveland #MarriedCouplesinCLE #CookingWithChefWells
Here are a few post event comments from the husbands, who I worried the most about first:
“My favorite part was meeting new people”
“I most enjoyed the conversation, it was over too quick”
“This event was more than I expected it to be. For people not to know each other the vibe was dope!”
“I definitely enjoyed the discussion most, and hearing various perspectives. Nothing was enjoyed least”
Here are a few post event comments from the wives:
“I loved everything, it was a great event and I can’t wait to attend more”
“It was more than I expected, the food was great, it was fun and the conversations were awesome”
“I loved cooking together and eating a meal with other couples It was extremely fun and a blessing to hear others”
“I enjoyed everything”