Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 2, 2024

50 First Dates assists the romantically challenged

50 First Dates is joining local florists in offering Valentine’s delivery specials ranging from bouquets of roses to boxes of treats. Find and order selections at www.50firstdateschattanooga.com. - Photo by David Laprad | Hamilton County Herald

For some people, Valentine’s Day inspires visions of red roses, boxes of chocolates and romantic dinners. Marked clearly on every calendar, it’s a day for two people to celebrate and express the love they have for each other.

Others will wake up the morning of Feb. 14 and realize with horror, “Today is Valentine’s – and I did nothing to prepare!”

Before noon, the card aisles of big box pharmacies and retailers will be crammed with these procrastinating paramours, who will be doomed to desperately picking over the scraps better planners left behind.

It’s a sad but inevitable sight. And Kenya Teague wants to help her clients avoid the stampede.

Teague is the founder of 50 First Dates Chattanooga, a date planning and preparation service. From luxury picnics to setting the stage for marriage proposals to planning a day of chasing waterfalls, she’s a real-life Cupid who’s been a saving grace for both the busy and the creatively challenged.

“50 First Dates started with date-night planning,” Teague says. “My wife and I were on a date, and she asked me if I thought the classic dinner and a movie date was dead. I said, ‘I think so. People want to experience more.’”

Not one to let a good idea simmer on a back burner, Teague had the 50 First Dates website (www.50firstdateschattanooga.com) up and running the next day. She then launched her business as the pandemic faded away in Chattanooga’s rearview.

“People wanted to reconnect but didn’t want to be around the general public yet,” Teague recalls. “So, we offered a variety of luxury picnics for couples.”

The couple’s retreat option included charcuterie, wine, a rug and table decor. 50 First Dates also offered a foodie picnic that provided a taste of Teague’s favorite local restaurants, including Milk & Honey, Easy Bistro, Frazier Five and Dime and more.

Coolidge Park served as the setting for many of 50 First Date’s early romantic retreats, as the space offers an open vista with the Walnut Street Bridge and the Tennessee River as the backdrop, giving lovebirds plenty of potential for selfies.

50 First Dates has since added more local getaways to its menu, including Greenway Farms, Sculpture Fields and Chickamauga Battlefield, among others. All a couple has to do after scheduling an event is arrive on time and enjoy, as Teague sets up and cleans up.

Teague will also plan date nights. Although footloose and fancy-free couples do use this service, she often finds herself serving spouses who miss connecting with each other but lack the “brain capacity” to put together something unique.

“Someone will call me and say, ‘Help me,’ as kids scream in the background,” Teague laughs. “I can offer a few suggestions, or we can get creative.”

On one occasion, Teague literally rolled out the red carpet for a lady whose date wanted her to feel especially adored; on another, she planned a revitalizing day of waterfall visits for a life-stressed pair. Both scenarios worked like a charm, Teague smiles.

To create a truly unforgettable date, Teague will walk the proverbial extra mile to personalize the experience, including interviewing her client in order to learn about each participants’ likes, dislikes and dream date fantasies.

This led to a magical experience for one woman who wanted to create a romantic backdrop for her boyfriend’s birthday – and hint that she was ready for a marriage proposal, if he was so inclined, says Teague.

“You’d think most of my clients would be men, but quite a few of them have been women. His birthday was coming and she wanted to do something extra nice for him. She asked for an autumn look and feel, so I placed candles from the walkway to the front door, and a path of small lights from the living room to the dining room. I also gathered real leaves and then scattered them from the front door to the dining room.”

Teague’s client also wanted dinner from a certain restaurant, so she placed the order, picked it up, plated it and had the meal waiting for them.

While the experience was a hit, Teague won’t reveal whether or not her client received the proposal she desired. After all, what happens on a date stays on the date, she adds with a wink.

With Valentine’s Day approaching – it falls on a Wednesday this year – Teague is urging people to avoid the card aisle crush and plan something now, as that’s the only way to make someone feel genuinely special, she says.

“Don’t wait until the last minute,” she warns. “A box of pharmacy chocolates and a bouquet of grocery store roses isn’t going to cut it.”

Instead, go to www.50firstdateschattanooga.com and book a date, Teague advises. As the name of her service suggests, whether it’s a couple’s first date or 50th date, her aim is true, and she’ll do everything she can to make the experience special.

“Their attention to detail blew me away. It was perfect!” gushes a client on Teague’s website. “I can’t tell you the last time my husband and I had time to connect and laugh.”

“Hiring 50 First Dates Chattanooga was one of the best decisions I could have made,” declares another. “The team planned a date night that was fun, interactive and spontaneous.”

“They made my proposal super easy,” writes a third. “I shared a few ideas with Kenya, and she ran with it!”

Those scenarios surely sound better than waking up the morning of Feb. 14, realizing with horror that it’s Valentine’s, and joining a throng of procrastinating paramours in desperately picking over the scraps better planners left behind.