Christine McKinney, a Sarasota native, is a finance manager for CIBT Visas by day. But last March, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, she wasn’t sure how it might affect her career and wanted to be ready with a plan B.
In October, she officially opened Certified Cupid Custom Dates & Proposals, published a Facebook page, and started creating dreamy custom dates for couples, offering a variety of themes to choose from. Options include “Moroccan Romance,” a set up marked by vibrant colors with lanterns and a cozy fabric tent nook, and “Roses Are Red,” a more traditional romantic spread of red roses, candles and something sweet to snack on.
Couples can choose to add on a full-service dinner or picnic bites, a saxophone player interlude, a photographer to capture the moment or a movie date night with an eight-foot-wide screen, often used in backyards where a power source is at the ready. Wine and Champagne are also on the menu.
Dates last for two hours, and peak times in winter are 4-6 p.m. and from 5-7 p.m. Indoor dates are an option, but McKinney says almost all of the requests have been for outside experiences. Bayfront Park and Lido Beach are favorite destinations.
“They want to watch the sunset and sometimes they want a nighttime ambiance with candles too,” she says.
Certified Cupid Custom Dates & Proposals is fully booked for Valentine’s Day, but services are available year-round.
Above all, McKinney says, “It makes me feel good to see couples be happy and in love."