Best of Romance

The region's finest place to go on a first date. Plus, the best break-up line (and more).


Riverfront Park

The reason Riverfront Park won best place to go on a first date and best place to pop the question probably has a lot to do with quantity and quality. The possibilities are endless for having a great time, whether it’s seeing one of their outdoor concerts (like Jason Mraz’s), riding the ferris wheel or hanging out in Spokane’s crown jewel — the Looff Carrousel. Could there be a better way to find love than to rock outside during your first date on a summer evening and then, a few months later, get down on your knees and pop the question on the ice skating rink? (TLM)

BEST PLACE TO GO ON A FIRST DATE - 2nd PLACE: Manito Park; 3rd PLACE: Clinkerdagger; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Boardwalk at Coeur d’Alene

BEST PLACE TO POP THE QUESTION - 2nd PLACE: Manito Park; 3rd PLACE: Arbor Crest; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Boardwalk at Coeur d’Alene


The Davenport Hotel

If you’ve seen the amazing photo by Mink Hollingworth from Veil Studios taken as an advertisement for Marcella’s Bridal, then you know how well a wedding dress is complemented by the décor inside this historic hotel. This is the place to say goodbye to maidenhood and bachelorhood with class and beauty unmatched anywhere in town. Besides the elegance, the photo possibilities are endless. If you’re looking for classic portraiture, visit the fireplace. If you’re looking for urban images, you’re walking distance from about a hundred different locations that will ignite any photo. They also know how to throw a killer party. (TLM)

2nd PLACE: Arbor Crest; 3rd PLACE: Bozarth Mansion; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: The Coeur d’Alene Resort



When it comes to locating a significant other, age matters. If you succeed, though, at finding the right person, usually you’ll remember how it all started.

Consider a date that 21-year-old Desiree Langford will always remember: Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2001. On that day, Desiree, then 12 years old, went caroling with her Latter Day Saints youth group, visiting the houses of the elderly in their ward. Fifteen-year-old Scott Carter, who was staying with his grandparents at the time, almost slept through the carolers.

“His grandma woke him up and he came outside. That’s how he saw me, I guess, and of course I saw him,” laughs Desiree, now Desiree Carter. She and Scott had grown up going to the same church, but never met. They went on their first “date” — a trip to the mall — in the spring.

Nine years later, after multiple break-ups in their younger days, Scott’s deployment to Iraq and near-fatal injuries and both of them moving away from Mormonism, Desiree and Scott sit in their living room, playing with their 6-month-old baby and finishing each others’ sentences.

“We were raised with certain moral expectations and ideas about family that maybe other people not raised in the church wouldn’t necessarily understand,” explains Scott.

Church worked as a meeting place for the Carters because they were much younger when they met. For the over-35 set, on the other hand, the Internet plays a similar role: It provides a social network for people who are sick of bars and established enough in life that they’re not meeting new people on a regular basis.

“I didn’t want to date just anybody,” says Jim Borland, who met his wife, Pam, through the popular site eHarmony. Both were about to give up on online dating when they came across each other’s profiles and decided to give it one last chance.

The Borlands liked that the online format allowed them to get to know suitors in advance. “You get to know them before you see them face-to-face, so you find out if you’re actually interested in dating them or not,” Pam says.

They would “definitely” recommend online dating communities to others, as long as it’s done honestly.

“If [your profile]’s B.S., you won’t find someone compatible. And what does that accomplish?” Pam says, with Jim answering, “Nothing.”

They smile at each other. They ended up with something. (CJ)

BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLES IF YOU ARE 18-34 2nd PLACE: In College; 3rd PLACE: The Marquee



Jewelry Design Center

Recently at a café, I complimented a young woman on the size of her engagement ring. She then looked at me and replied while slowly tilting her hand back and forth in front of her face. “Yeah, I know, it’s gorgeous. Still, I’m working on getting a bigger one.” I said to her that I hoped her fiance had bought her ring at Jewelry Design Center. Because if it had been either purchased or custom made there in the last three months, it would qualify for their 100-day money back guarantee. She gets a bigger ring, he doesn’t have a huge upgrade cost. Everyone wins. (TLM)

2nd PLACE: Pounders; 3rd PLACE: Tracy Jewelers; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Clark’s, CdA


“I’m giving you up for Lent”

C’mere, all you Inlander readers, and let me give you a hug. I can see this category peeled back the emotional scar tissue for y’all, and reading through the 16 pages of printouts made me cry … with laughter!

We got about a thousand offerings, with some readers masochistically compelled to note that this was an actual line that broke — nay, crushed! — their fragile little hearts, once so full of songbirds and hope and love. And that was love for you, you sick, heartless bastard.

An Inlander staffer offered this: “Daniel Walters, you are distant, callous and pathetic.” Harsh. Is this really a breakup line you got? “Um, this is a distillation,” Daniel says, diplomatically. And Daniel, no, I am not giving you a hug. Go back to your corner, Daniel. Now.

So let’s get on the bus, Gus, and see how you left your lovers:

There was the whole distance thing. I am out of here, I am moving on, I am moving to Africa to study medicine, in fact, or else I am deploying to Antarctica. I’m either moving to Haiti or I’m moving to Yemen and then I’m joining the circus. Or else I’m being deported.

With a nice twist: Wait, I thought you left town?!?!?

Of course, there are many demands on our time in a busy modern world. Tough to keep a relationship going when: I’m thinking of restarting my porno career, I need more time to manage my farm on Facebook! I have to wash my hair. I am washing my hair for the next four years. I need to spend more time with my dog! And the Whitworth Variant: I need to spend more time with Jesus.

But, look baby, we don’t need to play a blame game. Unless … oh, hell yes, we do! It’s not you, baby, it’s me. It’s me. It really is me. No, it’s all you, it’s definitely you. I’m not going to lie — it’s you! It’s your mother, it’s the herpes, it’s another girl, it’s the marmots! It’s the whole Expo ’74 thing.

OK, OK, calm down. It really is me. I’ve been using you to get closer to your mother. She’s hot.

Sometimes the cosmos sends us an unmistakable signal. My dog really hates your smell. I’m your cousin. Is it the hair? Baby, is it the hair?!

So we get angry. F--- your balls with a hammer! You scratched me up like a badger. Oh, and baby, if the phone doesn’t ring, it’s probably me.

But our fave: “I’m giving you up for Lent and I unfriended you on Facebook.” (KT)


Jamie Johnson

Jaime Johnson has organized more than a thousand weddings. She still loves wedding cake, the toss of a bouquet and finding just the right font for invitations. At times, when the moment is right, she still cries.

“I always tell my families and couples they have to adopt me,” she says. “I spend so much time with them helping create their family memory. It’s not just a wedding.”

With Johnson’s bright blue eyes and contagious smile, it’s easy to imagine her in family photos. She’s the maid of honor, the mother of the bride and the family mediator when the time calls.

Johnson was introduced to the wedding industry through the bridal festival. Over the course of 10 years, she’s worked in the Coeur d’Alene Resort and Davenport Hotel wedding departments. In 2006, her faithful clientele and creativity allowed her to open her own company.

Johnson organizes everything from anniversaries to fundraisers to Sweet 16s, but she stays busiest during wedding season. Throughout the spring and summer, she plans four to five weddings a month — one every weekend. “People always say if you want to get something done, ask a busy person,” Johnson says laughing. “I stay pretty busy all of the time.”

Wedding planning is an all-encompassing job description that includes everything from working with landscapers and budget planning to hiring electrical crews. In the end, Johnson’s main goal is to create something that is unique, she says — to create a day that brings to life the couple and family she’s worked with.

“Tradition is what you make it,” she says. “Everybody wants to have a celebration, they just don’t always know how to get there.”

At one time, Johnson says people saw wedding planning as a luxury, but these days people see it as a service they should allow for themselves. “I realize weddings happen every day without a planner,” she says. “But I provide the relaxation that allows friends and family to truly focus on one another.”

With wedding season soon around the corner, Johnson says she’s excited to meet new people, take on different challenges and change as her clients need her to change. It’s not every day you need a wedding planner, she says; it’s usually once in a lifetime. And Johnson is sure to guarantee you that unforgettable experience. (JB)

2nd PLACE: Tina Bishop, Elegant Touches; 3rd PLACE: Megan Kasper, the Davenport Hotel