The idea of bucket lists—lists of things we want to do or experience before we ‘kick the bucket’—is a newer concept. It was popularized by a movie of the same name (“The Bucket List”) in 2007, and since then the term itself and bucket list goals have become part of our culture.
I’ve never actually seen the movie “The Bucket List,” but I love the idea of making one. What’s even better, though? A couple’s bucket list to help couples grow closer together! So, to honor the origin of the popularity of the term, we’re going to dive into a movie-themed, romantic bucket list—perfect inspiration for creative date nights.
First, let me offer a quick disclaimer: I haven’t actually seen a few of the movies on this list, so I can’t vouch for the content of all of them. They’re simply the inspiration for the adventures. Pick and choose which are right for you and your husband, and have fun!
10 BUCKET LIST ACTIVITIES
1. “FOOTLOOSE” | Take Dance Lessons
Remember that time Kevin Bacon freed an entire town from the bonds of grief and legalism by rocking out in rebellion? Footloose is a classic. For this bucket list item, I’m suggesting less rebellion and more dancing.
My husband, Josiah, and I have taken a few dance lessons together, and we recommend it to everyone. Not only do we have fun learning something new together, but ballroom-style dancing is an excellent reflection of our roles and relationship goals in marriage. Pushing, pulling, flowing, and sometimes stumbling—all of these are a picture of our lives as a married couple. We might spin apart, but we always come back together.
There was a time when I struggled with following Josiah’s lead, and we both felt the tension. It’s not that I didn’t want him to lead—I just wanted to help him do it. Once we were on the dance floor, though, I realized what a horrible idea that was. In the midst of the dance, there’s no time for a roundtable. Someone has to make the decisions on which way to go, and me trying to ‘help’ him only led to confusion and sore toes. And unsurprisingly, the more I started to go with the flow instead of trying to control, the better leader he became.
2. “BLAST FROM THE PAST” | Make a Time Capsule
This wasn’t one of Brendan Fraser’s more popular movies, but I still loved it. During the Cold War, his character’s parents mistakenly thought an atomic bomb hit their city, so they hid themselves away in a bomb shelter for decades, only to be shocked with the way their world had changed when they emerged. It was a silly romantic comedy, but that’s probably why I liked it.
What if, instead of burying yourself underground for decades, you buried pieces of your life? Traditionally, time capsules are buried with things representative of the current year. They are then dug up again years later to see how much times have changed.
As a couple, you could make a time capsule for your marriage. What represents your current season? You could include current pictures of you together or of your family. Include your hopes for where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing in five, 10, or 20 years. Perhaps you could write letters to one another to go inside it as well. It’s all up to you! Bury it in your yard or at the back of a closet, and set a date to open it together in a decade or two so you can see how much you’ve changed, grown, and accomplished.
3. “ROMAN HOLIDAY” | Plan an Adventure
Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck star in this romantic comedy/drama about a princess taking a break from her royal duties in order to frolic in anonymity in the city of Rome. The real star of the movie, though, is the location. On her day away she devours ice cream on the Spanish steps, tours the Colosseum, and cruises the city streets on a Vespa.
Rome is one of the many cities in Europe that Josiah and I dream of visiting—the culture, architecture, history, and art are intriguing. We want to stare up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, solemnly consider the size and history of the Colosseum, and wonder at the lasting architecture and ingenuity of the aqueducts. And Rome is just one of many cities on our European list.
Where do you and your husband dream of going? What would you see? Would you stay in the city or venture out into smaller towns and villages? Plan it together! Dream about where you would go together and what you would experience, and then make a plan to get there—even if it’s in the distant future!
4. “RATATOUILLE” | Take a Cooking Class
Does the sight of a rat in the kitchen make anyone else’s skin crawl? My kids love this movie, but it’s hard for me to watch. Nevertheless, it’s a fun movie about a young man learning to cook, and that’s the direction of this next bucket list item.
My kitchen skills are passable, but Josiah’s are amazing. He’s taught me almost everything I know about herbs and spices, and while I typically like to at least start with a recipe, he’s more into culinary adventures and surprises. Neither one of us is a bad cook, but what a fun bucket list activity it would be to learn to be better together.
Learning together as a couple is vital. It helps you nurture one another’s strengths and gives you shared memories and skills as you move forward. If you have kids, they probably won’t complain about your improved cooking skills either!
5. “ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS” | Take a Special Cruise
This is an older movie, and is one I haven’t seen. I don’t even know the plot. I do, however, know that the title and content have to fit this list better than the movie title that initially sparked the idea for this one: “Speed 2.” In that film, Sandra Bullock, ever-unlucky in transportation, helps her boyfriend thwart a bomber on a cruise ship. Not exactly enticing. However, cruises on the high seas can be incredibly romantic!
When we got married, Josiah had already been on a cruise, but my first was our honeymoon. Immediately, I was hooked. Days of sleeping in, someone else cooking meals, ice cream whenever we wanted, and travel and adventure in new places—sign me up! Our goal now is to go on a “Love Like You Mean It” marriage cruise—a Christian cruise just for married couples and designed to bring you closer to oneness in your marriage.
No matter which option you choose though, if you can stomach being out in the open sea, then cruises are a great way to unplug and reconnect with your spouse (just be sure to remember the motion sickness medicine!).
6. “FINDING DORY” | Discover Your History
If you’re a parent (and perhaps even if you’re not), you might be familiar with the Pixar films “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory.” In the second movie, “Finding Dory,” the sweet, but absent-minded Dory goes on an adventure to find the parents she only recently remembered she lost. Whether you know your parents or not, you might want to investigate your culture and heritage as a couple.
Last year, my daughter had a couple of those genealogy tests done. It was interesting to see what secrets some of our ancestry held, and both Josiah and I would like to get ours done in the future. I know my maternal grandmother was born in England. What would it be like to visit the area she’s from or connect with family members who still live there?
Getting a DNA test isn’t the only way to search out our heritage. Our elders can certainly tell us stories that DNA never could. Where do we come from as a couple? What is the culture like in those places? What’s our family history? You can learn more about each other by discovering your heritage and genealogy together.
7. “REAR WINDOW” | Solve a Mystery
This Alfred Hitchcock thriller from 1954, starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly is a creepy thriller about a man laid up with a broken leg who has nothing better to do than watch his neighbors out the window. Things take a eerie turn when he witnesses what he believes might have been a murder. The main characters team up to solve the mystery and catch the bad guy!
Puzzles, mysteries, and whodunnits are my favorite. I’ve read “Sherlock Holmes”, “Father Brown,” “Miss Marple” and everything in between. So this one hit the bucket list mainly because it’s something I would love to do with Josiah.
Beyond that, there’s a lot to be learned about one another by figuring out a puzzle together. Whether it’s a giant jigsaw puzzle, an escape room, or a mystery dinner or train ride, taking time out to have fun together and get better at cooperation and communication is a win. Any opportunity to create teamwork in your marriage is great!
8. “THE NOTEBOOK” | Write Your Story
Some of you may faint, but I have never actually seen “The Notebook.” I know—it’s almost tragic. However, I have heard many women talk about the film over the years, so I feel fairly familiar with the plot. The movie is a film adaptation of a book by Nicholas Sparks, in which an elderly gentleman reads the story of their romance to his wife, who has Alzheimer’s Disease and can no longer remember it. I may not have seen the movie, but the concept tugs on my heartstrings.
Together, or as a gift to your husband, take some time to write the story of your love. How did you meet? What trials have you faced? How have you grown? Not only would it be a lovely keepsake for you to have, it would be a beautiful gift to pass on to your family.
9. “LORD OF THE RINGS” | Go On a Mission
“The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” films are among my all-time favorites—and one of the rare occasions I’ve loved the movies more than the books. The small hobbits leave the comfort of their homes to help others and save their world. There are lessons to be learned in that.
One day, when our children are older, we’d love to go on a mission trip together. Until then, Josiah and I love serving close to home. Our mission field is our community and state, and there’s nothing that makes us feel more alive than walking alongside God in what He’s doing in marriages and families.
What are you passionate about as a couple? Where can you come together to serve and make a difference? You may not be able to save the entire world like the tiny hobbits, but you may be able to help save someone’s world and change their legacy—and yours.
10. “UP” | Enjoy the Journey
In 2009, I distinctly remember meeting someone at a party and hearing them say, “I’ve just seen the most touching romance ever, and it was a cartoon.” After losing his dear wife in their old age, Carl Fredricksen becomes crotchety and bitter, clinging to the material things and memories his wife Ellie left behind. When the courts order that he be sent to a nursing home, he defies the orders and sets off to accomplish his and Ellie’s lifelong dream—to live in Paradise Falls in South America. It’s super sweet, but the lesson he learns in the end is of the utmost importance: Don’t get so attached to a bucket list that you forget to appreciate the adventure you’re already on.
BUCKET LIST ADVENTURES
Bucket Lists are fun, and I hope you and your husband come up with even better bucket list activities than these (and share them with us!). But many of our greatest adventures will never make any kind of list because they happen in the mundane and everyday moments of our lives. They are in the fights that break us and the growth that helps us make up, in the tears we wipe away from one another’s eyes, and the in crevices of our held hands clasped tightly in fervent prayer.
Live fully in these moments and remember to document them along the way because the movie of your life is a bucket list adventure in the making!
Which of these romantic bucket list ideas sparked interest in you? Why not try it out this week! What bucket list ideas would you add to Alissa’s list?
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