Valentine’s Day wedding ideas
Ahh, the Valentine’s Day wedding. So romantic.
All that red and pink. Roses, hearts, heart-shaped balloons, heart-shaped cupcakes. Hearts on the invites, hearts on the place cards – hearts on every damn thing.
The Valentine’s Day wedding is really hard to do well without overwhelming people with a kitschy, tasteless mashup of romance clichés. That’s probably because it’s so easy to think of romance as a visual style or a standard playbook, rather than a genuine emotion you can evoke and enjoy.
So how do you keep it sweet without it seeming overcooked and sickly? Here’s some food for thought you can nibble on before you plan your v-day wedding. (All these food references are making us hungry.)
Before you even start – nail down the day
Valentine’s Day is a hugely popular wedding day. Yes, it’s a chilly day in February, and yes, it usually falls on a week day. But that makes no difference whatsoever.
You can easily fall into the trap of thinking wedding dates get more available the further you get from the balmy, summer Saturday. But that ain’t always the truth.
Valentine’s Day is always hotly contested, so book it early.
Decide what ‘romance’ means to you
Romance comes in all different flavours, shapes and sizes. When asked to picture something romantic, you might think of a candlelit dinner at a Parisian restaurant or a dashing hero rescuing a princess from a tower. Those are common, traditional images of romance. But there are infinitely more, and many are far more subtle and, to a lot of people, more evocative.
My girlfriend thinks it’s adorably romantic that my mum, after 40 years of marriage, still stands at the living room window and waves to my dad as he drives off to work every day. And it’s hard not to ‘aww’ at this little series of cartoons by Philippa Rice, showing the romance in everyday moments.
If you go for the grand, weekend in Paris, Sandra Bullock movie kind of romance, that’s fine. But there’s plenty of advice out there for how to imbue your wedding with that atmosphere. If you have a deeper, more individualist perception of what romance is, the traditional heart-covered v-day wedding won’t be for you.
Avoid the cliches
- Don’t shove hearts on everything. Hearts are like swear words – the more you use them, the less impact they have and the more annoying and tasteless they become.
- Don’t make absolutely everything pink and red. We’ll talk more about colours in a minute.
- Stay away from empty platitudes – in vows, in speeches, or wherever they may occur. ‘I love you’, ‘happiest day of my life’, ‘most beautiful woman in the world’, and so on. They’re just empty, tiresome and the complete opposite of romantic.
- Don’t impose on anyone. People often try gimmicks like asking everyone to kiss their partner at the same time the groom kisses the bride. It’s well intentioned, but it can feel awkward and cheesy.
Choose which colours fit the mood
People usually think of red and pink being the colours of Valentine’s Day. Not true.
It’s all about what colours you choose to contrast with the red or pink. No matter what style you’re going for, you’ll want it to be bold and striking. A wishy-washy mashup of red and pink is neither.
White is the most obvious colour to offset against pink or red. Generally speaking, pink is a softer, more genteel and innocent colour to contrast with white, whereas red is more knowing and passionate. Whichever suits your tastes best will work fine.
Combining red with black takes the red from passionate to sexy. So it’s generally a better choice for wedding night lingerie than reception decor.
Black and pink is a strange choice, but it’s definitely striking. It doesn’t necessarily connote romance so much as feminine sophistication.
A quick note to remember though – all of this colour stuff is totally subjective. It’s mainly just to warn you that pink and red together can be really garish.
Don’t underestimate the importance of lighting
Low, soft lighting is generally what gives the most romantic feel, although that’s not always practical at a wedding or reception. But there are ways to get the same effect while having no problems seeing where you’re going.
Lots of candles can make for a wonderfully evocative atmosphere, especially if they’re scented. But bear in mind the amount of effort and the fire hazard.
Probably the nicest way to achieve the low lighting effect is to have lots and lots of low wattage bulbs. Naturally this gets expensive and it’s massively dependent on whether your venue can make it happen.
Everyone loves fireworks and sky lanterns
We’re just going to throw these ideas in as things that aren’t unusual (you could even call them cliché), but damn it, they’re romantic.
This actually ties into a broader point about the outdoors. Any way you can find to take your guests outside after dark has the potential to be wonderfully cosy and intimate. Bonfires have the same fiery, outdoorsy appeal of fireworks and sky lanterns, but remember it’s still February. There’s always the risk of rain or of people thinking “can’t we just go inside? I’m freezing!” So you might not want to hang your hat on these ideas.
Getting guests involved
This is tricky. Like we’ve been saying all along, everyone has a different perception of what’s romantic. So anything you try to do will risk coming off as forced and cheesy.
For that reason, we weren’t going to include this little section. But we had to give kudos to theknot.com for this lovely idea they had on their top 10 Valentine’s Day wedding style ideas:
On your invites, you ask couples to write down ‘their song’ on the RSVP cards. Then throughout the evening, you work these songs into the reception music.
We like this idea a lot. It’s cute and personal, but it’s not ostentatious or imposing.
Vows and speeches
If you want genuine ‘awws’, there’s no better chance than when you exchange your vows. And a good speech can be amusing and sweet in equal measure.
So here’s some advice you probably haven’t heard before – hire a writer. Not your mate Steve who writes Harry Potter fan fiction, or your angsty niece Ruby who writes poems about death and always smells of incense, cannabis, or both. We mean a proper writer.
Professional writers are used to taking information and making it sound exactly how their client wants it to sound. They know how to evoke emotion and, more importantly, they know how to make something sound unique and personal. So the end result will still be your thoughts and (crucially) it’ll still sound like you wrote it.
Workshopping some vows and a speech would usually only take a few hours, so it’s not likely to cost you much either.
And finally… set the mood with a gorgeous wedding website
Whatever style, venue and itinerary you decide on, make sure your guests know the deal. Once we’ve launched, our personalised websites will have plenty of professionally designed themes to reflect whatever romance means to you.
Have you ever been to a Valentine’s Day wedding? Pick up any genius ideas? Let us know in the comments.
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