So what does Valentine’s Day mean to you?
Maybe it’s all about the flowers (the price of which would buy you the whole florists shop any other time of year), or could it be the romantic intimate table for two in the usually dead but tonight full-to-bursting restaurant, where you can choose from a ‘special’ (and triple the usual price) Valentine’s menu. Perhaps a fancy box of champagne truffles would be the key to your heart (even more-so if accompanied by a chilled bottle of the bubbly stuff itself). It could be that none of the above fit your idea of romance, and in fact you’re more of a good Rom-Com DVD (if there’s such a thing), take-out pizza, few beers, and a cuddle on the sofa kind of gal!
Well, for me and my Valentine, this day of love and romance has an extra special meaning... it’s also our Wedding Anniversary!
No, we’re not a pair of incurable old romantics, although we can be at times - to celebrate our special day this year, my hubby’s bought tickets to see ‘From Paris with Love’, by Opera North at the Grand Theatre in Leeds (quite possibly followed by a late-night McDonalds drive-thru, but hey you can’t have it all!) Anyhow, back to the point, the only reason we tied the knot on Valentine’s Day is that we both work in schools and simply wanted to get married the first Saturday of the February half term which, that particular year, just so happened to be Valentine’s Day.
And what a fantastic Valentine's Day it was! This was marriage number two for both of us, and we wanted to keep things fairly low key, but obviously still very special. So, we decided that our nuptials would have more the feel of a celebratory evening out than a ‘wedding’. I didn’t want an ivory ‘gown’, wedding cars, or bridesmaids, and Neil didn’t want a stag do in Amsterdam (well at least that’s what he told me?!) or even a best man to get him organised. I didn’t want to ‘surprise’ Neil on the day with my outfit so, completely breaking with tradition, he came wedding dress shopping with me – he was the one I wanted to think I looked beautiful, quite frankly I didn’t care what anyone else thought. I didn’t want to be walked down an aisle or ‘given-away’, and we didn’t want a guest list as long as your arm, consisting mainly of long-lost aunts, uncles and cousins.
After much deliberation, we decided on a guest list of just 24, and our venue was a gorgeous little country house hotel on the outskirts of Leeds. The ceremony itself took place in the hotel ‘Library’, a beautifully intimate room, with a roaring fire and red carpet laid out especially for the occasion! Being a pair of fairly modest souls, we didn’t really want to make a grand entrance and so, when the time arrived, we casually sauntered into the Library, together with our guests (still sipping champagne), to the velvety tones of Nat ‘King’ Cole's ‘Let there be Love’.
Once the serious stuff was done, we made our way into the hotel restaurant (exclusively ours for the evening), for our delicious reception meal. The table was beautifully decorated ‘Valentine style’ with a scattering of red rose petals, love-heart confetti, Valentine’s trivia and lots and lots of tea-lights – perfect!
Bellies full, feeling happy and relaxed, and having sunk a bottle or two of the old fizzy stuff, some of us (in fact most of us), let our hair down and had a bit of a boogie before our wonderful day sadly came to an end.
That’s all five years ago now (I’d forgotten just how blonde I was! - should I go back there?!), and obviously we’re never going to top such a fabulous Valentine’s Day – as you fellow married folk will know, the honeymoon period doesn’t last forever. We knew this though, we’d both ‘been there, done that’ and we were well aware that our relationship would have its ups and downs (and believe me, it has!) But here we are, still together, still enjoying the good times and still working through the ups and downs... and, most importantly, still very much in love.
So, this Valentine’s Day, once the champagne has run dry, when the red roses are starting to wilt, and when the credits roll on the Rom-Com DVD remember this (one of the readings from our very, very special Valentine’s Day wedding) ...
Sooner or later we begin to understand that love is more than verses on valentines, and romance in the movies. We begin to know that love is here and now, real and true. Love is the creator of our favourite memories and the foundation of our fondest dreams.