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Valentine's Day is coming, and if you're a newlywed, that's exciting! It can also be stressful figuring out how to properly appreciate Cupid's big day without spending a lot of money you don't have, because you're still paying off credit cards from your wedding.
There's a gross misconception that, once you're married, Valentine's Day becomes a more important and significant holiday, and it must be acknowledged with jewelry or other "permanent" gifts. Of course, we all like to open up a present and find some bling inside — but it certainly isn't a requirement for demonstrating your love for one another.
As somebody who has been married 12 years, and who has been intimately involved in planning more than 500 weddings, I'm here to tell you that having a special Valentine's Day has almost nothing to do with how much money you spend on special activities or gifts. In fact, some of the most romantic and memorial Valentine's Days I've spent with my husband didn't even come close to breaking the bank.
Try out one of these three ideas for yourselves:
1. Take a trip down memory lane — it's practically free!
Recreate one of the best-ever dates you and your spouse had before you were married. If your first date was record-breaking, start right there! Go back to a restaurant you particularly enjoyed for dinner. Or rent the movie you first saw together in the theater, the night you realized you both had the same warped sense of humor.
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2. Go shopping for gifts together, but set a very specific limit on what each of you may spend, and shop for yourselves!
The rule is that you may give any leftover money to your spouse to add to their own shopping kitty. When couples do this, frequently neither one of them ends of spending money on themselves. The result is basically a glorified window-shopping trip. If nobody spends any money (and that happens frequently), you can pool the funds and go out to dinner, or buy something together for your household that you actually need as a Valentine's gift to yourselves from both of you.
3. Spend Valentine's Day with somebody who doesn't have their own Valentine to cuddle up with that day.
Love's biggest holiday can be very, very painful for someone who has recently lost a loved one, or a partner. Unwilling to interrupt anybody else's love life, they're not likely to ask for attention that day, even though they really, truly need it. If you're happily married, every day is a special holiday for you, and you can afford to dedicate some time on Valentine's Day to spread the love around to somebody who really needs it. Think of an elderly relative or neighbor who might not receive a hug and kiss from anybody else on February 14th, and make brightening up their day a special couples' project for you and your new spouse. You're lucky enough to have each other.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.