Back when you and your partner were dating, you probably stuck to the classic Valentine’s Day plan: cards, flowers, chocolates, and a nice dinner for two. As much as we love those tried-and-true, romantic traditions, now that you’re engaged, you may want to step it up a notch. After all, most couples are engaged for a year or less, which means this may be the only Valentine’s Day you’ll have with your fiancé(e) before they become your spouse. So, we say, get unconventional!
Though you can always go as big as your heart's desire, out of the ordinary doesn't have to mean spectacular, over the top, or even expensive. Instead, you can make this Valentine's Day about expressing your love in nonmaterial ways. Spending a few nights together out of the house, reminiscing on your honeymoon phase, or even just cooking a meal together are all romantic ways to celebrate your relationship without succumbing to clichés or breaking the bank before the wedding.
Below, find 10 creative ways to spend your first Valentine's Day as an engaged couple—and ideas to keep in your back pocket for future love-filled holidays with your spouse.
Go Back to the Beginning
Use this Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to remember all the reasons why you’re getting married. Take a trip down memory lane (or a literal trip) back to where it all began. Make a reservation at the restaurant where you first said “I love you,” watch the movie you saw on one of those first few dates, or head back to the spot where the two of you got engaged. It could also be fun to look at old photos from when you first met—chances are, it'll trigger memories that'll have you both smiling or laughing out loud.
Save for the Wedding
Flowers, champagne, and fancy chocolate can be expensive—which does not fit into any plans you might have to cut back on spending so you can put extra funds toward your wedding. Instead of splurging, opt for romance that doesn’t break the bank. Skip the flowers, make homemade cards, pour prosecco instead of champagne, and roast a chicken instead of indulging in filet mignon. Or, if you don't feel like cooking, order your favorite inexpensive takeout and make a night of it.
If you still want that special date-night feeling, wait a week or two. You can head out for a night on the town when it’s not technically Valentine’s Day to avoid inflated prices and crowds.
If you’re getting married this summer, chances are you’re already deep into planning and could use a break. So why not turn Valentine’s Day into a pre-honeymoon? Unplug as much as you can, set up an out-of-office email reply so your wedding vendors know why you’re not responding, and focus on one another. You’ll be back to planning in a few days feeling refreshed and focused, and you may even have some new ideas.
Relax With a Spa Treatment
Kick that couple’s massage up a notch with a full-blown spa day for two. Get massages, scrubs, manicures, pedicures—and don’t forget to hit up the sauna or whirlpool. If you really need some headspace, sign up for a yoga or meditation class. If you're trying to save money, you can always find some Zen at home: Run a warm bath, light some candles, and download a meditation app so you and your S.O. can unwind without leaving the house.
Cook a Meal Together
If the best way to your S.O.’s heart (or your own) is through your stomach, use Valentine’s Day as a chance to show a little extra love. Whip out your favorite cookbook and choose something challenging that you’ve never made before. Turn it into an adventure as you hit up the local shops to find those must-have ingredients. Then, shake up your favorite cocktails, or open a bottle of wine and get cooking! You’ll wind up with a delicious meal and some new skills in the kitchen. If you want a little more guidance, sign up for a cooking class that focuses on a new cuisine or technique.
Of course, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a huge to-do. You can always celebrate your love from the comfort of your home. Whether it’s breakfast in bed, a romantic movie marathon, a candle-lit bath, or just your regular routine (plus an extra kiss and maybe a cute card), don’t feel pressured to make a big deal out of February 14—especially since have so much on your plate planning a wedding.
Start a New Tradition
Now that you’re on the cusp of marriage, you’re probably thinking about what your lives will look like in the future. Why not take this opportunity to start a new Valentine’s Day tradition that you can continue for years to come? Whether it’s making a special meal that you’ll recreate year after year, booking a reservation at a restaurant you’ll love coming back to, or planning a romantic getaway, it’s the perfect time to celebrate your love while creating new traditions.
Go for a Long Drive
Sometimes, there's nothing more romantic than going for a long drive with your significant other. Drive down the back roads and take in some scenery with your favorite songs playing on the radio, or drive to a destination like a lake and enjoy each other's company in the beauty of nature. You can even make a few stops along the way at some places you've been meaning to check out, like coffee shops, antique shops, or bookstores, and buy each other some sentimental but inexpensive presents.
Dance the Night Away
This can really mean anything you want. If you and your partner used to go out to bars and dance clubs all the time when you first started dating but have fallen into a routine, use Valentine's Day as an opportunity to go out dancing. Or, you can live stream a dance class from your laptop and learn some new moves together as a bonding activity (or as practice for the wedding). Of course, there's the option to dim the lights, put on your favorite romantic playlist, and slow dance in the living room with some wine.
Do a Paint-and-Sip
Getting creative together is one of the best ways to spend quality time with your significant other. A paint-and-sip, whether it's an actual class or just you and your partner at home, can be a super fun, out-of-the-box activity that will bring you closer together. Get a couple of canvases and inexpensive paints, plus a bottle or two of your favorite wine, and make a night of it, or find a deal at your local art studio. You can hang your finished products up in your home, so you'll never forget your first V-Day as an engaged couple.