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5 Tips for Not Screwing Up Valentine's Day This Year

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Most people expect an advice column with ideas about what to do for Valentine's Day, not a blog about things you should NOT do on that auspicious date. But that's our topic because so many couples do, in fact, screw up the biggest romantic holiday of the year. And then they feel bitter about it. Let's avoid that this year!

First I'd like to point out that Valentine's Day, while certainly more legitimate than the American Greeting's faux holiday "Sweetest Day," is still a commercialized day that has become more about pressuring people into spending money on gifts than anything else. Maybe I'm not supposed to say that as a wedding planner, but it's the absolute freaking truth. If you are in a happy relationship with someone, every day is Valentine's Day. I'm not kidding. Every day has love and romance. And every date night can be like Valentine's Day if you both shut out the rest of the world (and turn off your damned phones) and focus on each other.

The first Valentine's Day after Bill and I started dating, he had to work and I was invited to a friend's "Anti-Valentine's Day" party. The event had very specific rules. Nobody could come with a date or significant other unless they promised not to act lovey dovey. Costumes expressing the theme were encouraged. Nobody was allowed to flirt with anybody else, and certainly nobody was allowed to hook up. Of course, not all of the rules were followed, but it was pretty close. I was greeted at the door by my former Georgetown roommate Psyche wearing her wedding gown -- dyed black (yes, she was divorced). It was a shocker even though she'd joked about doing it. Her roommate Jon was wearing nothing but a diaper and Marilyn Monroe wig and prancing around with Cupid's bow and arrow. Felt a bit like I'd fallen down the rabbit hole, to be honest. But it was hilarious. And certainly a fabulous way to celebrate the holiday if you didn't have somebody to eat a ridiculously decadent chocolate dessert with at an overpriced restaurant. I met my best friend Myra there that night. I hadn't come in costume, and she put her headband with heart antennae on my head so I wouldn't feel underdressed, and we've been close ever since.

That was the last Valentine's Day I had to spend away from Bill, fortunately. But we have worked every single one of them since we started this wedding planning company. In fact, my husband asked me last week what I'd like to do for Valentine's Day and I reminded him that we'd be coordinating Lindsay and Patrick's wedding welcome party that night so we'll have to bundle it up with his birthday trip later this year and go away for a weekend. We can do that -- celebrate things at different times because we have to. It's the life of a successful event planner -- even the celebrity ones. They didn't get where they are by sitting on their asses on the big holidays. Somebody has to supervise famous people's big holiday dinners. You didn't think Kris Kardashian did any of that herself, did you? That's why special event planners worldwide are probably agreeing with me that sometimes we have to pick another day to celebrate the holidays we're missing out on. But I digress...

Unlike me, you probably don't have to plan somebody else's party this Friday night, so you have no excuse not to do something very special on your own. I trust you have ideas, or that somebody else has kindly blogged with 6 million different creative dates for the big night. I'm going to give you the MOST important tips right here, right now -- five ways to avoid messing up Valentine's Day.

1) Make plans early. Do it now. Do not wait til Thursday to attempt to get a dinner reservation. You will be screwed and end up someplace you didn't really mean to go or that means nothing to you as a couple. If you need a babysitter, make those arrangements now or you won't be able to get one at the last minute. Spontaneity sucks when it doesn't work out. And trying to plan a special night out for Valentine's Day ON Valentine's Day doesn't usually work out too well.

2) If you're going to stay in and cook an amazing dinner, plan for it and shop for it now, not at the last minute so that everything turns out rushed and half-assed. You can even think about the music and décor in ways you wouldn't usually. But seriously, plan it out so that it's obvious you made a very special effort and it's not just another night at home in front of the television. Don't end up doing fancy carryout at the last minute.

3) Spend the time alone together. Do not accept his mother's dinner invitation or agree to join another couple for fondue at the Melting Pot. The night is about the two of you, and only the two of you. I don't care how alone his recently divorced brother may feel, or how bad you feel about ditching your single BFF for the night, Valentine's Day is NOT the night to include a third wheel, no matter how good your intentions may be. You're not doing them any favors with the pity invite anyway.

4) Resist the urge to look at your phone during your Valentine's date. Save the selfies for another time and stay the hell off Facebook and Twitter -- you don't need to prove to the world that somebody loves you! You're out with that person and that is proof enough. Feel sorry for your friends who are bitter tweeting, but read their posts the next day after the glow has worn off on your special night. You have a life and you should be living it, not documenting it like a reality show. Focus on each other. If you have children, do your best to tune them out for the night. You can feed them heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast that morning instead. Save the nighttime for your spouse.

5) Finally, whatever you end up doing with your significant other on Valentine's Day, do not jabber on about the wedding proposals -- or fantastic gifts your other friends are receiving from their other halves. While you may have something special coming, you also may not, if the budget didn't permit it. A thoughtful gift is worth far more than a bauble, but if you talk too much about your friend's new tennis bracelet or diamond solitaire, you may diminish your partner's pride in whatever he or she has gotten for you. If you talk too much about your friend's new engagement ring, you'll truly poison the evening for both of you. It's not a night for heavy conversations and deep relationship analysis.

Alrighty, go start planning your special Valentine's Day. Bill and I celebrate Valentine's Day every single time we run away from Vieques Island and have a few days alone together. Remember, it isn't about the date - it's about the way you use it whenever you have time to do it.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!