Be Mine: It's Not Too Late for Romance

romantic advice from a massachusetts wedding photographer graphic

Valentine's Day, love it or hate it there is no avoiding it when February 14 rolls around.

For those of us outside of relationships, most of the day is spent bemoaning how commercial the holiday is and how cloying everyone can be with their grand gestures of flowers and chocolates delivered ostentatiously to the office. Those within the warm embrace of a relationship - new or old - are faced with a different dillemma.

The spirit of romance is forced into the atmosphere like a cat into an embarrassing sweater and everyone is expected to play along. Like the cat, romance doesn't like to be forced into anything. It's best when it's spontaneous and enigmatic, coming at you by surprise. Valentine's Day is the opposite of that, it's the same day every year with virtually the same trappings hanging off it. Flowers, check. Chocolate, check. Red, check. Cupid, check. Hearts, check. Difficulty getting a seat at a restaurant, check.

So how do you manage it?

There are two schools of thought endorsed by Ryan Richardson Photography - the premiere Massachusetts wedding photographer-cum-unsoliticed advice columnist.

The blunt-force solution is to "go big or go home." If you imagine romance is the sea then Valentine's Day is the rising tide, pushing up the bar required to stay from floundering. Everything you would do to show your affection on any old Tuesday must be taken to the next level. You can't just get a couple of flowers, you need to get an elaborate spray of roses that would make a hie of bees faint with delight (note, do not include bees with your arrangement, it always ends badly). A box of chocolates? If they're handmade by the heir of a long line of chocolatiers with organic cocoa and some kind of liqueur infused ganache then you're golden. You don't just go to Applebee's (solid advice for any occasion), you go to a place where there's a sommelier, they throw around words like prix fixe, and ladies' menus where they don't list the prices. Of special note (especially to a Massachusetts-based wedding photographer), Valentine's Day is a popular time for getting engaged, so if you need to pull out all the stops keep that one in your back pocket.

Shock and awe.

Or you can embrace the artifice and try to make it into your own. True romance is deeply personal and intimate, something that you can't find a Hallmark card to describe but that's not to say that Valentine's Day can't be sweet and at least a little romantic. So you take up the symbols and trappings of the holiday, but intersperse them with our own surprises and make the rest of the day into your own. It's okay to get a little bit saccharine (because then you can pretend to be doing it ironically if anyone laughs) like making paper hearts that express what you love about your partner. If the person you love enjoys gardening then don't just give roses, but a whole rose bush (don't do this, roses can be very high maintenance) that you can plant together when spring comes. You don't have to go big, but you do have to go deep and pull from the heart.

Of course, this advice is all a little late so if you're still scrambling for ideas then you can't go wrong with the simple things (and reading our Christmas gifting guide for some ideas to avoid). Picking up a couple of flowers and a handful of chocolates shows that you know how to read a calendar, not that you're celebrating the deep and meaningful connection you have with your partner. Keep that in mind and it's hard to go wrong.

Alternate ideas include fun photo session with your partner, where you can caputre a special moment in your romance to treasure forever (not that I'm biased or anything). For a limited time, we're offering a handful of free engagement sessions because we know you'll want to book once you see what we can do.

roses by Massachusetts wedding photographer Ryan Richardson