The past year has provided many challenges for everybody, and that includes couples. Whilst being locked in your own home might have sounded cosy and romantic in the beginning, even the most romantic person can reach their limits. Even worse, for a lot of people, the pandemic has meant postponing their wedding, their honeymoon or their anniversary dinner. How many nervous men and women are still carrying around that engagement ring they wanted to give their significant other during a romantic holiday? It has been a very trying time, and with Valentine’s Day approaching, it doesn’t look like regulations will allow for that romantic getaway or candlelight dinner in your favourite restaurant.
Still, that doesn’t have to mean that romance is dead this February. “In a way, we are creating that Valentine’s Day feeling for our guests every day,” explains Marsha-Ann Donaldson Brown. She’s a recognised expert when it comes to these things: As Director of Weddings & Romance at luxury resort brand Sandals, it is her responsibility to create these incomparable warm and fuzzy feelings in couples who visit the resorts for their wedding, honeymoon or a regular holiday. “Our resorts are purposely designed for couples, aiming at providing the best romantic experience 24/7.” And while people might not be able to travel for Valentine’s Day this year, or even leave their home, there are several ways to replicate this experience yourself:
How to make the best of your Valentine’s Day 2021
- Make the day your day – no distractions!
“One of our main goals, when it comes to romance, is to eliminate any distractions for our guests. The more they can focus on each other, the more they can enjoy the feeling of love and togetherness,” says Marsha-Ann. What this means for Valentine’s Day in lockdown, is that preparation and commitment is key: If you are cooking, prepare the day before; shut off your phones; agree on what you want to do. Remember that while surprises sometimes can be romantic, it might be better to plan the day together and increase anticipation.
- Do something you have never done (or haven’t done in a long time)!
Valentine’s Day should never be seen as a day to be romantic, just for the sake of it. Instead, it’s a day for extraordinary romance. Adds Marsha-Ann: “The past months have led a lot of people into a routine from which it is difficult to break free. But that’s exactly what many couples need right now, either by doing something they haven’t done in a while or by trying out completely new experiences. When was the last time you had breakfast in bed together, enjoying some fresh fruit and a homemade mimosa? Or slow danced in your living room to your wedding song? Have you tried couple’s yoga or a couple’s massage? The possibilities are endless, even during lockdown.”
- Get the right atmosphere!
“Atmosphere is crucial! A lot of our work goes into the details of setup, decoration and creating the right mood for the right occasion,” explains Marsha-Ann. This means candle lights, romantic music and some tidying up beforehand. Still, it’s important to not go overboard as well. You shouldn’t have the feeling you need to redecorate for the occasion – that would lead to stress and be counterproductive. “It’s the small details, that count here. Sometimes just the right flower from your own garden, or a little memento of your first date is enough, to give the room the right feeling.”
- Be ready to change your plans (if you both feel like it)!
Planning can be fun – but sticking to a plan might not be. Often, even the best plan doesn’t survive first contact with reality. Marsha-Ann has plenty experience with that: “We are used to planning and organising hundreds of weddings every year. And one important piece of advice I can give, is to change the plan to fit the mood, not the other way round. There will always be situations that sound amazing when you plan them, but when the time comes, you just don’t feel like it – and there’s nothing wrong with changing the plan then.” So, if you planned to cook together, but when dinner time comes, you both just feel like cuddling, don’t force yourself into the kitchen – just order somewhere fancy and enjoy your time.
- Treat yourself… and your partner
“The most important thing probably is, that the day mustn’t feel like a chore. This is one of the reasons why people have us organise their wedding – too often, couples have stressed themselves numb instead of being able to enjoy the day,” says Marsha-Ann further. So, don’t put too much pressure on yourself or feel like you have to spend a fortune – it’s more important to be attentive and make sure that both enjoy the time together. One thing Marsha-Ann recommends letting no stress into the day: “Recreate a Sandals Tranquility Soaking Tub for Two experience at home – while you probably don’t have a butler to prepare it for you, use you favourite bubble bath for the right fragrance and feeling, rose petals for the atmosphere, and a champagne bottle next to the tub to make it complete.”
- Dress up for the occasion
Although most of us barely change out of our loungewear thanks to lockdown, special occasions like Valentine’s Day could be a great excuse to get dressed up, put makeup on and do your hair. And this year, you can get quite creative or even add a theme, adds Marsha-Ann: “The advantage of spending the day locked at home is that you are really just dressing for yourself and your partner – not to impress someone else. So, it’s the perfect occasion to be courageous or creative, and just go with what works best for just the two of you.”
- Create memories!
“Pictures are a core part of every romantic celebration. No matter if we are talking about weddings, engagements, renewals or honeymoons, as much as they are unforgettable moments, it helps people to have photos or videos to actually re-live the feeling,” says Marsha-Ann. And while not every picture needs to go on social media, you should make sure you create the memories for yourself – so, when you look back at Valentine’s Day 2021 in several years, you can still smile about it.
- Put plans in place
Why not use the day to discuss your goals and aspirations as a couple and put some plans in place? “It doesn’t have to be as serious as getting married or starting a family if you’re not at that phase in your relationship yet. Make a reservation for two in your favourite restaurant for when we might be able to celebrate again or even book a romantic holiday for Valentine’s Day, your anniversary, or a birthday in 2022”, suggests Marsha-Ann. “That way, you both have something exciting to look forward to and can count down to the date together.”