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Styling + Table Decorations for a Valentine’s Engagement Dinner!

Valentine's wedding party

Planning your wedding in the Valentine’s season? Why not take some of that ready-made romance in the air and bring it to one of your smaller wedding events—the rehearsal or engagement dinner, perhaps, or your bridal shower. But we recommend a hip and contemporary spin!

Here, we present ideas for a semi-casual affair with an intimate ambiance. Decorative table elements bring back the fun and nostalgia of those childhood Valentine’s Days, when kids used to pass each other greeting cards, while enjoying a cake and candy party. At the same time, strong colors and metallic accents provide a stylish edge. How to pull this look off? Come and see…

Styling the Tablescape with Romantic Touches

Red and white Valentine's tablescape
A striking color palette of red, white, and metallics sets the hip and contemporary look of this Valentine’s wedding party—without a single heart in sight!

Valentine’s may be the season of hearts. But we chose a distinct motif for our table décor that avoids that cliché, while still being “in season.” We used the dynamics of the color palette (red, metallics, and white with a shot of hot pink) to bring an ambiance of modern elegance to this semi-casual Valentine’s wedding celebration. And while we’ve incorporated candles and floral elements, this is done with unique textures and accents to present this theme in a fresh way. So when thinking about table décor for this party, take some cues from our table treatment:

  1. Centerpieces – In place of the traditional flower arrangements at mid-table, we’ve assembled a grouping of white candles. Pillar candles are mixed and matched with smaller votives for an eye-catching effect. How’s that for a wallet-friendly centerpiece that still creates a romantic ambience with minimum hassle! [For tips on candle embellishment, see No. 3.]
  2. Table Numbers – The nod to traditional Valentine roses comes in these floral cutouts mounted on faux rose stems. Simply write the table number on them and finish off with sparkly red glitter.
  3. Candlelight Accents – While candles are a Valentine’s Day “must have,” notice how we’ve given ours an edgy treatment. Each pillar candle sits on a mirror coaster with a wire mesh casing, while tiny tealights glow through red-beaded votive holders.
  4. Dinnerware and Table Linens – Here is where we established the red on white palette. A crisp white linen table cloth, deep red table napkins, chic white dinner plates topped with vibrant red cups, and sleek, modern cutlery. What could be simpler? And the fact that the cups sit on the plates, instead of on traditional saucers, signals “hip and contemporary” all over again.
  5. Place Cards – Our table set-up offers varied options for presenting your place cards. You may tuck them into the crinkle paper in each cup, or attach them to little red wraps filled with a small confection atop each guest’s plate. You could even make them part of fun “glass charms” made with bells that adorn each wine goblet (see photos in slideshow).  » Click to view slideshow

Planning the Menu with an Italian Flavor

Nothing could more romantic and heartwarming than Italian fare! So, consider your best-loved dishes and plan a Valentine party menu that goes from savory entrees to sweet desserts. Here is a sampling that is sure to whet your guests’ appetite:

  1. Soup and Salad – minestrone; mixed greens with sun-dried tomatoes and black olives served with vinaigrette dressing and parmesan shavings; garlic bread sticks
  2. Appetizers and Side Dishes – bruschetta alla pomodoro, baby pizza with garlic mushrooms, shrimp tarts with olive oil and leeks, baked mussels with white wine, breaded mozzarella sticks, melon balls wrapped in prosciutto
  3. Pasta Bar – choices of scampi, carbonara, or marinara
  4. Vegetables – grilled potatoes, baby tomatoes, and parmesan drizzled with olive oil and rosemary; grilled asparagus with pancetta bites
  5. Main Entrees – chicken cacciatore, steak florentine, and veal parmigiana
  6. Dessert Choices – tiramisu, hazelnut gelato, zabaglione

Creating Unique Party Invitations

For an innovative party invitation that also doubles up as a wedding memento, create a little booklet featuring an account of how you and your fiancé met, spiced up with special memories and charming anecdotes. Or it can be a booklet featuring the details of the wedding event such as the time and place, the significance of the venue, your wedding theme, and perhaps why you chose to marry in the Valentine season! » Click to view slideshow

Incorporating Event Show Stoppers

Decorated wine bottles
At an intimate gathering, the toasting table can become a meaningful focal point of the occasion. Here, amidst the red-and-white table display, the couple’s goblets are ready for the toast…with a choice red wine, of course!

In keeping with the sweetness and romance of the season, you may bring in other unique aspects to the event to make it personal and extra special. Simply choose those in keeping with your overall theme. Some wonderful ideas:

1. Toasting Table for the Bride and Groom – Set aside a small table at the party venue to hold a special bottle of wine (red for the Valentine season!) and a pair of goblets for you, the bride and groom. For a whimsical touch, we’ve decorated these with “kissing bells” glass charms on their stems, and dressed up the wine bottle with a red knitted “muffler”, ribbons, and beads.

2. Candy Buffet Bar – Put together a fun candy buffet, decorated with a sign saying, “Love is sweet indeed!” Use chic glass containers reminiscent of those in retro candy stores. Then fill these with your favorite childhood treats like Kit Kat® bars, Pop Rocks®, Ring Pop® lollipops, strawberry jelly beans, licorice sticks, Sweethearts®, Sweet Tarts®, Bazooka Joe® bubble gum, Wax Lips, and Tootsie Rolls®. Provide serving scoops, brown paper bags, and heart-shaped stickers to bring a nice nostalgic touch to the table.

3. Give a Fortune/Take a Fortune – Valentine’s is all about giving love. So a great party option would be to have an interactive “fortune station.” Provide crisp red cards and gold marker pens for guests to write you fortunes for your marriage, and then hang these cards on a tree or place them in a decorated box. At the same time, have a separate glass jar filled with an assortment of fortunes you have written for your guests. So as they leave a fortune for you, they can then fetch a fortune in return. Be creative by incorporating auspicious, inspirational, and even some amusing messages. Alternatively, if you have the budget to splurge on a real fortune teller for guests, then have one at the party!

4. Photo Booth – Who doesn’t love a photo session? Especially at occasions like this. So why not consider renting a photo service (you can look these up on the web) or set up a “photo booth” yourself with a Valentine-themed backdrop and a digital camera. For even more fun, have a video cam available as well, so guests can record their messages and wishes for you.

5. Wedding Cake – Try an unconventional approach to your cake, in keeping with the hip party decor. Consider an arrangement of white chocolate cupcakes topped with bright red hearts and silver dragées. The look of white, red, and silver will be stunning! Or if you’re hosting this as an engagement dinner, perhaps a white fondant-covered cake shaped like a ring box holding an oversized faux diamond ring, surrounded by a scattering of red rose petals.

Tips for Valentine's wedding

  1. Use the dinnerware and table linens to establish the red-on-white color palette. This immediately captures the Valentine season, but with a fresh and modern spin.
  2. While roses and candlelight are staple decor touches for a Valentine wedding event, give these an edgy treatment with sleek metallics, mirrors, wire, beading, and glitter.
  3. For table numbers and place cards, make use of the table decor itself to display these. Incorporate them in rose cutout accents, atop the cups at each place setting, or attached to welcome confections in pretty red wraps.
  4. Serve up an irresistible Italian-inspired menu that is sure to please every palate. Plan traditional hearty favorites from soup to the main entrees, complemented by fresh salad, crunchy Italian breads, and scrumptious desserts.
  5. Plan fun and meaningful party options that will truly make this event memorable. Some great ideas to consider are: a toasting table, a candy bar, a photo booth, a fortune station, or an innovative cake creation!

4 comments

  1. I absolutely love this idea! Can’t do it this year (wedding in May and things are getting crazy, lol) but I am SOOO planning one for next year. Thanks for the idea! 🙂

  2. The table setting is pretty! Luv the table sign made of red glitter. It’s so cute. You can even make them using red sequins.

  3. I’m having a small bridal shower party and we are having an Italian fare as well. For a surprise, we are ordering a heart shaped pizza! Then, we will also be serving up some antipasta, meatball soup, and a yummy Spaghetti Bolognese! It’s going to be set up on a buffet table decorated like an Italian pizzeria. We’re putting blood red roses in glass vases. That’s it with a scattering of some rose petals. As party favors, we are baking up giant candy conversation heart-shaped cookies. Each one will have a love-inspired saying! I’m so excited!

  4. For my wedding this Valentine’s, we are having a small dinner party that is taking place at my parent’s garden partio. It has a swimming pool and we plan to put floating luminaries with scattered rose petals all around. It’s also going to be a buffet style dinner with different food stations ranging from prime rib to pasta. Finally, we’re planning to give our guests, home-baked brownies! Our favorite!

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