Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a popular day for a wedding – popular, at least, until you become aware how expensive it is likely to be! Wedding venues hoist their prices for special, extra-romantic days. So be warned!

Talking of raised prices, try taking your beloved out for a restaurant meal on 14th February!

Looking from a less mercenary angle, Valentine’s Day is even more popular for proposals. And they don’t have to cost a thing!

Valentine’s Day has been around a couple of thousand years. It wasn’t called this originally, but was known as Lupercalia. It was a Roman festival held in mid-February. The idea was to celebrate the coming of spring, and it included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery.

The story (as researched by Mark Merrill concerned a cruel 3rd century Roman Emperor called Claudius II Gothicus. He spent a lot of his time fighting wars, and he soon had an issue recruiting soldiers.

Claudius assumed that the reason for the reluctance to sign up was because Roman men did not want to leave their loved ones or families behind. He therefore cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome!

The only person to stand up against this decree was, surprisingly  enough, a Christian priest called Valentine. He began secretly to marry soldiers before they went off to war.

The Emperor eventually found out and imprisoned Valentine, sentencing him to death.

Before his execution, Valentine met and fell in love with a blind girl, the daughter of his jailer. On his last evening, Valentine, who had no writing instruments available, is supposed to have written her a sonnet in ink squeezed from violets. These words are said to have restored the girl’s eyesight.

There was no happy ending for Valentine, as he was killed the next day. However, he had given his life so that young couples could be married.

At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I made the festival a lot more respectable and replaced Lupercalia with Valentine’s Day.

Eventually, Valentine was canonised by the Catholic Church, and February 14th was chosen as his saint’s day. On that day birds (especially lovebirds, but also owls and doves) are supposed to begin to mate.

If you’re thinking of popping the question next Valentine’s Day, I hope you get the answer you’re looking for. And if you do, feel free to have a word with me for a few ideas about how you can celebrate a personalised wedding.

A Valentine’s Day Fable

Valentine’s Day – well, it’s all about romance, isn’t it?

Visions of romantic, candle-lit dinners. Scores of love-struck Romeos on their knees proposing marriage to their beloved. It’s a magical time.

It’s a wonderful time for chocolate-makers, florists and restaurateurs too, that’s for sure! And maybe for civil celebrants?! But is it so great, for the wannabe fiancé?

By mistake I published my Valentine’s Day blog a week early (did you read it?!). Consequently, I’ve been forced to think of something else for this week!  I’ve come up with a fable (well, a true story, actually).


I wondered how many people do choose this day to propose to their intended.

Long ago, in the mists of time, I got down on bended knee in front of my bewildered girl-friend and asked her to marry me. A little to my surprise, she accepted me, and more than 18 years have elapsed since then. But, despite the result, things hadn’t gone as I had planned.

A salutary tale

I had been working in Italy, and had arranged that my girl-friend should join me in Rome. We would spend a few days together sightseeing (she thought she’d be shopping – her first surprise!).

We had been together for a year and a half, and this would be my chance to propose to her. But what if she were to say no?

I had originally chosen the Piazza Navona on the second evening for my proposal. When we got there, it was atmospheric, but crowded and busy, and it didn’t seem right.

How would the remaining days of the holiday be, if I were rejected then? No, better put it off to the last night. Yes, that was it. Wait as long as possible.

The next day, we travelled outside Rome to the Villa d’Este, in Tivoli. The gardens are spectacular, terraced, with fabulous fountains at every turn. We had chosen a beautiful morning and, for some reason, had the place almost to ourselves. (Apart from stray cats.)

As I knew I wouldn’t be proposing for a day or two, I was relaxed, and before I knew what was happening, I had done the deed. Quite easy, actually!

The right answer was vouchsafed, and I would be walking on air for the rest of our stay and, indeed, for long afterwards.

The moral of the story

So what is the point of my confession?

I would advise anybody planning to propose to take on board what I learned.

You don’t have to pre-plan when to propose – and, if you’re nervous like me, it is better to let the moment happen. If you pre-determine the moment, you will get uptight. It may spoil your dinner, or holiday, or whatever. You may even miss the opportunity altogether.

Trust that the opportunity will arise.

By all means, propose marriage on Valentine’s Day – just, don’t do it because it’s Valentine’s Day!

Valentine s Day

Ever the romantic, I couldn’t resist a bonus blog about Valentine s Day.


Its origins spring from the imprisonment of a certain Valentine by the Ancient Romans for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians (who were being persecuted).


You can probably see the connection, although you need a bit of imagination to make the leap to 21st century celebrations of Valentine s Day!

Modern day

Yes, I know I’m cynical, but, let’s face it, nowadays it is a chance for florists, card-makers, vintners, chocolatiers and restaurateurs to put their prices up.
More romantically, though, it is the most popular day for women to receive wedding proposals (although men prefer Christmas Eve). Let’s look at how to go about making a proposal.


The proposal

Of course there are all sorts of ways of proposing. Some will choose to accompany the proposal with a Valentine s Day gift.

In the vast majority of cases, you will want to choose a quiet venue – a booked table in a nice, intimate restaurant may do the trick. Soft music and subdued lighting should provide a suitable atmosphere.

Alternatively, the setting can be the home – perhaps to the accompaniment of a lovely meal (a dish you both enjoy!) and a certain amount of champagne! A proposal over a chocolate pudding often works well.

You can mention the romance of the day and how much it has encouraged you to express your love – but, naturally,  it’s got to be down to you what to say.

In truth, I didn’t propose on Valentine s Day (I chose an Italian garden in July!), but it was romantic and that’s key.

Make it a special day and enjoy it!

Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made life-cycle civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.