February is probably the most romantic month of the year, due in large part to the celebrating of Valentines. But why should Valentines be the only day of the year for romance or romantic settings table for two? As with New Years Eve, going out to dinner can get expensive – not to mention crowded, lack of privacy, perhaps a limited menu, along with eating in a seated time session – and that’s just not romantic.
As an option to dining out, here are some ideas and tips on how to create a romantic settings for your table, and have yourselves a romantic evening – my last post in the Hadley Court series Celebrating Gracious Living. At the end of the post, also be sure to join Hadley Court on the Celebrating Love ideas board on Pinterest for additional inspiration and ideas.
Before setting a romantic table, there are a few things to consider, for example: season and location, setting the mood, selecting a menu and even shopping together followed by the fun part: Setting a romantic table. Maybe while you’re setting the romantic table, your partner can be the Chef – and you can join in later as the Sous Chef. An alternative to shopping and preparing the food for your romantic meal is to go all out and have it catered. Contact a local caterer, or chef – Even a culinary school may welcome the opportunity for the experience: you can have your meal catered, and it just may be for a fraction or no cost (just cost of the groceries, they may actually shop for the meal to be prepared. It’s worth looking into.
Seasons and location
Seasons and location can help guide the theme and menu of your romantic table setting. A Winter table-setting may take place fireside in a cozy library or living room, while a Spring or Fall romantic table setting can be enjoyed outdoors on a covered patio or in the garden. In the Summertime, what can be a more romantic location for your romantic tablescape than waterside: on a dock, porch side at a lake, or down the shore. The idea being to pick a location for a different setting – something you don’t do every day.
Something else to consider when selecting your dining area for your romantic dinner: If you’re fortunate enough to be blessed with pleasant outdoor living weather conditions, don’t hesitate to bring the comforts of your indoor home to your outdoor romantic setting. If it’s an extra special romantic event, consider renting a table, the linens and two fabulous chairs…
Romantic Outdoor setting for Spring…
Romantic Outdoor setting for Summer…
Romantic Outdoor setting for Autumn…
Tip: For romantic dinners planned for outdoor setting, be sure to have a back-up plan (just in case of unfavorable weather conditions albeit wind, rain, too hot, too cold.) This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have another home-cooked meal prepared, but it could just mean having the menu to your favorite sushi restaurant handy or popping in the oven a frozen pizza from the fridge.
For Winter, bring your romantic table setting inside & fireside similar to how this Valentines Love Letter Shoot was done at Ruffled…
Get into the mood
Depending on your location – rooftop with string lights and candles, or the beach with tiki torches or candle lit lanterns can help set the mood for your romantic table setting. The key to the mood? Lighting. Other factors to consider when setting the mood for a romantic table setting: Musk or woodsy scents, or vanilla, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, or orange are scent alternatives to create a relaxing atmosphere – however, keep these scents off of the table, and only use nearby. These scents are relaxing and refreshing, and won’t compete with food as much as flowery scents may tend to.
Music can inspire a little toe-toe table side. Be sure to have a play-list of lounge or jazz tunes set-up on your smart-phone device. Another alternative to a smart phone device play-list is to use the music channels from your cable provider, which sometimes can also include a romantic screen saver (for example a fireplace at holiday time). An alternative to music tech for digital dancing: Go all out and hire a pianist, a cellists, harpist or guitarist – Any of which can really elevate your romantic mood, making you both feel special with a serenade – just like in a romantic movie.
Romantic rooftop dinner scene from the movie Kate & Leopold
Take a little extra time to pamper yourself and get dressed up, or dress special for your romantic dinner occasion. It may not need to be formal, but I’m sure your yoga pants or favorite over-sized tee, house dress or PJ’s will welcome the night off – And how often do either of you get the chance to dress up for one another?
Tip: Consider surprising your partner or spouse with some special romantic reminder of an enjoyable moment you’ve shared in the past, or create something wildly unexpected like a path of single daisies, even shells, golf balls or red hearts only from decks of cards leading to your romantic table setting can make your romantic setting unique to the two of you. The idea being that you put a little something “extra” in your efforts to let your spouse know they are special.
You may not be able to fly to Venice for your romantic dinner, or even go on a gondola (or boat) ride, but you can take the “idea” of the memory to be the inspiration for your romantic table setting – and make it personal to you both.
- Use black, white and red with touches of gold for your tablescape color scheme.
- Incorporate black & white photos of Venice on or near your table.
- Locate the favorite dish you both enjoyed while on your stay in Venice.
- Set romantic Italian music on your playlist, for example “Romance in Venice”
- Rent a classic romantic Italian movie like Roman Holiday to watch together after dinner.
Selecting the menu
Your location and setting can help guide your menu selection for your romantic table setting, from drinks, to appetizers, main course and dessert. Since this is a special occasion for the two of you, plan time to grocery shop for your meal together — but not at your everyday grocery store. To make your meal special, try a local gourmet market, where you may even discover a new cheese, wine or dessert the two of you can love. Shopping together will also help relieve the pressure of any one individual feeling overwhelmed, because yes, both sexes may have high expectations of perfection in them.
If you don’t know where to start in selecting the menu for your romantic meal, consider keeping it light – remember you both will be having 4-5 courses of food, and this can get uncomfortable if either partner over eats. Savor the flavor AND your moment together. For dinner meal ideas, be sure to visit the perfect romantic dinner menu for two – with recipes and shopping list by guest contributor Jessica Ryan as well as visit 20 Romantic Dinners for Two at Cooking Light.
Beside selecting an appetizer to nosh on while preparing the meal, plus a soup or salad, and main course – save room for dessert! Decadent chocolates, red velvet cakes and strawberries are most favorable dessert choices for a romantic dinner. On Valentines, sometimes it’s nice to personally bake your sweetheart some heart shaped cookies or buy a batch of hand decorated cookies like these hearts from It’s In The Dough Cookie Company. Unfortunately, the red velvet cake seen here was from Horchow, and is no longer available, yet still inspirational to try on your own…
For guidance of wine and food pairings, be sure see the wine pairing chart I shared in my previous post for Hadley Court: How To Set A Formal Table. This velvet embossed place card, featured below from Design Sponge, is a beautiful touch for a romantic table, especially for Valentines, whether formal or casual…
You can’t go wrong with red roses – Red is the color of love & romance, for Valentines, holiday and beyond.
Setting the romantic table
Although you can apply some of the same principles from the post, How to Set A Formal Table, no table setting police is going to haul you off to jail if you get creative in setting a more casual romantic table. The keys to setting your romantic table will however be the same:
- Use special dishes (why wait to use the only for family holiday dinners?)
- Mood lighting: Lights on dimmers, outdoor string lights and candle lights
- Make the stemware and silverware sparkle – take time to polish them
- Clean and press table linens – cloth, topper, napkins. Alternatives for a table cover can be a unique printed fabric, linen or burlap, a custom skirted table cover, or even a plaid blanket – which can help set a cozy mood in Fall or Winter. Here are a few more romantic tablescape inspirations for your season or location…
Baby it’s still cold outside? Cozy up by a warm fire inside and enjoy each other with light fair…
A casual romantic dinner setting – on a dock, lakeside…
En lieu of roses, orchids can be a romantic flower for your table setting.
For a list of products and sources to incorporate into your romantic dinner tablescape, visit Houzz.com for these Guest Picks: Romance for two – Dinner at Home
Even-though yes it’s just the two of you, make special place cards or something special for the place-settings, which can be a love note, a memory, a rose, or just a note of thanks for having that special person in your life.
Wherever your location may be, and for what ever dish you prepare, the key element is Love – Make it. Do it. Give it. Live it. Remember the “Bridal Suite” scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life” ? You can do a lot with a little love…
I hope you’ve enjoyed the Hadley Court Series – Celebrating Gracious Living – these past few weeks. If you missed any post, you can view at this link list below , which is also a great also great reference list to have handy as you celebrate your life, graciously.
Celebrating Gracious Living
Top Tips: How To Set A Formal Table
The Gracious Dinner Party – Top Tips For Making Your Guests Feel Welcome
Top Tips: Table Manners For Gracious Living
Etiquette Top Tips: Formal Dinners and Business Luncheons
Thank you to the Hadley Court readers for engaging in additional social sharing and / or comments on the previous posts, as well as special thanks to Hadley Court Founder, Leslie Hendrix Woods for inviting me to contribute posts to her blog.
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Image credits: Roses Wallpaper, Heart on beach, Outdoor Spring, Outdoor Summer, Outdoor Autumn, B&W S. Harlow Tiffany ad 2003, B&W couple dancing, Lady in Red, Cartier Cuff links, Fireside place setting, On the dock – lakeside, dinner in a cave, red rose love note and “Love” in closing.