Valentine tips: Writing about Love. What I’ve learned as a Celebrant, Poet & Radio Presenter. And why a pineapple is the perfect love token!

As a Celebrant, I listen while people light up, telling me their real life Love stories. Then I write them into bespoke ceremonies & rituals that mark the big transitions in our lives.

It’s such a privilege. 

Like Love, it also comes with a responsibility

To tell their true Love story and for it to touch the heart of each person gathered. We might catch a glimpse of our own love reflected in the words at a wedding, turning to snuggle our beloved, while testing our waterproof mascara… 

Love spreads like this. I would say Love is ‘contagious’, but given recent events let’s think of Love as spreading like the aroma of baked apple pie with cinnamon freckles. Or freshly cooked chips with a vinegar top note. Delicious.

Maybe you or your partner don’t like apple pie or chips, but what do you love instead? Details matter, they make things personal and real.

So think about the one you love…what’s their favourite smell, or taste? Which song do they sing aloud to on the radio? If the words you write capture some details, it will help to make the message unique & the recipient feel special. 

You’ve noticed them. We all love to be noticed, and seen & heard.

Years ago, I used to present late night Love Zone radio shows, which meant sifting through hundreds of hand written letters from listeners every week. (In the dinosaur era, we didn’t have email or texts.)

Real life love stories were stuffed into each envelope. Sometimes 3 identical letters with requests for different names, but all from the same person, declaring to each, ‘You’re the only one for me’. Being truthful is a good idea with love stuff, so you can guess where those letters ended up…

Some stories were messy & complicated, but over 7 pages of green biro scrawl, the depth of feeling was clear. Love really can be ‘The Sweetest Feeling’ as the Jackie Wilson song goes.

We always had far more letters than time in the shows to share their story, so had to choose which dedications made it to air. Some stood out clearly, often thanks to the details which made them come to life.

For your Valentine, write something personal, that only they will get. You don’t need to be Ed Sheehan or Warsan Shire, but if your partner loves the work of a singer or writer, you could quote from them.

If your first date was at the cinema, write a soppy message quoting a line from the film on a home made ‘cinema ticket’ & stream that film.

Talking of films, if you’re in love, first think about your ‘Meet Cute’, Hollywood speak for how a couple first meet. I love asking couples about how they met. They don’t always have the same answer… but you can usually see their faces change. They often blush and sneak flirty glances at each other with a beaming smile, or a filthy laugh!

Maybe just thinking about when you met your beloved has changed how you feel now, softening into a smile widening across your face as you remember.

Tap into that feeling as you pick up a biro to scribble a few thoughts down… anything you remember from those first blushes of love?

What did you notice about this person? Maybe you were nervous & had that awkward self conscious teenager feeling, despite being 42? Or you fell off a chair & talked about how giraffes have the largest hearts of all land mammals? 

That was me on all counts. Luckily he didn’t run away.

Be yourself. If you haven’t scared them off already, with clumsiness & talk of giraffe hearts, then they like you just as you are. One of the sexiest things Mark Darcy said to Bridget Jones in that film, that he liked her very much, ‘Just as you are.‘ Swoon.

‘To thine own self be true’, as some scribe from Stratford wrote. Having watched ‘Upstart Crow’ on TV., I now only see David Mitchell as William Shakespeare. 

If someone loves you, then they want YOU to shine through any words you write.

So write what you’d say to them. If you’re not a natural silver tongued wordsmith, but put up amazing shelves & always do the washing up, then write about that, as your way of showing love. 

There’s a book about the ‘5 Languages’ of Love, the first of which is ‘words of affirmation.’ But there’s probably 5 million different ways we demonstrate our love. All can be amazing. But writing a line or two about what you love about that person is going to result in a warm glow for your beloved. 

For advertisers, 14th February is all about expensive bouquets of flowers, chocolates & champagne. But it can be about pineapples & onions. 

Bear with me here… 

I remember a Grook poem from Danish mathematician & scientist Piet Hein, I read it on the bus to school one day & it’s tattooed in my memory. It’s short & sweet, like all the best poetry, as my non-poet friends say…

Love is like a pineapple

Sweet and undefinable.’

So you could write that on a card, and give your love a pineapple, saying ‘I pineapple you.’

A memorable Valentine, and you can serve fresh slices of pineapple, then compost the skin for zero waste.

Or how about gifting your beloved an onion?

Bear with me again…

There’s a poem called ‘Valentine’ by Carol Ann Duffy. It begins, ‘Not a red rose or satin heart. I give you an onion. It is the moon wrapped in brown paper…’ 

Search it online & quote her to your Loved one. Then chop & cook the onion later in the week. Romantic dinners often start by caramelising an onion…

The poem goes on to talk of ‘Its’ platinum loops that shrink to a wedding ring, if you like.’ An original way to propose!

If this year’s Valentine’s Day leads to a proposal, as a Celebrant, I’m always thrilled to listen to a real life love story. We could even use an onion or pineapple in your ceremony, perhaps to hold the ring?!

My Aunty Doreen got married on Valentine’s Day. Her prudent husband thought it a good way to remember the date for anniversaries & save on extra cards or flowers each year!

A heartfelt post-it note & breakfast in bed can work wonders, so no need to splash the cash. Or a bar of Montezuma’s dark chocolate with orange & geranium, sublime flavours & £2.50 from our local shop. That’s my traditional Valentine treat. Hopefully my hairy viking partner has already got one stashed away ready. 

That’s another thing – don’t expect your partner to be a mind reader. They’ve probably got a lot on their plate already & it’s not been the easiest couple of years lately. So a huge act of love is not putting pressure on the one you love to plan epic or expensive surprises, lovely though they might be. Instead you could just talk about Valentines or any other time of the year & what you’d both like to do.

Happy Valentine’s, however you’re celebrating it this year. In a relationship or happily single, I hope you feel a glow of all the love you’ve had from family, partners & friends through the years. Tuck it close to your heart, and in remembering the details, it might sneak a smile from the inside out. 

And perhaps treat yourself to a delicious pineapple.

p.s. A real life love poem is below, commissioned by Julie Boden for ‘Love in Leamington’. It mentions all true life details, from thread veins to the Giraffe heart thing. Music by the outstanding Steve Tromans. Excuse me waddling like a duck, buying a red dress on a whim just before the gig wasn’t my smartest idea, given that I don’t usually wear dresses. You see, be yourself – I should have known!