Valentine’s Day is more than candy

Woody Woodburn
 |  Columnist

It is easy to view Valentine’s Day —which will once again sneak up, on tiptoes, on a lot of forgetful boyfriends and husbands a few days hence — through jaundiced eyes as a holiday contrived for selling greeting cards and flowers, fancy chocolates and fancier restaurant dinners.

Looking through long-stem roses-colored glasses, however, Cupid’s big day always reminds me of weddings. This, of course, includes my own, although admittedly the ceremony and reception — held before nuptial videography became en vogue — are a blur. Forty years later, I wish we had a videotape to fill in our memories.

Indeed, after watching my beautiful bride walk down the aisle to meet me at the pulpit, everything else — the verse readings, the minister’s words, our vows and our first kiss as husband and wife, the giddy walk on air with helium in our shoes back down the aisle together, the reception line, toasts given, our first dance, even how in the world one of the groomsmen wound up in a swimming pool in his tux — is pretty much all lost in the fog of time.

Given a time-machine trip back to Sept. 4, 1982, I would make a concentrated effort to stop and smell the bridal bouquet, so to speak, and savor more specific moments from the whirlwind day.

The next best thing to a time machine, for me, is going to weddings. Sitting in a church pew, or nestled around a gorgeous garden spot or gathered together overlooking the ocean, allows one to experience the pomp and circumstance much more clearly than can the two people standing front and center — and excited and overwhelmed — taking their vows.

Being a wedding spectator offers the chance to vicariously be the groom or bride again, this time with the advantage of not being bowled over by the occasion, and woos you to silently renew your own vows and commitment as you watch the marquee couple do so.

To be certain, it is almost impossible not to have your own heart chirp in song while watching two lovebirds join The Matrimony Club. The next time you are at a wedding, when the bride and groom are saying their vows, slyly peek around and notice how many married couples in attendance reach down and squeeze each other’s hands; after their big kiss, see how many little kisses among wedded spectators follow.

Another thing I like to do, if it hasn’t been mentioned among the toasts, is to ask the bride and groom how they met. Even if their “meet-cute” was not the stuff of a Nora Ephron movie, the blissful couple will always light up in retelling.

Meanwhile, listening to their tale always lightens my heart and reminds me of my own enchanted first encounter that led to “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health…”

Valentine’s Day, like weddings, affords a similar opportunity to be inspired by love. If you go for a walk along the beach this Feb. 14, or out to a restaurant, you will have no trouble picking out the dating couples and newlyweds and recently-weds.

Equally heartening are the couples you can tell have been together for a long, long time yet still glow like they are newly in love. If there were a polite way to do so, I would love to interrupt these veteran darlings and ask how they met — and their secrets to keeping the magic alive.

I have a strong hunch some of them might mention that going to weddings always results in being struck by a rejuvenating arrow from Cupid’s bow.

Woody Woodburn writes a weekly column for The Star and can be contacted at His books are available at