Last year for Valentine’s Day, I remember having a lovely dinner at one of our favorite steakhouses. Candlelit and red rose petals on the table. That was our last dinner date for quite some time once Covid hit the US.
This year, like many of you, we will be staying in for Valentine’s Day. After so many months and “date nights” at home, we’ve gotten a bit tired of the same old thing. I miss dressing up and going out. My hair is frequently in a ponytail, and my “uniform,” as I call it, consists of yoga pants and T-shirts.
As a huge Regency-era romance fan, I’ve been inspired by its resurgence into pop culture and thought, what would be a more romantic way to spend Valentine’s Day?
I love the opulence of the regency era, and it provided us with a great reason to get all dressed up and feel like we were going somewhere – even if it was just to the backyard.
This weekend my husband helped me recreate a magical regency themed date night. We did this ahead of Valentine’s Day so that I could share with you all of the details so that you have time to plan and prep your very own regency-themed romantic Valentine’s Dinner at home with your loved one.
If you’re a man reading this, I promise you will earn cool points with your lady by pulling this off! It’s actually easier than you think and cost us under $50 to create the entire ambiance.
HERE ARE THE BASICS
Do Inventory in Your Own Home
First and foremost, do inventory in your own home. This is an opportunity to pull out all the fancy stuff that’s sitting on the shelf that you never use. Your grandmother’s china? Dust it off! Those wedding shoes you only wore once? Pull them out! There’s nothing too fancy for this period, so start thinking about what you already have at home that will help you pull off the theme!
My recommendation is in your back yard or on your patio or balcony if weather permits. The night air and change of scenery from inside the house can make you feel like your going “out” for an evening. If you’re like us and have little kids, plan things for after bedtime and bring the baby monitor out with you!
Gather Your Supplies
We spent under $50 to set the scene and create the romantic regency ambiance. As I mentioned above, do inventory in your own home FIRST to see what items you already have that can be utilized:
- Card Table (we borrowed one from a neighbor)
- White Long Table Cloth (if you don’t have, you can use a white queen or king-sized flat sheet)
- 2 Gold or Silver Chargers (can be found at Dollar Tree for $1 each)
- 2 White Gold or Silver-rimmed Plates (feel free to use basic white plates or china you already have, or you can find gold-rimmed plates at Dollar Tree for $1 each)
- Candelabra – I found one on Amazon for $15 and spray painted it gold with old spray paint I had in the garage. If you want to spend a little more, you can find a gold or silver one for $23 on Amazon.
- 2 Small Round Vases (available at Dollar Tree for $1 each)
- White Taper Candle Sticks (You need as many as your candelabra requires, I needed five, so I bought 3 – 2 packs from Dollar Tree)
- 1 Grocery Store Bouquet of a dozen white roses (should cost you no more than $10)
- Flatware – Use your existing silverware, salad and dinner fork, dessert spoon, and knife to set your table formally
- 2 Water Goblets – Many of us already have these; if you don’t, you can find some at Dollar Tree
- 2 Champagne glasses – We used our wedding toast glasses to make it extra sentimental
- 2 Dining Room Chairs – If you have a formal dining room or traditional table, pull out those fancy chairs and use them with your covered card table. It will dress things up! We took two of our dining room table chairs and placed them in our cabana with our card table.
- Portable Speaker or Phone – We used our portable speaker to play classical violin music to further set the scene.
- Baby Monitor/Sitter – If you’ve got littles like we do either book a sitter or wait until after bedtime but be sure to bring your monitor or camera wherever you go!
Plan Your Menu
This really depends on your personal preferences. You can go as straightforward or as fancy as you’d like. If you want to stick with regency era food, dishes like chicken or beef would be appropriate.
To keep our kitchen time minimal and to stick true to the theme, we opted for the following:
- Rotisserie Roasted Whole Chicken (purchased from the grocery store) – $5.99
- Roasted Potatoes to compliment the chicken – $4.00
- Fresh French bread from the grocery store – $1.50
- A mini black forest cake from the grocery store bakery to share – $5.00
- Champagne to toast (we used a bottle we got for Christmas)
Better Homes & Gardens has a list of recommended Valentine’s Day dinner recipes that you can also look at for more options.
Setting Up Your Food
We used our outdoor storage cart to house the food. I covered it in another white table cloth, pulled out some of my serving trays for the food, and remembered I had two tall silver candle holders in the bathroom, which made the perfect accompaniment for the food station. If you don’t have a storage or coffee cart, try using another card table to set your food display up.
Dressing for the Occasion
You don’t have to go out and buy a historic replica dress to fit within your theme. You may already have something in your closet that’s appropriate!
The regency era was filled with beautiful empire waist gowns. Opt for a simple empire waist dress and pair with fancy costume jewelry you may already have (pull out that wedding jewelry you only wore once!)
My Regency Look
- For my look, I found an empire waist regency dress on Amazon for under $30!
- It came with a subtle pink ribbon, but I used some green ribbon I had leftover from Christmas for a pop of color.
- I went to a local craft store and bought a large quill style feather for my hair.
- I pulled out the costume jewelry from our family photos the year prior.
- I went to the top of my closet and pulled out my old wedding ballet flats and long gloves that I’d only worn once.
Men’s Regency Look
For my husband, pulling together a regency themed look was even easier than pulling off my look. We used items he already had in the closet!
- A loose white button-up shirt
- A fitted gray vest
- Tan slacks
- Brown Shoes
It was so much fun to dress up and spend some one on one time together outside. It truly felt like we were on a date night in another era, and it was such an excellent example of having a perfect moment amid all the imperfect instances we find ourselves in due to covid.
I would LOVE to see how your Regency themed Valentines Day dinner turned out! If you give this a try, please tag me on Instagram in your photos!