Valentine's Day can be romantic and elegant, with classic red roses, chocolate-covered strawberries, and a tall glass of wine. This is an entire holiday dedicated to love, and 43% of millennials say they would like to propose or be proposed to on Valentine's Day. For this shoot centered around a classic holiday, I had a vision of taking all of the traditional elements of the day and turning them on their head. I wanted something that encompassed the way I felt about my husband – sure, we share romance and passion; but we are also playful, fun, and flirty. I love that we try to center our relationship around positivity and having fun. I wanted this shoot to emanate those cheesy elements of a love story. Remember back in middle school sharing candy hearts and exchanging valentine cards? I still wish I could pass notes – “Do you like me?? Check yes or no.” I wanted this cheeky, kitschy vibe to radiate through my design and planning here. Just because it’s a wedding doesn’t mean it needs to be designed by my grandmother (although, she does have great taste).

This inspiration-turned-photoshoot proves that electric colors and daring design can still be glamorous and chic. Manayunk Brewing Company provided the ideal, modern setting and mouth-watering platings for this unprecedented design. I had previously worked with Bridget from B's Events and Florals, so when the vision of a dramatic backdrop popped into my head, I knew her elaborate and colorful designs would make her the perfect collaborator. I wanted this shoot to feel like an explosion of celebration, love, and happiness – the best party you've ever been to. And for me, no party is complete without balloons. My father-in-law makes fun of me for my view on balloons; he thinks I just always have them in my house for no reason. I guess if I had my choice, I would. Anyway, thankfully Bridget was pumped about incorporating balloons into a floral piece (as well as the overall shoot). As expected, her stunning creations were full of life. She incorporated classic roses (which are responsible for more than half of valentines floral sales) into a not-so-classic, hot pink balloon installation. The lively florals provided a backdrop for not only the mouth-watering dishes prepared by the venue, but for the not one, not two, but THREE(!) wedding cakes from The Frosted Fox. Obviously the bakery had to go all-out – after all, sugar is pretty much the heart of Valentine’s Day (I mean, what other day in the year can we unapologetically give out candy hearts made of pure sugar?).

At Bloom With Us, we always look for real couples to model for our shoots (authenticity, am I right?). Steph and Pat, a Bloom With Us couple themselves, are head-over-heels about each other. They were an obvious choice and absolutely perfect for this shoot. Steph looked like absolute perfection in a Hayley Paige gown from La Bella Moda. Kasey Bonk Artistry accentuated her features with subtle yet glamorous makeup, while Margaret from Lovelies Hair brought a bit of funkiness with a modern mashup of curls and braids. You could feel Steph and Pat's love as they danced and kissed in the midst of balloons. This glam aesthetic fell into place, and I could not have been happier with everyone's hard work. It was so exciting to work side-by-side with these professionals to bring my vision to life, and then to see a real-life couple enjoying their time in the playful atmosphere was just the icing on the cake(s).

It's all in the details, and the vendors did not disappoint. We showed love letters who's boss with a vibrant invitation suite. I collaborated with our owner, Amy, on a super fun design with a 70s vibe. I loved the idea of bringing in a cheesy, overused poem and mashing it with bold typographic Xs and Os to drive home the overarching modern-meets-kitschy theme of the shoot. Handmade fuchsia paper and ruby red wax seals really set the suite on fire, and we all had so much fun styling it with glittery hearts, gorgeous ribbon, and the most extraordinary rings from L. Priori Jewelry. I was excited to include the Prada lips sneakers my husband surprised me with for our wedding last fall, and we pulled some awesome ring boxes and other trinkets from our carefully curated styling closet. Everything from the major pieces of this shoot to the minor details came together perfectly.

We had a light snowfall on this day to add to the magic – it was nice to watch out of the large windows of the venue as we hesitantly packed away the bold tablescape and popped the many balloons. When all was said and done, it felt surreal that it was over. Hope Helmuth Photography wasted no time getting these images ready, and I was absolutely ecstatic with the final gallery! I am so excited to be able to share this shoot with the world. On this Valentine's Day, I hope that you will be inspired to ditch the stuffy traditions and remember a time in your life that was full of butterflies and a little bit silly. Make each other homemade valentines, stuff your faces with candy hearts – may you laugh, dance, and be a kid again with the one you love.

Photography: Hope Helmuth Photography

Venue & Catering: Manayunk Brewing Company

Florist: B's Events and Florals

Cake: The Frosted Fox

Gown: Hayley Paige

Boutique: La Bella Moda

Hair: Lovelies by Margaret

Makeup: Kasey Bonk Artistry

Rings: L Priori Jewelry

Planning, Stationery, + Design: Bloom With Us