Louise Roe has three rules for setting the mood: lighting, music and “good wine!” she says.
The style expert and TV host knows how to plan a good party, whether it’s a seated dinner or an intimate meal like the one she recently put together for husband Mackenzie as a low-key alternative to the standard Valentine’s Day date.
“I really love unconventional dates — and the romantic gestures that are more personal,” she tells Joss & Main, who helped her deck out her dining room for the occasion. “To me, staying home for a beautiful meal together, or even going on a picnic, is far more intimate than having a set menu at a restaurant.”
Roe, 35, made the date even more special by opting for a lunch date that was reminiscent of another special event in the couple’s lives.
“When Mackenzie proposed to me last year, he did it at lunch time, so we had the whole day left to celebrate. I wanted to use the same idea here,” she says. She planned a “long leisurely lunch” after which they could “head out for a walk or a movie.”
A Mediterranean cheese and charcuterie board “with all the trimmings,” a bottle of Malbec and banana bread, which Roe says is, “Mackenzie’s favorite,” made up the menu. While a timeless color scheme inspired by the couple’s honeymoon on Italy’s Amalfi Coast set the tone for the table.
“I actually steered away from the stereotypical red or hearts. I wanted something more elegant and timeless that I would use again throughout the year,” she says.
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If you’re throwing a larger event, whether it be a Galentine’s Day gathering for your girlfriends or a dinner party with guests with a mix of relationship statuses, Roe suggests going all out with the tablescape.
“Go to town and use items that usually stay in the drawer,” she says. “Valentine’s is all about indulgence, so the more bowls, platters and dishes of food, the better.”
And if you’re planning on playing Cupid, Roe says, “Make little name place cards, they look so chic and also ensure the right people sit next to each other (perfect if you’re match-making).”
Family-style meals can also keep things feeling light and fun. “Sharing is a lot more social and sexy!” she says.
No matter what tone you choose to set, Roe says kicking things off with a boozy beverage is never a bad idea.
“Whether it’s creating a fun new cocktail together or chilling his favorite beer, making the effort to start the evening off right with a nice tipple (that’s what we call it in England!) relaxes everyone,” she says.