In Kay Jewelers commercials and Hallmark cards Valentine's Day is perfect: it's full of chocolate-covered strawberries, glistening roses and enough romance to melt the abominable snowman's heart. But perfect doesn't always go as planned. After the great Valentine's fiasco of 2003 that left Dave, my then boyfriend, with a bloody nose wandering a mall and me freezing to death in front of a restaurant, we've been eating at Wendy's every year. We love the tradition so much that once we got married we started going to Wendy's for our anniversary as well.
As Cupid's visit approaches couples inevitably feel pressure to make the day unforgettable, but creating a memory can be costly. According to the National Retail Federation the average couple will spend $102.50 making their sweetheart feel special this Valentine's Day—down 17% from last year, but still a good chunk of change. With emotions, expectations and costs running so high, it's no wonder that some people eschew the holiday all together. Often, though, the most significant moments in a relationship come when people stop thinking with their wallets.
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Lexi Robinson-Hotchkiss, 27, and her husband Keith, 31, never bought into the idea of Valentine's Day. "From the get-go Keith and I decided to just say the heck with it," said Robinson-Hotchkiss. "Our first year of dating, he took me to the local Red Lobster. Oh my friends were appalled! They couldn't believe I would stick around with a guy who took me there. It was great, though! We had such a good time at dinner, no pressure." That started their yearly pilgrimage to low-cost restaurants. The next year they went to Pizza Hut, the year after they went to an all-you-can-eat buffet and this year they plan on heading over to White Castle, which, you may want to know, accepts reservations for V-Day.