What Valentine’s Day Looked Like the Year You Were Born

You'll fall in love with this album of vintage Valentine's Day photos, starting with shots from the 1940s.

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These six young women are ready for St Valentine's Day as they surround a heart at the South Tower of the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island, San Francisco, California, February 14, 1940. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
Underwood Archives/Getty Images


This vintage Valentine’s Day photo is from the Golden Gate International Exposition, a World’s Fair held on Treasure Island in San Francisco. (The bikini wasn’t invented until 1946!)

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1940s Teen Couple Boy With...
H. Armstrong Roberts/Getty Images


The most popular Valentine’s candy has certainly changed over the years, but it’s hard to go wrong with a heart-shaped box of chocolates.

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Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) joins Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) at the piano to look at a Valentine in his nightclub the Holiday Inn in the 1942 musical Holiday Inn. (Photo by �� John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
John Springer Collection/Getty Images


Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) joins Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) at the piano to share a Valentine’s Day card in Holiday Inn. This film is best known for another holiday, though—Irving Berlin wrote the song “White Christmas” for this 1942 musical.

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US soldiers in Britain choose Valentine's cards for their sweethearts back home during World War II, 11th February 1943. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Keystone/Getty Images


Even during WWII, US soldiers overseas were able to send Valentine’s cards to sweethearts back home.

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Photography Of Young Woman In Heart Shape Frame
Harold M. Lambert/Getty Images


This handmade vintage Valentine’s Day card is something special!

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Portrait of Pfc (private first class) Dorothy LeRoy (of Atlanta, Georgia) as she poses in the oversized frame of a Valentine's Day card, Washington DC, 1945. At the time, she worked in the medical records department at Walter Reed General Hospital. (Photo by US Army/Signal Corps/PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
PhotoQuest/Getty Images


In the 1940s, wartime paper shortages reduced the production of valentines. But PFC Dorothy LeRoy was able to pose in this oversized Valentine’s Day card at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C.

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A couple embraces in a small boat, in the Bois de Boulogne near Paris, in March 1946. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
Contributor/Getty Images


This couple is spending an afternoon in the Bois de Boulogne, a park in the most romantic city in the world: Paris.

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1940s YOUNG SMILING GIRL AND BOY BAKING HEART SHAPED VALENTINE COOKIES (Photo by H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images)
H. Armstrong Roberts/Getty Images


Even in the 1940s, baking heart-shaped cookies was a popular pastime on Valentine’s Day.

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Looking demure as an old-fashioned valentine, Dorothy Abbott, drinking an ice-cream soda, is seen through the frame of a wire-back chair. Her pink cotton dress has ruffles at the shoulder and a black grosgrain ribbon ties around her waist and extends to hemline.
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Dorothy Abbott, a popular American actress in the ’40s and ’50s, sips an ice-cream soda in a soda fountain.

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Little Boy Delivering A Valentine.With his heart in his hand, little Johnny McBride, 5, of the "Juvenile Jury," prepares to deliver a valentine surprise to his sweetheart.
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Johnny McBride, 5, appeared on Juvenile Jury, a popular children’s game show, to deliver this valentine to his sweetheart. (According to Johnny, the direct approach is always best.)

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A woman making heart-shaped home-made cards for her sweethearts on Saint Valentine's Day.
Al Barry/Getty Images


This woman made heart-shaped cards for her loved ones. You can celebrate V-Day with crafts, too.

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LAGUNA WOODS, CA - JANUARY 28: David and Phylis Hartman on their wedding day on September 23, 1951.
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In the early 1950s, wedding gowns had a small waist and full skirt and featured a lot of lace. What a romantic wedding date!

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Boy Making Greeting Card For Valentines Day
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Valentine’s Day was a popular holiday for adults—until the baby boomers came along. That’s when kids began to exchange handmade cards.

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Valentine Ball for Bel Air Bay Club, 1953
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The girls here are dressed up for the Valentine Ball, a popular dance at the Bel-Air Bay Club in Los Angeles.

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A couple of lovers pose in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris during the Valentine's Day Lovers Contest on February 13, 1954. (Photo by - / INTERCONTINENTALE / AFP) (Photo by -/INTERCONTINENTALE/AFP via Getty Images)
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This couple is posing in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris during the Valentine’s Day Lovers Contest. No word on who won, though.

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Two little girls browsing at a stall selling a wide range of Valentine's Day
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Valentine’s Day cards have been mass-produced in the US since the 1800s. Love the look? You can still find vintage valentines on Etsy and eBay.

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1950s School Teacher At...
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After World War II, sending a valentine to everyone in the classroom (including the teacher!) became a popular tradition.

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A young woman teenager serves punch at a Valentine's Day party, February 14, 1957. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
Underwood Archives/Getty Images


This young woman is serving punch at a Valentine’s Day party—or was it a Galentine’s Day party?

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FEB 14 1958, FEB 15 1958; Unique Valentine's Day tree highlighted Miss Eleanore Weckbaugh's Friday night party. The tree is her redecorated Christmas tree and features valentines of gardenias, carnations.;
Bob Beegle/Getty Images


It turns out that Valentine’s Day Christmas trees have been a thing since 1958.

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Men Giving Valentine Gift To Women
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This fella is gifting a box of chocolates to his valentine. But if that won’t do for you, take a peek at our list of Valentine’s Day gift ideas.

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Girls making valentines, late 1950s or early 1960s.
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This photo from the early ’60s proves that Valentine’s Day cards have always been a school project.

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Nancy Walters on Valentine's Day in the early 1960's
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Nancy Walters, a model and actress, holds a heart-shaped box of chocolate on Valentine’s Day. (If you’re a vintage film aficionado, you may recognize her from Blue Hawaii.)

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H. Armstrong Roberts/Contributor


The look of Valentine’s Day chocolate sure has changed a lot since the 1960s.

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Mrs. C.F. Decker, 1745 S. Shoshone St., and her children, Cassandra, 4, and Brent, 3, think the candy is dandy in the Hested store display of Valentine's Day goodies; but wow! what a tough decision it poses.
Denver Post/Getty Images


This photo appeared in the Denver Post on February 13, 1963. The original caption read, “Mrs. C.F. Decker, 1745 S. Shoshone St., and her children, Cassandra, 4, and Brent, 3, think the candy is dandy in the Hested store display of Valentine’s Day goodies; but wow! what a tough decision it poses.”

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The secretary of the Beatles fan club, surrounded by hundreds of Valentine's cards sent to the group by their adoring fans.
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This shot from 1964 shows the secretary of the Beatles fan club surrounded by hundreds of Valentine’s cards sent by adoring fans.

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1960s Two Cocker Spaniel Puppies Inside Lace Valentines Heart (Photo By H. Armstrong Roberts/Classicstock/Getty Images)
H. Armstrong Roberts/Getty Images


You can’t skip a Valentine’s Day gift for your pet!

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FEB 15 1966; BALLOONS DECORATE THE GRAND BALLROOM OF THE DENVER HILTON HOTEL AT MONDAY NIGHT + DINNER+; Some 1,750 persons attended the $125-a-couple Valentines Dav "Salute to (Gov. John) love."; (Photo By Bill Peters/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Bill Peters/Getty Images


1,750 people attended this $125-a-couple Valentine’s Day dinner. $125 in 1966 is equivalent to over $1,000 in 2022!

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Suzi Fahey reaches across drawing board for supplies she uses to design commercial valentines.
Denver Post/Getty Images


Suzi Fahey had a dream job in the ’60s—she designed valentines.

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A factory worker checks an endless line of heart-shaped containers which will be filled with straight pins for Valentine's Day in the Tennessee plant of America's leading producer of all types of pins.
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This pin factory worker in Tennessee is keeping an eye on a nearly endless line of heart-shaped containers. The containers would eventually be filled with straight pins for Valentine’s Day.

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Cupid made his yearly Valentine's Day rounds today and left these little preschoolers rubbing noses Eskimo style.
MediaNews Group/Getty Images


This Inuit-style nose kiss between two preschoolers is pretty cute. Even cuter—the children attended Pooh Corner Preschool.

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BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 12: Jackie Brown, 7, and Valerie Wilson, 5, flip through Valentine's Day cards at the Bayside Mall in Boston on Feb. 12, 1970. (
Boston Globe/Getty Images


Even in 1970, it was tough to choose the right card!

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iew of a young woman in a mini skirt as she shops for a comically oversized Valentine's Day card, New York, New York, February 12, 1971. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
Underwood Archives/Getty Images


This comically oversized Valentine’s Day card definitely has a pun inside.

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 Mary Hayes, Arvada West member of the Petal Pushers Garden Club, and Robin Stover, 5-year-old daughter of club's adviser, Mrs. David Stover, make Valentine tray favors for Colonial Manor Nursing Home residents.
Denver Post/Getty Images


In Denver, this duo is working on handmade Valentine’s Day favors for nursing home residents.

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Donny Osmond With Fan Mail
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Donny Osmond was up to his waist in fan mail and valentines cards.

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Cypress Gardens, FL: Two pretty cupids take to the water in search of their Valentines. They're performing a difficult backward on their water skis as they aim for their sweethearts.
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This water ski show in Cypress Gardens, Florida features two cupids taking aim—and they’re skiing backwards!

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Fifty years a valentine, 1975
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50 years together is a card-worthy milestone. And the secret to a long marriage might be sharing a Hershey’s bar every day.
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Lollipops will become Valentine gifts at Merrill Junior High when Darrell Cannon, eight-grade boy president, and Katie Russell, head girl, finish cutting hearts.
Denver Post/Getty Images


The student presidents at Merrill Junior High cut hearts to make lollipop valentines.

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The wedding of American singer Lorna Luft and Jake Hooker, lead guitarist of The Arrows, at the church of All-Hallows-by-the-Tower in London, on Valentine's Day,
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American singer (and Judy Garland’s daughter) Lorna Luft tied the knot on Valentine’s Day in 1977.

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Valentine's DayDEDHAM, MA - FEBRUARY 13: H. Goldberg, head of the valentine division at the Metropolitan Greeting Card Company in Dedham, Mass., holds up a panel of Disney-themed Valentine's Day cards on Feb. 13, 1978.
Boston Globe/Getty Images


Remember decorating a shoebox for your desk to hold valentines? It didn’t take long for manufacturers to catch on to the trend and start producing sets of valentines with cards for the whole class, like this set of Disney-themed Valentine’s Day cards. (Remind us to look for this set of vintage Valentines on Etsy.)

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FEB 14 1979, FEB 15 1979; Blood Donated; Clarence Thatch, East High School student, was among about 100 students who gave blood on Valentine's Day (Wednesday) at the school as part of student body's "Have a Heart, Give Blood and Save a Heart Program."
Ernie Leyba/Getty Images


Students at Denver East High School gave blood on Valentine’s Day as part of student body’s “Have a Heart, Give Blood and Save a Heart Program.” Love to see it!

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The day before Valentine's Day at See's Candy, February 13, 1980 Photo ran 02/14/1980, P. 3 (Photo by Gary Fong/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)
San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images


This photo was captured the day before Valentine’s Day at See’s Candy in San Francisco.

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Puppet characters Kermit The Frog and Miss Piggy on the set of The Muppet Show at Elstree Studios, Hertfordshire, circa 1981. (Photo by TV Times via Getty Images)
TV Times/Getty Images


Even Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy celebrate Valentine’s Day.

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A couple of lovers poses on the occasion of Valentine's Day in Saint Valentin on February 14, 1982. - Young fiancee from Saint Valentin village Michel Leduc 25 years old and Nadia Mouche Bouef 24 years old, wisely wait on a bench of the village the 140 new fiancés of the four corners of France. (Photo by Daniel JANIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL JANIN/AFP via Getty Images)


The small French village of Saint-Valentin is the perfect spot for a romantic photo op.

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Angie Dickinson, Frank Sinatra, President Gerald Ford and Barbara Sinatra (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Ron Galella/Getty Images


Frank Sinatra hobnobs with actress Angie Dickinson and former President Gerald Ford during a “Frank and His Friends” event on Valentine’s Day.

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JAN 13 1984, FEB 14 1984 Mary Nell Flora, a teacher's aide at Loveland Christian School brought a bag Valentines to the Loveland Post office to mail today. She sent no Christmas chards this year so decided to send out Valentine's letters, instead. She sent about 99. Credit: The Denver Post (Denver Post via Getty Images)
Denver Post/Getty Images


This teacher decided to skip Christmas cards and send valentines instead. She sent about 99!

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Sealed with a kiss: Nine-year-old Sarah Grahek of Toronto delivered a Valentine's greeting to her fa
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This kiddo in Toronto delivered a Valentine’s Day greeting to an elephant at the zoo—and got a big kiss in return.

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First Lady Nancy Reagan Shopping for Greeting Card
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Even First Lady Nancy Reagan had to pick up valentines—but she got to bring her dog Rex on the errand.

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Kipling Acres home for the Aged resident Mary Metclafe; 87; is smiling because a shylooking Marianna
Michael Stuparyk/Getty Images


In Toronto, an experiment added a day care to a nursing home to team up the young and the old. This three-year-old made a card for an 87-year-old resident and our hearts are melting.

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Isra Jacoby, 5 draws a valentine message in the sand at China Beach on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1988 Photo ran 02/15/1988, P. A3 (Photo by Brant Ward/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)
San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images


This sandy message might be even better than a card.

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Cupid outdid himself yesterday at Toronto's old city hall as 12 couples took St. Valentine's Day vow
Mike Slaughter/Getty Images


Every couple in this photo was married in Toronto on Valentine’s Day. You’ll never forget an anniversary of 2/14!

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Just For The Record Chocolate Record Disc 1990 Via Getty
Fairfax Media Archives/Getty Images


This splurge-worthy chocolate record was priced at $7.95.

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FEB 11 1991 Persian Gulf War - Colorado Thousands of persons gathered Sunday afternoon in the outfield of the sky sox Stadium in Colorado Springs to send a human valentine to the U.S. troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. Credit: Denver Post (Denver Post via Getty Images)
Denver Post/Getty Images


Thousands of people gathered in the outfield of Sky Sox Stadium in Colorado Springs to create a human valentine for US troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. (The first part of the message, KKFM, was the radio station that sponsored this act of kindness.)

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A young couple pose during the Valentine's day in Havana on February 14, 1992. (Photo by Rafael PEREZ / AFP) (Photo by RAFAEL PEREZ/AFP via Getty Images)


A young couple posed for a sweet Valentine’s Day photo. It was 1992, so they had to have a photographer and a tripod to capture this shot!

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Annual Valentine Luncheon In Honor of Sophia Loren
Ron Galella/Getty Images


Sophia Loren celebrated Valentine’s Day with a luncheon in her honor—and one of her guests was former first lady Nancy Reagan. We’re in love with Sophia’s very generous shoulder pads!

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Valentines Day Preview... Barbara Pollak of Pearsons florist in Darlinghurst prepares flowers for valentines day.
Fairfax Media Archives/Getty Images


The classic Valentine’s Day gift is a bouquet of flowers. But we wouldn’t say no to a pickle bouquet.

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Making Valentine's Day Cards
Boston Globe/Getty Images


This mom is helping her kids fill out valentines—one for every student in the class. That’s a lot of love!

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’90s kids show off crafty handmade valentines—and then it’s off to the lunchroom for a PB&J and some Dunkaroos.

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PA NEWS PHOTO: Diana, Princess of Wales receiving a hand-made Valentine's card from 16-year-old Paul Read, on behalf of the Dialysis Unit, during her visit to the Great Ormond Street Hospital today (Friday). Paul is suffering from Kidney failure. See PA Story ROYAL Diana. Photo by John Stillwell/Pool. (Photo by John Stillwell - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
John Stillwell/Getty Images


Diana, Princess of Wales, received a handmade Valentine’s Day card from a 16-year-old at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Princess Di frequently visited this children’s hospital—it was one of her favorite charities to support.

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13 Feb 1998: USA hockey fans wish their moms a happy Valentine''s day during the USA v Sweden game at Big Hat Arena during the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport
Brian Bahr/Getty Images


This has to be the best way to say “Happy Valentine”s Day” from the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan!

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Joined by Ferengis, Klingons and Starfleet crew members, Star Trek fans Mikel (R) and Craig Salsgiver (2nd R) display the Vulcan greeting after renewing their vows on Valentine's Day - their fifth wedding annversary - on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise 14 February at "STAR TREK: The Experience" attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton.


This couple renewed their vows on Valentine’s Day on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Yes, the costumes are all handmade.

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Valentine's Day Chocolates At Serenade Chocolatier
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The heart-shaped box of chocolates is a timeless Valentine’s Day gift. See which brand won our Valentine’s Day chocolate taste test.

Lara Eucalano
Lara is a writer, editor and gardener who loves to cook almost as much as she loves to eat. She will absolutely hop on a plane in search of good food!