Ten years ago I got married and tried to have an inexpensive wedding. Somehow we spent well over $10,000 on everything. Thank goodness that was in the years before Pinterest, or I can’t even imagine how much my DIY budget would have spiraled out of control. Entering life together we weren’t working to save money, we were deep in debt. As our ten year anniversary snuck up on us, I kept having this strong feeling that told me I needed to do a vow renewal. My dad had passed away years before we got married and his ashes were scattered near a lighthouse up north. Every time I imagined renewing my vows there I would start crying. Because we are still aggressively working to save money and pay off our debt, I wanted to make sure our vow renewal was on a budget. We managed to keep it all under $1k and we paid in cash. So, naturally, I want to share with you exactly how we did it.
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We kept things pretty cut and dry. There was no need for a big, fancy party to renew our vows. It was meant to be about us and the life we’ve created which made it pretty simple to stick to a budget.
For the most part I based out entire trip off of whatever money I was able to pull in that didn’t come from our actual budget money. That means we were able to save money and pay for this trip completely through side hustles and selling stuff! If you want some great ideas on how to start a side gig or sell your stuff online, check out some of these posts:
The only major setback we faced when planning this vow renewal was that it required travel in order to be near my father’s ashes. That meant we had to find somewhere to stay for us and our kids, plus additional food expenses.
Because we kept our vow renewal very simple and limited only to our family, there was no price to pay for the location and no hassle whatsoever. We just showed up, picked a place and started renewing our vows. This is a place we visit several times a year so I knew we would be able to manage a quick renewal without causing any trouble.
Thankfully, my aunt and God mother had recently gotten ordained and she was more than willing to help us out with our vow renewal plans. I’m very thankful for this, otherwise we would not have been able to save money in this area.
Total cost: $0
My original plan was to purchase a simple bouquet to use as flowers. After not finding any at the local stores, we really were able to save money by stopping on our way to pick some of the beautiful wildflowers that lined the scenic route. This is the same road I drove as a kid with my dad and grandparents. I can’t imagine anything having been more perfect for a bouquet.
Daisies are my favorite flower and luckily the side of the road was filled with them.
Our daughter was very excited to be a flower girl and insisted on getting flowers to hold; so she was thrilled that she literally got to pick them herself.
Total cost: $0
I first set out trying to find some nice clothes for our younger kids.
Our daughter recently went through an “I hate dresses” phase, so she really didn’t have anything appropriate.
Luckily, Target and their clearance section had us covered and I was able to save money but I found outfits that were perfect and simple.
For my dress I wanted something simple and affordable. I wasn’t even sure I would purchase a white dress. After all, how often would I get to re-wear a white dress? Certainly not to any future weddings I might be invited to! As much as I loved the idea of getting a beautiful white dress, I couldn’t ignore that practical side of me that screamed, “That’s a waste of money!”
I will spare you all the dramatic shopping details, but I will say that I got very lucky that the best dress I tried on just so happened to end up being $7.51 at Kohls and that was before any discounts!
Like I said, since we had to bring the kids up for the first half of our trip, we opted for staying in an Airbnb. We got really lucky and found a house that was very clutter free and well maintained. You could tell this family used this home specifically for Airbnb hosting.
After we renewed our vows, we went out to dinner and then our oldest daughter drove the youngest kids to grandmas so mom and dad could enjoy some alone time.
While we loved our Airbnb we were excited to have booked a hotel right in the center of Duluth. This way we could walk to all the local hot spots. Doing this we could also avoid needing to drive more.
Similar to our Airbnb, we didn’t choose the hotels right next to everything. We were about a mile out and we easily saved $50 per night by doing it this way. Being a mile away saved us money and got us walking around, holding hands and exploring the city together. It was awesome.
We booked our hotel using a rebate app called Ebates. The prices listed on their site were 20% cheaper than what I had been finding online. Booking our hotel through them we were able to save money and pay only $80 per night, plus we got 5% back! Use my link and you can get an additional $10 back on your first booking.
From the start, we knew money spent on food could either make us or break us so we wanted to be smart about it.
In order to save money big time while we were at our Airbnb and hotel we shopped ahead of time and brought groceries with us.
You can seriously save on the cost of groceries by shopping with a new site called Brandless.com. Everything on their site is only $3 and you’ll find a lot of organic products. If you spend $39 you’ll receive absolute free shipping. That means 15 food items and total free shipping! –I was so excited to learn about this new online outlet for food. Plus you can get $6 for free when you sign up!
Some of the quick grab foods we prepped and packed were:
Yup! We even brought our own beer and wine. Saving money by not purchasing them at restaurants made a huge difference. It was also nice to just come back to our hotel room and relax with a drink at the end of the day.
It worked out really well that one of our older daughter’s was getting back from a mission trip on Saturday. We wound up having to do the vow renewal on Sunday and our favorite restaurant, Tavern on the Hill just-so-happens to have a “Kids Eat Free on Sundays” special!
Not only did we take advantage of our little garbage disposals eating for free, when we signed up to get their e-mails we received an additional $10 off of our bill.
Another thing I would strongly recommend is again going through Ebates and see what you can save through Restaurants.com. You can often get a $25 gift card for only $10 plus an additional refund with Ebates! This is such a great way to save money at different local restaurants!
Some other great rebate posts
The practical side of me set in again when it came to shopping for rings. What was the point in buying new rings when we already have rings? Minimalism has changed me in the sense that I have no desire to add to my current wedding band anymore. I don’t want an additional band or to up-size the diamond.
I started searching the internet for “tin wedding bands” since it was our 10 year anniversary.
During my search I came across Qalo wedding bands. People use them to wear on vacation or if they live an active lifestyle. I loved them because they were practical, affordable and something I could easily still wear on my right hand after the vow renewal was over.
Qalo also offers engraving on their rings! This was an additional way to add a little personal touch to our rings. We decided to get “10xstronger” engraved on them.
Vacation Saving Ideas
Our usual vacations generally consist of us sitting on a beach, sun bathing near the ocean and to be honest, I started to go a little stir crazy.
This time we wanted to get out, get moving and do a little exploring. For our first day we spent the entire day at Gooseberry Falls State Park hiking across the rocks and exploring all the water falls. My dad used to take me here all the time as a kid and we have brought ours for the last few summers. It was so nice to be alone together, exploring nature with out the demands of little bodies!
Hiking didn’t cost us a dime and afterward we decided to stop at a famous dinner called Betty’s Pies for a warm coffee and a slice of Minnesota’s finest pie. The chilly weather was actually really refreshing and made the idea of a hot coffee and a home-cooked treat all the more appealing.
Our last day in Duluth we decided to walk around all of the little shops that were near our hotel. This was exactly why we chose a hotel in the location that we did. We wanted to be close to all the shopping even though we didn’t intend on buying anything. We did end up buying our kids a few souvenirs just for some “cool parent” bonus points.
Somethings Tom really wanted to do was drinks and appetizers at a local brewery, Bent Paddle Brewing Co. Lucky me, they just so happen to have some great gluten free options available! SCORE! They also had the best sweet potato fries I have ever had. I personally love the brewery atmosphere and often don’t get to enjoy much anymore now that I’ve learned of my gluten intolerance.
I just wanted to share some of these ideas because I fully believe these fun moments in life shouldn’t be put on hold due to finances. There is always a way around minor money problems. Thankfully Tom and I have been working hard the last few years to knock out our final debts and get right with our finances. Here are some great ideas to help you do the same:
Renee is the blogger behind The Fun Sized Life. After downsizing with her family, she also took the time to get serious about he finances. Now she is sharing the wealth with all of her readers.