Vow Renewal and Vacation Under $1K and We Paid in Cash

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. Now, after 10 years of marriage, we really wanted to renew our commitment to each other and actually stick to 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.

*This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission on anything I recommend but all opinions are my own. 

Plan your renewal goals

It’s so important when planning any kind of budget, to start out by setting goals for what you want to accomplish.

Using the printouts available in my Fun Sized Budget Bundle would be a helpful way to break down your expenses and give you some ideas on how to plan for future events like this.

What our goals looked like:

  • Vow renewal to one another
  • Have all of our kids with us
  • To be near where my dad’s ashes are scattered
  • Keep it as inexpensively as possible

Our goals were 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.

Earning the money

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!

Where we got the money

Blogging – Blogging has been an awesome source of income for our family. With only a couple hours a day, I’m easily able to bring in a few thousand dollars each month. If you have ever considered blogging, grab my FREE course, How to Make Your First $1,000 Blogging.

Selling on Facebook Marketplace – I am no stranger to decluttering. To help us make monumental debt-payoff and still fund our vow renewal on a budget, we started selling some unused items on Facebook Marketplace.

Other great money-making ideas:

Plan for your biggest expense

The only major setback we faced when planning this vow renewal was that it required to 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.

Is your biggest expense one of your top goals?

It’s so easy for people to get carried away with things that actually distract from the big picture.

If you set goals to have family around you, have a gorgeous location and stick to a budget but your dress costs over $500 — you might not be spending your money in the right areas.

Make sure your biggest expense lines up with what your top goals for your vow renewal are.

Look into free venues

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 Godmother 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.

Learn more about how to get ordained online.

Total cost: $0

Discover exactly how you can do a vow renewal on a budget. When it comes to your vow renewal, don't let money stand in your way.

Finding floral arrangements for less

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

Shop discounts (but still get what you want)

The kids

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.

The dress

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!

Total cost: $20

Discover exactly how you can do a vow renewal on a budget. When it comes to your vow renewal, don't let money stand in your way.

Saving on an Airbnb

As 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.

How to save money on an Airbnb

  • Book during “off” days –like weekdays and non-holidays
  • Book a house slightly off location
    • Finding a house that was a little out of town saved us huge and was actually better for us and our kids.
  • Never be afraid to ask for a last-minute deal.
    • If you are booking a last-minute trip, it never hurts to message the Airbnb host directly to see if they are willing to give you a discount. There is always a chance that they will just be happy to pull in some extra cash that they weren’t planning on making and you can save money.
  • Recommend it to friends
    • Airbnb lets you give your friends a $40 credit when they sign up and book their first stay and you will receive a $20 credit for recommending them! Get a $40 credit toward your stay.
  • Book multiple nights
    • If you are planning to be in the area for several nights, take advantage of the discount most hosts will offer when you book multiple nights in a row.

Total cost: $400

Saving on hotels

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.

How to save on hotel:

  • Stay slightly off-location – Just like an Airbnb, you can save significant amounts of money by finding a hotel that is located slightly away from everything. The one we found still allowed us to be within walking distance.
  • Shop saving app discounts – There are so many savings apps that work with hotels to get you awesome discounts. Here is a quick run-down of what most of them offer:
    • Rakuten – $10 free when you sign up and rebates from places like Hotels.com, Expedia, Orbitz, Ebates Hotels, Holiday Inn and Travelocity.
    • IbottaGet $10 free when you sign up and Ibotta works by giving you rebates on hotels and on Groupon. That means, if you sign onto Groupon through Ibotta, you not only save on the Groupon, but Ibotta will give you a rebate as well.

Total cost: $160

Discover exactly how you can do a vow renewal on a budget. When it comes to your vow renewal, don't let money stand in your way.

Bring your own food

At the hotel

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 absolutely free shipping. That means 15 food items and totally 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:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Pancakes
  • Lettuce
  • Lunchmeat
  • Frozen pizza (for the Airbnb)
  • Beer
  • Wine

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.

Total cost: $39

Keep dinning costs low

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.

Ways to save going out to eat:

  • Take advantage of in-house discounts and happy hours
  • Sign up to receive any rebates the restaurant might offer
  • Join Rakuten to save even more money on places like Restaurant.com that offer $25 gift cards for only $10!
  • Drink water at dinner and have drinks at the hotel

Total cost: $120

Some other great rebate posts

Discover exactly how you can do a vow renewal on a budget. When it comes to your vow renewal, don't let money stand in your way.

Save on rings

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.

During my search for rings, 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 to engrave 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.

Total cost: $40

Vacation Saving Ideas

Find free entertainment

Our usual vacations generally consist of us sitting on a beach, sunbathing near the ocean and to be honest, I started to go a little stir crazy. Finding free things to do outdoors is the best way to do a vow renewal on a budget and/or save money on a weekend getaway.


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 waterfalls. 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 without 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.

Total costs: $60 (or so)

Vow renewal on a budget

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:

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Discover exactly how you can do a vow renewal on a budget. When it comes to your vow renewal, don't let money stand in your way.


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