Reviewed February 2018

Yes, I would marry you again!

A Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony on a Budget

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Vow Renewal Ceremony: Any Suggestions?

My husband and I eloped on January 30, 1999. We always wanted to have a "real" wedding. I would like to plan a vow renewal ceremony. The only thing is I'm not sure how to go about doing it. We are on a very tight budget and plus I don't know the "guidelines" for a vow renewal ceremony! All suggestions are welcome.

Helpful Books

You've touched a topic near and dear to many brides' hearts--money! First, get a copy of Bridal Bargains either through a bookstore or at your library. This book, written by Alan and Denise Fields, is fantastic. They go through each element of weddings: food, photography, etc., and explain how to save money. There are also tons of websites dedicated to weddings. On the message boards, brides are always swapping tips on how and where to save money.

On the subject of vow renewals, I'm sure there is at least one book that is dedicated to this subject. Also, check with officiates such as ministers and judges for suggestions.

Vow Renewal Ceremony: Keep It Simple

I renewed my vows on a budget. We had the reception in the church hall and didn't have to pay as long as it was left clean. Instead of presents, we asked the people to bring a covered dish. When some called and asked what we needed, I told them paper plates. Others brought paper cups and punch. I also fixed a ham and a turkey. These were cut thin and served on plates. We bought rolls at a bread store and all else was furnished. So, the food was inexpensive. We bought a roll of white paper from a paper company. By doing this, we got it cheaper. This was spread over the tables. We made our flowers with silk flowers and bought the forms at a craft store. The men had a bud, with ribbon wrapped around it. A friend made the cake and it was nice.

Check the Library

I renewed my vows three years ago. It was our 25th wedding anniversary. We had the ceremony at the church that we belong to. This way we did not have to pay a fee and our reception was held downstairs in the church dining room. I would suggest that you go to your local library and check out books on wedding and vow renewal ceremonies. This is what I did and it helped me a lot. I planned it for eight months and you can do a nice ceremony on a tight budget. I also did all my church decorations, flowers for the bride and the bridesmaids, corsages and boutonnieres for the groom and the groomsmen. I asked my friends to chip in and help wherever possible and they did without any hesitation. If I can do it on a tight budget anyone can.

Vow Renewal Ceremony: Do It Your Way

We, too, renewed our wedding vows. It was a wonderful experience! My best advice is that you should do what you want to do! You are not held by convention on this ceremony, so you really don't have "rules" to follow.

We invited our family and friends to a Thursday evening ceremony. We spoke with the preacher about what we wanted and he did a short ceremony for us. Then, we each read vows we had written from our heart. It was a very touching and memorable ceremony. Very special for dh and me.

As for all the details, I had a beautiful, creamy colored evening gown that I had worn once for another occasion. I got my hair done that morning and picked up the bouquet that I had ordered a week earlier. Then, I slipped away and had formal portraits done of myself alone as a surprise for my dh for Christmas!

Hubby wore his best suit. After the ceremony, all went to a local restaurant for dinner. It was a great evening and special for husband and me. We have been to ceremonies that were very much like traditional weddings, complete with grandchildren and children and 40 years worth of friends and family.

Here is wishing you years of happiness in your life together!

Beauty of the Budget

To be honest, there are just as many "guidelines" to planning a vow renewal ceremony as there are for wedding ceremonies. The options, from the vows to the venue, are completely up to you. Generally the actual service is similar to the traditional wedding service. Not knowing your budget or the number of people who will be in attendance, I will assume that you have only a few hundred dollars to work with and those attending will be close family and friends (less than 50 people).

Many people who have performed marriage ceremonies have also performed renewal ceremonies and are familiar with a renewal service. If you cannot find a service that you like, search the Internet or your local library. You can piece together the things that you like about each service and make one for yourself. There really are no rules. You are already married. There is no reason to hire someone licensed to perform a ceremony unless you would prefer to. Find a significant person in your family or circle of friends who would be willing to perform the service. Cost: $0 - $100

As far as a location, you can easily mark a huge ZERO in the budget! Contact your city/county parks department to find out if you need a permit to hold a small gathering at a local park, beach or landmark. For something small, I would expect them to allow the event with no problem. You can decorate a picnic pavilion to be a quaint place to have the "reception". Even better, if you have a family member or friend who has a nice back yard, ask to borrow that for the ceremony. This could also lead to a free reception location too! Just try to find other friends/family members to help that person clean/set up and take everything down and clean afterwards. Cost: $0

As far as your attire, you have some options. You can buy a new dress. This is possibly the most expensive option. Assuming that you do not plan on wearing a formal wedding dress, you can keep the cost to under $100. A less expensive option would be to go to a consignment store. If you go to one specializing in weddings, you can search through the Bridesmaids and Mother-of-the-Bride dresses and probably find a beautiful dress for pennies on the dollar. The least expensive option would be to borrow a dress from a friend. Cost $0 - $75

Your husband's (and your child's, for that matter) attire could be a consignment suit or one that he already owns. Cost: $0 - $75

We are halfway through your budget and the most important people are taken care of - You, your husband and the person to marry you. I would suggest having the event at a time no where near a traditional mealtime. Skip the hours between 11am - 1pm, and 4pm to 7pm. Those attending will expect a meal. Try a 2:00 or a 7:30pm service where the foods served would be cake, punch, mints, and nuts. Cost: $50

Speaking of a cake, skip the fancy specialty stores. You can do pretty well at your local supermarket. You can request that a sheet cake be decorated like a wedding cake. Sit down with the decorator and discuss what you want. Find pictures of designs that you like and ask the decorator if the design could be duplicated for a sheet cake. You are generally not limited to the styles shown in the little books at supermarkets. Your decorator probably has talents beyond what is shown to the public. To keep costs down further, you can ask a family member or a friend to make the cake for you. Cost: $5 - $25

Related: How to Save on Your Wedding Cake

As far as flowers go, stop by the floral department of the same supermarket. The floral designer in the store can order nearly any type of flower that you like and make a simple tied bouquet for you for only a few dollars. Cost: $5 - $20

So far, our cost is at less than $350 and the big stuff is taken care of! The rest is just details. Depending on your priorities, you could find a more elegant cake, rent an arch as a focal point of the ceremony (Michael's has an arch that you can purchase that is around $20), rent chairs for your guests (this adds up quickly at $3 per chair though), buy candles that match your home decor to use as a unity candle, buy inexpensive champagne for a toast, hire a photographer (or contact a local college for a photography student).

Get the book Weddings for Dummies. As of the writing of this, there are three for sale that are less than $4. This is a wonderful book full of ideas that are good for weddings and will carry over for general entertaining purposes.

A Bride's Bargain

This absolute best money saving source for my wedding was the book Bridal Bargains. There are hundreds of tips and websites to turn to for a beautiful but cost-saving wedding!

They saved me literally thousands of dollars! Great ideas and a great investment for only $12-$13. By the way their website is

Vow Renewal Ceremony: Plans Similar to an Anniversary Party

You might think along the lines of what you'd do for an anniversary party. For my in-laws 50th anniversary party, we borrowed linens, punch bowl and cups, and a couple of floral arrangements from the church. We purchased inexpensive items to help decorate like gold glitter and ribbon for the table tops, large bow for the door (marked down 40%!), gold balloons and ribbon that we could curl, and two large floral arrangements marked down 40%. We made the punch and sauce for the pre-made meatballs we purchased. We had the grocery store deli do sandwiches, a fruit tray, and a meat/cheese tray. A lady in a nearby town made the cake. Ladies from the church served punch and cake and helped with set up/clean up. This way we saved on paying someone to do it! No expensive servers for us!

Invitations can be hand done on simple but pretty paper. They could also be done inexpensively on the computer.

Reviewed February 2018

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