Because I don’t like giving all my secrets away right off the bat, now that the vow renewal is (sadly) over, I can spill them now.
We were definitely on a budget, right from the beginning, and there were times we weren’t sure how we going to pull it off… but we did and it was awesome.
The venue could potentially cost the most
The very first step for us was securing a venue. Since we wanted it to be outside, and we live in a townhouse, we were kind of cramped for space at our place. We needed to brainstorm, but it didn’t take long for us to come up with a place we knew would be perfect. Our best man and his wife live on a beautiful country property, complete with a fire pit and tons of space. Thank goodness he was enthusiastically on board right from the beginning.
This saved us a lot of money, and there wasn’t a moment in our planning when we didn’t appreciate them hosting our event. (THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU).
The next step was getting things on paper (so to speak). Because I’m a total nerd and have this newfound love for spreadsheets, I created a spreadsheet and shared it with my husband and our friends. I’ve included that spreadsheet (in blank form) in this post. It’s customizable, so feel free to change labels, move things around and add/delete tabs.
The first tab of our planner was our to-do list. Everything from talking to our pastor, to talking to band members and beyond, it went on this sheet. I assigned tasks to share the responsibilities and it worked out quite well.
The second tab was for our wine label. We decided to make a custom batch of red wine to give out at our renewal, and we wanted custom labels for them to match our invitations (on another tab). Obviously, if you aren’t giving away wine, you won’t need this tab.
The third tab in the planner is for the scriptures that were read at our wedding. I still have a copy of our original wedding invitation, framed, and so it was easy for me to track this down. The pastor suggested reading the same ones, as they still very much apply.
Money-saving tip: Make your own invitations
The fourth tab in the planner (invitations) is one of my favourites, and probably the one that was edited the most (the guest list was the second runner-up!).
There are many free online editors that you can use to create a one-of-a-kind invitation. Save the file and bring it into your local Staples for printing. You’ll have a choice in card-stock and they include envelopes.
Another great money-saving tip: Buffet-style over formal seating
By not having a formal sit-down meal, and instead treating it as a BYOB, buffet-style backyard BBQ, we could ask our guests to bring folding chairs.
Something to consider for your guests: camping/hotel options
Your guests will find it more convenient and easier to say yes if you provide them with all the options. We had space at our venue for camping, plus we included the names of two hotels nearby that they could stay at, if they didn’t want to camp.
Next on the planner was our guest list. This was a sticky area because we needed to keep the numbers down out of respect for our hosts, and we wanted to invite the people who have meant the most and supported our marriage the most throughout the years.
It was tough to tell people that we were sorry, but no children would be allowed at the event. This alone helped in cutting numbers down, though. There were two reasons for doing this. One, there would be alcohol involved, and we knew that some people would have no filter after a few drinks. Rather than have to worry about it, we decided to ixnay the situation from the beginning. Shortly after making that decision, we were told that the landlord of the property didn’t want kids around because of the on-site pond. That totally made sense and told us that we’d made the right decision.
This tab is SO handy because, you can export is as a .csv file. Then buy Avery mailing labels and upload the file to Avery.ca, where you can print them, for FREE. I use this every Christmas now and I love it!
The next tab in the planner is the menu. We’d contemplated having a pig roast but were completely thrown off that idea when we got a quote for $900. Thanks, but no thanks! I’d rather spend $200 on burgers and hot dogs. Since it was a country-ish theme, a BBQ meal was perfect and included corn-on-the-cob, a variety of salads and veggies trays, and of course, I did our cake for dessert.
Following the menu tab is the floor plan. Since our venue was a farm property, our gracious hosts drew out a map of the property for us. It was beautiful. I remember when we went out to their house in April, in the middle of an ice storm. As the best man was showing us the ice-covered pond from his warm living room, I started to tear up. I could picture how beautiful it would be. I scanned his map and added it to the spreadsheet.
Decorations are up next in the planner. I have to admit, I had no idea what I was going to do for decorations up until about a month and a half before the event. I felt disorganized just because of this alone. Pinterest to the rescue! I’d been collecting ideas for the vow renewal for months but still hadn’t settled on anything specific. I set up a Pinterest board, and added our host and my friend to it, for collaboration. So many ideas, so little time!
In the end, I decided to go with blue gingham, sunflowers, blue hydrangeas and baby’s breath. After searching high and low for some cheap flowers that were still pretty, I finally found a dollar store that sold everything I needed.
My last secret to saving money
This idea came to me in the middle of the night, when we spent the night at our host’s place (during that ice storm!) We didn’t have the budget for a photographer, but still wanted amazing photos. I’m so glad I remembered my idea the next morning!
I wanted to offer our guests an incentive to help us with hotos. We wanted to give everyone a chance to get the winning picture, and offered two prizes for the best two pictures taken. And so, our Instagram Photo Challenge was born.
Our hashtag is #dnd20yearslater and we had everyone snap photos of us. They had to upload these photos to Instagram, using our hashtag, and at 8 p.m., my husband and I chose the two best photos.
The first place winner received an Echo Dot, and the second place winner received a $25 Prepaid Visa Card.
We also asked the winners to text us the original photos so we could frame them for our home.
The best part was that our host marked on the property map the two best areas to take photos. This was awesome because they also let us know what time of day was best!
And there it is! An awesome way to get organized for a vow renewal (or wedding) and keep costs down.
Here’s the spreadsheet – a free download, just for you!