My husband and I aren’t very big on anniversaries (or birthdays). We’re very open to time-shifting them, skipping gifts, or holding one combination celebration for all our anniversaries and birthdays together. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to recognize our marriage, though. So here are ten frugal yet romantic ways we’ve celebrated our anniversary.

Focus on You, Not on Gifts
The first few years we were together, we gave each other gifts for our dating anniversary. Then we both started grad school, so instead we exchanged cards. That’s not to say that I’d say no to an upgraded engagement ring for our tenth wedding anniversary. It’s just that I don’t need some little trinket every year to remind me of our love. Instead, we use the money we would have spent on gifts to do other things, like start our house savings. I’d rather have a house than receive a teddy bear.

Merge Several Celebrations into One Larger Occasion
If you celebrate both your dating anniversary and wedding anniversary, celebrate them together on the same day. We’ve only been married for three years, but we’ve been together for ten. Our dating anniversary also falls near our birthdays, so we plan one nice evening to celebrate all three of those occasions together.

Take an Affordable Trip
My husband stayed at a bed and breakfast for our first dating anniversary, but we haven’t traveled for our anniversary since. This year, in celebration of ten years together, we’re using airline miles and a Luxury Link package to take a luxury trip at an affordable price. That trip will also be our Christmas and birthday presents to each other.

Return to the Location of Your First Date
I can’t do this anymore, because the location of our first date has closed, but it’s a popular one with many couples. Even if it’s just the McDonald’s you ran into after a late movie, being there again on your anniversary will spark some romantic memories.

Do Something Silly
Instead of being uber-romantic, head out to do something silly. Go the mall and take pictures in a photo booth, go to a carnival, or play mini-golf. Laughter’s a powerful aphrodisiac and takes the pressure off being romantic.

Look at Photos from Your Years Together
Before our wedding, I compiled photos of us together into one small photo album. (We’re not really camera people, so there weren’t many.) If you don’t already have a photo album dedicated to you as a couple, pull your favorites and compile them into a book to share with your sweetie.

Make Lists of the Things You Love about Each Other
This one takes some advance planning, but list one thing you love about your partner for each year you’ve been together, then exchange the lists on your anniversary. By the time you get done reading the list your partner made about you, you should be in a very romantic mood indeed.

Cook a Fancy Dinner
We do enjoy nice dinners out, but eating out is complicated for me. So rather than taking our umpteenth trip to P.F. Chang’s, this year I’m making us a lovely steak dinner at home. We’ll light candles, enjoy a bottle of wine, and watch our wedding video. Someday, we’ll finish our wedding album so we can look at that, too.

Take a Bottle of Nice Champagne to a Restaurant
If you’re set on celebrating in a nice restaurant, consider bringing your own bottle of champagne. One year a friend gave us a very nice bottle for Christmas. We took it to the restaurant and the manager waived the corkage fee when we explained the reason we’d brought it. Even if they charge corkage, the $25 you spend to open the bottle is much cheaper than the $100 you’d have to spend to buy a nice bottle from the restaurant.

Enjoy a Picnic in an Unusual Setting
If your anniversary is in the summer, shift the celebration to the weekend so you can go on a nice picnic together. Pack fancier fare than sandwiches and trail mix, and bring a bottle of wine. Then get in the car and pick a direction. Drive until you find a neat place to stop. You could find yourself near a cornfield or on a cliff, the point is to do the unexpected. If you have kids, don’t bring them. If your anniversary is during the winter, send the kids to a friend’s house and picnic in the living room in front of the fire.

No matter what you decide to do, the key is to spend some time together remembering your years together and looking forward to the years you have left.


8 Responses to “10 Frugal Anniversary Ideas (That Are Also Romantic)”

  1. Writer Dad on August 14th, 2008 9:49 am

    My wife and I had our seven year wedding anniversary this past Tuesday, and that’s exactly how we celebrated – we returned to the scene of our first day. We enjoyed a delicious, yet inexpensive Mexican meal. Perfect.

  2. Jesse on August 14th, 2008 11:49 am

    Great ideas… I especially like
    “Take a Bottle of Nice Champagne to a Restaurant”

    I was actually really sad, I ordered several bottles of an almond champagne from California (I live in Colorado) and took one to the Melting Pot here and they wouldn’t let me bring it in under any circumstances.

    PS Nice blog, I thought I had seen almost every PF blog but I somehow haven’t run into yours until today :)

  3. Aryn on August 14th, 2008 5:52 pm

    Writer Dad – that’s the nice thing about that first date restaurant – it’s usually a cheap place! Ours was a Sizzler.

    Jesse, that’s really unfortunate. I wonder if it’s illegal to bring in outside wine in Colorado. Some states have weird rules about that.

  4. Festival of Frugality No. 139: The Michael Phelps Edition | Our Fourpence Worth on August 19th, 2008 6:03 am

    [...] Aryn presents 10 Frugal Anniversary Ideas (That Are Also Romantic). [...]

  5. Cindy Snyder on December 26th, 2014 9:05 am

    Awesome list of ideas! If you want to focus on a really sentimental and one of a kind gift, you might want to check out :)

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