Perform a Beach Wedding Vow Renewal on a Budget
Our 2nd honeymoon...
After 18 years of marriage, my wife and I decided we wanted to go on a 2nd honeymoon and renew our vows on a beach somewhere. The only problem was that we did not have a limitless budget. Hence, we set about planning our special day so that it would be memorable, but not break the bank at the same time. We knew the importance of setting a budget, but we did not want to compromise anything that was important to us. We achieved it, and have wonderful romantic memories of the vacation. Here’s how it all came together:
Although on a budget, we had some non-negotiables as far as the location. Our personal preference was Mexico (because we love the country and the people). It had to be an all-inclusive resort and adults only (we did not want to listen to screaming kids NOT being dealt with by embarrassed parents). The beach had to be beautiful, the room excellent, and there had to be a location for us to have our ceremony. After much searching we chose El Dorado Royal Spa Resort & Hotel, Riviera Maya, and we were not disappointed.
We had a room overlooking the ocean, with a canopied bed and a whirlpool tub. The bathroom was large with a walk in glass-door shower made for two. There was a balcony complete with hammock to relax in.
Because we booked an ocean front room, included in our stay was the honeymoon and anniversary package. We had a chilled bottle of champagne and flowers in our room on arrival. A candlelit dinner on the beach was also included (more on that later). The spa at the resort also gave us a massage lesson. We upgraded that lesson to a couples massage over looking the beach (an awesome experience) as well as the use of all the spas facilities, pools and hot tubs.
I know that some people are still wearing their original wedding band after many years, but we are not. We have been through several rings over 18 years of marriage for a variety of reasons (a hub in itself!) and so decided that we wanted to get new rings for the renewal ceremony. We both wanted silver and knowing that Mexico is famous for it’s silver, we decided to wait until we got to Mexico to buy the rings. A little risky maybe, but worth it. We took a taxi to Playa Del Carman and scoured all the merchants until we found ones we liked. We haggled the merchants down and ended up very satisfied with silver bands, mine plain and my wife’s inset with diamonds. Our ring purchases were considerably cheaper in Mexico than at home.
My wife knew exactly what style of dress she wanted and went on a hunt for it several months before we were to leave for the vacation. You can spend a lot of money on wedding dresses, especially through a bridal store, but my wife wanted a simple, short, white dress that was suitable for wearing on the beach. She ended up buying it at Winners in Canada for a fraction of the cost of a bridal store gown. As for shoes, she went barefoot! I found a nice white linen shirt to wear (also at Winners), but had difficulty finding some suitable linen pants at a reasonable price. H&M was the store that came through for me after weeks of hunting.
Prior to leaving my wife and I viewed hundreds of sample wedding vows online, both together and apart, but none of them seemed to fit our circumstances and feelings. In the end we decided that we would each write our own renewal vows and memorize them for the ceremony. We are so glad we did as no one can truly express what you feel in your own heart better than you. We both spent weeks writing and fine tuning them until we were happy with the results. They must have been good because we were both crying as we made fresh pledges to one another.
The ceremony itself was one of the hardest decisions to make. We wanted this to be memorable and be able to look back on it for years, but we were working on a budget. The El Dorado Royale will include ceremony packages in your stay providing you stay in one of the more expensive Casita rooms, along with other conditions. We had chosen a less expensive room (budget again) and hence any ceremony would be an additional cost of several hundred dollars or more, depending on what we wanted included. We spent many nights researching the options and considering the costs involved before deciding that all we really wanted was to say our vows to each other on a beach with our toes in the sand. We decided to forego the official ceremony and have our own intimate one. We had no guests to worry about and what we wanted to say was for each other’s ears after all.
The El Dorado Royal offers a variety of wedding photo packages and these can be adjusted for a "renewal of vows" service. However, they started at about $500 for a basic package and went up from there. This was a tough one for us, as we desperately wanted to capture some memories of the event. Budget-wise the photo package was not an option. We considered trying to ask some of the hotel staff when we got there to see if they knew of anyone local who could do it. Looking back on it know, we must have been crazy because right up to the very night of the vow renewal, we still did not have a photo plan in place. It all worked out though as you will see.
The Big Event
We chose the night for the vow renewals to coincide with our reservation for dinner on the beach. I got ready first and headed down to the ocean to a predetermined location where we were going to say our vows. My wife took her time to get ready and I recall feeling nervous waiting, just the same as I had 18 years earlier. After what seemed like an eternity, I looked along the walkway at the back of the beach and saw my bride, tanned and barefoot, strolling towards me. It was a moment I will never forget. She had a flower in her hair and looked stunning. We walked down to the beach and stood where we had planned, and spent a few minutes gazing at each other and soaking up the occasion. Then my wife shared her vows with me and my eyes welled up. A vow renewal is so powerful. I then nervously spoke my memorized vows to my sweetheart and we kissed. It was simple, it was perfect and it was memorable. There was no need for a big show. We knew what we were doing and that was what mattered.
After we said our vows I opened the bottle of champagne I had brought and we toasted to many more years.
We began taking some photos of each other and some together, holding the camera ourselves, and then a young couple walked along and I asked if they would mind taking a few shots of us. We explained what we were doing and they kindly took some time to take several shots of us. They were genuinely pleased for us. Romance is everywhere at the El Dorado Royale. After the pictures by the vow location, we walked along the shore and continued snapping photographs whilst watching the sun go down over the ocean.
When it was time for our meal on the beach, we headed to that area and were led to a secluded spot under a palapa shelter. We were treated to an exquisite meal as the sun set over the water and were even given a wonderful performance by a saxophonist who came to our table. The service was fantastic and non-intrusive. We were not rushed and had the opportunity to sit and relax as the evening passed by. It was truly a wonderful night. When it was time to leave we still were able to walk to the dance floor and enjoy the nightly entertainment before returning to our room.
After the vacation...
By the end of our week in Mexico, we were totally relaxed and more in love than ever. We had been spoilt by the staff, bronzed by the sun, and had countless memories to take home. We had done archery, snorkeling, rappelled into an underground Cenote, had a beach massage, eaten way too much rich food and countless other things all for almost exactly $4000.
The flight home went quickly, but we came down to earth with a bump. Not from the flight, but when we walked into our house we discovered that our basement had flooded the day after we had left and had been under water for the whole week. It’s at times like these, that our love and vows are really tested. I’m glad to say we passed the test!