Anniversary Gift Idea – Recreate Your First Date

A couple weeks ago my wife and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. Since we are working to become debt free, and this time of year brings about additional expenses (weddings, graduations, etc.), I decided to plan a frugal anniversary date with a twist. Instead of hitting the same old restaurant, movie theater and ice cream shop in our home town, we took a day trip back to the place we met and recreated parts of our first date. This may not be a feasible plan if you have since relocated across the country, but if you are still in the same geographic region it can be a memorable experience.

photo by blmurch

College Sweethearts

The great thing about this anniversary gift idea is that if you are recreating your first date, and you married young, you are probably reliving a time when you were flat broke (at least that was the case for us). For this reason, the costs to recreate those magical memories should be low. My wife and I met in college and spent nearly two years there together before we both returned to our respective homes to finish school locally. I was no good at long distance dating so instead of relocating I proposed! Thankfully, she said yes.

Back to School

We lined up Grandma to watch the kids and spent the Saturday morning following our anniversary riding over to our old college town (about 2.5 hours away). Besides attending the occasional football game, neither of us had been back after leaving school and it was surprising how much things had changed. My plan was for us to have dinner and then go back to the little hole-in-the-wall place we had an ice cream on our first date there nearly twelve years prior. Unfortunately, the hole-in-the-wall ice cream place was now just a hole in the wall – it was no longer there. Plan B? Find another ice cream place nearby where we enjoyed a peanut butter fudge ice cream from a second floor balcony and watched the sunset over the school’s campus.

“We Feel Old”

If there was any downside to our anniversary trip it was that we felt old strolling around a college campus. We are too young to have kids of our own attending, and too old to be grad students, so we felt a little out of place. Oh well, it was fun to see the old sights and spend time with my former college sweetheart. If any of you have an anniversary coming up I highly recommend a first-date recreation. Go a step further than I did and make sure the place you plan to visit is still there. Nothing kills the mood like finding the place you had your first date reduced to a pile of rubble.

Ask the Readers: What did you do to celebrate your last anniversary?

If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to Frugal Dad for free via RSS feed or email delivery.  Subscribers also receive my free eBook, The 7-Day Turnaround!


  1. That’s a great idea! I did this for our 2nd anniversary (of knowing each other) and we went to the bar that we met at (I know!). It was so funny because two years before I had a memory of it being kind of fancy but when we went we were like “this place is a dump.” It was a fun time anyway.

    We are also lucky in that we have a picture of that first night we met, so it’s always nice to have that around.

  2. FD-
    That’s a great idea! Conrgats on your 10 yr. anniversary. My wife and I just celebrated 5 yrs. about a month ago- we just did a traditional dinner out at a pretty nice restaurant, followed by a few after dinner drinks. The only problem with recreating our first date is I believe we stayed out until about 3am. If we tried that now I am pretty sure I would not be able to stay awake that late!


  3. This is a great idea! We’ll be celebrating our 10th this year too! And, we’d be going “home” to do it so we’d have FREE room/lunch and babysitters for FREE too (grandparents). Now…to get my hubby to think like this 🙂

  4. FD – You guys are still newly weds! I’m going on 17 years of blissful marriage. Okay, so it hasn’t been without a few speedbumps along the way, but hey we’re still trucking along. It gets better every year. We’re still learning, but now I’m convinced we’ll eventually get the hang of it. One way or another, she’ll get me trained!

    We recreated our first date the best we could a few years ago. It was fun! I definitely recommend it.

  5. I don’t know if we actually had a first date. We had some early ones with my sister and his brother along because my mom wanted us to double date (though they weren’t dating, just good friends). Our first date alone was a year later at Ruby Tuesday… perhaps we can try that again. 🙂

  6. Our last anniversary was awesome and we didn’t even leave the house. We just snuggled on the couch and then after the kids went to bed we made a fire and just hung out together and talked.

  7. We go to the place that we spent the first night of our honeymoon. It was a little Amish B&B and we try to go there and eat dinner.

    My favorite annivesary was spent at Walden Pond in MA. We just enjoyed the scenery while eating ice cream. It was wonderful!

    Happy anniversary! We celebrate on eighth year on the 20th!

  8. Great idea – cheap and romantic! But for us, sadly, Tito Puente has passed away. An outdoor concert could be a good option though … and I still have my biscotti recipe somewhere.

    Now if those businesses that created the memories would just stay open …

  9. Wow we have gone 16 years. The first date I was so nervous I could barely eat the meal. We’ve been back once and I am happy to say I ate a lot better then.

    Great idea.

  10. This is an interesting idea. My wife and I have just finished our 23 anniversary, and I think even talking about our first date would be really lively.

    Will try and keep you posted.


  11. Love it! Though recreating my first date with my husband wouldn’t be all that inexpensive since we went to a college basketball game and since we aren’t students anymore (and tickets for this time are highly sought after) it probably wouldn’t be as cheap as it was the first time!

    • @Alison: I was lucky – our second date was a football game. According to the latest pricing, recreating this date would have put me back about $120 in tickets alone!

  12. We have done this before. We met in college and had our first date at the Starbucks near campus. One time we even took the fruits of our marriage and had a big date with the 6 of us. It was fun to stroll down memory lane with the kids and all. They loved it and we had a blast. Congrats on your anniversary!