The Traditional Wedding Anniversary Gifts By Year
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Whether you prefer to stick with the classic themes or put your own creative spin on them, we'll help you find the perfect traditional anniversary gift to celebrate a specific milestone in your marriage.
Getting married is fun; staying married is where the real work comes in. So it makes sense that you’d want to celebrate every year you and your beloved are together. What better way to commemorate an anniversary than with gifts?
“For couples who use gifts as part of their love language, using the traditional anniversary gifts by year as a guideline is a wonderful place to start,” says Jodi R. R. Smith, wedding etiquette coach and president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. Not sure what to get? You can start with gifts for her, gifts for him, or keep it classic with a bouquet from the best flower delivery services. Or you can choose gift ideas based on the theme for your anniversary year.
Where did the traditional wedding anniversary gift guidelines start?
There are types of presents that are traditionally given for each anniversary. Giving gifts to celebrate marriage dates is an ancient practice, but this type of “anniversary gifts by year” list didn’t become popular until Victorian times—something that becomes apparent when you look at the items. Does anyone have a separate china set anymore? Is there a couple desperately seeking tin? Who wants anything made out of wax as a gift?
“Just use this list as a way to generate ideas but do not feel obligated to stick with it if that is not right for you as a couple,” she says. “The key here is for you to communicate as a couple about what you want before the anniversary, so that expectations are appropriately set.” Plus, learn more anniversary traditions that keep happy couples happy.
Don’t be afraid to get creative
You can see this as a fun opportunity to get creative with your interpretation of the theme, says Nick Leighton, etiquette expert and host of the weekly podcast Were you raised by wolves? This modern spin branches out from traditional items like jewelry to include adventure trips, naming your own constellation, and creating a custom sculpture. Done right, these gifts can showcase your sense of humor and how well you understand your spouse. Read on for more ideas for anniversary gifts by year. Attending a wedding yourself? These are the wedding etiquette rules you can’t break.
1st anniversary: Paper
One year in and most of your relationship is still a blank book, waiting to be written together. If we’re being honest, you probably still have some paper thank-you cards left to be mailed, but that hardly seems like a fun date night idea (but you should still do it). There are plenty of modern paper goods that are a fun way to celebrate the future of your love, like tickets to a show or boarding passes for a vacation. A more budget-friendly option is a love journal, like “A Year of Us,” a journal to chronicle your first year through funny and thoughtful prompts.
2nd anniversary: Cotton
By the time you’ve completed two years together, you’re really starting to weave together the fabric of your lives. Nothing says true love like…a cotton farm? Get creative with cotton by getting each other a favorite item of clothing, new bedding, or a hammock for two. Don’t worry too much about the cotton content—any fiber is fine, says Smith. This hammock is polyester but it’s comfy and big enough for both of you to snuggle.
3rd anniversary: Leather
Leather is tougher than fabric and by the end of year three so is your marriage. You can always gift real leather items—a designer bag, nice shoes, a new belt—or choose “vegan” leather alternatives if that aligns better with your values (or budget). His & Hers leather wristwatches are a modern way to commemorate this anniversary. You can even get the date engraved! Or get His & Hers leather bracelets. Then every time you look at your wrist you can remember how much time the two of you have spent together.
4th anniversary: Fruit or flowers
After four years together you know each other pretty well and have probably been through at least one major life event together. Share those memories with fruit or flowers. You can get creative with a fruit pizza, an edible fruit arrangement, or a potted plant. Get romantic with chocolate dipped strawberries and rose petals. Or, it never hurts to stay traditional for this one; men and women would both love a beautiful bouquet from one of these online flower delivery services.
5th anniversary: Wood
The beautiful thing about live wood is that it keeps growing and getting stronger over time, even through storms, making it an elegant metaphor for your relationship. You can buy a sapling and plant it together, preferably somewhere you can watch it grow over the years. A green option is to donate to a charity that plants trees around the world. Or get this elegant wood charcuterie board custom-etched with your anniversary date.
6th anniversary: Candy or iron
This is quite the choice! But when you think about it, you want your relationship to be fun and sweet and strong and unbending—candy and iron. Make your spouse a candygram using poster board and candy to “write” a love note. Or go with the heavy metal. “Does it get more romantic than a visit to the Eiffel Tower?” says Leighton. True, but for something a little more reasonable, delight your partner and your guests at your next barbecue with this meat branding iron. You can even customize it with your names!
7th anniversary: Wool or copper
Forget the seven-year itch; you’ve made it this far and you’re in it for the long run. At this point, you’ve likely settled into a comfortable daily routine together. Wool and copper both make beautiful and durable everyday items, like blankets and rugs or pots and faucets. Practical gifts don’t have to be boring or unromantic, says Smith. For instance, a set of copper mugs, perfect for Moscow mules, with your names and anniversary engraved makes a lovely personalized gift.
8th anniversary: Bronze
Bronze isn’t a metal of its own; it’s a mixture of copper, tin, and sometimes other metals as well. Eight years in, your marriage is likely also a beautiful blend of your different families, cultures, and personalities. Just like bronze is stronger than copper or tin, so your marriage is stronger together. Celebrate this year with a bronze lamp, bottle opener, or sweet sculpture. Or keep it cute and sweet with this “I Still Do” bronze anniversary keychain.
9th anniversary: Pottery
Good pottery is crafted by hand, with care, and then cured in the heat of the kiln. Nearly a decade together means you’ve been through some tough stuff and come out of it—and your relationship is stronger for it. Commemorate these memories by going to a pottery painting studio for a date night or choosing a beautiful planter together. These adorable llama planters are the perfect mix of silly and practical.
10th anniversary: Tin or aluminum
Number 10 is a milestone anniversary so it may call for a bigger celebration, like a vacation trip or a weekend at a bed and breakfast, says Smith. While you’re there, make it fun by bringing in a tin or aluminum theme. For instance, you could watch Tin Cup or Rin Tin Tin together or make a sculpture out of aluminum foil. Go for a hike with your matching aluminum water bottles.
11th anniversary: Steel
Steel is forged in fire and is one of the strongest metals we have—there’s a reason buildings are built on steel frames. Your relationship likely now has its own steel scaffolding, built of compromise, acts of service, and quality time together. Honor your strength and heat as a couple with a new stainless steel grill. Or keep it smaller with some steel tools. Appliances don’t feel romantic enough? You and your partner will love these unique handcrafted steel rings.
12th anniversary: Silk or linen
It takes about 40 hours to make one strand of pure silk. Multiply this by the amount of silk needed to make a tie or dress and you can appreciate all the work and careful effort. So too was your marriage built strand by strand. It didn’t become beautiful overnight but together you are weaving a gorgeous tapestry. Celebrate this softness with silky bathrobes or lingerie or matching silk pillowcases and sheets that feel cool and luxurious.
13th anniversary: Lace
Delicate lace is the epitome of romance and can remind you that even after 13 years together, it’s important to treat each other with care and gentleness. You can get creative and take a tatting class together or do a date night at a history museum to learn more about this lost art. Or lacy lingerie is always a popular anniversary item. These lace stockings are fun and are highly rated.
14th anniversary: Ivory-themed
Many species of elephants are endangered and the ivory trade is cruel to both humans and animals—not something you necessarily want associated with your everlasting love. Skip the real ivory and go for something ivory-colored. If your wedding dress was ivory, this would be a lovely anniversary to get it out of storage and go through your wedding albums together. Or if your partner loves puns, give them a wrapped box of Ivory soap—just be sure to give them a real gift as well! For instance, this white elephant ring holder will honor the ivory anniversary in spirit and will prevent your wedding rings from getting lost.
15th anniversary: Crystal
Each type of crystal is beautiful based on the unique lacy structure of atoms that makes it up, and after 15 years, your marriage is similarly strong and beautiful. Rose crystal (light pink quartz) symbolizes universal and unconditional love. Take your true love on a romantic getaway to India, Germany, or Madagascar, homes to some of the biggest rose quartz sites in the world. Or keep it simple at home with a rose crystal candle.
16th anniversary: Wax
Wax may not seem like the most romantic emblem—it’s soft and squishy and adapts to the shape and color of whatever surrounds it—but flexibility and compromise are the bedrock of a healthy relationship. These are skills you’ve probably gotten pretty good at after 16 years of being with someone. Celebrate your love with a sensual candle (they’re designed to melt at lower temperatures so you can drip the wax without scalding skin). For a more creative spin, get your own family wax seal; you can use it to seal love notes to each other or letters to family, or just add a fancy flair to bills if you like.
17th anniversary: Furniture
Buying furniture together is a real test of your relationship. Can you blend your styles? Stick to a budget? Shop together without someone wandering off to find free cookies? On a practical level, by year 17 you probably need to replace some of the things you bought when you were first married and this is the perfect anniversary to invest in a new loveseat, a larger bed, or perhaps a giant bean bag built for two? Modern lists often list this year as wine or spirits, both of which also make great gifts.
18th anniversary: Porcelain
Porcelain is ceramic that’s been treated with high heat, usually over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Nearly two decades of marriage and you will walk through fire for each other. Commemorate this anniversary with a new set of beautiful, handmade, and surprisingly durable porcelain plates. Or if scary movies are your thing and your beloved has a sense of humor, go for a creepy porcelain doll (followed by flowers and a nice dinner out).
19th anniversary: Jade
Jade symbolizes longevity and wisdom, making it the perfect emblem to honor 19 years together. It isn’t just the years spent together; it’s the things you learned along the way. Create a photo album highlighting some of your favorite memories as a couple and bind it in a jade-colored cover. Travel to Guatemala or watch a documentary on jade to learn more about this precious stone. Or get matching his and hers jade rings.
20th anniversary: China
Two decades is a major life and relationship milestone. Many couples choose to honor this anniversary with a second honeymoon trip or vow renewal party. To incorporate this tradition, you could go to China (the country) or use china (the dinnerware). Or keep it simple with these matching Mr. and Mrs. bone china mugs.
25th anniversary: Silver
Silver became the symbol of a quarter-century of love during the Middle Ages. On their 25th anniversary, men would give their wives a wreath of silver to wear in their hair. A silver wreath would still be fun, but there are plenty of shiny, pretty things to express your love. Consider silver jewelry, candlesticks, flatware, or an engraved anniversary platter. Or this silver 25th anniversary picture frame is a thoughtful gift. It’s engraved and has spots to put your original wedding picture alongside a current snap of you as a couple.
30th anniversary: Pearl
Other than an oyster, pearls take two things to grow: a grain of sand and time. At three decades, your marriage has taken something small—a spark of love when you were younger—and grown it into something of great worth. Whether necklaces, earrings, or cufflinks, pearl jewelry is a popular gift for this anniversary. For a fun activity together, buy pearl oysters and harvest the gems. This kit has plenty to share with family members.
35th anniversary: Coral
You are officially the couple that other couples go to for relationship advice. You’ve had your ups and downs but you’ve learned to weather any storm together. Celebrate this milestone with a romantic trip to a coral reef in Hawaii or Australia. For a frugal option, check out the coral displays at your local aquarium. Or hang up this sweet coral-painted plaque: “We may not have it all together but together we have it all!”
40th anniversary: Ruby
Red rubies symbolize power and love, making them a beautiful way to mark four decades of true love. You can stick with traditional gifts of ruby jewelry or decor, but this ruby sundial is a surprisingly meaningful way to clock the years of your relationship. Sundials represent not just time but also the direction you are headed, together. You can customize this one with your names and anniversary date.
45th anniversary: Sapphire
Heavenly skies, abundance, and peace are just a few of the things this beautiful blue gem symbolizes and are all traits that describe a marriage that has lasted this long. This anniversary warrants a cruise on a Sapphire Princess ship or perhaps a trip to somewhere with sapphire-blue waters. Another beautiful option that evokes the immortality of the heavens is this custom star map, with a special constellation to commemorate you as a couple.
50th anniversary: Gold
Half a century together and you are golden! You’ve achieved a feat not many do; fewer than six percent of all marriages make it to the 50-year mark, according to the latest U.S. Census data. This calls for a celebration of grand proportions or at least a gold-themed party with all your family and friends. Keep all your loved ones close with this creative heart drop-box/guestbook. Set out gold markers so each guest can sign a heart and drop it into the display. Every day after that, you can see all of the little hearts that your marriage’s big heart brought together.
55th anniversary: Emerald
Emeralds symbolize protection and intuition, two things you need as you move forward in your sixth decade together. One sweet way to embody this journey is to make a plaster cast sculpture out of your joined hands. You’ll see the story of your relationship in this simple gesture. To further keep the theme you could add some emerald gems.
60th anniversary: Diamond
Diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring substance on the earth, forged after centuries of intense pressure. So too has your relationship become stronger than ever. Sixty years together is an accomplishment to be celebrated, whether with diamond jewelry, a diamond cruise, or both. A unique way to memorialize your love and create a fun work of art is with a diamond painting of your favorite picture of you as a couple.
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