What Are the Traditional Wedding Anniversary Gifts By Year?

The wedding is over. The confetti has been swept up and the tables tidied away.  The gifts have been opened. The thank you cards sent out.  The wedding day might be over but the marriage is just beginning.

Weddings are easy.  It’s what comes next that’s hard.

Celebrating the strength of someone’s relationship in the face of so many other failed marriages (1 in 3 marriages now end in divorce), is a kind thing to do for anyone who loved you enough to invite you to their ceremony in the first place.

Buying traditional wedding anniversary gifts by year might seem old fashioned but there’s something quite quaint about celebrating another year of someone’s marriage with a time-honoured present.

But buying a wedding anniversary gift is tough.  What do you buy people who probably already have everything they need?  Do you give something more modern like cash or vouchers? Or is that too impersonal? Do you even buy a present at all?  It’s another expense you could do without, surely, and one you might feel obliged to keep honouring each year. 

For some of us a happy anniversary might just be a card or message.

“Hey, this time last year we were rocking out at your wedding – have a fab first anniversary! Xx”

It’s probably not going to pass muster with a wedding etiquette expert but things are different now and it’s fine to be informal.

Or is it? 

Should we make more of an effort to celebrate other people’s anniversaries? What happens if you’d like to give a traditional wedding gift by year? 

 What Are the Traditional Wedding Anniversary Gifts By Year?

It’s easy to get a little confused by what each year represents.  Year one, for example, is paper so what do you buy to represent that without getting a gift that seems a little cheap? Fortunately, we’ve put together a few quick ideas to help get you thinking about what to buy.

1ST: Paper

A paper gift could be a printed voucher so that the couple can have a date night.  It could be something beautiful made out of origami representing the theme of their wedding.  It could be a photographic print in a frame taken on the day or a personalised graphic sharing the lyrics of the first day or the date and time that the couple were married.

2ND: Cotton

A traditional wedding anniversary gift for cotton could be bed sheets or bathrobes.  It could be a personalised cushion cover with the wedding date on.  It could be monogrammed towels for him and him or her and her.

3rd: Leather

A leather gift could be a personalised key ring each. It could be a wallet or a purse. It could be bracelets with the time and date of the wedding on. It could be a leather photo album or photobook.

4TH: Fruit & Flowers

This is probably more obvious than others.  A fruit basket would be a lovely idea especially as they can be delivered straight to the door.  Flowers are easy enough to choose but don’t assume it has to be a bouquet.  You could pick out a houseplant or one for the garden – something symbolic like a plant or tree that shares the couples name or has some association to the wedding day. 

5TH: Wood

Wood could be a photo frame.  It could be something carved or something to put in the garden, too.  Wooden tea light candle holders can easily be personalised.

6TH: Iron

Iron is a tricky one.  Something for the garden makes sense here.  If it’s a couple that golfs together, then golf clubs would be a lovely present as would iron jewellery.

7TH: Copper

Cooper could be cooking pans or kitchenware or even a wine cooler or bottle stop.

9TH: Pottery

Pottery could mean picking out something beautiful for the home.  It could also mean a plant pot that’s been personalised.

10TH: Tin

Tin or aluminium seems a little sad for celebrating a decade of marriage but there are plenty of ideas that the couple will no doubt appreciate.  You might give them an actual tin filled with something they’ll like: money, sweets, memories etc.  Experience gifts often come in tins – spa day vouchers, hotel stays, activities etc are often presented in a keepsake tin.  

11TH: Steel

Steel can be engraved.  You might buy a cutlery set for the couple.  Steel jewelry is popular and fitting for the occasion.  Hand-forged ornaments are a nice touch and can be personalised, too. Sculptures for the home and garden make a nice gift also.

12TH: Silk

The opposite to steel, silk is a gentle and softer gift. Silk could mean clothing or sheets. 

13TH: Lace

Lace doesn’t mean tablecloths or doilies – or maybe it does if that’s what the couple are into.  If traditional lace isn’t speaking to you as an option, then mix it up a little.  Laces are on trainers and shoes. They’re also strawberry sweats.  You could use a lace favour bag and put the gift inside.  

14TH: Ivory

Ivory probably isn’t something that you’re going to want to give as a gift.  The tusk and teeth of animals aren’t exactly romantic or legal to wrap up and present.  You’re going to have to think out of the box on this one.  If they’re musical, then tickets to a piano concert (tinkling the ivories) or a day at a zoo or animal park.  The colour ivory might give you an idea of what to pick.

15TH: Crystal

Crystal speaks for itself. The temptation is to buy champagne flutes or glasses but think about what the couple actually needs.  How many of us have glasses in the cupboards that we never use?  If in doubt stick with the bottle and let them celebrate with their own crystal.  Here’s something we’d enjoy: if the couple are up for a laugh, then you can actually visit a Crystal Maze game and play like the TV show.

20TH: China
China isn’t always popular.  Fortunately, there are ways around this.  Is Chinese food a favourite with the couple? Take them out for a meal.  If they’re into tea, then sort them some fancy Chinese teas.  Chinese medicine could be an option if they’re a little new-age, too.

25TH: Silver

Silver is an easy gift to pick for.  The high street will give you lots of option as will the internet.

30TH: Pearl

If pearls are out of your price range, then you can use their colour to pick your gift. Cufflinks are always a good idea as are necklaces and jewellery, too.

35TH: Coral

Coral is another one where you can use the colour to help pick the gift.  If they’re really into betting, you could always give them a few slips, too :P

40TH: Ruby

Rubies aren’t cheap but you can use the colour if they’re out of your price range.  There’s a huge amount of ideas on Etsy and Not on the highstreet where most gifts can incorporate the ruby colour.

45TH YEAR: Sapphire
50TH YEAR: Gold
55TH YEAR: Emerald
60TH YEAR: Diamond

The more years married and the more expensive the gift can potentially be.  Diamonds might be something you’d give your partner or a parent or sibling, but it’s less likely to factor into your budget for a couple you aren’t so close, too.  Keeping with the tradition should be relatively simple, however.  All four of the above are common colours that can easily be incorporated into a gift idea.

-      Jewelry
-      Plants
-      Kitchenware
-      Keepsakes like photo albums, books or photo frames.

Traditional wedding gifts by year are a fantastic way to help a couple celebrate their marriage.  In a world where everything is becoming less formal and more modern (and thankfully so), it’s something nice to pay homage to what’s gone before.  Traditional gifts don’t have to fully subscribe to their meaning but should be appreciated by the couple nonetheless.  What anniversary gifts have you cherished over the years and do you believe in giving traditional gifts each year? 

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