Once the big day is over and you’re officially married, you’ll measure your time together in wedding anniversaries. Every anniversary has a different meaning and gift associated with it. Originally they were chosen for what they represent, but there are also modern alternatives designed to help couples furnish their lives together.
Here is a breakdown of all the significant anniversaries by year, from the first to the 70th, so you’ll be sure to know which anniversary you’re celebrating, and the meaning of it!
1st Anniversary – Paper
Whoever devised the meanings of anniversaries probably figured the happy couple might still be balancing the budget a year on from their wedding – so the traditional first gift is pretty affordable!
The tradition of giving paper on your first year together comes from the idea your first year of marriage is like a blank sheet, and it is also relatively fragile. The modern anniversary tradition is clocks.
Cotton is made from lots of thread woven together and the longer you are married the more your life becomes intertwined. There are plenty of cotton anniversary gift ideas, so you can really get creative and use it to personalise your home.
The modern alternative to cotton is china, if you’d rather not follow the old tradition.
3rd Anniversary – Leather
Leather is durable and has traditionally been used as a material to protect and provide shelter. As your marriage matures your relationship becomes much stronger, so giving your partner a leather gift is a way to represent this.
Crystal or glass is seen as the modern alternative to giving leather gifts.
4th Anniversary – Fruit & Flowers
As your marriage blossoms and your partnership ripens following four years of marriage, it makes sense to give an anniversary gift of flowers or fruit (or both if you’re feeling generous!).If you’re not a fan of your five a day or you suffer from allergies, the modern equivalent is appliances, so you could always splash out on a fancy coffee machine!
5th Anniversary – Wood
The idea of using wood to celebrate your fifth wedding anniversary comes from the fact trees were seen to be strong and symbolised wisdom. Your marriage is solid and you have deep roots that are entwined.You can honour the tradition by giving a wooden anniversary gift, or if you’d prefer the modern alternative, it’s silverware.
6th Anniversary – Sugar
Life is thought to be getting sweeter by the time you reach your sixth wedding anniversary, so you and your partner can indulge in some sweet treats.
Giving a sugar-inspired gift is likely to be well received, but the modern alternative is iron – this was inspired by the old fashioned belief that iron is believed to bring you luck. Just don’t buy an actual iron!
7th Wedding Anniversary – Copper & Wool
Copper and wool might seem like an odd combination to celebrate seven years of marriage but they are chosen for their ability to conduct heat. After seven years together your marriage should be seen as warm and comforting so choose gifts based on copper and wool to recognise this.
If you’d rather go for the modern alternative, it’s a desk set
8th Wedding Anniversary – Bronze
Bronze is chosen for eight years of marriage as it is very strong! It’s a mixture of two metals (copper and tin) that come together to result in a strong combined substance. Bronze gifts are a good way to recognise the tradition. Alternatively, if you’d prefer the modern version it’s linens and lace.
9th Wedding Anniversary – Pottery or Willow
This could be interpreted in a few different ways – willow patterned pottery, or separate gifts of pottery and willow. Pottery is moulded by hand and the painstaking process results in a word of art, whereas willow is flexible but strong and can be weaved to create beautiful things. Leather is the modern alternative, so if you didn’t get leather gifts for your third anniversary now is the time!
10th Wedding Anniversary – Tin
Tin was used to store and preserve things which is why it is used to mark 10 years of marriage. It prevents other metals from corroding when they are plated with it, and can prolong the life of what it is storing. Mark a decade of marriage by giving a tin inspired gift. If tin isn’t your thing, you might like to know the modern alternative is diamond.
15th Wedding Anniversary – Crystal
Crystal is a luxurious product – the most expensive traditional anniversary gift so far. It was chosen for its clarity – as a transparent product it represents how the couple see each other clearly after 15 years together. Crystal gifts will add a beautiful touch to your home. For those who aren’t a fan of crystal, the modern anniversary alternative is to give a watch.
20th Wedding Anniversary – China
China is fragile, but when it is looked after properly, it can stand the test of time. Much like a relationship! Even after two decades together, you may have your moments but if you take care your relationship will always survive. Giving each other china based gifts is a good way to remind yourselves of that.
Couples with more expensive taste will be pleased to know the modern alternative for 20 years of marriage is platinum.
25th Wedding Anniversary – Silver
Silver is a precious metal, and no matter how old it is, if it’s treated properly and polished regularly it will continue to gleam. Give silver gifts for your 25th anniversary to remind yourselves of that.
30th Wedding Anniversary – Pearl
Pearls are a symbol of hidden beauty – they are cultivated over time within the not so pretty oyster, but once you open it up you find something precious inside. After three decades together it’s unlikely you’ll appear the same as you did when you first met, but what’s inside counts. Pearl inspired anniversary gifts are the way to mark this occasion.
Diamonds are considered to be the modern alternative for 30 years of marriage (well, the diamond you may have received for 10 years is likely to be looking a little tired now, right?).
35th Wedding Anniversary – Coral
Coral is a very precious substance and was once believed to have magical properties to protect against illness and danger. It is still precious and protected today so think carefully when it comes to choosing a coral inspired anniversary gift.
40th Wedding Anniversary – Ruby
Red is a colour often associated with love, and a rich red ruby is the perfect way to symbolise your love. Whether you want to do the traditional anniversary or the modern, look for ruby inspired gifts as the stone is used for both.
45th Wedding Anniversary – Sapphire
Beautiful blue sapphires were once the reserve of loyalty, making them a luxurious, aspirational item. Give the gift of sapphires to celebrate an impressive 45 years together, as it’s used for traditional and modern anniversary celebrations.
50th Wedding Anniversary – Gold
After a lifetime together, there’s only one gift that can do it justice – gold. The most precious metal, gold symbolises lots of things, including prosperity and strength. Again gold is used for modern and traditional anniversaries so buy your loved one a gold anniversary gift. You could even upgrade your wedding rings!
55th Wedding Anniversary – Emerald
Green is considered to be the most calming of all colours, and represents growth. After 55 years together your life may not be as hectic as it once was, but you’ve grown together so give emerald inspired gifts to recognise that.
60th Wedding Anniversary – Diamond
Diamonds flourish under pressure and are extremely hard wearing – just like your relationship will be after six decades of marriage. It is considered to be invincible and is associated with love and wealth. After 60 years of happy marriage, you may not have physical wealth but you’ll have a wealth of experience and love so celebrate with diamond inspired anniversary gifts.
70th Wedding Anniversary – Platinum
Platinum is a metal that resists wear and is incredibly hard to tarnish. It’s one of the rarest metals, making it exclusive and is a symbol of endurance. What better way to describe 70 years of marriage? Celebrate by giving each other platinum gifts.