1st Wedding Anniversary Ideas and Symbols

first anniversary cake with mementos on table

 Margot Cavin / The Spruce 

The first year of marriage is often considered a year of adjustment. As you celebrate this special first wedding anniversary, reflect on both the delicate and enduring aspects of your marriage and your love for one another.

Here are some first anniversary ideas and symbols to help you choose gifts or a way to celebrate your first year of marriage.

whimsical first anniversary gifts illustration
The Spruce

Tradition

The first year of marriage is extraordinary because you have come to accept many transitions and have settled into new roles and responsibilities in the span of one year.

The origin behind celebrating wedding anniversaries is a little unclear—some sources say the tradition started in ancient Rome and others claim the tradition began in medieval Germany. Regardless of when they started, wedding anniversaries are such an achievement that even the Queen of England, the President of the U.S., and the Pope each bestow their blessings and congratulations to the happy couple on significant milestones, usually 50 years and up.

A list of symbolic gift items seems to have cropped up during the Victorian era around the 1880s and made its way to the U.S. by the early 20th century. Paper was the first symbolic anniversary gift. It represents the strength of the interlaced connection of the paper's individual threads. In earlier times, a spouse would give a stationery set or artwork, while today, those ideas have expanded to origami art, plane or theater tickets, or framed photos of the loving couple.

Contemporary or Modern Gifts

The traditional anniversary gift list is still used today. Still, some clever retailers and marketers from the American National Retail Jewelers Association in the 1930s realized that a modern gift list reflecting more relatable (and more valuable) items would make more sense in the modern era, including suggestions for anniversary gemstones, flowers, and colors for inspiration.

Clocks

The modern gift idea for the first anniversary is a clock. The clock is said to signify your time together as a couple and the many years to come. As Henry Van Dyke wrote, "For those who love, time is eternity."

Gemstone

Giving gemstones as gifts dates back to ancient times. For the first anniversary, the jewel is peridot; alternatively, so is pearl (although pearls are listed as the third anniversary gem in some circles). Gold jewelry is also marked for this year, although most anniversary purists leave gold for the 50th or "golden" anniversary.

Color

Much like the color yellow is associated with springtime and new beginnings, yellow and gold are first anniversary colors.

Flower

Flowers over the centuries have held such rich meanings and symbolism all of their own, that they gave rise to the field of floriography in Victorian times or the language and symbolism of flowers. The flowers that are associated with the first anniversary are orange blossoms or pansies. Orange blossoms are said to symbolize purity, eternal love, and marriage while pansies stand for thoughtful reflection and merriment.

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Ways to Celebrate

The first anniversary is one of the more vibrant anniversaries since you can remember your wedding day more vividly than you will for all the anniversaries that are to come. Commemorate the day with something sweet, fun, exciting, or memorable.

  • Eat the top layer of your wedding cake.
  • Purchase tickets for a movie, sports event, concert, or theater to attend together.
  • Plan a dinner at a special restaurant.
  • Go on a trip together.
  • Orchestrate a picnic with paper plates and cups (if you saved any of these items from your wedding reception, use them!).
  • Have a paper treasure hunt for your spouse. Leave clues throughout the house that eventually lead to a romantic rendezvous.
  • Use paper flowers as a centerpiece for your anniversary dinner.

Creative Gift Ideas

  • Purchase a framed share of stock in a major company that has meaning to you both
  • Stationery
  • Postcards
  • Calendar
  • Magazine subscription
  • Jigsaw puzzle
  • Paperweight
  • Book
  • Art print
  • Sheet music
  • A roadmap describing a trip to take together
  • Egg timer
  • Kitchen timer
  • Wristwatch
  • Outdoor sundial

Gifts to Make or Personalize

  • You may think that you will never forget how you celebrated your anniversaries, but chances are, you will. Start an anniversary journal to record the memories of your anniversaries throughout your marriage. Write down how you spent your anniversary together and what gifts you gave to one another.
  • Stuff a pinata or pretty box with new paper money, confetti, a love note, a book on romance, a magazine, love coupons, a paper flower, or a picture of the two of you
  • Create love notes and hide them.
  • Create love coupons.
  • Print tickets for a movie night and watch your wedding video.
  • Layout and print a photo book or collage of memories.
  • Build and personalize an annual scrapbook, saving tickets, photos, and memories from the year.

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