Traditional wedding anniversary gifts are chosen from a list of materials that are designated for each year of a couple's married life. The first wedding anniversary is symbolized with paper, and from there, traditional anniversary gifts become more precious or scarce to reflect the growing number of years a couple has remained together.
You'll notice when anniversary gifts are broken down by year, it isn't until the twenty-fifth wedding anniversary that jewelry is introduced.
However, you don't have to wait that long to incorporate a piece of jewelry into a traditional anniversary gift . If you want to stick to the traditional options sans jewelry, learn which materials are linked with the anniversary year and check out some of our traditional gift ideas below.
Traditional Wedding Anniversary Gift Origins
No one is certain just when the traditional anniversary gift list came into existence, but it probably evolved over time. Calling years twenty-five and fifty 'Silver' and 'Gold' may have originated in medieval Europe where wives were given a silver wreath to celebrate their twenty-fifth year of marriage and a gold wreath for their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Along with the material gift list, they also have a flower anniversary list as well as a gemstone anniversary list (perfect for us jewelry lovers).
Diamond Wedding Anniversaries
Diamonds are traditional wedding anniversary gifts in both the sixtieth and seventh-fifth years.
Year sixty probably became a part of existing traditions when Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee after sixty years on the British throne.
Wedding Anniversary Gifts by Year (US)
Fourth: Linen or Silk
Sixth: Candy or Iron
Seventh: Wool or Copper
Eight Bronze or Pottery
Twelfth: Silk or Linen
The traditional list may seem somewhat boring for the early years, but it doesn't have to be if you get creative. There are many ways you can turn each year's anniversary theme into a special gift.
Anniversary Gift Ideas for the First Two Years: Paper and Cotton
- A lovely origami booklet or box folded in a shape that's special to the recipient. And, hint--hint, you can tuck a second (jewelry) gift into the paper.
- Paper tickets to a movie, the theater, a concert or another performance.
- A first edition of a favorite book.
- Paper flowers that will never fade.
- Vintage or new cotton clothing or decorative items.
- A scrapbook with a plush cotton cover that is filled with memories.
- A cotton wall hanging or quilt, or a painting on cotton.
That's the idea. It isn't so much giving your spouse a ball of cotton, but more about how you can use the material in something personal and unique to your relationship. These gifts are meant to be as sentimental as possible.
There are plenty of gift options for each year, and I'm positive you can come up with something special.
Anniversary Gifts with a Twist
You can celebrate the yearly tradition even if you want to break away from it -- make your anniversary year's theme material a carrier for your gift instead of the actual gift.
- Tuck a ring in a leather wallet.
- Tie a bracelet to a bouquet of roses.
- Hide a necklace inside the pocket of a silk robe.
- Fold a cozy woolen shawl around another gift.
When a Traditional Anniversary Gift Won't Work
- Ivory is traditional for the fourteenth anniversary, but most new ivory cannot be imported to the US. You can find items made from vintage ivory. However, if you're among those who do not want to own the material at all you might want to consider ivory alternatives made from nuts, seeds of palm trees and other vegetation.
- Coral isn't as protected as ivory, but it is another item that many people do not think should be removed from nature. Choose an alternative for your thirty-fifth anniversary or take a diving trip to see the real thing!
Edited by: Lauren Thomann