Wedding Anniversary Gifts

Wedding anniversaries are the perfect opportunity for couples to celebrate their love for one another and remember why they decided to marry. Historians have traced the origins of silver and golden anniversaries to medieval Germanic Europe, where silver and gold garlands were presented by the husband to the wife to celebrate the 25th and 50th years of marriage respectively. (see our table below for recommended gifts.)

In 1922 the queen of proper modern etiquette, Mrs. Emily Post, wrote that only eight anniversaries required traditional gifts. But there are records from as early as the mid 1800s that show the "modern" list had expanded to include the first fifteen years and every five years after that from the 20th to the 60th, and the 75th. Why the 65th and 70th anniversaries are not included is shrouded in the mists of social history, but many suspect it was to give the husbands a break.

In 1937 the American National Retail Jewellery Association issued a more comprehensive list of representative materials for all the traditional wedding anniversaries for each year up to the 15th Anniversary and then every fifth year after that up to the 60th. This list has been continually updated by various commercial companies over recent years and today celebrants can choose between the traditional list as well as a contemporary list of anniversary themes (which provides alternative modern-day suggestions such as electrical appliances!)

In the early years of marriage, the gifts exchanged are typically practical household items to help the couple as they set up housekeeping. For later anniversaries, more luxurious presents are given as household needs move from practical to pleasurable.

What we should think of most regarding anniversary gifts is that they provide an opportunity to show your loved one that they are very special, and to rekindle those feelings that encouraged you to join your lives together.

Year Traditional Gifts Modern Gifts
1st Anniversary Paper Clocks
2nd Anniversary Cotton China
3rd Anniversary Leather Crystal, Glass
4th Anniversary Linen, Silk Electrical Appliances
5th Anniversary Wood Silverware
6th Anniversary Iron Wood
7th Anniversary Wool, Copper Pen & Pencil Sets
8th Anniversary Bronze Linens, Laces
9th Anniversary Pottery, China Leather
10th Anniversary Tin, Aluminum Diamond Jewelry
11th Anniversary Steel Jewelry, Accessories
12th Anniversary Silk Pearls, Colored Gems
13th Anniversary Lace Textiles, Furs
14th Anniversary Ivory Gold Jewelry
15th Anniversary Crystal Watches
20th Anniversary China Platinum
25th Anniversary Silver Sterling Silver
30th Anniversary Pearl Diamond
35th Anniversary Coral Jade
40th Anniversary Ruby Ruby
45th Anniversary Sapphire Sapphire
50th Anniversary Gold Gold
55th Anniversary Emerald Emerald
60th Anniversary Diamond Diamond