These are the most traditional wedding anniversary gifts by year
Here's what you need to know about traditional gift themes for each wedding anniversary.
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Whether you’re married or not, you may be familiar with the premise that each anniversary year has its own corresponding theme for gifts. Many know the top few, like paper for the first anniversary, gold for the 50th, and diamonds for the 60th, but the anniversaries in between aren’t as well known. Plus, have you ever wondered why every theme was chosen for each year? Like, what does wax have to do with the 16th anniversary?
Well, wonder no more. Here, we’ve culminated every major anniversary year from one to 60 and taken a deeper dive into what each theme means (figuratively and literally). Now buying a thoughtful anniversary gift for your significant other, parents, or friends will be a piece of cake.
1st wedding anniversary: Paper
One of the best-known traditional wedding gift themes, the first anniversary denotes paper as its theme. A bit flimsy and delicate, paper represents how the couple has only just started their lives together and haven’t quite stood the test of time yet. Think of it as representing a clean sheet, a blank slate for all the years to come.
2nd wedding anniversary: Cotton
When it comes to the second anniversary, cotton represents the couple’s lives becoming intertwined and therefore stronger as time goes on. It can also symbolize how the couple is learning to be both flexible and strong, much like cotton itself.
3rd wedding anniversary: Leather
Since leather was often used by our ancestors to create shelter as protection from bad weather and the elements, this third-anniversary theme is a metaphor for the couple being secure, safe, and able to call each other home. Leather is also strong and unyielding, much like a secure marriage.
4th wedding anniversary: Fruit or flowers
By the fourth wedding anniversary, the couple’s marriage may begin to “bear fruit,” or flourish. Fruit symbolizes renewed refreshment in each other as the relationship continues to grow, while flowers represent the blossoming of love as time goes on.
5th wedding anniversary: Wood
What may feel like an unconventional anniversary gift concept, wood is actually a great representation of wisdom, strength, and time. In addition, by the fifth year of marriage, the relationship will have begun to develop roots to endure anything and the couple has likely achieved lots of shared growth.
6th wedding anniversary: Iron
Getting stronger as we go, the sixth anniversary represents iron. By the sixth year of marriage, a new phase of the relationship has been unlocked and it is now stronger than ever before. Iron is a naturally occurring metal and is often seen as being a transitional material, as it’s what lifted civilization out of the stone age. By the same token, an iron anniversary gift represents moving into a solid and enduring phase of the marriage.
7th wedding anniversary: Wool or copper
What’s one thing both wool and copper have in common? They’re both able to produce heat, which is why they’re perfect to represent the seventh anniversary. By now, the marriage gives off plenty of warmth, love, security, and comfort. Copper, specifically, is one step stronger than iron, the sixth-anniversary theme which symbolizes becoming stronger by the year.
8th wedding anniversary: Bronze or pottery
As the gifts increase in both value and strength of material, the marriage is likely to become even stronger by the eighth anniversary. While bronze is a combination of copper and tin representing the blending of two metals, pottery (or clay) is a natural substance that can be handmade into beautiful art, but remains long-lasting through time.
9th wedding anniversary: Willow wood
By the ninth anniversary, it’s likely a married couple has learned how to be flexible and useful in many ways, much like the ninth-anniversary gift theme of willow wood. With its twistable branches, willows are anything but rigid and often go with the flow (er, wind). Their wood can also be used for a wide variety of things like baskets and furniture.
10th wedding anniversary: Tin or aluminum
The 10th anniversary is the first big milestone year, so it’s only fitting that its corresponding theme is tin and aluminum. While these metals may at first appear soft and fragile, they’re actually incredibly durable. This represents the malleability a strong marriage must have by its 10th year in order to maintain a union that withstands anything.
11th wedding anniversary: Steel
With steel being one of the strongest materials on earth (see: Man of Steel, stainless steel, buns of steel, nerves of steel … you get the point), it represents how by the 11th year, not much can break the strong bond one has with their partner.
12th wedding anniversary: Silk or linen
The 12th anniversary leans to the softer side with silk or linen as the representative theme. Meant to symbolize a ship’s sail, silk and linen are a metaphor for being able to swiftly guide through the waves of life and its storms. Dually, silk and linen are also common home decor materials. In this regard, they can serve as a metaphor for the life the couple has built together over the years.
13th wedding anniversary: Lace
Year thirteen is all about luck and lace. Because it’s such a delicate material that’s also very strong, lace symbolizes the elegant and interwoven qualities of marriage. With its many forms and uses, it can also denote the many ways in which a couple shows their love for one another.
14th wedding anniversary: Ivory
Originally, the ivory theme chosen for the 14th anniversary came from Hindu mythology and was meant to signify luck and protection. Nowadays, it’s typical to select gifts that have an elephant theme or are simply off-white in color so as to not purchase actual ivory.
15th wedding anniversary: Crystal
In nature, crystals take a long while to form and become the beautiful light-refracting elements we love. In turn, marriage often takes some time and effort to become strong, which is why crystal is the 15th anniversary’s theme. Crystal also represents clarity and transparency in a marriage.
16th wedding anniversary: Wax
For the 16th anniversary, wax represents the undeniable flame between the married couple and their burning passion for each other. In addition, wax can take many forms and be molded into a variety of things, symbolizing once again the ever-changing roles one must play in order to keep a marriage fresh and exciting.
17th wedding anniversary: Furniture
If you’ve ever picked out a new couch or replaced an old bed frame, you know that good furniture is an investment. Much like that brand new bed or couch, the 17th year of marriage represents time invested, and quality that gets better with age. It also has plenty of familiarity and comfort, just like a favorite chair.
18th wedding anniversary: Porcelain
The best-known attribute of porcelain might be how extremely delicate and fragile it is. The 18th wedding anniversary serves as a reminder to hold the relationship with care and consideration in order for it to last.
19th wedding anniversary: Bronze
The healing properties of bronze are the reason it stands to represent the 19th wedding anniversary. Symbolizing health within the marriage even through tough times, bronze is a great way to metaphorically say that the union has grown stronger and stronger throughout the years.
20th wedding anniversary: China
Celebrating two whole decades together is a huge milestone, so this anniversary deserves something truly special. Traditionally, China is the theme for the big 2-0 for its beauty, uniqueness, and fragility. It’s something so precious that it needs to be handled with care, much like the marriage itself.
25th wedding anniversary: Silver
Considered to be very valuable, silver makes a fitting appearance as the gift theme for the coveted 25th anniversary. It’s a meaningful symbol, as silver is considered to be a precious metal, but it’s also shiny and lustrous. A gift of silver means hope that the marriage will always remain just as glinting as the first 25 years.
30th wedding anniversary: Pearls
Pearls take the spot as the 30th wedding anniversary symbol for a few reasons. First, as they’re found in nature to be hidden inside a mollusk, they represent the hidden beauty in a relationship. They also take one to six years to form, meaning that beauty takes time and is worth waiting for.
35th wedding anniversary: Coral
This unique anniversary gift theme is thought to be connected to how important coral is to the ocean’s ecosystem, which relates to how important love is to a marriage. As well, coral takes a long time to fully form—much like a 35-year marriage. It’s believed to have healing properties and defend against harm, which makes it the perfect gift theme for 35 years.
40th wedding anniversary: Ruby
The ruby’s hot-red color represents the fire and passion a couple has for each other that’ll never burn out. It’s also said that the ruby holds health and wisdom, two qualities that are quite relevant to a flourishing marriage after spending two decades together.
45th wedding anniversary: Sapphire
Considered to be the stone of royalty, it’s only fitting that the sapphire be the representation of 45 years of marriage. The sapphire represents longevity and a shining example of love for those hoping to reach this incredible marriage milestone.
50th wedding anniversary: Gold
Dubbed the Golden Anniversary, 50 years of marriage is fittingly represented with gold as its gift theme. Classic and timeless, gold symbolizes the wisdom, prosperity, and strength that a couple has had to endure throughout the marriage. Golden also refers to being radiant and having a glowing vitality, two things that are especially important for a couple to possess in order to reach this milestone.
55th wedding anniversary: Emerald
The meaning behind this gift theme is two-fold; first, emeralds are known to signify eternal true love as well as devotion and adoration. The second meaning is a bit nefarious: emeralds are thought to change color if one is unfaithful to the other. In this way, an emerald gift would portray that the couple is immensely secure and trustworthy of one another in the marriage.
60th wedding anniversary: Diamond
For 60 years of marriage, there is only one gift theme that could perfectly symbolize this kind of enduring love: a diamond. They mean strength, affection, and of course, beauty. Diamonds take lots of pressure and years to form, much like that of a trusting and lasting marriage. Being together for this many years deserves only the best.
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