Once the countdown to the wedding is over and you’re officially married, you’ll be able to reminisce about your special day each year on your wedding anniversary. Each 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.
If you are soon to celebrate your next wedding anniversary and you want to know the traditional gift and its meaning then you have come to the right place! Take a look at our list of wedding anniversaries, the traditional gifts and the modern alternatives.
We’ve put together a breakdown of all the significant wedding 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.
Celebrate your first wedding anniversary with a creative paper gift – just bear in mind whatever gift you give for your first anniversary will set the standard for years to come!
A romantic quote or the lyrics to your first dance song will be a beautiful reminder of your wedding day and definitely fits the paper criteria!
Image: Over & Over at Not On The High Street
Or perhaps you would prefer to give a "creative" twist on a paper wedding gift - Virgin Experience Days offer everything from a trip up the Shard to a romantic break away for two. If you print your gift voucher on paper then we think that totally counts as a paper gift!
Image: The View From The Shard - Virgin Gift Experiences
READ MORE: 25 Thoughtful First Anniversary Gift Ideas
2nd Anniversary – Cotton
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.
These high-quality personalised pillowcases are made from cotton and are an cute gift for your second anniversary.
Image: We Are Scamp at Not On The High Street
Or how adorable are these coordinating robes from The White Company? They are super soft and make a great gift for your cotton wedding anniversary.
READ MORE: The Ultimate Second Anniversary Gift Guide
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.
If you're looking to splash out then Aspinal of London have lots of gorgeous leather gifts and accessories that can be monogrammed to make them even more personal - we love this classic leather wallet.
If you're looking for a timeless leather anniversary gift then a classic style handbag from Mulberry is perfect - the Bayswater handbag is a staple from Mulberry and we love this gorgeous oxblood shade.
We've got lots more leather gift ideas for your third wedding anniversary in our gift guide.
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!). Bloom and Wild offer a huge range of gorgeous bouquets that you can order in advance to be delivered on your anniversary or you can buy your partner a gift subscription for flowers to be delivered through your door each month.
Image: Bloom and Wild
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 Nespresso machine.
READ MORE: Fourth Anniversary Gift Ideas
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.
A romantic sign to hang in your home will be a romantic gift for your other half - Etsy have a huge range all with different phrases and quotes so you can choose something that resonates with you.
Image: ToEachHisOwnDesigns at Etsy
Or why not celebrate your five year anniversary with a bottle of wine (perhaps even the same wine you had at your wedding if you're feeling extra romantic) - beautifully presented in a personalised box, we love this one from Not On The High Street.
Image: Sophia Victoria Joy at Not On The High Street
You could also give a beautiful wooden photo frame to give your wedding pictures a new lease of life! The White Company have a gorgeous selection.
Image: The White Company
READ MORE: Fifth Anniversary Gift Guide: Wooden Gift Ideas
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. Hotel Chocolat have some delicious and seriously stylish gift ideas.
Image: Hotel Chocolat
Alternatively you could book a romantic (sugar-filled!) afternoon tea and a hotel near you - Virgin Experience Days offer delicious options throughout the UK.
The modern alternative to sugar is iron so if your partner doesn't have much of a sweet tooth then why not choose something romantic like this iron-influenced wall art featuring the sheet music from your first dance.
Image: nellyscustomart at Etsy
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.
We love this copper coffee set for two from John Lewis and think it's an adorable idea for your seventh anniversary.
Image: John Lewis
Or for something wool - The White Company have some gorgeous cashmere throws that are perfect for snuggling under while you watch a film.
Image: The White Company
If you’d rather go for the modern alternative, it’s a desk set...yes really!
READ MORE: Seventh Wedding Anniversary Gift Guide: Copper and Wool Ideas
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.
Image: Ginger Rose at Not On The High Street
The modern alternative is linen and lace - we adore this elegant linen bedding from Marks and Spencer!
Image: Marks and Spencer
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 woven to create beautiful things.
This willow picnic hamper is the perfect garden accessory and is available from Not On The High Street.
Image: The Colourful Garden Company at Not On The High Street
If you would prefer to go for pottery then how about a pottery making lesson for two? You will have so much fun and you will have an amazing piece of pottery to take home with you.
Image: Virgin Experience Days
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 ten 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.
This garden accessory can be personalised with your initials and will look amazing in your garden - available from Not On The High Street.
Image: TheLittleBoysRoom at Not On The High Street
Or add something unique and personal to your home with this metal hanging sign that can be personalised with your last name - also from Not On The High Street.
Image: Bangy Bee Metalcraft at Not On The High Street
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 jewellery will always be a welcome gift - we love this matching necklace and earrings set from Goldsmiths.
For those who aren’t a fan of crystal, the modern anniversary alternative is to give a watch. This watch from Links of London actually features crystals - bonus points!
Image: Links of London
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 - we love these animal-themed pieces from Yvonne Ellen at John Lewis!
Image: John Lewis
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.
These Kate Spade photo frames from John Lewis are stunning and can be used to display your treasured wedding photos.
Image: John Lewis
There isn’t a modern alternative for silver, considering how timeless it is!
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 and we love this bracelet from Not On The High Street.
Image: By C at Not On The High Street
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 and maybe choose something inspired by the beautiful colour or shape of coral. This decorative ornament will be a beautiful addition to your home.
Image: Marquis and Dawe at Not On The High Street
The modern alternative is jade, still a vibrant colour but more environmentally friendly.
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.
Image: Ernest Jones
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.
This sapphire and diamond halo necklace from Goldsmith's is a perfect choice.
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 don't have to opt for jewellery though, we love this ombre gold decanter!
Image: Dibor at Not On The High Street
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 or emerald-inspired gifts to recognise that.
Image: Lilia Nash Jewellery at Not On The High Street
60th Anniversary - Diamond
Diamonds flourish under pressure and are extremely hardwearing – 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.
Image: Bling Prints at Etsy
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.
See a full breakdown of traditional and modern anniversary gifts - can you think of the perfect present for every year of marriage?
||Fruit & Flowers / Appliances
||Sweet and Sugar
||Copper (alt Wood)
||Bronze (alt Pottery)
||Bronze / Pottery
||Willow (alt Copper)
||Linen / Lace
||Tin (alt Aluminium)
||Pearl (alt Ivory)
Do you think things have changed since you walked down the aisle? Read our article Things That Change After Saying I Do.