Wedding Anniversaries - The Complete Guide

Make sure your wedding anniversaries are totally unforgettable by browsing our extensive anniversary guide - with gorgeous gift ideas!

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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. 

Wedding anniversary

Image: Etsy

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! 

Ed Sheeran lyrics print

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!

Wedding anniversary gifts

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. 

Personalised pillow cases

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.

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.

Third wedding anniversary gifts

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.

Third wedding anniversary gift ideas

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.

Bloom and Wild

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.

Fourth wedding anniversary gifts

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.

Etsy Kiss Me wooden sign

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.

Wood wedding anniversary

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.

Fifth wedding anniversary ideas

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.

Sugar wedding anniversary

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.

Sugar anniversary ideas

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.

Iron wedding anniversary

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.

John Lewis copper coffee set

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.

Wool wedding anniversary

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.

BRonze anniversary gift

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!

Linen wedding anniversary

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.

Picnic Basket wicker

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.

Pottery anniversary

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.

Metal planter

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.

Metal family name

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.

Crystal anniversary ideas

Image: 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!

Links of London watch

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!

Yvonne Ellen for 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.

Silver wedding anniversary

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.

Pearl Bracelet

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.

Coral wedding anniversary

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.

Ruby wedding anniversary

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.

Sapphire necklace Goldsmith's

Image: Goldsmiths

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!

Gold Ombre 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.

Emerald earrings

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.

Diamond wedding anniversary

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.

Platinum wedding anniversary tradition

Image: Goldsmiths

See a full breakdown of traditional and modern anniversary gifts - can you think of the perfect present for every year of marriage?

Year

Traditional

Modern

1st Paper Clocks
2nd Cotton China
3rd Leather Crystal/Glass
4th Linen Fruit & Flowers / Appliances
5th Wood Silverware
6th Iron Sweet and Sugar
7th Copper (alt Wood) Desk Set
8th Bronze (alt Pottery) Bronze / Pottery
9th Willow (alt Copper) Linen / Lace
10th Tin (alt Aluminium) Leather
11th Steel Jewellery
12th Silk Pearls
13th Lace Textiles/Fur
14th Ivory Gold Jewellery
15th Crystal Watches
20th China Platinum
25th Silver Silver
30th Pearl (alt Ivory) Diamond
35th Coral Jade
40th Ruby Ruby
45th Sapphire Sapphire
50th Gold Gold
55th Emerald Emerald
60th Diamond Diamond
65th Blue Sapphire Blue Sapphire
70th Platinum Platinum

Do you think things have changed since you walked down the aisle? Read our article Things That Change After Saying I Do.

Need more inspo? Don't miss Perfect Wedding's Wedding Anniversary Gift Ideas



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