A Year-by-Year Guide to Traditional Wedding Anniversary Gifts
An anniversary is something to celebrate, regardless of how much time has passed since you officially became wedded partners. Whether you're celebrating one year of marital bliss or your first decade of matrimony, a thoughtful gift that shows how much you care is an absolute must. If you've done your research, you know that some couple choose to exchange gifts based on their anniversary year. You might also know that there are two types of lists—traditional and modern. If you're sticking with the classics, your first married year calls for paper, the second for cotton, the third for leather, and so on. You know the drill!
Finding the perfect present that suits your spouse can be challenging enough. Choosing one that also aligns with the traditional anniversary year gift can feel near impossible. That's where we come in. We've outlined the classic present categories for the first 20 years of marriage and even added in a few gift ideas (for him and her) for each, too. With this handy guide, you won't just wonder which type of present you're supposed to exchange on year 13—you'll be ready with plenty of ideas to please your favorite person.
Of course, no one knows your spouse like you do. This list is just a guide to a longstanding wedding anniversary tradition—feel free to deviate from it, make it your own, or switch it up. If you know you'd like to stick to the classics, bookmark this page and return to it year after year.
Year 1: Paper
In the grand scheme of this list, complete with more expensive themes like platinum and crystal, paper represents modest beginnings and the growth of a marriage. Start small and gift a calligraphed version of your wedding vows, or take it one step further and frame them and hang them above your bed as a surprise. If you and your spouse are trying to gift experiences over things, exchange concert or airline tickets—they're your paper gift loophole!
Year 2: Cotton
An embroidered cotton pajama set, a fresh set of his favorite sheets, a monogrammed throw blanket—your second, fabric-themed anniversary gift is all about giving comfort. A good rule of thumb? If it's cotton, makes you want to snuggle, and is conducive to cuddling, it passes the test.
Year 3: Leather
Leather symbolizes durability and longevity (it gets better with age!), an apt description of you and your love's marriage. A pair of rich, cognac-colored leather dress shoes will make an impression on him, as will a buttery weekender bag. For her, opt for that designer handbag she's had her eyes on forever, or a custom etched leather bracelet, complete with both your initials.
Year 4: Linen
On your fourth anniversary, revamp your tablescape with a new runner and napkin set, especially if your linens are looking a little worn for the wear due to all the family holidays you've been hosting. When it comes to linens, adding on a monogram is a surefire way to make the gift that more meaningful.
Year 5: Wood
Wood may seem like an unlikely gift medium, but the material actually has a lot to offer, especially if you're working on crafting a wine and spirit cellar. Hire a professional to design a custom wine box or whiskey barrel, where you can store your most prized bottles (including your wedding wine!). For something a little more practical, opt for a butcher's block. This is an especially smart if you two spend most of your time together in the kitchen, whipping up one mid-week masterpiece after the next.
Year 6: Iron
Like your marriage, iron is incredibly strong, which makes it a more-than-appropriate gift choice for your sixth wedding anniversary. Couples traditionally exchange designed-to-last kitchenware, like cast-iron skillets or Dutch ovens, but there's a way to make the sturdy, masculine medium a little bit more personal. Since this is (typically!) around the time when couples decide on a forever-home, a new set of iron house numbers signifies that you've officially established permanent residency together.
Year 7: Wool
Wool has long been a symbol of enduring marriage. In ancient times, Roman brides wore wool wedding dresses, since the fabric was considered lucky and repellant of evil spirits. Today, couples mark the comfort, security, and warmth of their relationships by exchanging wool on their seventh wedding anniversary. Gift each other cashmere scarves so you'll stay warm and cozy even when you're not together. Also options? Slipping new pillow covers onto the cushions on your sectional, sourcing the finest wool for the warmest winter blanket possible, or knitting a soft pair of socks (or a sweater, if you're really good!).
Year 8: Pottery
Ceramic represents earthiness and simplicity, so keep it low-key while celebrating year eight. Take a pottery wheel class together, where you'll learn to craft your own ceramic vases, bowls, and plates—you just might also discover a new favorite hobby. If you want to exchange physical gifts, try his and hers mugs, a bespoke vase, a pretty catch-all, or natural dinnerware.
Year 9: Willow
Keep the same themes in mind for your ninth wedding anniversary. Perfect for budding gardeners, planting a willow tree outside of your home insures future shade and comfort in the next decade (or two!). A willow whicker picnic basket is the perfect companion gift—you'll be able to dine under the shade of your new tree spring after spring.
Year 10: Aluminum
You've done it—one whole decade together. Celebrate your relationship's fortitude with a material that's (almost!) as solid: aluminum. Mark the landmark occasion with a luxe gift, like a set of new kitchen knives or a pair of weather-resistant bikes, perfect for racing down your favorite trails. Planning on going even bigger? Aluminum is commonly found in cars, which means purchasing that joy-ride for your couples trip up the coast is totally justifiable.
Year 11: Steel
One more year together means your marriage is that much stronger, which is why steel follows aluminum (steel is a tougher medium than aluminum!) in the traditional gift chain. Come your 11th anniversary, look to your wrists for inspiration. A sleek stainless steel watch works for both him or her. Better yet, buy each other complementary time pieces you'll wear every day. Alternatively, replace dated household appliances—like dishwashers, refrigerators, or your washer-and-dryer combo—with steel options for a sleek, modern home refresh.
Year 12: Silk
As the years go by, you'll notice that the traditional gifts get more and more luxe. Silk, a pricey fabric, definitely follows suit. Mediate the splurge by choosing a gift that you'll use frequently, like a pair of pretty statement pumps or a silk pillowcase for her, or a go-to work tie for him.
Year 13: Lace
Make your 13th year of marriage that much more special with this dainty fabric—or with objects inspired by the textile. Lace-inspired jewelry, like a Filigree lace cuff or drop earrings make an unconventional but appropriate choice for your wife. Since lace is so often associated with the feminine, finding the right gift for your guy might be trickier. Get creative and consider having a piece of your lace wedding dress sewed inside his favorite work blazer. This way, he'll have a piece of your wedding day with him every time he wears it.
Year 14: Ivory
Skip the real thing and opt for an ivory-colored gift instead. A sprawling all-white bouquet with her favorite blooms will surely earn you brownie points. For him, opt for a luxurious white-plated shaving set, complete with a razor and lather brush, to help him feel like he's getting a formal shave from the comfort of his own home.
Year 15: Crystal
Sparkly, elevated, and decidedly expensive, crystal is definitely the way to go when celebrating the big 1-5. If you've become wine connoisseurs over the years, a set of crystal goblets is our go-to pick. A vintage vase, candy dish, or decorative object are also all tried-and-true choices.
Year 16: Hollowware
This category refers to any type of hollow vessel, like a pitcher, vase, or planter. Since this recommendation is so broad, hone in on your spouse's interests. For example, if your husband or wife is a beer-lover, a new growler will make their visits to a favorite brewery even better.
Year 17: Furniture
In the 17 years since you first registered for or bought furniture, trends and your personal style have likely changed. Take advantage of this classic gift type and redesign your living room (or bedroom, or bathroom!) together. If family wants to know what they can get you this year, ask for interior design services—an expert will help both your visions come to life cohesively, no matter how different they are.
Year 18: Porcelain
You've mastered the art of hostessing, which means your dinnerware likely has a few chips here and there. Upgrade your set with something you love just as much. If you went classic years ago, try something bolder this time around. A chinoiserie set, like this one, feels traditional, but brings a welcome splash of color to your tabletop.
Year 19: Bronze
Since bronze is created by combining copper and tin, it acts as a symbol of the marriage pact—two people pledging to live (and potentially raise a family!) as one. As you approach two decades of marriage, a metaphor like this one feels more poignant. Reaffirm your bond with a bronze gift that represents it. Reframe a favorite wedding photo in bronze, pick out a vintage metallic vase together, or peruse the work of a local artist for a garden sculpture you both love.
Year 20: Platinum
You've loved and remained committed to each other for twenty years, which means it's definitely time to celebrate. You'll likely do a lot of reflecting on this anniversary, which makes finding a gift that represents your beginnings a good place to start. Plan a vow renewal, where you'll exchange an upgraded engagement ring or wedding rings, as a couple. Placing that new-and-improved band on your hand will simultaneously bring the memories of your engagement period and wedding day rushing back and get you excited for the next 20 years to come.
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