What are the traditional wedding anniversary gifts?


Wedding anniversaries are a lovely thing to celebrate — whether it is one, five, 37 or or 62 years since you or a couple you know said, “I do”.

Most of us know that 25 years of marriage is traditionally referred to as a ‘silver’ anniversary, and the 50th wedding anniversary is called ‘gold’. However, there are many more celebrations in-between these milestone anniversaries, and the purpose of this blog post is to share all of the traditional meanings of them with you.

These meanings are an excellent guide for what to buy your loved one on your or their anniversary. Of course, you don’t have to take any notice of them at all, but there’s something lovely about continuing old traditions, isn’t there? Especially when weddings themselves often follow long-established traditions, such as the cake-cutting and the first dance.

cotton bedding gift for 2nd wedding anniversary

While the ‘big’ anniversaries, such as fifth, 10th, 20th and 25th, had unique materials symbolising them prior to the 1930s, many of the in-between years have also been allocated materials since then. This has resulted in a comprehensive list that is useful and fun to refer to when purchasing gifts.

On the surface, you may look at, for example, the second wedding anniversary material of cotton, and think ‘what on earth do I buy them for that?’ However, worry not — there really are plenty of options for each symbol.

The first anniversary is symbolised by paper, and what better gift to give than a fountain pen and some quality writing paper?

For a second anniversary, you could purchase a gift of personalised cotton cushions or pillowcases, monogrammed cotton dressing gowns, or some fresh new cotton bedding.

Likewise, with leather being associated with the third anniversary, you could buy anything made from leather (or a fake leather if the recipient is vegan). Depending on the situation, this could be a leather keyring, a new purse or wallet, or even a new sofa if you’re a couple wanting to treat yourselves and improve upon your home!

Linen represents the fourth anniversary, so why not treat your partner, family member or friend to some linen clothing, a new tablecloth, or some linen bedding.

Here is our full list of wedding anniversary symbols:

 wedding anniversaries list

You may find slight variations of the above list online, however, this is the one that we go by. Please note that it is UK-specific.

Interestingly, you’ll notice that, overall, the gift materials start with the weakest and progress to the strongest over time, which symbolises the strengthening of the marriage over the years.

What gifts have you given or been given for wedding anniversaries over the years? Do you like to stick to tradition, or do you buy something else entirely? Let us know in the comments below.

Lucy is our lead editor and has been passionate about stationery since childhood. She has a particular fondness for rollerball and calligraphy pens and is a keen advocate of snail mail.

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