Google+ Southern Traditions: Anniversary Gifts, Part 1 - Southern Weddings

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Y’all, can you believe that John and I have been married for almost a year?? Sometimes it seems like just a few minutes ago that we were sharing our wedding photos and film.

Tanja Lippert

We’ve been discussing for a few weeks how we’d like to celebrate our first married milestone, which got me thinking about the traditions that surround anniversary gifts. I did a little digging into the history behind the list, and thought you might be interested to hear what I found!

The practice of giving certain gifts for certain anniversaries seems to have originated in Medieval Germany, where friends [or the husband, depending on your source] were said to give a wife a wreath of silver after she had been married for 25 years, and a gold wreath after fifty years. Both materials represented harmony.

In 1922, Emily Post listed “eight anniversaries known to all” (1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th, and 75th) and associated gift materials in her Blue Book of Social Usage. In 1937, the American National Retail Jewelers Association published a more complete guide; they later updated it with a second set of “modern” choices. This is the list we still refer to today:

Of course, as cheesy as it sounds, the best anniversary gift I think you could ever get is another year with your spouse — marriage is a gift in itself, don’t you think? But it’s also absolutely a thing to be celebrated, and gifts are a lovely way to do that. While it’s handy to have suggestions to fall back on when you’re stumped for ideas, and it can be fun to try and think of a creative and meaningful gift within the bounds of each material, the traditional list is in the end just a list of suggestions. John and I love to travel and experience new things, so I’m sure there will be some years when we don’t exchange material gifts at all, but instead choose to take a trip together!

There is one thing I love about the traditional anniversary gift list, however: each material has a symbolic value, and the value increases every year to symbolize the increased investment each partner makes in the other. The idea that my marriage will grow more precious with time is a beautiful one, I think. Here’s to many, many more anniversaries ahead of us all!

Tell me: What anniversary are you celebrating? What did you get each other, if anything, for your first anniversary? Do you follow the traditional list of gift materials? I’d love to know!

P.S. Check back next week — I’ll be offering up some gift ideas for specific anniversary years!

emily Written with love by Emily
11 Comments
  1. avatar Ashleigh reply

    I love that the modern gift is included in the list, but I am a traditional gal at heart. I saw an ad for Love Book the other day and (while I’m approximately 49 weeks away from my first anniversary) I loved the idea. We like to travel, as well, and have already planned our 1-year anniversary getaway to a foreign land – so a small gift like Love Book might be appropriate versus a lavish gift on top of a trip! Great post, Emily!

    http://www.lovebookonline.com/

  2. avatar Elizabeth reply

    My husband I just celebrated our year anniversary. I got him a watercolor of our home. It’s beautiful and he loved it. I wrote a sweet message on the back. I guess that it’s traditional in that it’s paper. I like the fact that we will always have the painting of our first home together. He got me a necklace that is my monogram. Although not traditional, I love monograms and couldn’t have asked for something better!

  3. avatar Welcome To The Weekend – Elizabeth Anne Designs: The Wedding Blog reply

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  4. avatar Southern Traditions: Anniversary Gifts, Part 1 « Southern Weddings Magazine « wileysphotography reply

    […] http://iloveswmag.com/2013/09/03/southern-traditions-anniversary-gifts-part-1/ […]

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    […] traditional AND modern anniversary gifts. […]

  6. avatar Southern Traditions: Anniversary Gifts, Part 2 – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] of all things anniversary! I loved learning the history of the traditional gift materials last week, and now we’re back with suggestions to fit the first five years. The best part about the […]

  7. avatar Morgan reply

    First off, can I just say how much I ADORE this blog?! I love you all!

    My husband, Derek, and I were married on June 2, 2012. We decided to celebrate our anniversary each year with the traditional gift! For our first year (paper!), he made me a frame and placed a picture of us from our anniversary dinner in Charleston inside it. I made a sheet that highlighted my favorite memories from our first year together as a married couple! I am looking forward to celebrating our second year soon (cotton!)…I am going to get us monogrammed robes from Pottery Barn, which is fitting since we’ll be moving into our brand new house!

    xoxo Morgan

  8. avatar Janice Collins reply

    For our first Anniversary I got my husband a “paper” gift certificate for a deep sea fishing trip off the coast of Charleston, SC (where we live). He was thrilled! He really enjoyed the day of deep sea fishing and even brought home plenty of fish for us to eat.

  9. avatar Cheri Dunn reply

    9/23/15- celebrating 9 years of wedded bliss today!
    We married on Bermuda in 2006 in a beautiful ceremony with many symbolic moments, the memories of which we will treasure forever!! We returned to Cambridge Beaches, Bermuda for our first anniversary and stayed in the same cottage as honeymoon. The resort manager gave us the key to the cottage! Our first anniversary gift was a beautiful watercolor painted by a local artist–on paper, of course!

  10. avatar Erica Broker reply

    My sister in law received a sketch of her wedding dress. It was the perfect one year anniversary gift framed.

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