Everything you need to know about one year anniversary gifts & traditions to plan an unforgettable first anniversary, plus a bonus guide for years 2-4!
It may seem like it was only yesterday, but the calendar doesn't lie: It’s been a year since “I do." That doesn’t mean that all of the excitement of your wedding day has to stay in your photo album, however. Keep reading to find out how you can celebrate your first anniversary in unforgettable style and set the stage for the years of cherished memories yet to come.
First Anniversary Traditions
When you planned “the big day,” you no doubt learned that weddings come with a whole lot of traditions and superstitions. Anniversaries are no different and, in fact, one anniversary tradition began when you cut your wedding cake and can play a big part in your first anniversary.
Saving the Top Tier of the Wedding Cake
The tradition of serving wedding cake is traced back to ancient Greece, and later to the Romans. Guests of Roman weddings brought gifts of bread, which the groom would promptly break on his wife’s head. This tradition has, thankfully, transformed into the modern cake-cutting and feeding custom enjoyed at today's weddings.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that the tradition of saving the top tier of the wedding cake began. Originally couples reserved this top tier to serve at the Christening of their first child, however, not the first anniversary.
If you ate every last slice of cake on your wedding day or don’t find the notion of eating year-old cake appetizing, you can still incorporate this tradition into your one year anniversary by returning to your baker for a top tier duplicate.
Traditional One Year Anniversary Gifts of Paper
Symbolically, the traditional wedding anniversary materials grow in strength with each year of marriage, reflecting your growth as a couple. While there are some regional differences, the first anniversary is traditionally celebrated with a gift of paper, which represents the fragile yet resilient nature of this early stage in your relationship.
To learn more about the traditional wedding anniversary gifts by year, read our ultimate year by year anniversary gifts guide.
Paper Anniversary Gifts
Consider a rare or out of print book to add to the collection of a partner who loves to read. If you included poetry or literary passages in your wedding vows, you might search for an early edition that holds special meaning for you as a couple.
For couples who spend all week counting down to game night, a new board game is an inexpensive way to celebrate your first anniversary with a gift that you’ll continue to enjoy throughout the years. If you find yourself short on inspiration, don’t fret. Try searching the stores and websites where your partner already shops to seek out ready-made or personalized paper anniversary gifts that might not have occurred to you.
Modern One Year Anniversary Gifts of Clocks
Over the years, a list of contemporary anniversary gifts has grown alongside the original traditions to include ready-made, practical anniversary gifts.
Couples who follow this modern approach mark their one year anniversary with clocks, symbolic of the passage of time.
Clock Anniversary Gifts
While you and your spouse may have come to your marriage with a shared home, the one year anniversary offers an opportunity to upgrade some of your well-loved items that are looking a bit worse for wear.
A new alarm clock is a practical one-year anniversary gift that will be especially appreciated by the husband who wakes up late each morning after sleeping through his alarm.
If you don’t have a need for upgrades but want to splurge on a luxury item you’ll both enjoy, a grandfather clock might be just the thing to mark your first wedding anniversary. For a budget-friendly and less formal approach, a cuckoo clock may be the very thing to delight your offbeat wife.
Some couples take the unique approach of merging the traditional and modern anniversary gifts by year. An origami clock, for example, takes inspiration from the contemporary and traditional lists to create a genuinely unique one-year anniversary gift.
Alternative One Year Anniversary Gifts: Shop by Gemstone, Color, or Flower
If the traditional and contemporary anniversary gifts by year don't suit your tastes, the conventional anniversary gemstones, flowers, and colors may help you choose unique anniversary rings, jewelry, or experiences.
One Year Anniversary Gemstone
The Jewelers of America have endorsed a list of gemstones to celebrate the first fifty years of marriage, marking the one year anniversary with gold jewelry. Other popular customs suggest Pearl or Mother of Pearl as an alternative.
This opens up new avenues to mark each passing year with a piece of jewelry that your partner will cherish, such as a pair of pearl earrings or a diamond and gold anniversary band, which may be passed down to future generations as treasured family heirlooms.
One Year Anniversary Colors
Gold and yellow are the traditional colors of one-year anniversaries. While it’s common to use these colors to guide the theme of anniversary celebrations, they can also help to generate anniversary gift ideas.
A one-year anniversary gift of a gold bangle bracelet, for example, might accompany an anniversary toast with gold-rimmed champagne flutes or be given during a day at the beach under the sunny (and yellow!) sun.
One Year Anniversary Flower
The one year anniversary is associated with carnations or pansies, depending upon which tradition you follow.
Using the traditional anniversary flower as your guide, you can give gifts as simple as a bouquet or as unique as a gold and diamond flower bracelet.
Traditional Anniversary Gifts for Years 2-4
Are you celebrating your 2nd, 3rd, or 4th wedding anniversary? Below, you’ll find the traditional and modern gifts to mark each of these years.
Two-Year Anniversary Gifts
Traditional: Some traditions mark the first anniversary with gifts of cotton rather than paper. Should you follow this custom, paper is the gift associated with your two-year wedding anniversary. If, however, you celebrated your first anniversary with a gift of paper, your second wedding anniversary material is cotton.
Modern: The contemporary list of wedding anniversary gifts marks two-year anniversaries with china.
Three-Year Anniversary Gifts
Traditional: Couples exchanging traditional three-year anniversary gifts do so with gifts of leather.
Modern: The modern three-year anniversary gift includes crystal or glass.
Four-Year Anniversary Gifts
Traditional: Four-year anniversary gifts vary by region. Couples in the US mark the passage of their fourth wedding anniversary with gifts of linen or silk, while UK couples exchange gifts of fruit or flowers.
Modern: The modern gift for a fourth anniversary is appliances.
Looking for more anniversary gift ideas for years 2-4? Read our guide to anniversary gifts for every year for additional and unique anniversary gift ideas.
Get More Anniversary Gift Ideas
Before you invest in jewelry for your one-year anniversary gift, you should consult with a trusted jeweler who can help you incorporate anniversary gift traditions with your spouse’s style and your budget.
If you’re shopping for anniversary jewelry in San Francisco, stop by our Union Street shop where we can help you find the perfect and unique wedding anniversary gift that they’ll never forget!
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