A complete guide to wedding anniversary gifts, traditions and history. Usually only the 'big' anniversaries (and each year for the first ten years) have specific gifts and traditions, but that by no means reduces the importance of celebrating every anniversary! They're a great time to reflect on the positives of the past year and celebrate your life together.

What are the chances of making it to your next wedding anniversary?

We've analysed tonnes of marriage data to show what the percentage likelihood is of a marriage reaching each milestone... you can see that while 98% of marriages make it to their first anniversary, only 2% of marriages make it all the way to 60 years together! See the table below to find out the chance of making it to a particular anniversary.

What are the wedding anniversary themes and gifts?

Anniversary % likelihood Traditional Gifts Modern Gift Stone Flower Color
1st 98 Paper Clocks Gold Carnation Gold, yellow
2nd 94 Cotton China Garnet Cosmos Red, white
3rd 90 Leather Crystal/Glass Pearls Sunflower Green
4th 86 Fruit & Flowers (US)
Silk/Linen (UK)
Appliances Blue Topaz Geranium Blue, green
5th 81 Wood Silverware Sapphire Daisy Blue, pink
6th 77 Iron (US)
Sugar (UK)
Wood Amethyst Calla Lily Purple, turquoise
7th 73 Copper (US)
Wool (UK)
Pens/Pencils Onyx Freesia Yellow
8th 69 Bronze (US)
Salt (UK)
Lace/Linen Tourmaline Clematis Bronze
9th 66 Pottery (US)
Copper (UK)
Leather/Willow Lapis Lazuli Poppy, Bird of Paradise Terracotta
10th 63 Tin/aluminium Diamond Diamond Daffodil Silver, blue
15th 50 Crystal Watches Ruby Morning Glory Red
20th 41 China/Porcelain Platinum Emerald Aster Green
25th 33 Silver Silver Silver Iris Silver
30th 27 Pearl Diamond Pearl Lily Green
40th 16 Ruby Ruby Ruby Gladioli Red
50th 6 Gold Gold Gold Yellow Roses Gold
60th 2 Diamond Diamond Diamond White

Where did wedding anniversary themes originate?

In 1922, Emily Post (an influential American writer) wrote a book called Etiquette. In it, she listed suggested themes for different wedding anniversaries. This list was based on the practice of giving themed gifts, which quickly became popular in the Victorian period. Emily’s original list included the 1st wedding anniversary, then jumped to the 5th, and continued with the anniversaries of every 5 years, up until the 25th anniversary.

In 1937, this list was expanded by the American National Retail Jeweler Association. They filled in the gaps in the early anniversaries, then gave the anniversaries of every 5 years (after the 25th) their own themes. Originally, this only extended to the 50th anniversary, but modern lists extend right the way up to the 75th wedding anniversary (it’s fair to say that couples that reach beyond that point are pretty extraordinary!).

In the traditional themes, you can see how the items become increasingly more valuable over time (with the idea being that you could afford more luxurious presents once you’d set up your home and life together).

The list starts with items that were readily available at the time, making it easier for cash-strapped newlyweds to show their affection to each other.