Everything you need to know for your first Wedding Anniversary

A year has flown by (in the typical whirlwind fashion of loved-up newlyweds) and you’re already celebrating your first major milestone.

Although it may not be as big or grand as the 40th, 50th or 60th, your first wedding anniversary is just as special, in its own way. After all, it’s the first of many anniversary celebrations.

So we say, start as you mean to go on!

In this guide, we’ll be covering everything that you need to know about your 1st wedding anniversary. This includes the history of the theme (this one is paper), traditional gifts, and ideas for fun, modern gifts.

In short, below, you’ll find everything that you need to show your other half just how much you’re loving your time together.

The history of the 1 year wedding anniversary - why paper?

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.

Being the first anniversary, it makes sense that paper is the most affordable of all the themes.

1st year wedding anniversary gift ideas for him and for her

So, what can you do with paper?

Actually, paper is a brilliant theme to start your anniversary present-buying. It’s a completely blank canvas (pun intended), which allows you to really use your imagination. There’s so much that you can do with this theme - with a bit of creativity, it’s easy to give a simple yet super thoughtful gift.

To get you started, here are some traditional paper first anniversary gift ideas for your husband or, which are filled with sentimentality:

  • Origami - get practising and make your own mini origami.
  • If you’re not very crafty, you could buy an artist’s origami paper sculpture
  • Or, an origami date night set provides a sweet paper-themed activity for you to do together.
  • A personalised laser-cut paper card - these are filled with intricate detail, and can even be framed afterwards.
  • Paper home decorations (e.g. honeycomb ball decorations, wall fans, paper stars)

Where did the modern gift themes come from?

Although paper is the traditional theme for 1st wedding anniversaries, the modern wedding anniversary theme for year #1 is clocks.

Modern wedding anniversary themes are an alternative to the traditional themes, which are almost a century old (or, in the case of silver at 25 years and gold at 50 years, can be traced all the way back to the middle ages).

These are designed to provide a practical alternative to traditional gifts, which help a couple to build up their life and home together. The themes also build on the traditional idea of the gifts being more affordable at first, then rising in cost the longer the couple had been together.

If you want to go down the modern route, clocks are a lovely way to bring a new (and inexpensive!) decoration to your home. But, don’t just go for any old supermarket digital clock…

When choosing a clock to buy for your anniversary gift, we’d recommend that you follow our 5 top tips:

  1. Where would you like to put it? Try to think of a specific place in your home, and choose a clock that will match the aesthetic of this space.
  2. What would be most useful to your spouse? For example, if they’re pretty bad at timekeeping, you could get them a watch. Or, if they have a home office, choose a smart clock for their desk.
  3. What is their style like? Is it colourful or minimalist, understated or eccentric? Try to find a clock that speaks to their style.
  4. Would you like it to be personalised? You could look for a shop that offers customised clocks. Or, you could pay to get it engraved, or even write on the underneath of the clock yourself. It’ll remind you both of the occasion that this gift marks.
  5. Don’t go overboard! Remember, this tradition is all about making the 1st wedding anniversary gifts simple and affordable. If you bought a huge golden clock, then the meaning is slightly lost. There’s elegance in simplicity, after all.

And there you have it! Everything that you need to know to make your 1st wedding anniversary a special, sentimental occasion.

These gift ideas are infinitely better than supermarket flowers or a box of chocolates - even if we do say so ourselves. With our traditional paper wedding anniversary gift inspiration, you can choose a present that is full of thought, personality and (most importantly) love.