Wedding Anniversary: Traditions and Tips

We love traditions.


Here are a few wedding anniversary traditions I’m so glad we started right at the beginning.

1. We celebrate.

2. We have traded off planning our annual celebration.

3. We chose to loosely adhere to traditional wedding gifts. See the list here under “gifts.”

4. Every year we ask each other what we could do better or change for the next year to make our marriage stronger.


Here are a few other favorite tips.

1. At least do something (like dinner and a walk just the two of you) and write cards. Even when extremely tight financially we found a way to do at least this and it mattered.

2. Communicate so that you both do gifts or you both don’t do gifts, or decide that it doesn’t matter if one of you doesn’t do a gift maybe because the outing itself is your gift to each other. Some years the traditional gift I chose really benefitted both of us so that was all we did. Plus then I had fun surprising Ben and getting creative with the traditional list, rather then us feeling frustrated or constrained by it. For example the year the tradition was “fruit” I surprised Ben and got us an Apple TV. Or this year we got a new bed frame and duvet to fit the tradition of “linens.” (Plus since all was repurposed, that’s how we roll, it allowed us to do something so substantial on a very tight budget.) The other favorite was second-hand golf clubs for the year of “iron” which resulted in my first golf lesson. It was so fun and I’ll never forget it! Again, we only adhered loosely to the gift tradition so we bounce between the U.S., U.K., and Chicago library lists.  This tradition helps us get ideas (anyone get intimidated by trying to come up with something romantic, fun, useful, meaningful etc…. ) plus it helps us remember what we did each year and makes reminiscing so fun. We have learned that miscommunications or unmet expectations will ruin any celebration.

3. Preplan as much as you can. Think about travel time (this year we are staying closer to home to maximize our time away), eating frequently so you don’t get stressed and hungry (which for us is a terrible combination). The flip side to this coin is that you want to remain flexible in your plan and expectations so that you can both have fun and be spontaneous if the opportunity presents itself or one of you feels like changing the plan.

4. Have fun in planning, gift giving, and adventuring together. This a unique celebration just for you two and just about you two.

5. Since year one is traditionally paper (this one is actually one of the easiest as you can do tickets or certificates, to do just about anything…) I chose to decorate a simple paper journal where each year we document what we do for anniversary and include some reflections of the past year. Whether both of you writes in it, just the planner does the entry, only one of you likes to write so you are the family historian, OR you just do this verbally I think it’s the reminiscing and the marking of the passing years that is so significant.

6. One last tip. Pick your traditions thoughtfully. Not all traditions are for everyone and even though I think they have molded us and helped us it’s possible that they would just stress you out and therefore would not be helpful. Maybe you only go with tradition 1 – “we celebrate” – and that’s enough. Don’t miss the few thoughts from “Breaking Busy” by Alli Worthington at the end of the post, they really think about the traditions we keep.

Happy celebrating!

year 1 – 2009

year 2 – 2010

year 3 – 2011

year 4 – 2012 (also a Babymoon as Cashel arrived 6 weeks later!)

year 5 – 2013

year 6 – 2014

year 7 – 2015

year 8 – 2016

“”…not all traditions are healthy for everyone. Family traditions, when done well, for example, give families a greater sense of security and make everyone happier.”

“Tradition is not a bad thing. But like any good thing, done with the wrong motivation (namely guilt and the pride of keeping up with the Joneses), traditions can shackle us to unrealistic expectations and a whole lot of unnecessary busywork. If we think we have to do everything and be all things to all people, before we know it, we will be stuck on a hamster wheel, going nowhere fast.”

“Traditions don’t have to be expectations.” “You have to allow yourself to do the things you enjoy, to carry on the traditions that are meaningful to you, and be okay wot know that your children, family and friends might not carry on all the traditions that are meaningful to you.”

Breaking Busy” by Alli Worthington

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