A Complete Guide to Your 1st Anniversary
(History, Symbolism, Traditions and Gift Ideas)

The History of the First Anniversary Gift

Truth be said, no one knows for certain how the celebration of wedding anniversaries or the tradition of giving gifts made of paper, wood, and silver began. What we do know is that this fun tradition has been practiced since the middle ages in Germany. But it wasn’t until Emily Post’s book “Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage” was published that the first anniversary became the celebratory milestone it is today.

Source: The Complete History of Wedding Anniversaries

First Wedding Anniversary Gift Symbolism

Every wedding anniversary has a traditional gift that is made from a specific material. This material is said to represent your relationship. Like your love for one another, the gifts increase in value and stability with each passing year. The traditional gift for the first anniversary is one made of “Paper.” Paper symbolizes the new beginnings, bare essentials, and fragility of the first year of marriage.

Traditional Gift (Paper)

Why is paper the traditional gift for a first anniversary? Historically, the first year of marriage was recognized as the hardest year of marriage to get through because most couples spend this year trying to figure out how to live with each other and manage their finances. That with the added stress of having to save for a home, children, new appliances and furniture is why paper was chosen as the traditional first anniversary gift. It’s cheap, can often be handmade, and symbolizes the delicate nature of the first year of marriage.

Paper Anniversary Gift Ideas

  1. Tickets – Whether its a movie, concert, sports event or a play paper tickets have the wonderful ability to create new memories and can be part of a larger gift or part of Anniversary date night.
  2. Paper Itinerary – Present your loved one with a paper envelope with an itinerary of your anniversary trip and a love note with all the thing you want to do with them on your trip.
  3. A Handwritten Letter – The art of writing a letter has been lost on the majority of us. Take the time to sit down and write a letter to your loved one in your own handwriting. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that matter the most.
  4. Love Coupon Booklet – Make a paper booklet with your very own “love coupons” included inside. Whether it’s a romantic dinner by candlelight, a stress-relieving massage, a foot rub, or a special favor in or outside the bedroom, there are a variety of ways to make this a gift you’ll both enjoy.
  5. Homemade Wrapping Paper – A gift wrapped in paper made by you is a thoughtful way to show your partner the effort you put into your first anniversary. To make your wrapping paper even more special, design it around other first anniversary themes such as the traditional flower (pansy) and color (gold or yellow).

A complete list of paper gift ideas: Paper Anniversary Gifts
A complete list of paper gifts for him: Paper Anniversary Gifts for Him
A complete list of paper gifts for her: Paper Anniversary Gifts for Her

Modern Gift (Clock)

If sticking with the tradition is not your thing, the Chicago Public Library added “Clocks” as the modern first anniversary gift in December 2000. For the first year of marriage, the clock represents time and symbolizes all the years you and your partner have ahead of you. It serves as a reminder that like time, true love never ends—it is consistent and continues moving forward.

Clock Gift Ideas

  • A Watch or Timepiece – Even if cell phones have replaced the “need” for wrist watches, many men and women still enjoy wearing a watch for both fashion and convenience. A watch or timepiece is a timeless gift that your spouse can use of beyond your first anniversary.
  • Personalized Desk Clock – If you’re like most couples, your work requires you and your partner to spend more time apart than together. A desk clock personalized with a favorite photo or a romantic quote is a great way to keep you in your partner’s thoughts when they’re at work.
  • Stopwatch or Exercise Tracker – A clock gift doesn’t always have to be one that tells time. Stopwatches and exercise trackers make excellent first anniversary gifts for sports and fitness enthusiasts.
  • Alarm Clock – If your spouse is still waking up to an old alarm clock with that annoying “BEEP BEEP BEEP,” replace it with a modern clock with cool features and technology. A first anniversary gift such as this will also have your partner thinking of you at the start of each day.
  • Paper Clock – A clock designed around romantic origami paper, printed wedding photos, or some other paper love theme is an excellent way to merge the anniversary tradition with modern times.

First Anniversary Flower

The tradition of giving flowers to convey a loving message dates back to the Victorian era. The traditional first anniversary flower is the “Pansy.” Pansies represent fond thoughts and loyalty. When you give your partner pansies, you are communicating “Thinking of you “and “Faithfully yours.”

Pansy Gift Ideas

  • Pansy Stationery – Create your own stationery using images of pansies for your loved one. Include some envelopes and mailing labels and you’ve got yourself a thoughtful traditional paper first anniversary gift.
  • Pansy Love Notes – Another creative way to honor both the pansy and paper gift tradition is to write out a few love notes with a pansy attached to each note. Place the notes in fun places around the house where you know your partner will find them throughout the day.
  • Pansy Flower Arrangement – Let your husband or wife know he or she is in your thoughts on your first anniversary with a bouquet, vase, or basket full of colorful pansies. If fresh pansies aren’t available, make your own pansy flower arrangement using silk pansies.
  • Pansy Garden – Give your partner a gift basket filled with an assortment of gardening tools, gloves, and pansy seeds. Plant the pansy seeds together in honor of your first anniversary and the combined effort it took to grow your love into a thriving marriage.
  • Pansy Love Lair – Buy as many fresh or silk pansies you can find and scatter them all around the bedroom. Light some candles, turn on some romantic music, pour a couple of glasses of wine or champagne, then lead your partner into your love lair. Once wrapped in each other’s arms, tell your spouse all that you love, admire, and appreciate about him or her.

First Anniversary Gemstone

The giving of gemstones as an anniversary gift has been a time-honored tradition for decades. Gold is recognized as the traditional first anniversary gemstone by a number of gem authorities, including the American Gem Society. Alternate first anniversary gemstones include the elegant freshwater pearl and the vibrant green peridot.

Gold Gift Ideas

  • Gold Jewelry – A first wedding anniversary is an excellent time to start your own tradition of giving your spouse a piece of jewelry with that year’s gemstone. For your first anniversary, give your spouse a piece of jewelry or an anniversary charm made from gold.
  • Gold Clock – Combine the tradition of gold with the modern first anniversary gift of a clock and celebrate all the time you’ve shared and have yet to share together.
  • Gold Journal – A gold journal makes for an excellent traditional paper gift. The journal can simply be gold in color, or it can include a real gold or gold-plated emblem or clasp, even perhaps your partner’s initials or a personalized message embossed in gold on the cover.
  • Anything Gold in Color – If real gold is too much for your budget, be creative and give your partner a useful gift that simply incorporates the color of gold, such as a gold blouse, t-shirt, tie, scarf, purse, tablet cover, or cell phone case.
  • Gold Gift Wrap – No matter if your gift contains an inexpensive paper gift or an extravagant piece of gold jewelry, wrapping your gift in gold paper is a great way to accentuate the first wedding anniversary paper tradition.

Freshwater Pearl Gift Ideas

  • Matching Love Bracelets – The varying colors of freshwater pearls make fashionable bracelets for both men and women. Purchase two—one for you and one for your partner—and wear them together as a reminder of your first year of marriage.
  • Meditation / Prayer Beads – For a spouse who is spiritual in mind and heart, meditation or prayer beads made from freshwater pearls are a divine gift choice.
  • Pendant or Charm – A pendant or charm made with a freshwater pearl makes for a romantic gift that will serve as a reminder of your first year of marriage and your first wedding anniversary gift for years to come.

Peridot Gift Ideas

  • Peridot Candles – Give your loving partner a candle that bares the beauty of the green color of peridot and the love and passion that burns between you. For an added touch of romance, surround your gift with some peridot-green crystals.
  • Collectors Figurine – Does your spouse collect something? Whether it’s figurines of butterflies, frogs, cats, or vintage cars, search for related gifts that incorporate the peridot gem or color that can be added to their collection.
  • Peridot Jewelry – Genuine peridot gems make gorgeous necklaces, bracelets, rings, cuff links, and watches. Combine peridot with gold and you’ve got yourself a traditional first anniversary gift with a modern twist.