Wedding Traditions Explained – Why Anniversaries Have Assigned Themes

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We all know that wedding anniversaries have themes attached to them. In fact, we already have a post published on the yearly themes and a gift guide too. But where did these themes come from, and why do we carry them on today? In this “wedding traditions explained” post, we’re looking at why anniversaries have assigned themes.

Where Did It Start?

We’ve done a lot of research, but the conclusion is – nobody really knows.

In Roman times, a married man would gift his wife a silver wreath on their 25th wedding anniversary. If they reached their 50th anniversary, he’d give her a wreath of gold.

As people began to have more disposable income, they began to mark other anniversaries with gifts too. It was said that in the Victorian era a list was created to help couples choose practical, long lasting gifts for each other. The list included a theme for the first, fifth and every fifth year of marriage.

The world became more commercial, and in around 1937 the gaps between years one and fifteen were filled in. More recently more dates have been added, creating a list right up to 90 years!

Traditional & Modern Themes

The traditional themes for wedding anniversaries are all materials that have stood the test of time. Things like paper and wood are still as useful now as they were when the lists were first written.

The more modern themes are widely used in the US, and the list has grown over the years. Not only do they now have the core list, but flowers, gems and even food options for each anniversary too.

In addition to these themes, in the UK it’s also possible to request a card from the reigning monarch on your 60th wedding anniversary. You can apply for a card through Buckingham Palace here.

While the themes aren’t steeped in history, having assigned themes to wedding anniversaries does narrow down the search a little when buying a gift for your partner or friends.

For more wedding tips and inspiration, take a look at our post 30 Questions To Ask Your Wedding Venue.

Why anniversaries have assigned themes