1st Wedding Anniversary
Although in modern times, marriage is often entered into after the couple have lived together for a period of time, traditionally the first anniversary is a marking of 'adjustment', as two people move from being single to being married.
Even in today's cultures, there is still something very significant about celebrating being together for one year. It will almost certainly have been a time of change for both partners.
Traditional Gift: Paper/ Cotton
Many have adopted the US traditional gift of paper for the first wedding anniversary, although the UK's traditional gift is cotton. Interestingly, the UK and US switch paper and cotton around for the 1st and 2nd anniversaries.
The exact reasons for paper being chosen as a first anniversary gift are steeped in folklore and tradition, with no definitive or 'right' answer. However, here are a few thoughts which may help guide your gift giving.
Paper is an everyday object of little expense, yet is capable of being transformed from blank sheets to important records. This is like a marriage relationship that's just starting out - a blank canvas with huge potential.
Paradoxically, paper is both fragile and strong. It can be easily damaged if not handled carefully - as a new relationship may be if taken for granted - yet its interlaced strands are woven together to give significant strength - just as a nurtured relationship.
Paper is a natural material sourced from growing plants and trees, reminding us of the long-term commitment of a marriage to grow strong and true.
There are plenty of paper-based gifts of varying financial value which can be bought, including tickets, stationery, magazine subscriptions, calendars, books, prints, sheet music, puzzles, and more. Ideally the gift would be personalised in some way to make it more special.
Homemade items might include love notes, paper/card boxes and envelopes full of memories, cards, and more.
Like paper, cotton comes from a natural source. It has been used for thousands of years, and here symbolises strength in the marriage relationship.
Cotton is used in many ways, including clothing, bedding and towels. Giving it as a gift can symbolise a desire for the couple to furnish their home together with simple, practical items.
There is a wide range of cotton gifts which would be suitable for a first wedding anniversary.
Modern Gift: Clocks/ Plastic
A contemporary first anniversary gift is a clock, which fairly obviously can represent time together.
As well as buying a clock, other timepieces or useful equipment that represents time or time passing could be gifted.
We've also seen mention of plastic being an alternative modern anniversary gift. So much of our world is now filled with plastic, so gift ideas aren't hard to come by. That said, I think a clock or watch is a much nicer gift than something made of plastic.
It's up to you, though. There would be no shortage of plastic gifts should you choose it.
Associated Gemstone: Mother of Pearl/ Peridot/ Gold
Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl is sometimes associated with the first wedding anniversary.
Produced by oysters and mussels as part of their shell, it's made of a material called aragonite and is iridescent in nature, meaning the colors shift about at different angles.
In fashion, pearl is used in buttons, watches, knives, guns and jewelry. It's also used on some musical instruments, and to create spoon-like utensils for eating caviar.
Peridot is also sometimes gifted. It's one of the few gemstones to only appear in one color; an olive-green hue. That said, it does come in different shades depending on how much iron content it has.
Sometimes it's mistaken for emerald or other green gems. It can be set in a range of jewelry pieces.
Looking closely at peridot, it is reminiscent of gazing at the foliage of a forest, and as such can represent abundance and prosperity.
The beautiful peridot stone was favored by Cleopatra, who also used it to ward off evil spirits.
Gold may also be gifted in the first year, although let's face it, one can rarely go wrong with gold jewelry or other items at any time or occasion.
Associated Flower: Carnation/ Pansy
Carnations are meant to represent ties, bound by lasting vows of commitment and joy for the coming years.
In her 1922 book "Etiquette", Emily Post suggests that, in America at least, it is "not very good form to ask any but intimate friends and family to an anniversary party—especially as those bidden are supposed to send presents."
However, presents from anyone other than the spouse "need not...be of value; in fact the paper, wooden and tin wedding presents are seldom anything but jokes."