We Want to Hear About Your Anniversary Traditions!
October 1, 2012 9:23 AM   Subscribe

What are your anniversary traditions?

My husband and I are celebrating our first anniversary (hooray!), and love the idea of starting a tradition for our future anniversaries.

The whole thing started when we saw this spectacular idea posted on Reddit. Being goofballs ourselves, we thought this could be a really fun tradition to start! But of course, we never would have thought of it on our own, which is why I’m here to consult with all of you, our dear hivemind friends. We’re both in our mid-20’s, don’t have any kids (yet), and plan on living in an urban setting for the foreseeable future.

A couple things we are considering:

  • Writing in an “anniversary journal” once a year – chronicling our favorite outings/events/stories from the year, important milestones or life events, possibly answering the same question annually (your ideas are very welcome!)

  • Instead of gifts in the traditional sense, give to each other an “experience.” We both love to learn and to get out and do things. So, this year for paper, we got each other gift certificates for an activity to share together – I got us an afternoon of homebrewing to kick start our own future beer-making endeavors, and he got us a series of beginner’s yoga sessions. We like this idea so much, we are considering making it an annual thing!

  • The photo-in-a-photo idea I mentioned above, which is in our eyes is a pretty good bang for your buck, considering the amount of fun it will be.

  • Making a nice dinner for ourselves. Something tasty that we can look forward to the whole week beforehand and enjoy together!

  • Sexy back massages. Kidding, sort of.

  • Help us with your input! What sorts of things are an annual tradition for you (or people you know), or things you wish you’d started doing earlier? Any and all ideas welcome!
    posted by genekelly'srollerskates to Human Relations (23 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
    I know a couple who sends a few anniversary notes to people who came to their wedding. Something along the lines of "we remember you telling us ____ on our wedding night, and it has been so true!" or "remember how the cake cutting was a total disaster? We're having a tiny cake in that same flavor, hopefully it won't fall on the floor this time!"

    They get to go back to the fun (and funny) parts of their wedding experience, and keep in touch with people who have supported them, often from afar. I think it's super sweet and really look forward to doing something similar.
    posted by bilabial at 9:33 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

    Our anniversary is in early August (and it's generally safe to assume the weather won't be horrible), so we go to a local park and have a picnic, throw a frisbee, and generally laze around and have dreamy conversations about what we want for our future together. I have attempted really involved gifts/activities, but I think my boo struggles with that, so falling back on a picnic is easy enough, and still feels like we're commemorating the occasion.
    posted by catch as catch can at 9:35 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

    We are trying (it's hard!) to throw an actual one-year later anniversary party, to invite everyone who was at the wedding. (Plus new friends from along the way, and to replace the out of towners.) We would love to do this every year. It gets funnier if you call it the Wedding One-Year Jubilee or what have you. Pretending your marriage is the Queen of England makes life funner. (DOWNSIDE: this is a lot of work.) But since most people like marriages so much, why not throw yourself a wedding party EVERY YEAR? And plus, everyone has to come and be nice to you and shit.
    posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:55 AM on October 1, 2012

    Traditionally, we receive a card from one or the other set of our parents, look at each other sheepishly and say, oh crap, is it our anniversary?

    Then we spend a good 15 minutes trying to figure out how many years we've been married because we can't remember what year we tied the knot. Then I go get the sampler my grandmother cross-stitched for us which has the year on it. We just did this in June and I already can't remember the year again.
    posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:57 AM on October 1, 2012 [17 favorites]

    We are approaching ours in a few months too, I was planning on watching our wedding and honeymoon videos, looking through our photo booth pictures from the reception, and reading our guestbook.

    I am definitely stealing some of your ideas too :)
    posted by Fig at 9:57 AM on October 1, 2012

    A man I work with just told me that every year they take off of work and have a picnic outside the church where they were married. Last week was 31 years, and they have even done it in the rain.

    As for me and Mr. Max, we are lame and don't do anything since the kids came along. Before that we would try a new city and stay overnight and have a nice dinner.
    posted by maxg94 at 10:04 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

    My wife and I have gone whole hog on the traditional anniversary gifts, and it's actually a lot of fun. Normally, I'm just trying to get her something she'd like, but trying to get something she'd like that is also wood is an extra layer of complexity than can make it extra fun. Other than that we just tend to go a nice restaurant and have a good dinner. We order a bottle of wine or something that we wouldn't usually do because of money.

    Oh and every year on our anniversary I look my wife in the eyes and say "Willlber" in my best Mr. Ed voice. This infuriates my wife, and I cackle with delight. I have no idea how that one started.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:30 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

    Not so much a tradition, but on our anniversary we make sure to indulge in our various couple weirdnesses/games, such as waking up and debating who has to make/fetch coffee ("I let you take up the whole bed, therefore you must repay me for my sacrifice by making coffee") and then the traditional enjoying the taste of grudging bitterness in the coffee once made.
    Every couple has a few little games they play with each other, and doing as many as possible on your anniversary is nice way to cement your mutual affection without having to be all formal-like.
    posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:36 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

    By the time we made it to our hotel room on our wedding night we were incredibly hungry (since we had just had 5 hours of dancing since we last ate). We found a cheap pizza place that delivered and ate that pizza in bed. On some of our anniversaries we have replicated this experience in our bed.
    posted by mmascolino at 10:41 AM on October 1, 2012

    Cards between my wife and I are always blank inside. We write notes rather than just signing our name.

    We buy a piece of art as our joint gift together.

    We try to get away for the weekend sans children when possible.

    My only suggestion is to let things happen naturally. Many marriage traditions begin in memorable ways and make them even more fun to connect with as you get older. Don't try to rush too much, it's OK to start simple. You'll live a long time together, so don't set too much in stone so early.

    Have fun.
    posted by Argyle at 11:19 AM on October 1, 2012

    We always have dinner out and spend the night at a hotel. We get family members to watch the kids.
    posted by Area Man at 11:29 AM on October 1, 2012

    My parents got married on New Year's Day, so every year they get to sleep in, and then they make lamb and eggs and champagne for breakfast. Every single year, and now I can't eat a lamb steak without thinking of my parents' marriage!
    posted by showbiz_liz at 11:53 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

    We always do an activity of some sort and then spend some time recounting all the activities of the prior years. So, on year 1 I was living abroad, on year 2 we were really broke and so made dinner for each other, year 6 was hiking, year 12 we rented a tipi and camped out for a weekend etc..

    We also call a friend and go to Denny's in the middle of the night, but that's because the night we got married we got into a huge fight with my partner's mom (do you know how expensive divorce is?) and that's what we did. Your mileage hopefully varies. :) I say this though, to refer to the fact that your tradition should be connected to your experiences and lives. Congrats on your first anniversary!
    posted by arcticwoman at 12:12 PM on October 1, 2012

    We started doing the anniversary journal, where each year we'd alternate writing to each other. We would stop and take the time to think about each other and the depth of our feelings, a testament to our love encapsulated in two or three pages of handwritten prose. But somewhere in there--maybe year seven or eight--it started to feel a little like a Christmas letter or something. We'd forget about it for ten months or so and then see the thing on the bookshelf--oh shit! It's October! i have to write in the goddamn anniversary journal.

    YMMV of course.
    posted by Kafkaesque at 12:36 PM on October 1, 2012

    We have an October anniversary too, and each year we go (on the actual day, if possible) to a pumpkin farm. We wander about, eat funnel cake, take a hayride, and find a nice big pumpkin at the end. When we started the tradition, we lived in the city and so we had to drive a ways to get out to the farm. It was nice to drive together and look at the changing season, nice to get into some crisp air, and (when it was a weekday) nice to play hooky from work. Now, we have two kids and they look forward to the day too.

    A more traditional option may be to find an antique 400 day clock. They are decorative clocks that were popular in Germany in the 50s and 60s. They sit on your mantel and - if they have a good spring and are really flat - only require winding once a year. You could make a little ceremony of winding it each year on your anniversary, talking about the year that was and they year that you hope will be.
    posted by AgentRocket at 12:55 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

    I love the idea of buying each other experiences--may have to steal that one.

    Like somebody above said, we usually buy something beautiful together for our house, often at the huge local craft fair at the end of July. One year it was a piece of stained glass.

    (BTW, for those keeping score at home, we're not actually married--July is when we met.)
    posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 1:18 PM on October 1, 2012

    I recently read a story in the newspaper about a server who had received a $40 tip on a $25 lunch tab. The older couple at the table explained to her that they always went out for lunch on their anniversary and tipped in dollars, the number of years they had been married. I thought it was so sweet, and told my husband of 11.5 months about it. And then in the same instant we realized how crappy it would be if we left a $1 tip for someone this year. We had a good laugh. Anyway, maybe save that one for a few decades down the line?

    What we really did was get dressed up and go out for a nicer dinner than we usually would, and talked about some serious and silly "year in review" kind of stuff: favorite part about being married, worst part about being married, best shared activity in the last year, best meal of the last year, etc.

    We also got each other gifts that fit into the traditional schema. 1st year is paper, so there were gift certificates and concert tickets and books. It's kind of nice to have the constraint to inspire your gift-giving creativity. Oh, and we spent that week eating the top layer of our wedding cake that had been sitting in the freezer for a year. It was surprisingly not-bad. I'm sort of planning to get cupcakes from that same bakery every anniversary from now on.
    posted by vytae at 2:26 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

    My wife and I keep a bag in our linen closet and throw our change in each day. Shortly before our anniversary (Oct. 23!), I take the bag into the local bank that has a change mchine and we use what we get to amortize dinner/sitter/whatever else that night! Last year we had close to $300 and this year I think we'll have more, but we're in Manhattan so that doesn't go as far as you might think...
    posted by AJaffe at 3:00 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

    We always spend an evening on the couch going through the wedding and honeymoon albums. It's fun to look at the photos and remember what little details you forgot.
    posted by colin_l at 3:01 PM on October 1, 2012

    Fancy dinner, gifts.
    posted by oceanjesse at 7:23 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

    I have two sets of friends who do the traditional gifts every year. They take great delight in finding something to match the traditional requirements. My husband and I do a trip - a day trip in the years we're poor, a weekend away the years we have cash - to someplace we'd like to go, have talked about going to, but haven't visited. It's been as fancy as a weekend in Toronto, no holds barred, and as informal as a trip to the local Metropark.
    posted by RogueTech at 8:52 PM on October 1, 2012

    We're still a few months off from our first anniversary, but we're planning on wearing our wedding clothes (my dress was quite casual and I had it shortened after the wedding) and go to dinner.

    We might also have someone take a few photos every year, and then we'll have our engagement shoot, wedding shoot, and a nice photo of the two of us every year.
    posted by third word on a random page at 4:27 AM on October 2, 2012

    We read our vows to each other, sometimes pausing to check in about how things are going on each one. Then we usually play the recorded versions of the songs we had in our wedding, and dance to the one that was our "first dance." This usually leads to some sentimental crying but it's really nice!
    posted by TrixieRamble at 2:00 PM on October 2, 2012

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