Wedding anniversary ideas, rituals & gifts

Just as weddings have become more and more unique, so have the ways in which couples celebrate their anniversaries. Forget about defrosting an old cake, today’s couples plan ahead for the big day.

Caterer and events planner Pamela McMurtry has arranged dozens of upscale weddings. Her favorite gift to newlyweds is an embroidered Irish linen tablecloth square with the couples' names and wedding date. "They can use it every year for a celebration."

But a special dinner is not how Pamela chooses to celebrate. "My husband and I are both writers. Every year on our anniversary there is a science fiction writers' conference that he loves to attend. So guess where we go for our anniversary trip? The Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium for writers, in Provo, Utah. And I make sure we stay in a nice hotel!"

In fact, destination anniversaries seem to be a trend among couples. Kitty Felde Daley has been married for 25 years. "Every year, our December 14th anniversary falls around the same weekend as the U.S. National High School Cross Country Championships. My husband is a track geek, so for many years, we drove south from Los Angeles early in the morning, I dropped him at the race and then I went to the antiques district for some shopping. We'd reconnect at lunch and spend a lovely, romantic rest of the weekend in sunny San Diego."

Since moving to Washington, D.C., Kitty and her husband tried something completely different: time travel.

"We belong to an English country dance group that meets at Gadsby's Tavern Museum. The group specializes in 18th-century dance, the kind you see in Jane Austen movies. There's a ball once a year when we dress up in period garb. I decided to remake my wedding dress into a gown for the occasion."

Kitty refashioned the sleeves, cut the skirt up the middle, added some room at the waistline, made a petticoat to wear underneath and stuck bows on her shoes. Voila! On their last anniversary she celebrated by dancing with her husband wearing (almost) the same dress she wore on their wedding day.

Anniversaries don't have to be predicable. Just as we try to keep a marriage fresh, we can also think of new ways to acknowledge our love. Plan activities you enjoy doing together, repurpose a wedding outfit or gift, or make a charitable donation to someone who is getting married on your anniversary.

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