Celebrating wedding anniversaries

Luckily, the rainy spring has given way to warm summer days and we have entered into what is known in our office as “wedding season.” The wedding planning website called theknot.com notes that the most popular months to get married in Wisconsin are still June, July and August, with over 46% of couples getting married in these months. It also states that 38 percent of couples get married in the fall and only five percent choose a winter wedding.

With an influx of summer weddings, we also have an influx of summer anniversary celebrations. How can a couple keep the love alive year after year? So much planning goes into preparing for the wedding day, what can a couple do to celebrate this beautiful occasion each year? If marriage is meant to last a lifetime, how is a couple supposed to be creative for 25, 50 or even 75 years?

Many of you might recall the popular wedding anniversary gift list that has floated around households for centuries. It identifies the year and the most popular gift to give on that anniversary. For each year of marriage, the gift grows in value and meaning. Author Sheri Stritof, in her article “The History of Wedding Anniversary Gift Lists,” notes that giving distinct gifts dates back to the Germanic regions of central Europe during medieval times. Giving gifts tied to precious objects was most likely practiced amongst the wealthy.

Since then, throughout the ages, Stritof writes, “Modern-day lists in both the U.S. and Europe are built around wedding anniversary symbols and materials that reflect the progressive strengthening of the relationship and the investment the couple has made in their marriage.”  A newlywed couple would thus exchange paper on their first year, cotton on their second, and so on, with the gifts of silver (25th anniversary), gold (50th) and diamonds (60th).

While gifts are a fantastic gesture of love, a more modern-day spin on this list encourages couples to invest in quality time or experiences together over simply exchanging a gift.

A companion website to theknot.com, called thenest.com, specializes in all things needed to begin and maintain a happy home. This website specializes in design ideas, recipes and travel tips. They also have an area with fantastic ideas on how to celebrate anniversaries, most of which center on spending quality time with each other. Julie Pennell wrote an article on this website titled, “25 sweet ways to celebrate your wedding anniversary.”

What I loved about this article was all of the ideas dealt with things that could be done at home, around town or on a dinner date. Even the gift suggestions centered on meaningful experiences spouses could share. There were ideas that could be expensive, as well as ideas that were essentially free, literally something for all couples to benefit from.

Pennell suggests couples do something very simple, such as plant flowers that were used on their wedding day around their home. She had many other suggestions, all of which are fantastic ways to spend quality time and relive the memories you and your spouse have shared for years.

The thing to remember is that gifts are meaningful gestures of love, but memories last a lifetime. We have all witnessed the aging couple who look fondly back over their lives and wish they had more time and energy to spend with loved ones. Invest in these memories now and spend quality time with your spouse. Time well spent together is just as precious silver, as gold and diamonds.

As St. John Paul II reminded us, “Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family — a domestic church.”

Tremblay is Marriage and Life Ministries director for the Diocese of Green Bay.