Your first wedding anniversary is an occasion that requires a little hoopla, but it doesn't have to be in an expensive-showering-of-gifts kind of way—more of a hand-written-note kind of way. In other words, taking the gesture one step further is always the best practice here.
Below are 17 unforgettable ways to commemorate this milestone. Some ideas are traditional and some are a little outside the norm, but all will help etch the occasion into your memory for years to come.
Here are our top ideas to celebrate your first wedding anniversary.
Share Your First Dance (Again)
Play your song and take each other for a spin across your living room floor. If you took lessons or did a choreographed dance on your wedding day, you can see if you both still remember all of the moves. Go further and compile a playlist of all the songs that define your relationship, from the time you began dating till now. Or, search for all versions of your favorite song on Spotify and play it all day.
Put Pen to Paper
Paper has long been a traditional gift for a first anniversary (Time reports it as a symbol of harmony, along with other materials for subsequent years), and it presents the perfect opportunity to practice your penmanship. Write your loved one a poem, haiku (a Japanese poem consisting of three lines with five, seven, then five syllables per line respectively), song, or story... It doesn't really matter as long as your words come from your heart. Other creative ideas might include writing a letter to your partner about your hopes for the future, or a letter summarizing the things you've learned about yourself and as a couple in your first year of marriage.
Share a Slice of Your Wedding Cake
Many couples freeze the top tier of their wedding cake to eat on their first wedding anniversary. Alternatively, you could enlist the bakery to make a new, smaller cake or cupcakes in the same flavors and decorative theme as your wedding cake. Have your dietary preferences changed in the last year? Recreate the wedding cake using alternative or substitute ingredients.
To best preserve your cake in the freezer, wrap it in plastic or store it in a Ziplock bag, being careful to remove all of the air bubbles and pockets.
For a more environmentally-friendly way to store cake without using single-use plastics, use glass or metal containers.
Flip Through Your Wedding Album
Relive your big day by flipping through your wedding album or watching your wedding video. You're sure to recall forgotten memories while reminiscing. Hopefully, your photographer saved some candids, or a blooper reel so you can relive a different perspective than the perfectly curated and coiffed portraits everyone takes.
Or, if you haven't gotten around to creating your wedding album yet, get started with Artifact Uprising, Shutterfly, Mixbook, or Pinhole Press. Most services allow you to create singular prints, picture calendars, and photo books directly from your smartphone.
Take a Second Honeymoon
Return to your original honeymoon destination for some much-deserved quality time with your partner. If a getaway isn't in the cards, book a night or two at a posh local hotel, and celebrate the occasion with Champagne, room service, and in-room massages. Maybe you go for the opposite vibe, too. For example, if your honeymoon involved relaxing on the beach, maybe plan to head toward the mountains to hike and bike. Similarly, if you initially spent time immersed in a city, head to the countryside instead.
Raise a Glass
Buy your favorite bottle of Champagne, sparkling cider, or shake up your wedding's signature cocktail or mocktail, then toast one another. Bonus: It's a great excuse to break out that crystal you received as a wedding gift. Or try something new and create an anniversary beverage inspired by your memories and the environment around you.
Renew Your Vows
You could go the formal route and renew your vows in the presence of an officiant and an audience of your favorite people, or you could simply renew your vows at home by reciting the promises you made to one another a year earlier. It’s up to you.
Get Busy Between the Sheets (or Elsewhere)
Sex on your anniversary is expected, but that doesn't mean it can't hold a surprise or two. Throw your loved one a curve ball by donning some new lingerie or (gasp!) even initiating the act in an unexpected location.
It's important to remember that our sex lives are a continual work in progress, and preferences evolves with time. Consider being open to trying new positions, dressing like you're in the mood, and adding toys and lubricant to enhance the experience.
Start an Anniversary Ritual or Tradition
Create new traditions as a wedded couple by doing or making something you never did when you were dating, and strive to make it an anniversary tradition every year. It could be as simple as shopping for a new potted plant for your living space, volunteering for a cause you both care about, to visiting a new city or country.
Self-assured couples can choose to get permanently inked, while others can choose to do a semi-permanent version. Choose a symbol, phrase, or custom design that has special significance to your partnership. Or, for something that doesn't involve marking your bodies, enlist an illustrator to sketch something that represents your relationship and get the logo or emblem printed on stationery or as a magnet for your fridge.
Swap Anniversary Gifts
Gift giving doesn't need to be expensive and extravagant; feel free to set a spending limit, or agree ahead of time to gift yourselves something you can enjoy together, such as a staycation at the chic new hotel downtown; or a long lazy beach weekend in Hawaii (admittedly, this is more manageable for West Coasters), Ocracoke Beach in the Outer Banks, or Clearwater Beach, Florida.
Recreate Your Wedding Menu
Between the 'just married' excitement and making the guest rounds during your wedding reception, do you even remember having a bite to eat from your own wedding spread? Your wedding anniversary may be the perfect time to recreate the menu and truly savor your meal. For an added touch, bring out any centerpieces or wedding decorations you've saved.
Try Something New
If you've dreamed of being whisked away to an international locale, let your zodiac sign guide your anniversary vacation. For example, Cancer signs will appreciate Scotland's cozy Killiehuntly Farmhouse & Cottage with Danish-style interiors, while showy Leos will gravitate toward Le Roch Hotel & Spa in Paris.
On the other hand, doing activities closer to home can be just as perspective-shifting. For example, join tourists for a historical walking or bus tour around your own city; book a dinner reservation in a neighborhood you rarely spend time in; take a local cooking class or dance lesson.
Spend Quality Time
Between the plethora of apps and streaming content services vying for our attention every minute, going completely analog seems like a novel idea. According to research, our minds wander from our present task 46.9 percent of the time. No matter our environment, our distracted demeanor spills into our personal relationships too.
For your anniversary, then, how about blocking out some time to just be together—no smartphones, TV, and if you can get a babysitter, maybe even the kids. What you do is up to you; talk and check-in about your partnership, get a pizza delivered, soak up the sun in your backyard over tea. According to Adam Maurer, LPC, LMFT, "Making time to communicate about your relationship will help you avoid conflicts in the future and help you feel like a teammate with your partner."
According to one Psychology Today article, creating variety in the relationship increases relationship satisfaction. There's nothing wrong with grooving to a relationship routine, though if one of you typically makes dinner every night while the other one washes up, try switching it up. It's a simple yet thoughtful way to acknowledge how you each contribute to the relationship. Other ideas might include handling the dry cleaning, to shopping for the week's groceries, from washing the car to taking your pets to the vet, as long as it's something you typically don't do.
Killingsworth MA, Gilbert DT. A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind. Science. 2010;330(6006):932-932.
DiDonato, TE, PhD. 5 Reasons Why Couples Who Sweat Together, Stay Together. Updated January 10, 2014.