What Are The Best First Anniversary Gifts For Your Significant Other?

By ReGain Editorial Team|Updated June 22, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Audrey Kelly, LMFT

In a way, every day is a celebration of your marriage. The two of you work hard to make a living, and you cherish every moment you have with your partner. However, when it’s your first anniversary, that’s something to celebrate.

One year of marriage may not seem like a lot, and for many couples, it feels less than that. However, think about it. The two of you have been able to survive all four seasons together and showed life you were meant to be. A year doesn’t seem that long, but break it down a bit. That’s 365 days. You had dozens of days to decide whether your partner was meant for you, and you decided that you still loved them. This is almost 9,000 hours together. While you two were probably not together all the time, just imagine spending thousands of hours with someone else.

As such, your first wedding anniversary is quite an accomplishment. Many people don’t make it past the first year, and the first few years can be the most critical when it comes to your marriage. The two of you are discovering your quirks, your likes, your dislikes, and many other things you thought you knew, but may not have realized you didn’t. So it’s a time to celebrate.

History of the Wedding Anniversary

The Perfect Gift May Be Easier to Find Than You Think
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.

Wedding anniversaries are relatively new in human history, with the first known origin being Germanic and in the middle ages. Back in the day, wedding anniversaries were a rare event, and there were only two anniversaries celebrated. For 25 years of marriage, a couple would celebrate, with the husband giving the wife a silver wreath. For the 50th anniversary, there would be a gold wreath.

Imagine only having two acknowledgments of your marriage in your lifetime, and consider the fact that many did not live long enough to see 50 years of marriage. Even a silver wedding was rare when it came to the life expectancy of people. This is the origin of the term “silver wedding” and “gold wedding.”

So, when did the modern tradition of celebrating more than just two anniversaries come from? It originated in the 19th century. At the time, the culture was emphasizing family life, so there was more value in observing the passage of time. More anniversaries were being celebrated, such as your first, fifth, 10th, 20th, and so on.

Capitalism also helped the idea of wedding anniversaries being more celebrated. Retailers loved the idea of couples buying jewelry and other gifts for anniversaries, especially when it came to gemstones to celebrate anniversaries.

Of course, many just love to celebrate the fact they’ve been together for so long, and that’s good too.

The Name of the First Anniversary

An object symbolizes every wedding anniversary, and the name of the first anniversary differs depending on where you are. In the US, it’s celebrated by paper. In the UK, it’s cotton. For the second anniversary, these two are swapped. However, in many parts of the UK, it’s considered paper as well. The Chicago Public Library refers to the anniversary as a clock.

Let’s break down the sentimentality behind the name.


The origin of paper being your first-anniversary gift isn’t quite known, but it can symbolize many things, including:

  • A blank slate. Just how your marriage is still beginning, the paper is beginning as well. Soon, you’ll be writing your story until the very end.
  • How fragile the paper is. In the early stages, your marriage is quite vulnerable, just how paper is. Despite its fragility, it’s modest as well, just like how the beginning of your marriage should be.
  • Paper is something you write on, so it’s the way to begin to write down the journey of your marriage symbolically.
  • Paper is a bond. People put contracts on paper all the time, and this symbolizes the bond.

The theme of paper was also formed during the Victorian era. Back then, the paper was a little more valuable and more important than it is now. Paper was a way to write letters, and sign contracts. In our digital world, we forget how valuable paper is, but when put under scrutiny, we see why the first year is named after paper.


Many of the aspects of paper you can apply to cotton as well. Cotton is used to make something, and the beginning stages of your marriage are the cotton that will make the clothes. It’s fragile, yet modest.


This modern interpretation of a wedding anniversary gift is also a good symbol. The clock indicates that time has passed, and yet starts anew at the 12 hand. It’s a reminder that the clock in your marriage will always be ticking.

Expensive Or Not?

When it comes to figuring out what your first wedding anniversary gift, it will all depend on your budget. Some people will want to go all the way and take a vacation or buy a piece of expensive jewelry, for their wedding anniversary gift, while others may go out to dinner or buy an inexpensive gift.

There is no right answer to this. However, don’t spend more than you’re comfortable with. The sentimentality behind your gift is much more important than the cost. Putting yourself in financial risk isn’t worth it. Also, you need to consider the fact that you more than likely spent money on the marriage and possibly a honeymoon, so don’t spend more than your budget.

Themed Or Not?

Some people like to stick to the theme of the marriage anniversary. For example, if you refer to the first anniversary as paper, you might want to buy something that’s paper themed as a gift. These include:

  • A fancy notebook where the two of you can record your best memories.
  • Something made from papier mache, such as flowers or another cute present.
  • A book, such as one about relationships.
  • A print, usually one containing a phrase or other saying.

For the cotton marriage, there are plenty of good options here too, including:

  • Clothing. Sometimes, a pair of socks or underwear can be a good way to show how much you love your partner.
  • A pillowcase. The two of you are sleeping together, so you’ll be using it a lot.
  • Jewelry involving cotton somehow.

A clock marriage usually involves you buying, well, a clock. It can be a wall clock, a digital clock, a watch, or anything else that tells time. You can combine the themes too. For example, make a clock out of paper or cotton. This is a cool way to do it if you can’t decide a theme.

Not Themed Gifts

You don’t have to stick to the theme, though. In fact, many of you may not have realized that weddings had themes. Here are some good options to celebrate your anniversary.


The way through a person’s heart can be their stomachs, and there’s nothing like eating out to satisfy both parties. You can eat out at a favorite place, be adventurous and try a new restaurant, or even cook at home. The possibilities are endless.

A Vacation

You don’t need to travel across the country. Take a mini vacation to a place you love, or to a new place. It doesn’t have to be as amazing as your honeymoon, but it can still be a memory you’ll hold onto for a long time.

Just Give Something They Like

It’s hard to say what gifts you should get your significant other, as everyone has their tastes. Look at what your spouse loves and give them a gift based on that. If they like to fish, get them a brand new pole. If they like to play video games, give them a new game. Partners who like looking fashionable may enjoy makeup or new clothes.

Don’t Overthink it!

The Perfect Gift May Be Easier to Find Than You Think

When choosing your anniversary gift, don’t overthink it too much, and don’t go over your limit. Sometimes, a simple acknowledgment works, or walk outside holding hands. The point of buying a gift is to have fun, and if you’re worried about it too much, then you do not have the full experience.

Seek Counseling!

The first few years of your marriage are important and should be cherished. With that said, there will always be conflict, and when conflict arises, the two of you need to learn how to manage it. Sometimes, it’s easy, and other times, it can be difficult. However, you can be able to resolve any marriage problem you may have by seeking counseling.

Counseling is not only good for any relationship problem you may have, but it’s good for when you don’t have problems. Regular therapy can make sure the two of you are on the same page when it comes to communication, finances, and other situations. It can keep your marriage going strong, regardless of any challenges the future will bring.

Helpful resources for relationships & more in your inbox
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak With A Licensed Therapist
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.