What Are The Best First Anniversary Gifts For Your Spouse?

Updated September 6, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

In a way, every day is a celebration of your marriage. The two of you work hard to create a sustainable life together and cherish the moments you have with one another. Even so, anniversaries are still a cause for celebration and your first wedding anniversary is no exception. One year of marriage may not seem like a lot, but many people don’t make it past the first year, and the first few years can be the most critical when it comes to 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. You had dozens of days to determine whether your partner was meant for you, and you decided that you still loved them—and they concluded that they still loved you. As the first anniversary approaches, you may be wondering what to give your spouse as a gift. In this article, we’ll be giving you different gift ideas to help make the day special and meaningful.

The Perfect Gift May Be Easier to Find Than You Think

History Of The Wedding Anniversary

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 by the husband giving their spouse a silver wreath. For the 50th anniversary, a gold wreath was given.      

Back then, many people didn’t live long enough to see 50 years of marriage, so these two anniversaries were very important. 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 the first, fifth, 10th, 20th, and so on.

Capitalism was also responsible for wedding anniversaries being celebrated more. Retailers loved the idea of couples buying jewelry and other gifts for anniversaries, especially when it came to gemstones, which were high in value. Of course, many just love to celebrate the fact they’ve been together for so long.


The Name Of The First Anniversary

A different object symbolizes every wedding anniversary, and the name of the first anniversary differs depending on where you are in the world. In the US, it’s celebrated with paper. In the UK, spouses gift one another something made with 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 has a more modern take, stating that clocks should be given on the first anniversary. 

Paper, Cotton, And Clocks

Let’s break down the sentimentality behind the name of the first anniversary by explaining some of the different symbols that can be associated with it.


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

  • A new beginning. Just as your marriage is still beginning, paper can represent a blank slate. Soon, you’ll be writing your story until the very end.
  • Fragility. In the early stages, your marriage is quite vulnerable, just as paper is. Despite its fragility, it’s modest as well, just like how the beginning of your marriage can be.
  • A record keeper. Paper is something you write on, so you can begin to keep track of the journey of your marriage symbolically.
  • A bond. People put contracts on paper all the time, much like the union you created when you got married. 

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


Many of the aspects of paper can be applied to cotton as well. Cotton is used to make things like clothing, bookbinding, and coffee filters. The beginning stages of your marriage are like the cotton that holds these items together. You’re creating a foundation from something fragile that can end up lasting a lifetime.


This modern interpretation of a first wedding anniversary gift can also be meaningful. The clock indicates that time has passed, and yet starts anew at the 12 o’clock hand. This can serve as a reminder that the clock in your marriage will always be ticking. It can encourage you to cherish every minute you get to spend with your spouse. 

Cost Of The Gift

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

There is no right answer to how much you should spend on the gift. However, you may want to avoid spending more than you’re comfortable with as this could detract from the gift itself. Instead of focusing on the cost of the gift, think about its significance. For most spouses, the sentimentality behind the gift will often be much more important than the cost. Putting yourself at financial risk isn’t worth it. Consider, too, that you more than likely just spent money on the marriage and possibly a honeymoon, so try not to go over your budget to avoid stress later.

Themes For Gifts

Some people like to stick to the traditional themes of the different marriage anniversaries. 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 types of gifts could include:

  • A fancy notebook where the two of you can record your best memories.
  • Something made from paper 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 other options too, including:

  • Clothing. Buying an outfit that you’d love to see your partner in or that you know they’d enjoy showing off can be a thoughtful way to show how well you know them. 
  • A pillowcase. Consider buying custom-made pillowcases for the bed the two of you share.
  • Jewelry involving cotton can be a creative gift for unique individuals.
  • A customized blanket with your initials or picture can be a sentimental gift to give.

For the clock gift, you could give the following: 

  • A watch
  • A clock to hang on the wall
  • A clock necklace
  • A paper clock
  • A clock that’s customized with pictures or other meaningful things
  • Anything else that tells time

If you want to combine themes, you could make a clock out of paper or cotton. This could be a fun choice particularly if you can’t decide on a theme.

Other Gift Ideas

You don’t have to stick to traditional gift ideas for your wedding anniversary. In fact, many people don’t realize that wedding anniversaries have themes at all. Here are some other gift options you might consider getting for your spouse to celebrate your anniversary in a meaningful way: 

  • Food: The way through a person’s heart can be their stomach, 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, get takeout, or even cook at home. You can even purchase your spouse’s favorite snacks and put them all in a basket to give as a gift. The possibilities are endless.
  • A vacation: If you know your spouse loves to travel and you have the budget for it, consider gifting them with a trip. You don’t need to travel across the country to have a fun vacation with your spouse. Take a mini vacation to a place you love or try out a new place. A trip together can be a memory you both hold onto and talk about for a long time to come. 
  • Something they love: It’s hard to say what gifts you should get your significant other, as everyone has their own taste. Consider looking at what your spouse loves and giving them a gift based on that. If they like to fish, you could get them a brand-new pole. If they like to play video games, you might give them a new game. Partners who like looking fashionable may enjoy makeup or new clothes. You know your partner best, and can likely pick out a gift you know they’ll love with relative ease.
Getty/Yoshiyoshi Hirokawa
The Perfect Gift May Be Easier to Find Than You Think

Online Counseling For Marital Issues

No matter how long you’ve been married, conflict can arise at any point, and it can be important to know how to move past it with your spouse. While some problems can be worked through easily, others may take more time. If you believe professional intervention could be helpful for resolving your marital issues, consider connecting with a licensed marriage counselor through Regain. Regain is an online counseling platform that offers relationship-focused services, like couples counseling. Regular therapy can help ensure that you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to communication, finances, intimacy, and other situations. It can keep your marriage going strong, regardless of any challenges the future may bring. Online counseling is flexible, cost-efficient, and convenient, making it easier to get the support you need in your marriage and beyond.

The Effectiveness Of Online Counseling For Couples

According to several studies, one of the most common reasons for divorce is frequent conflict and arguments. Therefore, it can be important that couples learn how to effectively communicate with one another and avoid harmful styles of communication like defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism, and contempt. In one study, researchers discovered that an internet-based couples counseling intervention improved aspects of communication and problem-solving in the relationship, which reduced the amount of distress couples were experiencing. Additionally, it helped couples focus on the positive parts of their relationship rather than fixating on what was going wrong. 

The Takeaway

Wedding anniversaries are a time to celebrate the commitment you and your spouse have made to one another. It can provide you with an opportunity to look back on how far you’ve come and look forward to what’s ahead. While anniversary gifts can be a thoughtful way to show your appreciation for your spouse, sometimes simple acknowledgments like quality time, words of affirmation, or cuddles on the couch can be just as meaningful. When choosing your anniversary gift, try not to overthink it too much. Consider what’s important to your spouse and let your gut guide you toward something special for them. If you’d like to keep your marriage going strong or you and your spouse are facing challenges in your relationship, consider connecting with a marriage therapist. Regular maintenance and check-ins with your spouse can help ensure a happy, healthy marriage. 

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