Sometime last year, one of my marriage ministry teammates celebrated her third wedding anniversary. When I asked her what they were doing to celebrate, she shared with me something she and her husband started doing on their first anniversary two years prior.
Their first anniversary fell in the middle of a Dallas ice storm. Whenever we get any bad weather in Dallas, the city shuts down. Instead of getting to go out on the town for a great meal, they were stuck in their apartment with a frozen pizza. They celebrated their first anniversary with a frozen pizza and conversation on their apartment floor. They put phones away and just caught up on the ups and downs of their first year of marriage. When year two came around, even though they weren’t trapped at home by an ice storm, they decided to celebrate their anniversary with a frozen pizza, no cell phones, and a recap of year two.
Their annual anniversary plans got me thinking. Every married couple wants to celebrate their anniversary in a fun and memorable way. I know I can learn from others and steal some of their ideas. So, I asked on the Facebooks for some of my friends to share their anniversary plans and traditions. This post includes a collection of 30 of the best ideas so that you can steal or borrow for your own anniversary. I wrote most of these from the first person point of view from the individual who submitted the suggestion. In no particular order…
30 Ways to Celebrate Your Marriage Anniversary
1. “My favorite anniversary tradition is that we get away somewhere special to us for the night/a few nights. On the date of our anniversary, my husband reads the story of Jesus washing His disciple’s feet from John 13. He prays and then washes my feet as his vow to continue forward in our marriage with humility and servanthood. He has done this since night one of us being married and every year on our anniversary we remind ourselves of the importance of serving one another.”
2. “We watch our wedding video together and dance to our first dance song in our living room.”
Side Note from Scott: Share below your first dance song from your wedding. I’ll pick a winner from the comments below to win a free copy of my new book Ready Or Knot?. I’ll go first: our song was It’s Your Love by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
3. “This isn’t for our anniversary but something we do for Valentine’s Day. Instead of going out and spending a lot of money at a nice restaurant, we buy fresh ingredients and make pizza at home. And, of course, we make chocolate-covered strawberries. We look forward to our homemade pizza night every year!”
4. “We get a fancy piece of cake, watch our wedding video, and look through our wedding photo album!”
5. “We alternate who plans our anniversary celebration. The wife plans the even years and the husband is responsible for the odd years.”
6. “We always do a getaway for our anniversary. It’s ranged from a weekend at the beach to a night in a hotel in town. This has become more challenging with young kids, but it’s so important for us to get together time and celebrate!”
7. “We’ve been married for 45 years, and we always listen to the audio of our ceremony.”
Side Note From Scott: First of all, how cool that this couple has been married 45 years? And it’s hard for me to believe that video didn’t always exist and this couple has to listen to the audio! I guess we shouldn’t talk—we were the first DVD customer for our photographer/videographer. We just got out of the VHS era!
Along these lines, another couple said, “We watch our wedding video with our kids and listen to their hilarious observations! It’s good for your kids to know you existed before them!”
Regardless, many couples re-watch their ceremony annually on their anniversary. I love this idea. We did it a few times but have gotten away from it in recent years.
8. “We reread our wedding vows. We had our vows printed on canvas with our wedding date on it, and we keep it posted in our home.”
Side Note From Scott: YES! We need to be reminded of what we committed to and what God calls us to in marriage. Every time I officiate a wedding, I remind guests to listen to the vows the bride and groom share so they can be reminded of their own vows and commitment.
9. This one is my personal favorite. Two friends of mine have been married over 35 years. Because they believe their marriage is too important to officially celebrate just one time/year, they celebrate months, not years, married. At the time of this writing, my friends recently celebrated their
38th year 456th month of marriage. Let’s give it up for my friends!
10. Along similar lines, one couple doesn’t celebrate their birthdays. It doesn’t take work to celebrate a birthday, but marriage takes work so they throw a much bigger celebration for their anniversary.
11a. From one friend: “Every year on our anniversary my husband recaps our year. The good, the bad, the growth, the yucky stuff, the changes, the blessings, the sacrifices, and much more. And then we just marvel at what God has done, is doing, and how He’s using us. It’s a great way to have an anniversary conversation!”
11b. Another couple does a variation on this idea. They write down similar responses to the above from #11a in the same journal every year. They refer back to it whenever they want.
11c. And another couple: “For the first few years we started a tradition of going away for the night. We’d go to a small inn with no tv and barely any phone service. We also had a book that we’d write in. We’d list the things we did the past year, things we wanted to do in the next year and the next 5 years. We’d look back through and see if we’d accomplished the things we’d set out to do the year before. It really helped us look forward, appreciate the past, and plan for a stable future that we both wanted.”
11d. And yet another: Every year we have a tradition of best, worst, silly, frilly, and next. Basically it’s each person’s recap of the year.
- Best is the best thing that happened that year, worst is what was most challenging.
- Silly is something that cracked you up. Frilly is what God is teaching you.
- Next is one way you would feel loved in the next year.
12. “We use the opportunity to celebrate the “birthday” of our family. We do a full family celebration night with cake and everything. Then we schedule a date night on a different evening and usually go somewhere fun in town.”
13. One friend submitted an idea from his parents. Every year on their anniversary, his parents eat at nice restaurant they have never eaten at. So they have been to over 30 different restaurants in their home city to celebrate their big day!
14. One couple goes away for a 4-day weekend over their anniversary every year. They have great dinners, a massage at the spa, and time relaxing on the beach. They design it so they have time to talk, share, and remember why they fell in love in the first place….and fall in love all over again. “Getting away is always appreciated and good for our relationship!”
15. From one couple in Dallas: “Every year we visit a restaurant that was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” The first year we stayed local, but now we travel cool places to celebrate at another Diner, Drive-in, or Dive!”
16. Another personal favorite. One friend said, “We did a “heritage tour” for our 20th. We went back to visit where we first met and had dinner where we had our first date. We visited our first apartment and ended with a visit to the jewelry store where we bought our wedding rings. Our salesman still worked there and he reset my diamond into a new setting.”
17. “We set goals separately and then share them. Usually we set three personal goals for the year and three couple goals. We try and getaway somewhere, even if it’s one night.”
18. “We celebrate our engagement, not our anniversary. On our engagement date, we go back to the Whataburger where my fiancé proposed. Now we take our children along with us! Its fun for us to remember this moment from the table we sat at and the parking spot we were in. He had planned to ask at fireworks that evening but couldn’t wait.”
Side Note From Scott: I love the way this couple involves their children. When I first read this I laughed. Only in Texas would someone propose at a Whataburger! But then I was convicted—he was so excited to propose that he couldn’t wait until they left the restaurant! Come on!! That’s the kind of proposal I’m talking about!
19. Two sets of couples shared a similar idea. They center their gifts around the anniversary themes (i.e. paper, cotton, etc.), so it takes a little creativity! They don’t spend a lot on the gifts though so they can invest more in a weekend getaway together. Here are a few examples they shared.
- The first anniversary is paper so they had their song printed on nice paper and framed.
- The next year was linen so they went out and bought new sheets.
- One year was leather, so she got him a new watch (with a leather strap) and he got her a leather purse.
Here’s another great way to celebrate your first anniversary from my friends Ryan and Ally.
20. “We live in Dallas and do a staycation every year. Our goal is to stay in a different boutique hotel!”
21. Several friends shared that since their anniversary falls during Thanksgiving or their kid’s spring break, they end up traveling and spending time with family. They try to get away for one night and have friends or family watch their kids while they travel to see family.
One friend said, “We travel, go see our in-laws, sleep in different beds with our kids on the floor in the same room. Oh wait… You don’t like that idea? Then don’t get married between Christmas and New Years! Just kidding. Kind of. We make the most of it and celebrate our anniversary when we’re back home.”
Living the dream…
22. “We go through a Best Year Yet exercise (based on the book of the same name by Jinny Ditzler) to walk through our highs & lows of the year, what we’ve learned, things holding us back from what we really value & want, etc. We then build toward our list of goals for the year. My wife also creates a yearbook (previously photo/scrapbook) made from digital photos with online book platforms to capture the year.
23. “My husband buys me a charm for my bracelet every year with some reference to what has happened in our lives that year.”
24. This one is a great challenge! “We got married in 1995, so we do a $19.95 date. It requires extreme creativity.” You couples who got married in 2018 have such a huge financial advantage over us old folk!
25. “We are doing five things for five years of marriage. We’re going to do some of each other’s faves—workout, massage, brunch/ coffee, dinner, and dessert! We always take a pic with how many years it’s been.” I love this, and think about how much fun it could be when you get in your 20’s and beyond!
26. “Our first year I did a scavenger hunt and sent my wife all over Dallas to all of the spots that had meaning. I did messages with clues and even buried a few. I followed her around while she looked for the clues. Then the last one told her when and where to meet for dinner. I’ve had to try and outdo myself every year now. Maybe shouldn’t have done that the first year…”
27. Every fifth year we do a super special trip or date or thing. This year we head to Maui for a week for our 35th. I have rented a limo for a night out and stayed at a nice hotel. We upgraded my wife’s ring one year with some inherited bling. Since its every five years we can plan and budget for it.”
28. This one is from the perspective of a mother on what her grown children do. I like it a lot!
“Our oldest son and his wife do something now that their children are older and so busy. They arrange a day and night when the kids can spend the night with friends or grandparents. Then they plan a work out, movie, trip to Central Market for food, and back home. They cook the dinner together and relax in their own home without any distractions. Then they spend the night filled with long conversations (and other stuff—I’m keeping this PG), dancing, and another movie. They get to sleep in the next morning and usually top it off with a run around the lake. They say with three kids and so many activities, they seldom have a moment alone in their house and this is a great way to remind themselves of how everything got started.”
29. “We had strawberry rhubarb pies instead of wedding cake at our wedding because my grandma made it while I was growing up. Every year I make one for my husband with her recipe to celebrate.”
30. Another great one! “We do a vacation that corresponds with the year/letter of marriage. For example:
- 1=A – We went to Arizona and the Grand Canyon.
- 4=D – We went to Disney.
- We can’t wait for Year 9=I – We’re going to Iceland!
How about that list! I know the post is long, but there are so many amazing ideas! I need some help being creative, and ideas like these spur me on to better celebrate our anniversary!
The best way to have a great anniversary is by marrying the right person. While there’s no such thing a soul mate, preparing for marriage goes a very long way. That’s why I wrote Ready or Knot?. Check it out so you know what and who you’re committing to in marriage.
- Answer the question from #2 above and share what song you danced to for your first dance. I’ll do a drawing from all who answer for one copy of Ready Or Knot?.
- Go ahead and share any other ideas you have that you do for your anniversary.
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