The decline of wedding anniversary traditions

Taryn Davies
Published: October 17, 2015

Wedding season is drawing to a close, and new research shows that newlyweds shouldn’t expect traditional wedding anniversary gifts as more than half of Brits are ignorant of the celebratory customs.

Did you know that paper is the first traditional anniversary gift? Followed by cotton in the second year?

The research, conducted by One4all the Post Office gift card, found that 55% are not familiar with wedding anniversary milestones, such as silver, pearl and ruby anniversaries.

What’s more, only 10% give and receive presents which tie into the traditions. The ruby anniversary is considered one of the most well-known traditions which is celebrated after 40 years of marriage, but 61% of those questioned weren't aware of it.

The decline of traditional wedding anniversary gifts

Nearly half believe that old-style anniversary gifts like rubies, diamonds and pearls neglect male tastes and 1 in 10 feel they are old fashioned.

In 2015, Britons’ top ways of celebrating anniversaries are exchanging cards, having dinner or an evening out, going on a romantic short break and gifts that reflect their partners’ tastes and interests. Exchanging gifts which tie into the traditions trailed into fifth place.

Despite these traditions declining in popularity, romantic Brits are not neglecting key milestones in their relationships - only 4% regularly forget their anniversary, while just 6% have to remind their partners their anniversary is coming up.

Aoife Davey, marketing manager at One4all, this is surprising so many of the old anniversary traditions aren't as popular now. Instead couples are choosing personalised presents and ways of celebrating that is more suited to them.

Stunning gems are definitely a decadent gift, but they certainly don't suit everyone's tastes.


Despite the decline of traditional wedding anniversaries, Britain continues to be a romantic nation. 68% of adults believe they will be with their partners forever, with women proving to be slightly more romantic than men, with 5% more feeling this way.                                                  

25 - 34 year olds are the most likely to forget wedding anniversaries, with just over 1 in 10 claiming to do so regularly.

While the over 55s are often amongst the closest to some of the most major landmark anniversaries, they are also the most likely to shun traditional anniversary gifts in favour of exchanging gifts which are more personal.