I find the tradition of an assigned gift for wedding anniversaries a warming idea, each item representing something in the marriage and reminding the members of said marriage what the union is all about. Of course the third wedding anniversary gift is leather, but what are the others and what do they all mean?
1st - paper
Fragile and pure; paper represents the first year of marriage and has an endearing simplicity. A blank sheet on which to paint your life together and write stories of your adventures, I love the creativity paper lends to what can be a very inexpensive and thoughtful gift.
2nd - cotton
More durable than paper but still soft and fresh to represent a marriage still in its early days. The threads woven together to make cotton also mirror the way marriage entwines two people and makes them one piece.
3rd - leather
Leather is tough and durable but still soft and versatile making it the perfect gift for a third wedding anniversary while the marriage is still young but gaining strength and stability.
The flexibility of leather reflects the give and take of a relationship and is a perfect reminder that the couple stays flexible in order to sustain a strong marriage that can weather any storm and will grow more beautiful as it grows. And it is the very wear and tear of leather that gives it the beautiful patina that develops with age, it will become softer, more fluid and inevitably imperfections will appear giving it more character and charm. This perfectly represents how a marriage evolves, blossoms, takes some knocks and is forever changed as a result. But doesn't life's beauty come from its scars and imperfections?
While paper and cotton are delicate and humble materials, representing the early years of marriage, leather is a sturdy and long-lasting material that will last for years to come and shows how a couple will keep each other safe and secure. This is the first year that a gift represents endurance to show that the couple are building a strong relationship and a lasting marriage.
4th - flowers or fruit
These gifts are a customary choice and perfectly reflect the partnership of marriage with the two touchingly representing the blossoming and ripening of your partnership. And a bunch of flowers will never go amiss on an anniversary.
5th - wood
Wood is not only a solid and dependable material it also comes from trees which were always seen to be strong, lasting with deep roots in history and symbolised wisdom. A thoughtful portrayal of your lasting love for each other and how you continually learn, develop and grow together.
6th - sugar
Another present that never goes a miss, it is not hard to see why chocolates have become such an iconic, romantic gift to give at any time. Life is thought to be getting sweeter by your 6th year together; you've been married long enough to know each other inside and out and your relationship is simply delightful.
7th - copper or wool
After seven years of marriage you will be settled into your relationship; supporting and caring for each other. Copper and wool may seem like an odd combination to celebrate your 7th anniversary but they are both chosen for their ability to conduct heat so are chosen to represent comfort and warmth.
8th - Bronze
Bronze is a combination of copper and tin, symbolising the union of two people becoming one entity to make one strong, solid union. Leading on from this idea is also the strength of the metal, bronze is very robust and was once (during the bronze age) the hardest metal in widespread use on earth and enabled people to create metal objects that were tough and durable.
9th - Pottery or willow
Both pottery and willow are humble raw materials that can be transformed with love, patience and finesse to make beautiful things. Pottery is molded by hand, glazed, fired and finished in a long and meticulous process, likewise willow is used to attentively weave beautiful objects for both functionality and aesthetics. It is not hard to see how these materials represent your 9th anniversary as your marriage has been molded to the beautiful relationship it is today.
10th - Tin
Tin was often used to store and preserve things and prolong their life and it helps to stop other metals from corroding when they are plated with it. Tin is the representation of your 10th year to show that even though your marriage is solid it is still precious and needs protecting.