Topic of the Day: How Do You Celebrate Anniversaries?

Tuesday’s column, about the woman who was preemptively disappointed about how her first wedding anniversary would be celebrated, got me thinking about the ways we celebrate important relationship milestones. Actually, I’d already been thinking about this topic a little bit because this summer Drew and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary and we’ve started talking about what we want to do to mark the occasion. While he and I were on our little weekend getaway a couple weeks ago, I had an idea:

I suggested we take the actual anniversary day off (it’s a Wednesday this year), get an overnight sitter for our kids who can pick them up from camp and drop them off again the next morning, and then get a swanky hotel room and spend two full days and one night in Manhattan, which is something we haven’t done since before we had kids. Sure, we’ve had some weekend getaways, but they’ve always been outside the city, and we’ve had some dates in Manhattan, but we have not had an actual staycation in the city where we’ve been able to just wander around and be spontaneous and go to a museum or two or sit in the park or pop into a little jazz bar or day drink or do any of the things that are typically more …let’s say stress-free without little kids in tow. And since we got engaged and married in Central Park and since “NYC” was the sort of unofficial theme of our wedding, it seems appropriate to spend our tenth wedding anniversary in the heart of Manhattan, enjoying its many amenities.

In addition to our wedding anniversary, we also always celebrate the anniversary of our blind date, which is May 5th and will mark 13 years together this year! We don’t have a tradition for this celebration, and we don’t necessarily always celebrate it on the day of, depending on the day of the week it falls. This year it’s a Sunday, so we’ll probably go out the night before because, as Drew explained to Jackson last night when he asked why we like to go out on Saturday nights as opposed to, say, Sunday nights: there’s just an energy in the air that’s way more fun on a Saturday. (But, bringing this back to Tuesday’s column again: if Sunday were the only day we had an available babysitter, dudes, that the day we’d go out and we’d make it work! Even if nothing were open! We’d bring a picnic to the park and revel in quiet time alone with each other and that would be fun energy enough!)

Anyway, if you’re in a relationship, how do you celebrate anniversaries? Or maybe you don’t? Do you have traditions you stick to every year or do you like to mix it up? If you’ve celebrated a milestone anniversary (10 years, 15, 20, etc.), did you do anything extra special for the occasion? If you have kids, did/do you involve them?


  1. When we met for our first date off at a Mexican restaurant, I had just gotten back from Mexico with my friend Lianne (who used to comment on here before she got real busy with life). He mentioned that he was planning a trip to Cabo for later that year, had always wanted to go, and if he was dating someone by then he’d ask them to go, or if not, he’d take his buddy. So when we had been dating about 3 months we started talking about planning this trip to Cabo, and bought the travel insurance in case we “died from Hep-C” and couldn’t go. But spoiler alert, we went, and ended up getting engaged (after 6 months, I know, haha but no kids involved). And then a year later we went back there and got married. And Lianne got married there a year later too! So basically we go back there every year at the same time (December, but before the holidays, which is an inexpensive time to travel). This past December was our 5-year wedding anniversary.

    We also celebrate the anniversary of our first date at that restaurant where we met.

    1. Actually, his ex-gf got married in Mexico TWO years later, and we went to that as well. Same time of year for all the weddings. She married his good friend. They came to our wedding and took all the pictures, and she designed the invitations too, only charged us for the materials.

    2. Hi! I still read when I can, just rarely comment. But man, life is exponentially more busy with two kids and working full time. Our house we bought in October is still nowhere near the way we want it to be organized or decorated, so…

      But anyway, anniversaries! We had kids pretty quickly after getting married, but we try to get out to a nice dinner at least to celebrate our relationship and spend time together. For our five year anniversary this December, I would LOVE to go away, even for a weekend. We shall see if we can make it work!

      P.S. Cabo is amazing and I wish we could go back with you each year, Kate!

      1. Oh! And we do follow the traditional wedding gift theme. My husband actually started it, which shocked me, because he’s not usually that romantic/thoughtful in the gift giving sense.

  2. We don’t really do too much for anniversaries. We usually try to take the day off and do something fun and then go to a nice dinner, but this year, life got in the way and we almost didn’t even do dinner, but we figured we needed to, if only for the break. And, it was a good choice. We also celebrate, or remember, anyway, the day we met and toast it, if nothing else. It’ll be 20 years later this year. (Yikes!)

  3. We try to go out for a nice dinner sometime around our anniversary. If the actual day is on a weekday and/or we don’t have a sitter, we will open a nice bottle of wine and drink it out of our fancy wineglasses we got as a wedding gift. We also try to get each other small gifts that loosely match the traditional gift of each anniversary year (paper, wood, cotton, etc.) For our first anniversary, I made paper dolls of the two of us and our cat, and bunch of little clothes for them. Now that we have a kid, I definitely don’t DIY like that!

  4. When I was growing up my parents always celebrated their wedding anniversaries by bringing us kids along on a nice dinner out. They said it was because their marriage was the start of their family. We didn’t go out to restaurants much so it was a very special treat.

    We continued this tradition with our kids. Not for everyone, but it works for us.

  5. So this will be my 12th wedding anniversary. We change based on the year. At the bare minimum, we will get a bottle of champagne and drink out of our toasting flutes and watch our wedding video. Our first anniversary we painted our house because we had just closed and had 3 days of an empty house before we moved in. SO we painted and at the end of the day, the only place open was dominos so we ate that on the floor. On our 10th anniversary, we had adopted our son and were home with a newborn. It was kind of perfect. On certain years we try to go out to dinner. I think it is important to acknowledge and reflect on your relationship. But I think we did way more splashy things when we dated then now that we are married.

  6. I haven’t involved our kids in our past anniversaries. We don’t really have any consistent traditions. We were married over labor day weekend, so we generally get an extra day to celebrate. We have gone on a couple of overnight trips since we had kids. We’ve only really gone by ourselves for few days one time, which was convenient because our kids were in school and and after-school program when we went. It was nice that they had a structured routine and not a lot of free time. I think in general I crave more time alone with my husband, but he prefers family trips because misses spending time with our kids. I like pretty much love every trip based on fun but there is something special about getting to go and spend one on one time together. Typically on our anniversaries we have a date that is slightly more planned out than our normal ones.

  7. Avatar photo MaterialsGirl says:

    Haven’t done too much, although we build a case of wine to represent the year. We are currently a year behind. doh! I am trying to find this Saint Emilion that I love which will complete 2018’s.. then onto 2019! We really should start drinking the ones from 2016…

    1. Avatar photo MaterialsGirl says:

      although I really like the idea of taking the day off to celebrate and reconnect. I’ll run it by RadioStar.

    2. Tell me more!! Do you collect a full case for each year? How do you decide what to put in it? And when do you decide to drink it??

  8. anonymousse says:

    We’ve been married for 4 years, and together for 8+. Last year was the first year we got an Uber and went out to a nice restaurant and got tipsy. In years past, my husband would buy a filet, cook me an amazing dinner and we’d drink fancy wine or beer. Our anniversary is in a few days and we’ll have friends in town visiting, so we’ll probably just add it into the festivities. I’m not really set on doing anything special, really. I mean, it’s nice to celebrate but if we forgot, it wouldn’t be a big deal.

  9. We don’t really celebrate much. I know he would love to, it’s not really my style. So now that we will have a wedding anniversary we’ll see if that changes. I’m open to celebrating that, but dating anniversaries always felt strange to me, but to each their own!

  10. Last September was our first anniversary. We did celebrate. We had a one night “staycation” at the hotel where we got married and had brunch at the same place we held our ceremony/had brunch with our immediate families. They upgraded us to a massive suite and it was so much fun! We ordered room service. Listened to music. Chatted. And then didn’t have to clean anything up!

    I’m not sure what we’ll do this year. We want to take a long weekend in the fall to either Paris or Dublin. We might go over our anniversary.

    We don’t do gifts or anything like that.

    1. Rangerchic says:

      We are going to Ireland in the fall! We will be there over our anniversary – 21 years. Last year we celebrated our 20th and our daughter’s high school graduation (though in May) by going to Hawaii. It was a fun trip! (Besides the major sunburn she got).

  11. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

    I will share what my parents typically do in recent years on their anniversary- this June will be their 45th!
    They go out somewhere nice for lunch. And my dad gets my mom a big bouquet of tropical flowers. And they get each other a card. Maybe my mom makes something different for dinner, not their usual go-to dinner. And that’s it. I always ask them if they have made any plans, and this is almost always what happens! All my life they’ve never made a big thing out of it, and much of the times my dad was out of town for work anyway (the merchant marines). I just think their ways to celebrate are rather sweet in their simplicity.

  12. We usually try to make a night of it somehow, we’ll go for dinner and drinks or something. I can’t for the life of me remember what we did last year but it would have been something like that. We try to make a big deal of it as we spend 90% of our time apart these days.

  13. We’ve always celebrated our anniversary one way or another. For our 10th we went to Hawaii, for our 20th we went to Vegas, for our 30th our kids gifted us with a cruise to the Mexican Riviera and for our 40th we went to Cancun.

    For the in-between years, when the kids were still in school, we’d take the day off and have a nice lunch and watch a (non-kid) movie at a theater. This year, our 42nd, I’ll be taking the week off from work and we’ll be taking a road trip to Solvang/Santa Barbara.

    Later this year, my son and DIL will be celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary, so they’ll be going away for the week and we’ll be staying at their house to watch the two grandkids. This is their first week-long anniversary vacation since having kids. In the past they’ve celebrated their anniversaries with weekend get-away while we watched the grandkids.

    I think it’s important as a couple, to celebrate the day.

    1. You’re doing it right! (And now helping your son and DIL to do it right – you rock!).

      1. Thanks!

    2. I love this! One thing I loved and appreciated about my parents is they took a long weekend together every February. That wasn’t their anniversary month, but for whatever reason, they liked getting away in February. They also took a few week long trips for special anniversaries (10, 20, etc.) when we were growing up.

      I bet the grandkids love having you to themselves!

      1. Thanks 🙂 Yes, I think it’s important to show the kids that their parents celebrate their anniversary and spend time together alone.

        We have them over one or two weekends a month. They love spending time with us and beg to come over on the weekends. Being a grandparent is the BEST!! We love, love, love spending time with them. We get to spoil them (8 year old and 4 year old) and then we get to return them after a day or two! Their parents get a weekend to themselves, we spend quality time with the grandkids and they get spoiled. It’s a win-win-win.

  14. allathian says:

    We’re very lucky in that my husband and I get a date night every six to eight weeks when our son gets to spend the night with either my parents or my MIL. We usually go out to eat in a sit-down restaurant and then go to the movies, or sometimes the other way around. For our tenth anniversary last month, we went to a movie theater (to see On the Basis of Sex *thumbsup*) with a bar and got a bottle of champagne and hors d’oeuvres. It was fun!

  15. Anonykins says:

    We didn’t have the cash or desire to buy wedding rings when we first got married (and we both had engagement rings), so for our 5th wedding anniversary we did that! For our 10th next year, we are probably going to change our last name (we were very young when we married and kind of just went with tradition on names…)

    We always celebrate both our dating and our wedding anniversary. Between that and our two birthdays, everything falls within 2 very busy months! We at least have a date on each, of varying degrees of excitement depending on our circumstances.

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